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File photo of lightning over Downtown Dubai. Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

Abu Dhabi: A new supercomputer called ‘Atmosphere’ will now enable faster weather forecasting in the UAE and facilitate climate research.

The National Centre of Meteorology (NCM), the UAE’s official weather bureau, announced its deployment of the supercomputer on Monday. The device has been developed by Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE).

Atmosphere uses the company’s Cray EX system, a high performance computing (HPC) liquid-cooled platform that is customised to deliver advanced performance spanning compute, accelerated compute, software, storage and networking. The combined technologies help NCM’s researchers improve modelling, simulation, artificial intelligence and deep learning capabilities, thereby allowing for complex data processing, increasing accuracy, and enabling quicker forecasting of weather events.

Better insights

NCM director-general Dr Abdulla Al Mandous, who is also president of the Regional Association II (Asia) of the World Meteorological Organisation, said: “At the NCM, we are dedicated to providing the UAE with operational weather forecasting that facilitates real-time forecasts and alerts. This not only informs local entities and residents but also ensures safety. We are also committed to gaining a deeper understanding of the climate and its complex patterns, and to developing innovative technologies that can increase sustainability.”

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Dr Abdulla Al Mandous Image Credit: Supplied

First in the region

He added: “With Atmosphere, we collaborated with HPE to design a significantly more performant supercomputer with targeted capabilities in modeling, simulation and artificial intelligence. This will accelerate weather and climate insights, and advance our nation’s overall research and development. By hosting this state-of-the-art supercomputer, the UAE is now the first country to operate the most powerful liquid-cooled system, based on the HPE Cray EX, for national weather centres across the Middle East and Africa.”

Faster software run-time

To support ongoing weather forecasting needs for the UAE, NCM uses numerical weather prediction modeling software – such as the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model and Consortium for Small-scale Modeling (COSMO) – which leverage physics and dynamics based models of the atmosphere and oceans to simulate and predict weather conditions.

With the new Atmosphere supercomputer, which will deliver faster performance than NCM’s existing system, the runtime of simulations running on these models will decrease by up to 200 per cent on WRF, and up to 300 per cent on COSMO.