Supercomputer helps researchers better understand weather

Global Business

Weather events affect our lives, but many remain mysterious to the scientists that study them-events such as thunderstorms, hurricanes and climate change.

Researchers rely on a supercomputer to understand those phenomena.Now that computer is about to get a whole lot more powerful.

CCTV’s Hendrik Sybrandy reports from the U.S. state of Wyoming.

Supercomputer helps researchers better understand weather

Weather events affect our lives, but many remain mysterious to the scientists that study them-events such as thunderstorms, hurricanes and climate change. Researchers rely on a supercomputer to understand those phenomena.Now that computer is about to get a whole lot more powerful. CCTV’s Hendrik Sybrandy reports from the U.S. state of Wyoming.

In windswept Wyoming sits the National Center for Atmospheric Research‘s supercomputer. Its name is Yellowstone.

NCAR Operations Manager Gary New said, “Supercomputer by its definition is the fastest computer of its time.”

Gary New runs this facility. Yellowstone crunches data daily for several thousand scientists across the U.S. It can perform 1.5 quadrillion calculations per second. That’s 1.5 with 15 zeros. Yet somehow, that’s just not fast enough.

So make way for Cheyenne, a machine that will perform almost three times the amount of scientific computing as Yellowstone, using less power. It goes online next year.

The new computer will be a third of the size of Yellowstone and will sit right here, next to the old computer which will keep running while the new one is phased in.

Cheyenne arrives as researchers try to better grasp how Earth’s atmosphere works and how climate change is affecting our planet. Faster computers can create more detailed models that boost that understanding.

The lifespan of a supercomputer like Yellowstone is typically four years. China already has a supercomputer more than six times faster than Cheyenne. By 2121 or so, Cheyenne will be ready for the scrap heap, too.

Until then, scientists have a powerful new machine that will process even more data and perhaps provide more answers about how Earth’s weather systems behave the way they do.