European forecasters to simulate weather at 1km resolution on supercomputer

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Scientists from the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) have been selected to carry out research on climate simulations on the world’s most powerful supercomputer.

After a highly competitive selection process, the team from the UK-based center were awarded 500,000 node-hours on the Summit supercomputer at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee.

The team, which consists of meteorologists Nils Wedi, Peter Bauer and Peter Duben, will use their time on Summit to explicitly simulate deep convection at the global scale.

They aim to run a global weather simulation for at least a season, and potentially for an entire year. The supercomputer will be able to provide them with 1km resolution.

The researchers called this level of resolution “a quantum leap” forward for their work since computational cost limitations mean that the grid spacing in today’s highest-resolution operational global models is usually in the order of 10km, and is even coarser for seasonal and climate predictions.

However, running such a long simulation – often referred to as a Nature Run – at such high resolution will produce vast amounts of data.

The team will be helped in their work by Oak Ridge scientist Valentine Anantharaj.

“Deep convection affects the vertical redistribution of energy, momentum and heat in the atmosphere,” said Wedi, the head of Earth System Modelling at ECMWF. “Our inability to resolve these processes is a major source of uncertainty in weather and climate predictions.”

“Going down to 1km is a quantum leap which will enable us to see how explicitly simulated deep convection interacts with and induces global changes in weather patterns.”

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