Ireland’s national meteorological service Met Éireann has joined forces with three European weather agencies to operate a new supercomputer that will improve short-term forecasting capabilities.
Working with national weather services in Denmark, Iceland and the Netherlands, the United Weather Centres-West (UWC-West) collaboration will leverage the power of the Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) high-performance computer to conduct 4,000 trillion calculations per second and analyze millions of weather observations every 24 hours. It will also be used to conduct advanced climate science research.
Planned to be operational by early 2023, the new supercomputer will provide high-resolution weather forecasts that will be used to:
- Provide more accurate and timely weather warnings that will enable emergency services to prepare for potential impacts of severe weather;
- Help people and communities make better decisions to protect lives, homes and businesses when impacted by extreme weather events such as heatwaves, flooding or heavy snow;
- Enable the agricultural sector to make earlier decisions to protect and better manage their crops and livestock;
- Provide more timely and focused information to marine communities;
- Support the transportation and energy sectors with more detailed and timely weather information to allow increased economic and environmental benefits.
The UWC-West collaboration is part of a broader initiative between 10 national weather services in Europe, known as ‘United Weather Centres (UWC)’, which plans to operate a common multi-national weather forecasting system by the end of the decade.
Darragh O’Brien, Ireland’s minister for housing, local government and heritage, said, “As we continue to see the impacts of extreme weather from a changing climate both around the world and closer to home, it has never been more important to provide accurate and timely weather information. With Met Éireann uniting its scientific expertise and excellence in numerical weather prediction with the national weather services in Denmark, Iceland and the Netherlands, we will be able to provide more efficient and reliable weather forecasts and warnings to all our citizens to help them make better decisions to protect lives, homes and property.”
Eoin Moran, director of Met Éireann, added, “The UWC-West supercomputer is the first step in a powerful collaboration between weather services in Europe which will allow Ireland to meet the growing challenge of forecasting high-impact weather events with much greater confidence. Our countries have a long history of working together in weather prediction research. Denmark, the Netherlands, Iceland and Ireland bound the North East Atlantic Area and are now combining resources to best predict the weather that impacts this region. This is particularly important in the context of the influence of climate change on the predictability of weather systems as the new supercomputer will allow for the incorporation of the most up to date weather forecasting methodologies.”
Powered entirely by renewable Icelandic hydropower and geothermal energy sources and taking advantage of the local temperate climate that will keep the supercomputer components cool, the running costs and CO2 footprint will be kept to a minimum, saving tons of CO2 in line with the four nations’ commitments towards net-zero.