Sunday, September 13, 2009

New NOAA Supercomputers

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has just completed the implementation of a new generation of supercomputers to aid in weather and climate prediction.  The complete technology overhaul had a price tag of $180 million dollars.   The new computing power will allow NOAA to run more complex models in an effort to improve forecast accuracy and extend watch and warning lead times for severe weather, including hurricanes, tornadoes, air quality, wildfires, floods, tsunamis and winter storms.

The supercomputers have been named "Stratus" and are 4 times faster than the prior system.  Stratus has the ability to make 69.7 Trillion calculations per second!!!

Interesting facts about Stratus:

  • The microprocessors inside Stratus contain 2,000 miles of copper wiring, enough to stretch from Washington, D.C. to the Grand Canyon.

  • It would take one person with a calculator 3 million years to tabulate the number of calculations that Stratus can perform in a single second.

  • Stratus would fit in half the size of a tennis court.

  • Stratus is 34 times more powerful than the most powerful supercomputer in existence a decade ago.


The new computing power will give meteorologists better accuracy and precision in both short-term and long-term forecasting.