New system a boost for weather agency

The Central Weather Administration would be capable of making forecasts about tropical storms and typhoons 10 days before their arrival, as opposed to seven

The Central Weather Administration (CWA) yesterday began using a sixth-generation high-performance computing system that is expected to improve the accuracy of its weather forecasts.

The system is a Fujitsu FX1000 high-speed computer built with 7-nanometer chips made by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co, the meteorology agency said.

It is also equipped with 192 of Nvidia Corp’s A100 graphics processing units to meet requirements for running artificial intelligence (AI) applications, the agency said.

The system has a total performance capacity of 10 petaflops, which is seven times greater than the CWA’s fifth-generation system and is equivalent to an aggregate computing capacity of about 46,000 desktop computers, the agency said, adding that it is ranked 69th among the world’s top 500 high-speed computing systems.

The agency began building the system in 2021 and completed it last year at a total cost of NT$1.5 billion (US$47.54 million), CWA Administrator Cheng Chia-ping (程家平) told a ceremony celebrating the launch of the new system.

“Taiwan has a rather complex topography, with changes in temperatures and rainfall varying greatly in different regions of the country. As such, high-resolution data are needed to produce accurate weather forecasts,” Cheng said. “With the use of a sixth-generation high-performance computer, we estimate that the horizontal resolution would be improved to 1km from 3km under the previous system.”

“The accuracy of weather and climate forecasts in countries around Taiwan would also be enhanced, with the resolution for the global weather model being improved to 13km from 25km previously,” he added.

The new system would allow the weather agency to produce typhoon forecasts 10 days before their arrival, Cheng said.

Under the old system, the agency could only begin making forecasts about tropical storms and typhoons seven days ahead, he added.

Although many countries are able to produce weather forecasts faster with the use of AI technology, training the AI system is a complicated and long process, Cheng said.

“We are using weather data collected from the areas around Taiwan as the basis for training the AI system, with the goal of developing a new high-resolution weather forecast model that applies to areas around the nation,” he said.

Date: 2024-2-27
Source: The Taipei Times