Climate Agency Awards $350 Million For Supercomputers

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will pay CSC and Cray to plan, build, and operate high-performance computers for climate prediction research.

By J. Nicholas Hoover

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration plans to spend as much as $354 million on two new supercomputing contracts aimed at improving climate forecast models.

Supercomputing plays an important role at NOAA, as supercomputers power its dozens of models and hundreds of variants for weather, climate, and ecological predictions. However, a recently released 59-page, multi-year strategic plan for its high-performance computing found NOAA needs “new, more flexible” supercomputing power to address the needs of researchers and members of the public who access, leverage, and depend on those models.

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In terms of a research and development computer, NOAA found it requires one the power of which will be ultimately measured in petaflops, which would make the future machine one of the world’s most powerful supercomputers.

The new supercomputer would support NOAA’s environmental modeling program by providing a test-bed for the agency to help improve the accuracy, geographic reach, and time length of NOAA’s climate models and weather forecasting capabilities.

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