The Indian government is spending $60 million this year to build a supercomputer with just one purpose: predicting the weather. With the heavy rains of India’s monsoon season accounting for more than two-thirds of the country’s annual rainfall, on which agriculture is so dependent, it’s easy to understand why the meteorology office is pouring funds into the project. The system will use 3D modeling to better understand how seasonal rains will develop.
The current forecasting system was first introduced under British rule of India, based on a statistical model. Historical patterns are combined with satellite data, radar readers, and information from observatories. As one might expect, while this system can reveal broad trends, it hasn’t led to especially accurate forecasts; in fact, the system failed to predict a major drought in 2009.
More accurate monsoon forecasts could be a major boon to the Indian economy: one estimate from Reuters suggests that it could boost farm production by 15 percent by helping farmers identify the best time to sow their crops. That’s not an insignificant amount: agriculture accounts for about 18 percent of India’s GDP. The new supercomputer is expected to be up and running by next year, and will be able to work 10 times faster than the current system.
Via The Verge