Meteorology, the European center in Bologna. Forecasts with an 80 million euro super-computer – Corriere.it

from Paolo Virtuani, sent to Bologna

The datacenter for medium-term forecasts will be operational from May with one of the most powerful computers in the world, capable of processing over 60 million weather data per day from all over the planet. The French Florence Rabier will direct it

When I started my meteorological career there was only one model of atmosphere. Today we understand that all systems are interconnected and to make more accurate predictions it is necessary to operate globally. To achieve these results, however, supercomputers with computing capabilities that were unthinkable until a few years ago are indispensable. Florence Rabier the French general manager of the European Center for Medium-Term Weather Forecasts (Ecmwf), expert in numerical modeling of weather forecasts and for the optimal use of satellite observations. On Tuesday in Bologna Rabier inaugurated the datacenter which uses one of the ten most powerful supercomputers in the world, the 80 million euro BullSequana XH2000 from Atos, and that to make the Emilian capital the main European computing center for weather and climate forecasts. The Bologna hub will become fully operational on May 5th, after the transfer of the systems currently in operation in Reading, England has been completed.


Data from all over the world

Every day we have to analyze more than 60 million pieces of data that come from all over the world. To manage this amount of information you need exceptional computing poweradds Rabier. An impressive amount of data, measurements and indices from satellites, ground stations, marine buoys, airplanes and ships from all over the world will be processed in Bologna to continuously update and refine the weather maps which will give forecasters the most sophisticated tools to face the challenges of a planet with an altered climate compared to the one we have known so far. With climate change underway, climate knowledge and medium-term forecasts are a decisive element in the strategy to combat global warming. The medium-term forecasts are not those that say whether it will be sunny or raining tomorrow, explains the French scientist, but they have important implications in agriculture, in air traffic and for the prevention of extreme phenomena such as heat waves or floods, of which this summer we had tragic experiences with hundreds of victims in Europe.

The choice of Bologna

The choice of Bologna as the location of the datacenter was an important recognition for Italy. We all worked together and in the same direction. Once again our country has shown that it is capable of making commitments and keeping them. From here comes a piece of new economy, the Minister of Education Patrizio Bianchi said at the inauguration. The works on the Tecnopolo are not finished yet. With the European weather datacenter the citadel of science takes shape that makes our region the international hub of Big Data, digital and new technologies, where 80% of the national supercomputing capacity and 20% of the European one will be concentrated. Stefano Bonaccini, president of the Emilia-Romagna Region, said with satisfaction. In fact, in addition to the technological heart of the European Weather Center, the European supercomputer Leonardo, the Agenzia Italia Meteo, the National Institute of Astrophysics will also find space in the 120 thousand square meters redeveloped of the former Tobacco Factory, research centers, university branches and common areas for startups in the field of research and development.

A huge mosaic of pixels

The data processed in Bologna will be available to the 23 member countries and the eleven with which Ecmwf has cooperation agreements, to their national meteorological services and civil protection agencies, to Copernicus, that the European climate change service. This is why we have to operate on a global scale to arrive at a model, a computer program that represents the globe, the atmosphere divided into five levels in meshes of 9×9 kilometers of surface, like a huge mosaic of pixels capable of covering the whole Earth, concludes Rabier. If we want to have better predictions, we need to leverage all available computing power. And here in Bologna now possible.

September 14, 2021 (change September 14, 2021 | 20:40)

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