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Supercomputer to Forecast Monsoon with Dynamical Model
Aug 18, 2016

India is developing a supercomputer to predict the monsoon with greater accuracy, and it hopes to have it up and running by next year. At present, The India Meteorological Department (IMD) relies on an ensemble model, a statistical technique that uses an average of six meteorological values correlated to the monsoon such as sea surface temperatures in the Pacific, and North Atlantic sea level pressure. These values are derived from century-old meteorological data linked to the historical performance of the monsoon.

  • The country's meteorology office is spending $60 million to build the new supercomputer, which will use 3-D modeling to predict how the seasonal rains will develop.
  • India's farming sector is heavily reliant on the monsoon season, which runs from June to September.
  • The monsoon accounts for more than two-thirds of the country's annual rainfall, and accurate predictions could help farmers identify the best time to sow their crops.
  • More accurate monsoon forecasts could boost farm production by up to 15 percent.
  • According to World Bank figures, in 2015, agriculture accounted for about 18 percent of India's GDP.
  • India's current forecasting system, first introduced during British colonial rule, is based on a statistical model that combines historical patterns with data collected from satellites, radar, and observatories.
  • The country's meteorology office has struggled to deliver accurate forecasts in recent years, most notably when it failed to predict a major drought in 2009.
  • India has also seen two consecutive years of drought, though the meteorology office has predicted  that this year's rains will not affect farm output.
  • Currently, India hires private aircraft or uses weather balloons to study the atmosphere, and make predictions. These weather balloons provide data on wind direction and speed, temperature, humidity, dew point, and other atmospheric factors.
  • Much of IMD’s predictions are based on these complex statistics, which it also receives from radars, observatories, satellites, weather office, and historical data. 
  • To improve data collection, India also plans to purchase a dedicated aircraft for weather forecasting experiments.


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