The meteorologists at the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts have chosen Seattle-based Cray for their latest computers, the company announced today. The weather authority based in Reading, UK, signed a $36 million contract to upgrade and expand its existing Cray supercomputers.
Predicting the weather is a complicated business. Meteorologists aren’t just looking at some satellite pictures; they’re using supercomputers like Cray’s to model how wind, temperature and moisture interact to affect the weather.
“This upgrade will help us to improve the quality of the service we provide to our member and cooperating states,” ECMWF director of research Erland Källén said in a statement. “It will enable us to develop high-resolution ensemble forecasts that improve the prediction of severe weather events in the medium range, up to about two weeks ahead.”
ECMWF is an independent intergovernmental organization supported by 34 nations, providing predictions from a multitude of international sensors. The ECMWF also provides long-term forecasts for the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring and Climate Change Services
Cray will supply its new XC40 supercomputers to the agency, an upgrade over the XC30 systems Cray provided in 2013. The contract also includes an expansion of the Cray Sonexion 2000 storage system to stockpile all the agency’s data.
Cray now claims to supply computing power for more than 70 percent of the world’s weather centers, including NOAA and the U.K. Met Office. In just the past year, it’s started providing computing power to Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology and the Danish Meteorological Institute in deals totaling more than $60 million. The supercomputing powerhouse also provides systems to customers ranging from petroleum companies to baseball teams.