NOAA 03-065
Contact: Carmeyia Gillis

NOAA News Releases 2003
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In a ribbon cutting ceremony today, congressional, federal and IBM officials celebrated the success of a public/private partnership. Operating as a parallel computer system, known as “Frost” and “Snow,” the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) latest weather and climate supercomputer is dedicated to bringing the nation faster and more exact weather and climate predictions. Making more than 450 billion calculations per second, the new generation IBM supercomputer is poised to give the NOAA National Weather Service the ability to improve local and national forecast accuracy, as well as extend watch and warning lead times for potential severe weather such as winter storms, tornadoes, floods and hurricanes. NOAA is an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Frost” handles the operational forecasting tasks while “Snow” is assigned model development for weather, climate and ocean applications. Combined, the IBM supercomputer is a high performance computing system designed, installed and implemented to run more sophisticated numerical models of the atmosphere and oceans to improve weather, climate, flood and ocean forecasts. It is currently the world’s second largest supercomputer dedicated to operational weather and climate processing.

“This is an outstanding example of government and private industry working together to provide a truly valuable service to the nation,” said Sam Bodman, deputy secretary of commerce. “With this supercomputer, NOAA will continue to advance new and improved weather and climate models well into the next decade. “

By 2009, the supercomputer will provide 48 times the computing power of the current IBM SP that is being replaced by the new “Frost” and “Snow.”

The new supercomputer becomes the foundation for all NOAA National Weather Service weather and climate forecasts. It runs complex numerical weather models, which generate forecast guidance products that meteorologists use as the basis for their forecasts.

New technology coupled with the latest advances in numerical models and more accurate atmospheric and oceanic observations will enable NOAA to remain one of the world’s leaders in climate and weather prediction.

“We should continue to see major improvements in weather and climate predictions and better forecasts for the transportation industries including aviation, marine and highway sectors,” said retired Navy Vice Adm. Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Ph.D., undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “This new supercomputer will be a major reason NOAA National Weather Service is able to provide hurricane forecasts and warnings out to five days, severe weather outlooks out to three days, and approaching severe winter storms out to seven days in advance.”

More than two million atmospheric and oceanic observations collected from the ground, air, sea and space are used by the supercomputer each day. From these observations, the models predict changes which could occur in the atmosphere and the resulting weather. Crucial guidance is provided under strict time tables and enables forecasters to predict events such as hurricanes, floods, severe weather, and winter storms days in advance.

Building on 50 years of partnership success, NOAA and IBM are pushing the envelope on science and technology to bring the nation better weather and climate forecasts than ever before. The nine-year, $224.4 million contract was awarded to IBM Corporation of Bethesda, Md., in 2002.

"Today's announcement marries IBM's powerful supercomputing technology with the ever-increasing sophistication of the National Weather Service's prediction tools," said Dave Turek, vice president, IBM Deep Computing. "The resulting improvement in forecasting capability illustrates the true power and benefit of deep computing."

The NOAA National Weather Service is the primary source for weather data, forecasts and warnings for the United States and its territories. The NOAA National Weather Service operates the most advanced weather and flood warning and forecast system in the world, helping to protect lives and property and enhance the national economy.

NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of the nation’s coastal and marine resources.

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NOTE TO MEDIA: B-roll of the new IBM SP supercomputer is available.