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Supercomputers to help weather forecasting

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 8/06/2017

Kiwi scientists will be able to better predict damaging floods and the effects of climate change thanks to new million-dollar supercomputers.

The Crown-owned National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research is purchasing the three computers for $18 million.

Together, they will have up to 13 times the computing capability of their predecessors with one of the new computers estimated to be capable of making 1.4 trillion calculations per second.

This will allow scientists to more accurately forecast the impacts of severe weather events such as flooding, storm surge and inundation, NIWA chief executive John Morgan says.

The computers will also be used to model climate change, river flow, ocean levels and wave patterns.

"Industries that are weather-sensitive - such as the energy sector, farming, horticulture and tourism - will benefit directly from NIWA's ability to make more accurate and more specific forecasts," Mr Morgan said.

Two of the new supercomputers will be based in Wellington in the High Performance Computing Facility at NIWA's Greta Point campus.

The third supercomputer will be housed at the University of Auckland's Tamaki Data Centre.

The main computer, which will based in Wellington, is one of the most powerful supercomputers in the world for scientific calculations, NIWA said.

In addition to climate forecasting, it will be used for computational chemistry, engineering, data analytics and biomedical research among other scientific disciplines.

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