The ESiWACE project is developing tools for using big data in order to produce more accurate weather forecasts.

ESiWACE: more accurate weather forecasting with High Performance Computing

Today’s weather forecasts are based on big data: millions of observations made around the world are then inputted into complex numerical models. The accuracy of weather predictions depends on both the resolution and the complexity of the models used. Accurate forecasts are critical for human activities, especially in areas such as disaster response, agricultural production and energy policy.

At a time when extreme weather conditions are being observed more and more often, investment in forecasting systems that provide reliable advance warning is of critical importance and saves lives and money. The ESiWACE project is developing new software that will make it possible to improve the efficiency and accuracy of numerical weather and climate modelling by using high performance computing (HPC).

Weather and climate computing have always been one of the key drivers for HPC development, with specific scientific and technical requirements that stretch the capability and capacity of existing software and hardware to the limits. The key objective of the ESiWACE project is to develop tools that will support the storage and use of the unprecedentedly large amounts of data produced by modern weather forecast models, while working closely with the climate and weather modelling communities.

The project is focusing on three areas: scaling up forecasting models, tools and data management for use with state-of-the-art HPC systems, making sure that models and tools are compatible across European HPC networks, and processing the huge amount of resulting data. By developing solutions at a European scale, the ESiWACE project will have a direct impact on the competitiveness of Europe’s HPC industry by developing new products, providing opportunities for their use beyond the project itself, and by enhancing the skills base of staff in both industry and academia.

ESiWACE in brief

  • Total Budget: EUR 4,951,048 (EU contribution: EUR 4,951,048)
  • Duration: 9/2015-8/2019
  • Countries involved: Germany, United Kingdom, France, Spain, Sweden, Ireland, Italy

Key figures in the European Union

  • Severe weather cost 149,959 lives and EUR 270 billion in economic damage in Europe between 1970 and 2012.
  • ESiWACE builds on the expertise of two established networks, the European Network for Earth System modelling (ENES) and the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF).
  • EU industry currently provides about 5% of HPC resources worldwide, while consuming one third of them.

High Performance Computing (HPC)

HPC, also known as supercomputers, refers to computing systems able to process huge amounts of data and realise complex calculations in record time. Its potential range of uses is vast, including better treatments and personalised healthcare, the prevention and management of large-scale natural disasters, the development of complex encryption technologies, and the production of more innovative goods and services.

In January 2018 the European Commission launched a major initiative on supercomputing – the EuroHPC Joint Undertaking – to create with Member States an integrated world-class supercomputing and data infrastructure and encourage European contribution to this field. It is expected to be operational before the end of 2018. The Commission’s proposed new Digital Europe programme, with an overall budget of EUR 9.2 billion, also includes EUR 2.7 billion of funding for HPC. 

Download the full project success story.

Project website