Sunny forecast for Reading as it is to welcome new weather quantum computing centre

ECMWF in Reading

The European Center for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) and leading international IT services company Atos have announced the development of a new Centre of Excellence in high performance computing (HPC), Artificial Intelligence (AI) and quantum computing for Weather & Climate in Reading.

ECMWF is an independent intergovernmental organisation supported by most of the nations of Europe, based at Shinfield Park, Reading. It is the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts and is both a research institute and a 24/7 operational service, producing global numerical weather predictions and other data. The Centre has one of the largest supercomputer facilities and meteorological data archives in the world.

ECMWF 2The new Centre of Excellence will be based at ECMWF’s Reading headquarters where it will provide their team of international researchers with access to emerging AI (Artificial Intelligence) and Quantum Computing technologies and expertise, and benefit from ECMWF’s high-performance computing (HPC) resources to be soon located in Bologna, Italy. The aim is to support ECMWF scientists in their work on medium and long-range weather forecasting and prediction and global climate modelling.

Using these latest advances in technology, ECMWF researchers will be able to improve the ability to forecast the occurrence and intensity of extreme weather events and other new weather phenomena triggered by climate change. Equipped with Atos’ supercomputer, the Centre of Excellence will also be supported by Atos experts and technology partners who will collaborate directly with ECMWF research scientists to develop new techniques to support next-generation weather forecasting, help boost climate and weather discovery and innovation, and help prepare ECMWF for future HPC and data handling architectures.

Dr Florence Rabier, Director General at ECMWF, said: “Bringing together world-class experts in computing, computational science and Earth system science is key to continuing to advance our medium- and long-range weather forecasting. The Centre builds on a previous successful collaboration with Atos and will play a significant role in helping us to improve and reliably predict the occurrence and intensity of extreme weather events and other events associated with climate change significantly ahead of time.”

Pierre Barnabé, Senior Executive Vice-President, Head of Big Data & Cybersecurity at France-headquartered Atos said: “Researchers will be able to explore the different usages of HPC and AI through proof of concept production, as well as innovation workshops, courses and conferences. High-performance Computing assisted by artificial intelligence holds huge potential for the climate and weather. It also introduces new methods and techniques that are only just becoming available.”

As part of the new Centre of Excellence, one of the initial projects will be to develop machine learning solutions for applications across the numerical weather prediction workflow that are customized towards the needs of Earth system modelling. A second project will look to develop a CPU-GPU-based version of ECMWF’s Integrated Forecasting System (IFS) and the wave model WAM, and to prepare the ECMWF product-generation pipeline and data-centric workflows for new technologies.

As part of the Atos Center of Excellence (CoE) in Advanced Computing, the Weather & Climate CoE is Atos’ second CoE dedicated to HPC, AI and quantum technologies which is focused on a scientific domain. The first being launched in Cambridgeshire on 8 July, together with the Wellcome Genome Campus and which is focused on Life Sciences.