India becomes the first Asian country to have petaflop computing facility.
India, being an agrarian economy, is highly dependent on annual monsoon rainfall. With the increasing risks of El Nino, pollution and depletion in green cover, rainfall is day-by-day getting abnormal affecting the lives and the GDP of India. Accurate and targeted weather forecasts are critical in India, where rain is the lifeline for about 880 million villagers who directly or indirectly depend on farming for a living.
India’s fastest and first petaflop super-computer was dedicated to the nation by Union Minister of Earth Sciences, Dr. Harshvardhan. The supercomputer named as ‘Pratyush’ meaning the Sun, established at Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune will be national facility to improve block-level weather forecast. Pratyush supercomputer would have an operational forecast of 3km at a regional scale and 12km on the global scale. Pratyush, at IITM Pune would help in fastest tsunami prediction, accurate fishing zones, air quality index etc.
The facility would help the country with better forecasts in terms of monsoon, extreme events, tsunamis, cyclones, earthquakes, air quality, lightning, fishing, hot and cold waves, flood and drought among others. This facility will also be used in coordination with the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) and other weather monitoring institutes, to evolve better weather monitoring practices and an improved weather forecasting system.
Peta-flop computing is a proven technology to save thousands of lives during calamity.
Natural disasters account to a loss of USD 4 billion to India’s economy. The work to predict natural disasters is in the hands of Indian Meteorological Department since its inception. In 1980, IMD got its first supercomputer to track city level weather forecasting. India knows that it needs high precision supercomputers and satellite to avoid the loss of human and cattle lives. In 1999, a category 5 cyclone hit the eastern state of Odisha killing more than 10,000 people. Due to lack of precisive technology, the cyclone movements was predicted just 48 hours ago. Due to improper disaster management facilities, lakhs of families could not be moved to a safe place. India learnt its lesson, the hard way.
Learning its lessons from the super-cyclone of 1999, Odisha over the years, emerged as a role model in disaster preparedness. With decades of positive intervention by the government, civil society groups, and NGOs, the state has received praise from numerous national and international organisations, including the United Nations. In 2013, when cyclone Phailin rattled the Indian coasts, the government of Odisha undertook the largest ever evacuation, shifting 11 lakh people into safety. The state stood strong as rains lashed the landscape, and the death toll was contained to 21. Next year when cyclone Hudhud hit Odisha, the death toll was contained to just two.
India’s high computing performance facility is constantly on the rise. In last ten years, the high-performance computing facility has grown from 40 Teraflops from 2008 to 1 Petaflops in 2013-14. With the augmentation of Pratyush supercomputer capacity of 4.8 petaflops, India’s ranking will move from 368th position to around Top 30 in the world. India will be also placed at the 4th position to induct HPC after Japan, UK and US.
Pratyush Supercomputer dedicated for prosperous India
- Improved weather forecast at block level which can predict extreme weather events.
- High resolution seasonal/extended range of forecasts of active/break spells of Monsoon.
- Very high-resolution models for prediction of cyclones with more accuracy and lead time.
- Improved ocean state forecasts including marine water quality forecast at very high resolution.
- Tsunami forecast with greater lead time.
- Air Quality forecast for different smart cities.
- Climate projection at 3km range at very high resolution.
The weather office plans to improve its forecasting capacity to a 1km grid for major cities by 2018, matching the precision of the UK’s Met Office. With a more detailed forecast from the weather bureau, farmers would be able to plan their farming activities better during the rainy season. We cannot avert natural disasters but we definitely can control the personal and financial loss of the affected.
– Chaitanya Kulkarni