More powerful supercomputing capacity for Canada’s weather service

Backgrounder

Supercomputers continuously process large amounts of meteorological data collected from satellites, radars and monitoring sites located across Canada and around the world. They make hundreds of trillions of calculations per second, using sets of mathematical formulas to simulate the current atmospheric conditions and calculate how these conditions will change over time. This information, processed through our Montréal-based Canadian Meteorological Centre and distributed to our regional prediction centres provides Canadians with one of the most advanced weather services in the world.

To better meet the needs of Canadians and weather sensitive economic sectors

With a country the size of Canada, we are no strangers to severe weather and a changing climate.  From winter and summer storms to flooding, heat waves, and poor air quality, these weather events cause personal injury and loss of life, and can make significant damage to infrastructure and personal property from coast to coast to coast.

The new supercomputer will help to provide more accurate forecasts and warnings of severe weather events like tornadoes and hurricanes, and give Canadians more lead time to protect themselves. More precise and timely information on the anticipated path and severity of the high impact weather and its possible impacts will help emergency planners, responders, the public and many economic sectors such as transportation, energy, agriculture, health, tourism and construction, be better prepared.

Benefits to Canadians

Knowing the likelihood of rain or snow, maximum temperatures, winds and many other meteorological variables are valuable elements of decision making. This weather information not only increases the safety and security for Canadians but it is also used in almost every sector of the economy including health sciences, environmental management, agriculture and transportation.

The supercomputing capability allows Environment and Climate Change Canada ECCC to provide many essential services including:

  • Supporting the Department of National Defence and Canadian Coast Guard operations in support of sovereignty at home and abroad and search and rescue missions;
  • Essential weather services to NAV Canada in support of safe aviation operations including warnings when volcanic ash is released into the atmosphere;
  • Modeling in support of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans for sustainability of marine ecosystems;
  • Modeling in support of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada for soil moisture calculations to sustain and secure the Canadian food supply
  • Support Global Affairs Canada for nuclear test ban treaty enforcement;
  • Alerts of poor air quality, information on the spread of nuclear radiation and disease vectors for Health Canada;
  • Forecasts to Public Safety Canada to support responses to environmental emergencies (such as the spread of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear material;
  • Accurate observations and forecasts enabling fire fighters to safely combat forest fires; and
  • Climate change simulations to support Canada’s position on the International Panel on Climate Change.

As our country’s population continues to grow and the value, size and density of infrastructure increases, the potential cost of severe weather in lives and dollars also increases. Accurate, timely and reliable weather forecasting becomes more important than ever. By improving our short-term and long-range weather forecasting, the new supercomputer will play a significant role in making sure Canadians have the lead time required to prepare against severe weather events.


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