Super computer to improve Swedish weather forecasts

Super computer to improve Swedish weather forecasts
The Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute (SMHI) has deployed the help of a new super computer to help it predict the weather with more accuracy, after the agency received scathing criticism from the government earlier this year.

“With this equipment we will be able to perform our duties four times better,” said the IT manager Håkan Borg to trade paper Computer Sweden.

Earlier this spring the government unleashed a swell of frustration over inaccurate weather forecasts, and environment minister Andreas Carlgren demanded improvements from meteorologists at the state-owned institute.

Last year every sixth full-day forecast was wrong, well below the agreed rate for good quality.

Meteorologists also missed 33 percent of gale warnings in 2010 compared with 22 percent in 2008.

The state subsequently ruled that at least 85 percent of forecasts in one year must be accurate.

To meet the 85 percent target, SMHI General Director Lena Pour pledged to invest in more accurate information.

“Given that we did not reach our goals I have issued a mandate to those who make the forecasts that they actually have to improve the quality,” she said to TT at the time.

The new super computer, named “Byvind”, replaces the old “Bore” system and is one of the innovations hoped to enable SMHI to reach their target of accuracy.

But according to Håkan Borg, the new computer venture is just the first step in the development of a better service from SMHI.

The next phase will entail a cooperation between Swedish weather services and its Norwegian counterpart. According to Borg, they will join forces and pool IT resources to a joint and even more powerful super computer serving the needs of the two countries.

“We are counting on having finished this in 2014 and will then start looking into a possible cooperation with the other Nordic countries,” Borg told Computer Sweden.

SMHI is a government agency under the Ministry of the Environment and offers services such as general forecasts and weather warnings, simulations and analyses, statistics, climate studies and contracted research among others.

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