India To Build A Supercomputer For Monsoon Forecasting

India is spending $60 million to build a new supercomputer for predicting the monsoon with greater accuracy. The country hopes to finish the project by next year.

According to a report published by Reuters, the supercomputer will be used by the country's meteorology office to predict how the seasonal rains will develop. The forecast will be based on 3D weather modeling of India's 28 states. Once operational, the machine will use data collected by satellites, planes and balloons.

India's earth science secretary, M Rajeevan, did not unveil which companies will manufacture the computer. However, he revealed that the machine will be 10 times faster than the current system developed by IBM.

The Verge reports that the farming sector in India depends heavily on the monsoon season. More than two-thirds of India's annual rainfall is producing by the monsoon that runs from June to September.

Farmers could identify the best time to sow their crops based on accurate predictions. Farm production could be increased by up to 14 percent through more accurate monsoon forecasts. According to the World Bank, agriculture sector accounted in 2015 for about 18 percent of India's GDP.

The current forecasting system was first introduced in India during the British colonial rule. The current system is based on a statistical model combining data collected from radar, satellites and observatories with data extracted from historical patterns.

In recent years, India's meteorology office has struggled to deliver accurate forecasts and in 2009 it failed to predict a major drought. According to Rajeevan, the monsoon is a very complex weather system.

Engadget reports that India's government scientists hope to be able to use the new supercomputer before monsoon season next year. India is one of the biggest producers of wheat, rice, fresh fruits and vegetables. The supercomputer is estimated to help increasing India's farming output at levels justifying its cost in just one season.

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