Australian Government Bureau of Meteorology

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Bureau's data link paves the way for new supercomputer


One of Australia's fastest data links is now giving weather forecasters better access to vital weather information.

The Bureau of Meteorology has upgraded its data link to more than twice the speed of its previous link, allowing the agency to now move vast amounts of data at the speed of light.

Bureau of Meteorology Director, Dr Rob Vertessy, said the new data link will enable the Bureau to further improve the accuracy and timeliness of its weather forecasts and warnings, and increase the agency's Information and Communication Technology (ICT) resilience.

"The installation of a high speed data link helps us greatly now and positions us well for the future," Dr Vertessy said.

The Bureau will soon go to the market to purchase the supercomputer and data centre announced by the Australian Government as part of the 2014-15 Federal Budget.

"The data link upgrade and supercomputer project are elements of a significant IT transformation being undertaken by the Bureau at this time, including the replacement of weather forecasting and flood forecasting systems, the development of a new storm surge forecasting system and the introduction of several new water information products and services," he said.

The upgrade has increased the connection between the Bureau's two main data centres from 80 gigabits per second (Gbps) to 200Gbps.

"The Bureau's weather forecasting process generates more than a terabyte of data each day and this will grow by a factor of ten within the coming decade.

"Producing a weather forecast involves the collation of massive streams of weather data from satellites, planes, ships and ground stations from around the world and this data is fed into complex mathematical models that run four times per day to predict hourly variations in the weather for the week ahead.

"The new supercomputer will be almost 20 times faster than our current machine, giving us the ability to ingest even more data and run our weather prediction models more frequently and at higher resolution.

"This will result in even better forecasts but it also means a lot more data transfer between our data centres and we have to upgrade our communications infrastructure accordingly."

The new data link consists of two fibre cables of 100Gbps each, which operate concurrently.

"As a mission-critical operational agency we design our systems to minimise service disruption and having two separate data links ensures ongoing service delivery in the unlikely event that one of the fibre cables fails," Dr Vertessy said.

The Bureau is also embracing mobile technology, with a weather app for Microsoft Windows and Apple iOS platforms to be released by the end of this year.