Climate predicting supercomputer inaugurated in Hamburg

Climate predicting supercomputer inaugurated in Hamburg

The “Levante” supercomputer, designed to predict future climate events, opened at the German Climate Computing Centre (DKRZ) on Wednesday.

What is a climate supercomputer?

Costing a total of 45 million euros, funded by the city-state of Hamburg and two research organisations, the Levante supercomputer is designed to precisely predict future bouts of extreme weather, such as floods, typhoons and droughts.

“[The computer] helps us to better understand and simulate weather processes,” Volker Matthias, a climate researcher at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Hereon, told NDR. “For example how aerosol particles interact with cloud droplets, how they influence the rain and the strength of the precipitation.”

The long term goal for researchers working with the supercomputer is to “create a digital twin of the earth,” the president of the Max Planck Society, Martin Stratmann, said. Currently, high resolution climate models are limited to periods of a few months. With new technology like Levante, researchers can develop a more detailed understanding of climate events possible over the course of the coming century. “Effective climate policy depends on good climate models,” added Otmar Wiestler, head of the Helmholtz-Zentrum Hereon.

Hamburg now has one of the world’s most powerful computers

“When the computer is fully operational, it will be one of the top 30 most powerful computers in the world,” Thomas Ludwig of the DKRZ told NDR. The machine completes 14 quadrillion mathematical calculations per second and the Levante computer is five times faster than its predecessor. 

With memory storage equivalent to 100.000 laptops and using 18 gigawatt per year, the computer is expected to rack up 9 million euros in electricity bills. But this is a worthy investment, assures Green Party Senator of Science Katharina Fegebank, who attended the computer's inauguration. “Research must contribute to minimising the consequential costs of global warming as much as possible,” Fegebank said at the DKRZ press conference on Wednesday.

Olivia Logan


Olivia Logan



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