November 14, 2019 / 2:13 PM / a month ago

IBM to launch faster weather forecast system to cover the globe

FILE PHOTO: A man stands near an IBM logo at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, February 25, 2019. REUTERS/Sergio Perez/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) - Technology company IBM said on Thursday it will launch a new weather forecasting system which will be able to predict conditions up to 12 hours in advance and cover parts of the world which have not had access to such detailed data.

Demand for very precise and quicker weather forecasts has grown as more extreme conditions increase due to climate change and as more variable renewable energy goes to the grid.

The system, known as IBM GRAF - the Global High-Resolution Atmospheric Forecasting System - will run on a supercomputer and provide more detailed and higher quality forecasts.

Previously, this kind of precise forecasting has been available in the United states, Japan and some west European countries.

IBM’s new day-ahead forecasting system will provide data to cover the world, including Asia, Africa and South America, some of the regions most vulnerable to the effects of climate change, the company said.

Current global weather models cover 10-15 kilometres squared and are updated every six to 12 hours. IBM’s system will forecast down to 3 km sq and update hourly.

“The enhanced forecasts could be revolutionary for some areas of the world, such as for a rural farmer in India or Kenya,” said Cameron Clayton, head of The Weather Company, a subsidiary of IBM.

“If you’ve never before had access to high-resolution weather data but could now anticipate thunderstorms before they approach your fields, you can better plan for planting or harvesting,” he added.

Reporting by Nina Chestney; editing by David Evans

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