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India is building a supercomputer to forecast the monsoon

India is building a supercomputer to forecast the monsoon


Officials hope that more accurate forecasts of seasonal rains will help boost farm production

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India is developing a supercomputer to predict the monsoon with greater accuracy, and it hopes to have it up and running by next year. As Reuters reports, the country's meteorology office is spending $60 million to build the new supercomputer, which will use 3D modeling to predict how the seasonal rains will develop. M Rajeevan, India's earth science secretary, did not say which companies will manufacture the computer, though he tells Reuters that it will be 10 times faster than the current system, which was developed by IBM.

India's farming sector is heavily reliant on the monsoon season, which runs from June to September. The monsoon accounts for more than two-thirds of the country's annual rainfall, and accurate predictions could help farmers identify the best time to sow their crops. According to Reuters, more accurate monsoon forecasts could boost farm production by up to 15 percent. In 2015, agriculture accounted for about 18 percent of India's GDP, according to the World Bank.

"monsoon still remains a very complex weather system."

India's current forecasting system, first introduced during British colonial rule, is based on a statistical model that combines historical patterns with data collected from satellites, radar, and observatories. The country's meteorology office has struggled to deliver accurate forecasts in recent years, most notably when it failed to predict a major drought in 2009. India has also seen two consecutive years of drought, though the meteorology office has predicted that this year's rains will not affect farm output.

"In the last one decade we've gained a greater degree of precision in forecasting rains," Rajeevan tells Reuters, "but monsoon still remains a very complex weather system which only God has the ability to understand fully."