TempoQuest – The Science of Faster More Accurate Weather Forecasts

by: Gene Pache

Anyone concerned about weather forecasts, which is all of us, wants to know if it is possible to obtain more accurate forecasts faster. The National Weather service has made progress in the area of hail versus rain and the movement of thunderstorms. Noteworthy improvements have been made as a result of the 160 doppler radars located throughout the US. The dual polarization doppler radars are able to distinguish precipitation types. These radars enable more accurate forecasting of hail embedded in thunderstorms.

Doppler radar is an outstanding technology. But how do we achieve an order of magnitude improvement in accuracy and speed of weather forecasts?   To attain an order of magnitude improvement in speed and accuracy of a regional weather forecast three elements have to be improved.

The three elements are:

(1) The weather model used to develop the forecast

(2) The accuracy of the “Initial Condition” of the atmosphere – the starting point

(3) Computing capability – the number of calculations per second available

All three elements are necessary to create a forecast. The weather models comprised of lines of code enable physical laws governing atmospheric motion, chemical reactions and other relationships to be applied to the initial condition of the atmosphere. The atmosphere’s “initial condition” is derived from the sensor dated collected and assimilated prior to beginning the forecast run. The weather forecasting model, with the initial conditions, is then run on high performance super computers with the capacity to perform trillions of calculations per second. The hardest element to improve with a given operating budget is element number three, computing capability.

To accelerate forecasting requires greater and greater numbers of CPUs. This significantly increases hardware costs. The greater CPU numbers also increase the cost of power and cooling.

One solution to the computing calculation capability problem is to use NVIDIA™ GPUs, graphic processing units. NVIDIA™ GPUs provide much greater calculating capability at far lower hardware and operating cost.

It is the solution TempoQuest is adopting.

TempoQuest – A GEO Satellite Weather Instrument and Data Provider.

ALLENTempoQuest – A GEO Satellite Weather Instrument and Data Provider.

TempoQuest, TQI, is a “weather software as a service” company established to meet the need for faster, more accurate weather forecasts. Today, TQI is in the process of developing unique software, which will deliver next-generation weather forecasts to commercial users and government agencies around the world. Development efforts are currently underway with the time to first release estimated to be 18 months.

TempoQuest’s suite of software solutions are being designed to run on graphic processor unit accelerators (GPUs) instead of CPUs, NVIDIA. This will dramatically increase the speed and accuracy of analysis. Though GPU accelerators are currently in use for other ‘big data’ applications, the technology has not yet been applied to comprehensive weather data analysis.

NVIDIA Corporation has committed to providing TempoQuest with support and assistance, including , technical support on application engineering, hardware and software integration as well as marketing, sales and distribution assistance for the TQI’s GPU forecasting product.

As currently practiced, satellite sensors, drones, radar, etc., will continue to collect global weather data. TempoQuest will then process this data and provide it to today’s major specialist weather companies, such as The Weather Company, AccuWeather, and others. For several of their high-value end users, like commodity traders, insurance firms, power utilities, major agricultural companies, etc., speed and accuracy are critical to the success of their businesses and an extremely valuable asset.

The expenses for this business are relatively modest as the main cost is continued development and maintenance of the software. Sales channels are current commercial providers of weather forecasts. Therefore, the business has inherently high operating leverage and each incremental user is highly profitable.