by Andy Walsh

Quick and accurate predictions of climate and weather are a part of everyday planning – think staying dry while walking to work – all the way to the serious, large-scale initiatives – like knowing what resources to allocate for hurricane recovery efforts.


GPU technology has already had a hand in improving the precision of weather forecasting. In Boulder, Colorado, the National Center for Atmospheric Research contributed to the development of the Weather Research and Forecasting Model (WRF) which partially utilizes GPU technology for up to 20% speed improvement.  WRF is the is the most widely-used model in the world, counting the National Weather Service and the Air Force Weather Agency among its users.

Now, we've reached another milestone for the GPU in the field of atmospheric modeling. A research group led by Professor Takayuki Aoki of theTokyo Institute of Technology has succeeded in 100% utilization of GPUs in the next-generation weather forecasting model, codenamed ASUCA, currently being developed by the Japan Meteorological Agency. ASUCA has a similar feature set to WRF, but because it is fully GPU-optimized, ASUCA runs 80 times faster than weather models running on CPUs alone or on CPU/GPU combinations. In short, it is the fastest solution available today.

Thanks to NVIDIA Tesla and CUDA parallel processing architecture, ASUCA simulates a 6 hour event (with 2km mesh size in a 3164x3028x48 grid) in 70 minutes on 120 GPUs, a calculation that would have taken 5600 minutes using CPUs. The speed and accuracy of these weather predictions have major implications for more efficient and effective planning and resource allocation.


It’s an exciting time for the GPU in atmospheric science, and we want to congratulate Professor Takayuki Aoki and his team on their hard work and incredible breakthrough.