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Supercomputer calculations help prepare for apocalyptic climate change scenarios

2024 / 03 / 06

If the temperature of the Gulf Stream rises by 1°C, how much more rain will fall in specific areas and how many of those areas will be flooded? What will be the speed and direction of a developing hurricane and what will be the consequences for certain regions? Answering these types of questions requires fast processing of huge amounts of data, and this is being done today by high-performance computing (HPC) or, in other words, supercomputers.

“A few years ago, HPC was mostly used for computing related to climate change and meteorology, medicine, engineering and cyber security. However, with the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) in recent years, HPC is now being used to train AI models”, said Gytis Umantas, CEO of the information technology company Novian Technologies.

According to him, Novian Technologies has been actively working in HPC related areas for the last few years, collaborating with scientific institutions, organizations dealing with climate change and many others. Currently, the company’s experts are implementing this technology in Asia, specifically in Bangladesh, and they are notably active in African countries. HPC pools are used to solve the extremely serious issue of climate change here. In total, the company has implemented HPC projects in more than 20 countries.

One of the newest projects implemented by Novian Technologies is a weather research and forecasting model (WRF) and its application in the HPC infrastructure, allowing for accurate weather forecasting and natural disaster prediction in Southern African countries.

Climate change: a challenge affecting the whole world

Recently, climate change has been identified as one of the most pressing issues facing humanity. The hot continent of Africa is also experiencing global climate warming. Seventy percent of the population relies on the agricultural sector, which is highly dependent on rainfall in the southern part of Africa.

Livelihood conditions are also worsened by droughts, floods and tropical cyclones. Climate change leads to a decrease in crop yields, more difficulties getting drinking water and a significant increase in the probability of unwanted consequences caused by natural disasters.

According to Umantas, in order to model weather forecasts in the region and prepare for possible environmental challenges in advance, in 2022, the company started implementing an HPC solution in Botswana that would also be relevant for sixteen other countries in the Southern African Development Community (SADC): Angola, Madagascar, Zimbabwe, Mauritius, South African Republic, Namibia and others.

The CEO of Novian Technologies also divulged that this project required precise management in solving technological issues and logistical challenges, which arise due to the wide geography of the project and the legal and financial characteristics of individual countries. “Once this project is implemented, SADC countries will be able to make faster and more accurate weather forecasts and better prepare for the challenges of climate change”, said Umantas.

One in three did not receive early warnings

The current project in the Southern African region involves the installation of a supercomputer consisting of 20 computing nodes and software that enables efficient modelling and forecasting of weather-related tasks. If not for the HPC solutions, it would take months for ordinary computers to generate similar predictions.

As explained by Rolandas Vaikėnas, the Head of the Technological Solutions at Novian Technologies, the ability to perform high-resolution simulation modelling is necessary for timely and accurate forecasting of weather changes, which helps to take precautionary measures in preparation for potential disasters, save human lives and protect agriculture.

That is why the project integrates data collection and early danger-warning platforms, which include hazard monitoring, prediction and forecasting, disaster risk system assessment, communication and preparation for action systems and processes.

Vaikėnas is pleased by the significant increase in attention to the implementation of these systems in the world over the last few years and expects that these types of systems will soon be available to the world’s entire population. “A few years ago, at least a third of the world’s population, mostly living in less developed countries, had not received warnings about impending disasters”, said Vaikėnas.

From weather forecasts to science projects

Novian Technologies has implemented even more large-scale HPC projects, such as the installation of a high-performance climate monitoring and modelling supercomputer that was completed in 2019 in West Africa, at the West African Science Service Centre on Climate Change and Adapted Land Use (WASCAL)—an IT competence centre located in the capital of Burkina Faso.

The ability to use supercomputer calculations allows scientists to develop more effective tools in order to mitigate the effects of climate change in the countries of West Africa, predict possible consequences and help adapt to environmental changes.

Furthermore, the company is currently implementing another HPC project addressing environmental challenges in Asia, funded by a World Bank programme for weather and flood forecasting in Bangladesh. Since the threat of floods is extremely urgent there, solutions associated with their forecast and prevention of consequences are being implemented.

Not only equipment but also complex solutions

According to Rolandas Vaikėnas, Novian Technologies views developing HPC solutions for customers as a tool to achieve the organization’s objectives.

“Accumulated knowledge and experience in various sectors and partnership with global manufacturers allow us to effectively implement not only the latest HPC but also complex solutions, which include software and hardware selection, their adaptation according to customer needs and installation, as well as solutions for integration with other advanced technologies”, emphasised the expert.

With the ever-increasing demand for artificial intelligence solutions in mind, and in addition to the rise in implementation of HPC clusters, Vaikėnas revealed that the company also provides a comprehensive ecosystem for creating artificial intelligence solutions. This ecosystem includes container orchestration tools for programming teams, cloud services, and self-service solutions for publishing pre-existing AI solutions and granting access to external users.

Maintenance and optimization of installed solutions are ensured by special AI infrastructure management solutions, and by integrating HPC with modern software development solutions, including artificial intelligence, the organization’s software and technological equipment development occurs gradually, as needed. Vaikėnas emphasised how such solutions are especially important for competence centres and for scientific research and experimental development (R&D) centres that develop AI-based solutions.

‘We also see research centres, universities and organizations where many different researchers use their resources and are interested in HPC solutions. We can also offer these research centres self-service portals with resource accounting, which enables faster and more interactive access to and use of the service’, said Vaikėnas.

According to Vaikėnas, long-term partnerships with manufacturers of the equipment allow the company to implement HPC solutions. In the highest partnership level of Dell Technologies, Novian Technologies can also offer solutions for supercomputers developed by this manufacturer. In addition to that, Novian Technologies is the first and the oldest partner of NVIDIA in Lithuania and has excellence in working with NVIDIA AI, Networking, DGX Cloud, DGX Compute Systems and Compute.

About Novian group

Novian Technologies is part of Novian group, whose companies provide technological, software and digitisation solutions, as well as integrated IT solutions and services in these fields.

Novian Technologies is an expert in areas that include creating, maintaining and adapting IT infrastructures to new needs, as well as providing critical IT infrastructure maintenance services. The company’s service portfolio includes solutions related to HPC devices and clusters, as well as open-source cloud technologies, digitisation, and more.

Novian’s activities range from ensuring the smooth day-to-day operation of IT and software development on a city-wide or national scale to the development of information systems and AI solutions. The group’s companies are based in the Baltics, Norway and Moldova, from where they serve clients and implement projects across the globe.

Read more about Novian Technologies’ HPC capabilities here.

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