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Supercomputer Simulations to Help Predict Tornadoes

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Amy McGovern

Oklahoma professor Amy McGovern

Photo courtesy of University of Oklahoma

University of Oklahoma researchers are using supercomputers to assemble and analyze massive amounts of data on tornadoes, such as updraft, downdraft, and regions of spin, all of which could help develop advanced warning systems.

The researchers, led by Oklahoma professor Amy McGovern, created tornado models and analyzed how storm variables interact to identify storms that lead to deadly tornadoes. "Long term, this will dramatically improve the prediction of tornadoes as we will better understand why some storms generate tornadoes and others do not," McGovern says.

The researchers used observational data from a 20-year-old storm to develop more than 250 storm simulations. Then they used the University of Tennessee's (UT's) Kraken supercomputer to analyze the simulations, each of which produces about a terabyte of data. "Since each simulation generates 1 terabyte of data and we have 50 such simulations, we have too much data for a human to examine by hand," McGovern says.

The researchers used UT's Nautilus supercomputer to perform the data mining, which enabled them to isolate and analyze variables that can help with tornado prediction.

From National Science Foundation
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Abstracts Copyright © 2011 Information Inc. External Link, Bethesda, Maryland, USA 


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