Researchers Enlist Three Supercomputers to Apply Deep Learning to Extreme Weather

By Oliver Peckham

February 12, 2020

When it comes to extreme weather, an errant forecast can have serious effects. While advance warning can give people time to prepare for the weather as it did with the polar vortex last year, the absence of accurate advance warning can cause severe damage and loss of life, as it did with the failure to accurately predict the intensity of Hurricane Harvey in 2017. Now, a team of researchers from Rice University have leveraged the power of three supercomputers to apply deep learning to extreme weather prediction and improve outcomes.

“Generally, the numerical weather models do a good job predicting weather, but they still have some difficulties with extreme weather,” said Pedram Hassanzadeh, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering and earth, environmental and planetary sciences at Rice University, in an interview with the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC). “We’re trying to do extreme weather prediction in a very different way.”

Ebrahim Nabizadeh and Pedram Hassanzadeh, two of the researchers behind the framework. Image courtesy of Rice University.

That “different way” constituted a framework, built by Hassanzadeh and two of his PhD students (Ashesh Chattopadhyay and Ebrahim Nabizadeh), that approached extreme weather prediction as a pattern recognition problem and used deep learning to try to solve it. They chose to use two state-of-the-art approaches for deep learning pattern recognition: ConvNet, a convolutional neural network that has been popular over the last decade, and CapsNet, a more advanced capsule neural network that accounted for the relative position and orientation of weather features – a property that turned out to be crucial.

But to tackle weather data with advanced deep learning, they needed serious computational firepower.

This led the researchers to TACC and Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center (PSC), where they utilized three supercomputers to analyze large datasets and run machine learning codes. These were TACC’s Stampede2, a Dell EMC system benchmarked at 10.7 Linpack petaflops; TACC’s Wrangler, a data-focused Dell EMC system equipped with flash storage; and PSC’s Bridges, an HPE system that recently received a $1.8 million award to improve its deep learning capabilities.

“Our work would not have been possible without XSEDE’s computing resources,” Hassanzadeh said. “Stampede2, Wrangler, and Bridges enabled us to do this work. We have supplemental systems at Rice, but Stampede2 is the main supercomputing resource that my group uses, and Bridges enables us to efficiently work with very large datasets.”

Using these supercomputers, the research team tested the framework on heat waves and cold spells using a small subset of atmospheric circulation data at a fixed altitude, along with some basic data on preceding surface temperature. They found that their advanced deep learning techniques were successful in predicting the events and outperformed simpler methods.

“We found that because the relative position of weather patterns play a key role in their evolution, using a more advanced deep learning method that tracks the relative position of features improves the accuracy and is also more robust when we don’t have a large amount of data for training,” said Hassanzadeh.

The method bears some resemblance to early analog forecasting, whereby forecasters would attempt to predict weather events by studying earlier events that they expected to recur on a regular basis. Now, of course, the technique has evolved. “In this paper, we show that with deep learning you can do analog forecasting with very complicated weather data – there’s a lot of promise in this approach,” Hassanzadeh said.

With the basics of the approach now proven, Hassanzadeh’s team is beginning to take aim at the real competition: the operational models that provide the official weather forecasts for governments around the world. 

“I think we’re showing people that this approach works,” he said. “The next step for my group is to see if deep learning can be more accurate than the operational numerical weather models used for day-to-day weather forecasts. We may be able to train the neural networks using observational data, and it might work better and more accurately than what you get from the numerical weather models for predicting extreme events. We’re going to focus on predictions with longer lead times, where the numerical models perform poorly. If it works, it will be a huge advance in weather prediction.”

About the research

The research referenced in this article was published as “Analog Forecasting of Extreme-Causing Weather Patterns Using Deep Learning” in the January 2020 issue of the Journal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems. The paper, which was written by Ashesh Chattopadhyay, Ebrahim Nabizadeh and Pedram Hassanzadeh, can be accessed here.

To read TACC’s article on the research, by Faith Singer-Villalobos, click here.

Header image caption (from the researchers’ paper): Cluster centers of T2m [temperature at 2m above ground] anomalies at the onsets and Z500 [geopotential height at 500mb] patterns of 3 days earlier. The top (bottom) two rows correspond to summers (winters). S0 (W0) shows the average of T2m and Z500 patterns from days with no heat wave (cold spell). S1-S4 and W1-W4 are obtained from K-means clustering the anomalous T2m patterns at onsets into four classes, which roughly separates the extreme events into four geographical regions: Northern Canada (S1), Western US-Canada (S2), Southern US (S3), and Eastern US-Canada (S4) in summers, and North-West US-Canada (W1), Alaska (W2), North-East US-Canada (W3), and Northern Canada (W4) in winters. Rows 1 and 3 show the cluster centers while rows 2 and 4 show the average of Z500 patterns 3 days before the onsets for each cluster. 

Subscribe to HPCwire's Weekly Update!

Be the most informed person in the room! Stay ahead of the tech trends with industy updates delivered to you every week!

HPC Career Notes: April 2020 Edition

April 2, 2020

In this monthly feature, we’ll keep you up-to-date on the latest career developments for individuals in the high-performance computing community. Whether it’s a promotion, new company hire, or even an accolade, we’ Read more…

By Mariana Iriarte

AMD Epyc CPUs Now on Bare Metal IBM Cloud Servers

April 1, 2020

AMD’s expanding presence in the datacenter and cloud computing markets took a step forward with today’s announcement that its 7nm 2nd Gen Epyc 7642 CPUs are now available on IBM Cloud bare metal servers. AMD, whose Read more…

By Doug Black

Supercomputer Testing Probes Viral Transmission in Airplanes

April 1, 2020

It might be a long time before the general public is flying again, but the question remains: how high-risk is air travel in terms of viral infection? In an article for the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC), Faith Si Read more…

By Staff report

ECP Milestone Report Details Progress and Directions

April 1, 2020

The Exascale Computing Project (ECP) milestone report issued last week presents a good snapshot of progress in preparing applications for exascale computing. There are roughly 30 ECP application development (AD) subproj Read more…

By John Russell

Russian Supercomputer Employed to Develop COVID-19 Treatment

March 31, 2020

From Summit to [email protected], global supercomputing is continuing to mobilize against the coronavirus pandemic by crunching massive problems like epidemiology, therapeutic development and vaccine development. The latest a Read more…

By Staff report

AWS Solution Channel

Amazon FSx for Lustre Update: Persistent Storage for Long-Term, High-Performance Workloads

Last year I wrote about Amazon FSx for Lustre and told you how our customers can use it to create pebibyte-scale, highly parallel POSIX-compliant file systems that serve thousands of simultaneous clients driving millions of IOPS (Input/Output Operations per Second) with sub-millisecond latency. Read more…

What’s New in HPC Research: Supersonic Jets, Skin Modeling, Astrophysics & More

March 31, 2020

In this bimonthly feature, HPCwire highlights newly published research in the high-performance computing community and related domains. From parallel programming to exascale to quantum computing, the details are here. Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Pandemic ‘Wipes Out’ 2020 HPC Market Growth, Flat to 12% Drop Expected

March 31, 2020

As the world battles the still accelerating novel coronavirus, the HPC community has mounted a forceful response to the pandemic on many fronts. But these efforts won't inoculate the HPC industry from the economic effects of COVID-19. Market watcher Intersect360 Research has revised its 2020 forecast for HPC products and services, projecting... Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Weather at Exascale: Load Balancing for Heterogeneous Systems

March 30, 2020

The first months of 2020 were dominated by weather and climate supercomputing news, with major announcements coming from the UK, the European Centre for Medium- Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Q&A Part Two: ORNL’s Pooser on Progress in Quantum Communication

March 30, 2020

Quantum computing seems to get more than its fair share of attention compared to quantum communication. That’s despite the fact that quantum networking may be Read more…

By John Russell

DoE Expands on Role of COVID-19 Supercomputing Consortium

March 25, 2020

After announcing the launch of the COVID-19 High Performance Computing Consortium on Sunday, the Department of Energy yesterday provided more details on its sco Read more…

By John Russell

[email protected] Rallies a Legion of Computers Against the Coronavirus

March 24, 2020

Last week, we highlighted [email protected], a massive, crowdsourced computer network that has turned its resources against the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the globe – but [email protected] isn’t the only game in town. The internet is buzzing with crowdsourced computing... Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Conversation: ANL’s Rick Stevens on DoE’s AI for Science Project

March 23, 2020

With release of the Department of Energy’s AI for Science report in late February, the effort to build a national AI program, modeled loosely on the U.S. Exascale Initiative, enters a new phase. Project leaders have already had early discussions with Congress... Read more…

By John Russell

Servers Headed to Junkyard Find 2nd Life Fighting Cancer in Clusters

March 20, 2020

Ottawa-based charitable organization Cancer Computer is on a mission to stamp out cancer and other life-threatening diseases, including coronavirus, by putting Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Kubernetes and HPC Applications in Hybrid Cloud Environments – Part II

March 19, 2020

With the rise of cloud services, CIOs are recognizing that applications, middleware, and infrastructure running in various compute environments need a common management and operating model. Maintaining different application and middleware stacks on-premises and in cloud environments, by possibly using different specialized infrastructure and application... Read more…

By Daniel Gruber,Burak Yenier and Wolfgang Gentzsch, UberCloud

[email protected] Turns Its Massive Crowdsourced Computer Network Against COVID-19

March 16, 2020

For gamers, fighting against a global crisis is usually pure fantasy – but now, it’s looking more like a reality. As supercomputers around the world spin up Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Julia Programming’s Dramatic Rise in HPC and Elsewhere

January 14, 2020

Back in 2012 a paper by four computer scientists including Alan Edelman of MIT introduced Julia, A Fast Dynamic Language for Technical Computing. At the time, t Read more…

By John Russell

Global Supercomputing Is Mobilizing Against COVID-19

March 12, 2020

Tech has been taking some heavy losses from the coronavirus pandemic. Global supply chains have been disrupted, virtually every major tech conference taking place over the next few months has been canceled... Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

[email protected] Rallies a Legion of Computers Against the Coronavirus

March 24, 2020

Last week, we highlighted [email protected], a massive, crowdsourced computer network that has turned its resources against the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the globe – but [email protected] isn’t the only game in town. The internet is buzzing with crowdsourced computing... Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

DoE Expands on Role of COVID-19 Supercomputing Consortium

March 25, 2020

After announcing the launch of the COVID-19 High Performance Computing Consortium on Sunday, the Department of Energy yesterday provided more details on its sco Read more…

By John Russell

Steve Scott Lays Out HPE-Cray Blended Product Roadmap

March 11, 2020

Last week, the day before the El Capitan processor disclosures were made at HPE's new headquarters in San Jose, Steve Scott (CTO for HPC & AI at HPE, and former Cray CTO) was on-hand at the Rice Oil & Gas HPC conference in Houston. He was there to discuss the HPE-Cray transition and blended roadmap, as well as his favorite topic, Cray's eighth-gen networking technology, Slingshot. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Fujitsu A64FX Supercomputer to Be Deployed at Nagoya University This Summer

February 3, 2020

Japanese tech giant Fujitsu announced today that it will supply Nagoya University Information Technology Center with the first commercial supercomputer powered Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Tech Conferences Are Being Canceled Due to Coronavirus

March 3, 2020

Several conferences scheduled to take place in the coming weeks, including Nvidia’s GPU Technology Conference (GTC) and the Strata Data + AI conference, have Read more…

By Alex Woodie

Leading Solution Providers

SC 2019 Virtual Booth Video Tour

AMD
AMD
ASROCK RACK
ASROCK RACK
AWS
AWS
CEJN
CJEN
CRAY
CRAY
DDN
DDN
DELL EMC
DELL EMC
IBM
IBM
MELLANOX
MELLANOX
ONE STOP SYSTEMS
ONE STOP SYSTEMS
PANASAS
PANASAS
SIX NINES IT
SIX NINES IT
VERNE GLOBAL
VERNE GLOBAL
WEKAIO
WEKAIO

Cray to Provide NOAA with Two AMD-Powered Supercomputers

February 24, 2020

The United States’ National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) last week announced plans for a major refresh of its operational weather forecasting supercomputers, part of a 10-year, $505.2 million program, which will secure two HPE-Cray systems for NOAA’s National Weather Service to be fielded later this year and put into production in early 2022. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Exascale Watch: El Capitan Will Use AMD CPUs & GPUs to Reach 2 Exaflops

March 4, 2020

HPE and its collaborators reported today that El Capitan, the forthcoming exascale supercomputer to be sited at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and serve Read more…

By John Russell

Summit Supercomputer is Already Making its Mark on Science

September 20, 2018

Summit, now the fastest supercomputer in the world, is quickly making its mark in science – five of the six finalists just announced for the prestigious 2018 Read more…

By John Russell

IBM Unveils Latest Achievements in AI Hardware

December 13, 2019

“The increased capabilities of contemporary AI models provide unprecedented recognition accuracy, but often at the expense of larger computational and energet Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

TACC Supercomputers Run Simulations Illuminating COVID-19, DNA Replication

March 19, 2020

As supercomputers around the world spin up to combat the coronavirus, the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) is announcing results that may help to illumina Read more…

By Staff report

IBM Debuts IC922 Power Server for AI Inferencing and Data Management

January 28, 2020

IBM today launched a Power9-based inference server – the IC922 – that features up to six Nvidia T4 GPUs, PCIe Gen 4 and OpenCAPI connectivity, and can accom Read more…

By John Russell

Summit Joins the Fight Against the Coronavirus

March 6, 2020

With the coronavirus sweeping the globe, tech conferences and supply chains are being hit hard – but now, tech is hitting back. Oak Ridge National Laboratory Read more…

By Staff report

University of Stuttgart Inaugurates ‘Hawk’ Supercomputer

February 20, 2020

This week, the new “Hawk” supercomputer was inaugurated in a ceremony at the High-Performance Computing Center of the University of Stuttgart (HLRS). Offici Read more…

By Staff report

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!
Share This