Defense tests grid for weather forecasts

A grid computing initiative will link two powerful Defense Department weather modeling systems in hopes of predicting regional weather conditions better.

'We want to see if grid computing concepts can apply to numerical weather prediction,' said Mike Clancy, chief scientist and deputy technical director of the Navy's Fleet Numerical Meteorology and Oceanography Center.

Grid software will pair computing resources at Fleet Numerical, located in Monterey, Calif., with those at the Air Force Weather Agency located at Offutt Air Force Base, Neb. Both sites supply weather forecasts to numerous Defense and civilian agencies.

The two centers will install identical IBM Corp. server clusters linked by Platform LSF Multicluster software from Platform Computing Inc. of Markham, Ontario. The multicluster software balances workloads across clusters in different locations.

The hardware will be delivered this spring of 2004, and the trial should get under way by fall. The two systems will then work on jobs jointly, with the software determining which system takes which portions of a job.

'We will try to distribute production runs between here and the remote site, and the Air Force will do the same,' Clancy said.

Funding comes from the Defense Department's High-Performance Computing Modernization Program, which commissions a number of distributed center projects each year. Clancy said the project will cost several million dollars.

Established in 1992, the High-Performance Computing Modernization Program, at, strives to maintain technical superiority of U.S. military computer systems.

About the Author

Joab Jackson is the senior technology editor for Government Computer News.

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