Hurricanes, heat waves, tornadoes, and other severe weather phenomena occur every year, resulting in thousands of deaths and tens of billions in damage. Extreme weather predictions made longer in advance and with more precision may allow targeted locations to be better prepared, reducing loss of life and property damage.
However, it is tough to predict the weather. It is difficult to achieve 100% accuracy in the weather forecast, especially when the weather is usually fickle and the information provided is minimal.
As a result, computer power is essential to watch the entire globe and forecast when a minor storm may become dangerous.
Weather forecasting requires analysis of vast data, including various dynamic factors such as air temperature, pressure and density, all of which interact in complex ways. However, using conventional computers, or even supercomputers, to produce numerical weather and climate prediction models has limits. Furthermore, typical computers may not be quick enough to keep up with rapidly changing weather conditions while processing meteorological data. Here the quantum computing comes into play.
Quantum Computers for Better Weather Forecasting at the Local and Global Levels
Quantum computing will enhance weather forecasting on both a local and a larger scale, allowing for more advanced and precise warnings of extreme weather occurrences, perhaps saving lives and minimizing property damage on an annual basis.
A quantum computer capable of improving traditional mathematical methods for tracking and forecasting weather by handling large volumes of data more efficiently and quickly, harnessing the computing power of qubits, and employing quantum-inspired algorithms. Quantum machine learning can also improve pattern identification, which is critical for interpreting the weather.
The UK Met Office has already invested heavily in quantum computing to help improve forecasting. IBM Research has combined with The Weather Company, University Corporation for Atmospheric Research(UCAR), and National Center for Atmospheric Research(NCAR) in the United States to create a rapidly updating, storm-scale model that can predict thunderstorms at a local scale.
Their model is the first to covers the whole globe and will give high-resolution forecasts even in the most remote locations. It makes use of IBM’s supercomputing technology and geographical processing units, and it has the potential to integrate with quantum computing in the future to help track and anticipate climatic conditions in ways that traditional supercomputers cannot.
Supercomputers will be able to anticipate micro-meteorological phenomena like the creation of each cloud or wind eddy if quantum computing becomes feasible — it may even be possible to forecast weather in your backyard! Until then, meteorologists will have to rely on better satellites to feed more data into today’s sophisticated models since more data means more accurate forecasts.