Project impact

ESCAPE will impact the European excellence for employing exascale high-performance computing in support of one of the largest societal impact areas, namely high-resolution weather forecasting.

Weather- and climate-related disasters have caused $2.4 trillion in economic losses and nearly 2 million deaths globally since 1971 as a result of hazards such as droughts, extreme temperatures, floods, tropical cyclones and related health epidemics, according to a new report by WMO. Notably, the United Nation’s Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction 2013 concluded that direct and indirect losses from natural hazards of all kinds have even been underestimated by at least 50%.

More precise forecasts in both time and space are critical for human activities and concerns such as travel, health, work, and safety. While there is no control about the weather itself, its impact on society through forecasting and preparation has been drastically reduced with the advance in predictive skill. A new risk is the changing characteristics (frequency, location, severity) of weather-, climate- and flood-related hazards since natural climate variability is now exacerbated by long-term, human-induced climate change.

The socio-economic impact of disasters given climate change is likely to be escalating because of their increasing frequency and severity and the growing vulnerability of human societies. Investment in forecasting systems that provide reliable and timely warning is therefore critical. Economic assessments conclude that these investments pay for themselves many times over.

Future improvements in predictive skill for both weather and climate will originate from enhanced spatial resolution, the better representation of more complex physical and chemical processes, from the coupling between atmosphere, land surface and oceans, cryosphere and biosphere, and from better characterization of forecast uncertainty through ensembles. All of these require fundamentally different approaches to computing and data management given constraints on power and storage consumption that will represent impediments to progress between petascale and exascale computing. The development of new paradigms is outside the realm of individual operational services and requires internationally coordinated research and funding.

ESCAPE will directly benefit all member and cooperating countries and will support both Copernicus Atmospheric Monitoring Service (CAMS) and Copernicus Climate Change Service (CCCS), which - among others - rely on ECMWF’s Integrated Forecasting System.

NWP consortia represented in ESCAPE: ECMWF, the world leading NWP centre, and its member and co-operating states; ALADIN/RC-LACE/SELAM, HIRLAM and COSMO, regional NWP consortia representing Western Europe and Northern Africa, Eastern Europe, Northern Europe and Scandinavia, and Central Europe.