Weather forecasting for outreach on Wee Archie supercomputer

Weather forecasting for outreach on Wee Archie supercomputer
An image of Wee Archie in action.

Project reference: 1610

We have just completed the building of Wee Archie, a mini supercomputer that represents ARCHER, the UK national supercomputer hosted by us in Edinburgh. Wee Archie is comprised of 18 Raspberry Pis (8 control cores and 64 computation cores) housed in a custom constructed casing with all the wires and networking hardware required for it to work and providing a minimum of set up time. The idea behind this is so it can be easily taken to outreach events where the public can gain an understanding of what a supercomputer is comprised of, illustration of parallelism and through examples of real world problems run on these machines how HPC is, without them knowing, central to their everyday lives. The hardware itself is complete, but more applications and demonstrations are needed for running on the machine in order to have the impact that we want.

A common and very important application of HPC is that of weather forecasting. In conjunction with the UK Met Office we have developed a new, state of the art, weather forecasting model which the scientific community are now starting to use. This would be a fantastic code to run on Wee Archie, not least because the same simulation code is running on ARCHER for real world scientific modelling.

The project will involve the development of visualisation and interactions with our weather model running on Wee Archie so that a visitor could, for instance, change parameters (such as the temperature, cloud etc) and see how this will change the day’s weather. The focus of this project is very much on the outreach side, so how can we engage with the general public and use these things most effectively.

An important dimension to this project is that, like our previous SoHPC students working on outreach, your work over the summer will be widely used and publicised by us at outreach events.

An image of Wee Archie in action.

An image of Wee Archie in action.

An image of the Wee Archie logo.

An image of the Wee Archie logo.

Project Mentor: Nick Brown

Site Co-ordinator: Catherine Inglis

Student: Tomislav Subic

Learning Outcomes:
Wee Archie is designed to represent modern supercomputers, you will therefore learn about how these machines are designed, configured and the type of workloads they are used for. You will gain skills in areas such as understanding of HPC applications development and data visualisation.

Student Prerequisites (compulsory): 
A strong programming background, with an interest in both HPC and the visualisation aspects of the field as well as a flair for design. Some experience with using Linux.

Student Prerequisites (desirable): 
Experience in C, Fortran or Java. Some experience in using visualisation tools.

Training Materials:
Familiarisation with Linux (there are many online primers.) Paraview tutorial (

Work package 1 : (1 week) – SoHPC training week
Work package 2 : (2 weeks) –Gain experience with Wee Archie and the weather forecasting code. Initial prototype of visualisation and interaction tools working with the model on Wee Archie. Submit work plan.
Work package 3 : (3 weeks) – Main development phase of the project where the visualisation and interaction tools are matured and the outreach aspects of the project brought into focus.
Work package 4 : (2 weeks) – Final tidy up of code and interface. Produce a video demonstration of the work that has been done. Submit final report

Final Product Description: 
The final result will be a weather forecasting outreach demo running on Wee Archie, which at events the public can interact with and understand visually how different forces impact the weather. The main idea behind this is the communication of using large numbers of cores to run numerical simulations (weather) and how these can be used to further our understanding of the world and solve real problems.

Adapting the Project: Increasing the Difficulty:
There are plenty of avenues for additional work, for instance the hardware side of things could be explored further with monitoring of Wee Archie whilst the model is running.

Nothing specific, we will provide anything required and have Wee Archie built and ready to be used for this project. Over the summer the student will have direct and uninterrupted use of Wee Archie for this work.

Edinburgh Parallel Computing Centre (University of Edinburgh)

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