Japan Develops Fastest Weather Prediction Tool

October 10, 2016

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. in conjunction with / ɪn kənˈdʒʌŋk ʃən wɪð/ (idiom) – together with something else
Example: The new software was produced in conjunction with the German company.

2. assimilate / əˈsɪm əˌleɪt/ (v.) – to combine or be put together
Example: When oxygen and hydrogen assimilate, they form water.

3. simulation /ˌsɪm yəˈleɪ ʃən/ (n.) – a situation similar to the one you want to reproduce or copy
Example: Scientists create earthquake simulations to learn more about lessening their impact.

4. computational /ˌkɑːmpjʊˈteɪʃənl̟ / (adj.) – related to mathematical computations or calculations
Example: The machine’s computational ability allows it to measure changes in heart rate.

5. be of great benefit /bɪ ɒv greɪt ˈbɛn ə fɪt/ (idiom) – to be helpful to someone
Example: Your help is of great benefit to the victims of the storm.


Read the text below.
Japanese supercomputer K is now the fastest weather forecasting tool in the world.

Currently, supercomputers doing weather predictions get data every hour. However, some storms form within minutes. But K, in conjunction with a high-tech radar, is able to update information every 30 seconds, which is 120 times faster than previous technology. In fact, K is able to predict a 30-minute forecast every 30 seconds.

Observations from the radar and the computational power of K assimilate to create storm simulations. Because of its rapid data-gathering, K shows high-quality images, which are more accurate and reliable compared to previous weather forecasting tools. It can also predict sudden storms in localized areas.

This weather forecast system is currently located at the RIKEN Advanced Institute for Computational Science campus in Osaka. Earlier, K was tested for its accuracy when researchers created a storm simulation near Osaka. K displayed the storm as accurately as actual observations.

As a supercomputer, K can help people to understand complex natural processes like storms, earthquakes, and even heartbeats. In fact, researchers are also looking into using K to further studies in medicine and drug development. But currently, K’s main contribution is in the field of disaster management, especially in storm predictions for a specific area.

Accurate storm prediction could mean preparedness for residents of the affected area and quick response for emergency or rescue teams.

More accurate weather predictions can also be of great benefit to the general public. For instance, supermarkets rely on weather predictions when it comes to restocking their shelves. Likewise, companies are also able to forecast electricity demand using weather predictions.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Apart from supermarket owners and energy suppliers, who else do you think can benefit from accurate weather predictions?
·         Do you think an extremely fast tool for predicting weather is necessary? Why?

Discussion B

·         What industry can benefit most from supercomputers? Explain.
·         Do you think supercomputers will eventually replace scientists? Why or why not?

October 10, 2016