US Army Corps of Engineers Uses Azure for Storm Modeling – ExtremeTech

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(Photo: Brian McGowan / Unsplash)
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority are forming teams with Microsoft to better prepare the state for hurricanes. Agencies are using Azure Government, a Microsoft computing and analytics tool specifically reserved for the government, to model synthetic storms and determine the best ways to prevent the need for future evacuation and reconstruction.

After the US Army Corps Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) initiated the pilot project under the Department of Defense High Performance Computing Modernization Program (HPCMP), Microsoft awarded the ERDC a AI for Earth grant, which aims to “put Microsoft Cloud and artificial intelligence tools in the hands of those working to solve global environmental challenges.” The Louisiana Authority and the Army Corps will run CSTORM-MS, a high-capacity storm modeling system, on Azure to explore the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning to gain information about storms. They will begin by studying how seawater could move up the Mississippi River during a major storm and affect coastal communities.

1634928233 162 US Army Corps of Engineers Uses Azure for Storm Modeling

The Mississippi River, one of Louisiana’s main economic drivers, also poses a flood risk during hurricanes and other major storms. (Photo: Justin Wilkens / Unsplash)

After catastrophic disasters like Hurricanes Ida and Katrina (as well as the increasing urgency of climate change), it is imperative that the government find ways to mitigate the effects of tropical storms. With Azure, the Army Corps can decide which flood risk infrastructure to prioritize, as well as where to locate it. Boardwalks and levees are critical to mitigating the impact of hurricanes on nearby communities, but where they are built makes a big difference. Putting a dike in one place can cause flooding in another, for example, and the margin for error is slim. “If you’re building a levee that goes 10, 20 miles or so and you have to have a tolerance for error about how high that levee is, you’re talking millions of dollars if you have to build it higher,” he told Microsoft. ERDC research mathematician Chris Massey.

Agencies have already mimicked more than 2,300 computerized storms before incorporating Azure Government. Resources have historically been scarce; CSTORM’s heavy lifting requires the team to use Department of Defense supercomputers, which are in high demand from researchers involved in military COVID-19 mapping and analysis. Azure will allow ERDC to avoid potential delays caused by this demand and to be able to respond efficiently during an active storm.

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