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Numerical modelling is an important aid both in research and in the production of services. For example, the equations describing weather and other atmospheric processes are so complicated that solving them requires numerical calculations with high performance computers. Computers act as kind of laboratories, within which the behaviour of the atmosphere can be studied and predicted.

Numerical methods for solving the atmospheric equations were outlined already in the beginning of the 20th century by Lewis Fry Richardson, but only with the advent the modern computer did numerical modelling emerge as a viable tool for studying and simulating the complicated processes involved and consequently, predicting the weather. The ever-increasing computing power and speed of modern computers makes it possible to study various phenomena with accuracy only dreamed of before. The Finnish Meteorological Institute – and meteorology in general – has been a keen user of information technology from the very beginning of the computer era.

Information technology at FMI: past and present (Photo : M.Kangas, A.Halas, Cray Inc.).