The IT system supplying meteorological data to the national hail protection system was officially put into commission this Thursday at the headquarters of the Hungarian Meteorological Service (OMSZ) in Budapest.

In her speech at the event, OMSZ President Kornélia Radics pointed out that the KlimAdat project of the meteorological service provider, which is aimed at mapping the impacts of climate change in Hungary, is benefitting from HUF 709 million (EUR  2.2 million) in national and EU funding until the end of 2020 under the Environment and Energy Efficiency Operative Programme (KEHOP). Of this sum, HUF 300 million was spent on the extension and upgrading of the Apollo super computer procured in January, which runs the IT system now put into commission.

Minister of State for Environment Rácz András of the Ministry of Agriculture stressed that the Hungarian government considered climate change as a priority issue when it decided to create the national hail protection system and commissioned the National Agricultural Chamber with its implementation. He added: the performance of the upgraded super computer is five times higher than its predecessor, and it not only serves the hail protection system but also improves the accuracy and speed of meteorological forecasts.

Mr. Rácz also noted that tackling the effects of climate change is not only a matter of safety and security but is also important for the future of national economic sectors, such as agriculture, as weather is a key factor in agricultural production.

The OMSZ has a national radar network of four radar stations, which will be extended with a fifth one this year pursuant to a government decision. As a result, the state-owned meteorological service provider will have national coverage.

Minister of State for Sustainability Balázs Weingartner of the Ministry of Innovation and Technology praised the super computer as the perfect example of achieving innovation, technology and sustainability objectives.

Minister of State Zsolt Feldman from the Ministry of Agriculture pointed out that drought, inland flooding, frost, storms and hail potentially threaten agricultural production and reduce the quantity and quality of crops in the Carpathian Basin, which results in revenue loss for farmers and the economy, and accordingly weather risks need to be handled.

The Minister of State also mentioned that certain risk types can be handled by individual farmers but others, such as hail storms, are beyond their control. All these factors fuelled a collective demand for damage mitigation and the further development of the risk management system. The agricultural damage mitigation system has around 74,000 members and covers 3.2 million hectares.

He added that the national hail protection system implemented with the contribution of the OMSZ forms part of the agricultural risk management system.

Director-General of the Chamber of Agriculture Tamás Darabos said that fewer cases of hail damage were reported this year than last year and the year before, which probably shows that the system works well and certain hail damage types can be prevented effectively.

In essence, the system is based on cloud seeding, that is, when hailstorms are predicted to approach, silver iodide dissolved in acetone is evaporated into the air where it enters the clouds and prevents the formation of large ice crystals.

(MTI/Ministry of Agriculture)