Science

New supercomputer to improve severe weather and climate forecasting

According to the Government, the supercomputer is expected to be the world's most advanced of its kind dedicated to weather and climate.

A new supercomputer designed to improve severe weather and climate forecasting is to receive £1.2 billion from the Government towards its development.

The technology will be managed by the Met Office, with the aim of offering more sophisticated rainfall predictions and better forecasting at airports.

Data collected by the powerful device will also be used to help more accurately predict storms, select the most suitable locations for flood defences and predict changes to the global climate.

According to the Government, the supercomputer is expected to be the world’s most advanced of its kind dedicated to weather and climate.

The Met Office’s current supercomputer – which is due to reach its end of life in late 2022 – is in the top 50 of the world’s most powerful computers, and contains enough storage to hold over 100 years’ worth of HD films.

“This investment will ultimately provide earlier, more accurate warning of severe weather, the information needed to build a more resilient world in a changing climate and help support the transition to a low-carbon economy across the UK,” said Professor Penny Endersby, Met Office chief executive.

“It will help the UK to continue to lead the field in weather and climate science and services, working collaboratively to ensure that the benefits of our work help Government, the public and industry make better decisions to stay safe and thrive.”

The Government hopes the technology will be able to help ensure communities can better prepare for weather disruption such as that from recent storms Dennis and Ciara.

Storm Dennis
Rescue operations under way after flooding in Nantgarw, Wales after Storm Dennis hit the UK (Ben Birchall/PA)

The supercomputer itself is expected to cost £854 million, with remaining funds set to go towards investment in the Observations network and programme offices, over a 10-year period from 2022 to 2032.

“Over the last 30 years, new technologies have meant more accurate weather forecasting, with storms being predicted up to five days in advance,” said Alok Sharma, Business and Energy Secretary and COP26 president.

“Come rain or shine, our significant investment for a new supercomputer will further speed up weather predictions, helping people be more prepared for weather disruption from planning travel journeys to deploying flood defences.”

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