Met Office

UK invests £1.2bn in weather and climate supercomputer

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The UK government has invested £1.2bn to develop and run “the world’s most powerful weather and climate supercomputer”. 

The state-of-the-art supercomputer will be managed by the UK’s Met Office and it will replace the existing trio of Met Office Cray XC40 supercomputers from 2022 onwards.

£1.2 billion refers to the total expected investment from government. The expected contractual value for the supercomputing capability is £854 million. Other costs include investment in the Observations Network, exploiting the capabilities of the supercomputer and the programme office costs.

Data from this new supercomputer – expected to be the world’s most advanced dedicated to weather and climate – will be used to help more accurately predict storms, select the most suitable locations for flood defences and predict changes to the global climate.

The new supercomputer will also be used to help ensure communities can be better prepared for weather disruption, including through:

  • more sophisticated rainfall predictions, helping the Environment Agency rapidly deploy mobile flood defences
  • better forecasting at airports so they can plan for potential disruption
  • more detailed information for the energy sector to help them mitigate against potential energy blackouts and surges

Business and Energy Secretary and COP26 President Alok Sharma said:

Over the last 30 years, new technologies have meant more accurate weather forecasting, with storms being predicted up to 5 days in advance.

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.

The new supercomputer will also strengthen the UK’s supercomputing and data technology capabilities, driving forward innovation and growing world-class skills across supercomputing, data science, machine learning and artificial intelligence.

Professor Penny Endersby, Met Office Chief Executive said:

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.

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.

We welcome this planned investment from UK government.

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