A new ‘Super Computer’ to be installed at the Met Office to help predict storms more accurately which will help with flood defences but also predict changes to the global climate.
Predicting severe weather and the impacts of climate change will be faster and more accurate than ever before, thanks to confirmation of £1.2 billion government funding to develop a state-of-the-art supercomputer, Business and Energy Secretary and COP26 President Alok Sharma announced yesterday.
The new supercomputer, to be managed by the Met Office, will also be used to help ensure communities can be better prepared for weather disruptions, along with better forecasting at airports and more detailed information for the energy sector.
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.
Chair of the Science Review Group Professor Ted Shepherd said: “The agreement to upgrade the Met Office high performance computer is welcome news. The improved processing power will deliver a step-change in weather forecasting and climate modelling capability for the UK. Improved daily to seasonal forecasts and longer-term climate projections will equip society with a greater ability to proactively protect itself against the adverse impacts of climate change.”
The Met Office is at the forefront of supercomputing, using its current technology to drive advances in environmental forecasting.
As a result, detailed weather predictions for the UK now take place every hour instead of every three hours, providing crucial and timely updates when extreme weather is approaching.
The benefit of this has been felt recently: major storms Ciara and Dennis were forecast five days in advance, enabling local councils and emergency services to prepare and instigate resilience plans. Similarly, the Environment Agency has used the Met Office’s latest UK climate projections to set out potential future flooding scenarios and how funding can be best allocated.
Today, the Government also announced £30 million investment for advanced supercomputing services, providing researchers with access to the latest technology and expert software engineers. It will also help them speed up scientific breakthroughs like developing ‘food fingerprinting’ to detect chemical contaminants in food and improving drug design.
The funding will support seven High Performance Computing (HPC) services run by universities from across the UK, including Queen’s University Belfast, the University of Edinburgh, and Durham University. The services will provide researchers with invaluable access to powerful systems to support ground-breaking work in areas from Artificial Intelligence, energy storage and supply, and therapeutic drug design, as well as boosting the skills of UK scientists.