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Nice weather today, isn't it? And the supercomputer isn't bad, too

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Staff writer ▼ | October 28, 2014
UK weather
Weather and climate science   97 million pound supercomputer makes UK world leader

UK government plans for a new 97 million pounds supercomputer will cement the UK’s position as a world leader in weather and climate prediction.

The weather’s volatility has long been a popular British conversation topic – but the government’s plans for a new 97 million pounds supercomputer will cement the UK’s position as a world leader in weather and climate prediction.

This supercomputer will be 13 times more powerful than the current system used by the Met Office and will have 120,000 times more memory than a top-end smartphone.

Enabling forecast updates every hour and the ability to provide very high detail weather information for precise geographical areas, the world-leading High Performance Computer (HPC) will help the UK to more effectively predict disruptive weather events such as flooding, strong winds, fog and heavy snowfall.

The supercomputer’s impressive computing power also opens up the potential for higher resolution models, which would have the ability to pinpoint more detail for small scale, high-impact weather. For example applying very high resolution (300m) models could help better determine the risk and timing of fog over airports.

Scientists will also explore the benefits of adapting the resolution to improve UK winter forecasts months in advance, and assessing the specific regional impacts of climate change such as floods, droughts and heatwaves.

The supercomputer’s sophisticated forecasts are anticipated to deliver 2 billion of socio-economic benefits to the UK by enabling better advance preparation and contingency plans to protect peoples’ homes and businesses.

Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, said: "We are a country fascinated by the weather, so it’s no surprise that from early barometers to this weather supercomputer, we’ve always led the way in developing technology to predict the weather.

"This 97m pounds investment is a crucial part of the Government’s wider drive to make the UK the best place in the world to do science and research. By bringing world-class technology to the South West, we are also boosting regional investment and expertise, creating a stronger economy and fairer society."


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