The UK Met Office will build a new supercomputer 13 times more powerful than the current system to predict weather and climate change, in a plan expected to put the UK at the forefront of meteorological research.
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The new £97 million High Performance Computer (HPC) will be able to give forecast updates every hour and provide specific weather information for different geographical areas. It 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.
It is also hoped that it will help predict more accurately strong and dangerous whether events such as floods and strong winds.
Met Office CEO Rob Varley said, “We are very excited about this new investment in UK science. It will lead to a step change in weather forecasting and climate prediction and give us the capability to strengthen our collaborations with partners in the South West, UK and around the world.
“The new supercomputer, together with improved observations, science and modelling, will deliver better forecasts and advice to support UK business, the public and government. It will help to make the UK more resilient to high impact weather and other environmental risks.”
Construction will begin in 2015 at Exeter University, with the computer ready to use in 2017.
Universities, science and cities minister Greg Clark added, “This is an investment that says the UK believes in science, putting us up there with the very best in the world enabled by technology that will make huge strides in weather and climate forecasting.
“I have been eager to make this happen for some time, and I am confident that the supercomputer will make this nation more resilient and better prepared for high impact weather and boost the economy – improving lives up and down the country.”
It is expected the tool will bring around £2 billion of socio-economic benefits to the UK through better preparation and contingency plans for homes and businesses in the case of extreme weather.
Photo: chris hearn via flickr