The UK is building the world’s most powerful computer dedicated to weather and climate modelling.
Set to replace the Cray XC40 supercomputer – which reaches the end of its lifespan in 2022 – the new $2.3 billion supercomputer will improve on the UK’s existing systems that already incorporate data from 215 billion weather observations from around the world every day.
Predictive responses to climate change and extreme weather events are a major priority for the upgrade which the UK government expects will improve its current capacities many times over.
“Over the last 30 years, new technologies have meant more accurate weather forecasting, with storms being predicted up to five days in advance,” said UK Secretary of Business and Energy, Alok Sharma.
“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.”
We’re investing £1.2 billion in a new @metoffice supercomputer - set to be the most advanced in the 🌎- to better predict the weather and the impacts of global #climatechangehttps://t.co/Fc9INHcfZu pic.twitter.com/gif62pQfMD— Alok Sharma (@AlokSharma_RDG) February 17, 2020
Highly accurate forecasting should also better prepare airports and transport infrastructure for potential disruptions through precise models that measure weather conditions down to the nearest kilometre.
To support the weather and climate supercomputer upgrade, the UK government announced it would spend a further $58 million for “advanced supercomputing services” to improve the UK’s supercomputing research ecosystem.
Seven high-level university projects will receive funding, including one from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland which will develop technology for early Exascale supercomputers – systems that will be capable of computing one billion billion calculations every second.
Minister for Scotland, Douglas Ross, said the investment will help keep Scotland “at the forefront of cutting edge technology”.