Met Office to run new forecast & climate supercomputer by Summer 2022

By next Summer, 2022, the world's most advanced new supercomputer dedicated to weather and climate, will be operational here in the UK.

The Met Office chose today, World Earth Day - 22nd April 2021 - to release this exciting news. Their aim is to produce and run one of the top 25 supercomputers in the world, twice as powerful as any other in the UK, and it is expected to greatly enhance both weather forecasting and climate modelling not just here in the UK but across the globe.

This partnership between the Met Office and Microsoft to build the world’s most powerful weather and climate forecasting supercomputer is a ringing endorsement for the UK’s credentials in protecting our environment, as we prepare to host COP26 later this year.“The new supercomputer, backed by a billion pound UK government investment, will act as a catalyst for unlocking new skills, technologies and jobs right across our economy – from data scientists to AI experts - all as part of our efforts to build back better and create a cleaner future.

Business Secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng

What is a meteorological supercomputer?

A High-Performance Computer (HPC) takes in hundreds of thousands of weather observations from all over the world.

It uses these observations as a starting point for running an atmospheric model containing more than a million lines of computer code.

The Cray XC40 supercomputing systems currently in operation (since 2016) make 14,000 trillion arithmetic operations per second. That’s more than 2 million calculations per second for every man, woman and child on the planet.

This enables the Met Office to improve weather and climate forecasts. These forecasts help people make better-informed decisions and ultimately help to shape a more sustainable world - from warning of extreme weather to helping communities plan for and reduce the impacts of climate change.

Why is this one different?

It's faster - much faster - making 60 quadrillion calculations per second!

It's bigger - much bigger - it will eventually be able to hold data equivalent to 10,000 years worth of HD video!

And it's greener - it will be powered by 100% renewable energy, and is expected to save 7,415 tonnes CO2 in the first year of operational service alone.

What will the Met Office Supercomputing mean post 2022? Credit: MET OFFICE

What does it mean for the future of weather and climate data?

  • More accurate forecasts

It's been described as a 'game changer' for how the UK will forecast (and in turn protect people from) severe weather events - such as flooding.

The data it generates will be used to provide more accurate warnings of severe weather, helping to build resilience and protect the UK population, businesses and infrastructure from the impacts of increasingly extreme weather.

  • More detailed, and regionally specific, climate modelling

It will also be used to take forward ground-breaking climate change modelling, unleashing the full potential of the Met Office’s global expertise in climate science.

This will help to inform Government policy as part of the UK’s fight against climate change, and its efforts to reach net zero by 2050.

Establishing the UK as home to the world’s most powerful weather and climate supercomputer will not only help solve vital unanswered questions about our climate, but it will also drive economic growth and unleash highly skilled jobs – from data scientists to weather forecasters -  as we build back better through innovation

Science Minister, Amanda Solloway

For the full press release visit The Met Office