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UK Met Office to spend £1.2bn on world's most powerful weather computer

(Image credit: Shutterstock.com / Andrey VP)

The UK will soon be able to predict weather and spot indications of climate change more accurately thanks to a billion-pound new supercomputer

The £1.2 billion platform is expected to be the world's most advanced weather and climate prediction platform, and will be funded entirely by the UK government.

It will be managed by the Met Office, with data also being used to predict changes to the global climate, and influence Government environmental policies in kind.

Weather predictions

The as-yet-unnamed Cray supercomputer will be used to help more accurately predict storms, with predictions taking place every hour instead of every three hours.

It can also provide more sophisticated rainfall predictions, helping the Environment Agency select the best location for flood defences, which can then be rapidly rolled out.

The platform will benefit a number of wider industries, with airports able to access better forecasting to plan for potential disruption, and more detailed information being made available for the energy sector to help mitigate against potential energy blackouts and surges.

“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," said Professor Penny Endersby, Met Office Chief Executive. 

“It will help the UK to continue to lead the field in weather and climate science and services, working collaboratively to ensure that the benefits of our work help government, the public and industry make better decisions to stay safe and thrive."

The funding will support a ten-year project starting in 2022 to replace the Met Office's supercomputing capabilities. The first phase of the rollout is expected to increase computing capacity by six-fold alone, with at least a further three times increase in supercomputing capacity set to arrive over the latter half of the project.