UK Govt pledges £1.2bn for new climate supercomputer

Tuesday, 25 February, 2020

UK Govt pledges £1.2bn for new climate supercomputer

The UK Government is set to put up to £1.2 billion towards the development of a new supercomputer, designed to improve severe weather and climate forecasting. 

The supercomputer — to be managed by the Met Office — will be used to inform government policy and help the government meet net zero emission targets, while making more accurate storm and climate change predictions and selecting suitable locations for flood defences, according to the government.

It’s also expected to help communities better prepare for weather disruption by providing “more sophisticated rainfall predictions”, “better forecasting at airports” and “more detailed information for the energy sector” — allowing it to mitigate potential blackouts or power surges, the government said.

Already, the Met Office makes weather predictions every hour instead of every three hours, providing “crucial and timely updates when extreme weather is approaching”.

This was particularly helpful during major storms Ciara and Dennis, as well as 2018’s ‘Beast from the East’, which were forecast five days in advance — giving councils and emergency services the opportunity to prepare and initiate resilience plans, the Met Office said.

“Similarly, the Environmental Agency has used the Met Office’s latest UK climate projections to set out potential future flooding scenarios and how funding can be best allocated,” it added.

The Met Office’s supercomputing upgrade is projected to take 10 years from 2022, when its current supercomputers reach their end of life.

The announcement forms part of the government’s ‘Year of Climate Action’ and comes ahead of the UN climate conference, COP26, to be held by the UK in November this year.

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