Met Office forecasters set for ‘billion pound’ supercomputer

Posted: February 17, 2020 by oldbrew in atmosphere, climate, Forecasting, MET office, weather

A beefier computer is still just a computer. The report says ‘Around half of the processing work – the research devoted to climate change – could be located in countries blessed with easy sources of clean energy. Iceland with its geothermal sources and Norway with its hydropower are both possibilities’.

Ever wondered why your village was suddenly flooded by a thunderstorm the weather forecasters hadn’t mentioned? Or why they failed to warn you about the dense fog shrouding your home in the morning?

The fact is that predicting the “big picture” of future conditions has got a lot better – Storm Dennis was spotted six days before it arrived, says BBC News.

But getting local forecasts right – street by street and hour by hour – is still a massive challenge.

And that might now change as the Met Office secures the help of a supercomputer project costing £1.2bn.

Better forecasting means handling more data, more rapidly, and running it through simulations of the atmosphere more accurately.

Already the Met Office is pulling in more than 200 billion observations from satellites, weather stations and buoys out in the ocean every single day, and that’s set to increase.

And working out if a summer downpour will flood your home or one down the road requires more and more processing power.

“We’ll be streets ahead of anybody else,” according to Penny Endersby, chief executive of the Met Office.

“Ultimately it’ll make a difference to every individual, every government department, every industry as people see forecasts becoming steadily better.”

It’ll be the biggest investment in the 170-year history of the organisation and will dwarf the £97m bill for the current supercomputer.

In the new project, the billion-plus cost will cover not just the hardware itself but all the running costs too over a ten-year period.

There’ll be a first stage installation, which should be six times more capable than the supercomputer used now.

And then five years later there’ll be a major upgrade to increase performance by a further three times.

What will the supercomputer actually do?

It’ll run what the Met Office calls its “digital twin” of the Earth’s atmosphere, a highly detailed “model” of everything from the winds to the temperatures to the pressures.

Full report here.

  1. ivan says:

    What will the supercomputer actually do?

    Sweet bugger all except massage the egos of a few ‘climate scientists’. All model predictions are useless unless the model has been validated and even then the results should be used with caution.

    Maybe if the ‘scientists’ at the met office looked out of the windows the forecasts might be better. I can remember way back in the past getting weather maps with a 24 hour projection that were usually right on the button but that was before the spread of unvalidated computer models and the UN Church of Climatology.

  2. skeptikal says:

    A supercomputer running a junk model will produce a junk output. The new faster supercomputer running the same junk model will produce the same junk output…. but they will get that junk output a lot faster than before. YAY!

  3. Stephen Richards says:

    Another vanity project for Boris to throw UK taxpayer’s money at. No one ever seems to validate the value of their ever larger, high power, high CO² computers. Just give us more and more money and we promise we will forecast better.

  4. Gamecock says:

    Yes, a “fun with meteorology” project.

    ‘But getting local forecasts right – street by street and hour by hour – is still a massive challenge.’

    No, it’s not. Well, maybe for the Met Office.

    U.S. TELEVISION STATIONS give detailed, street-by-street weather reports. And warnings. MINUTE-BY-MINUTE.

    Spend your money on a doppler radar network. A billion pound weather computer shouts stupidity. Why forecast when you can freaking LOOK at the radar?

    Meteorologist: Greek for not being able to look out the window.

  5. BLACK PEARL says:

    Will it be ‘sustainable’ running on wind & solar only ?
    Also such beasts of computers are quite often given a name … ‘Gretatron’ ‘Scoldyflops’
    I’m sure you guys could come up with some 🙂

  6. oldbrew says:

    Billion pound weather gadget…pah!

    Jeff Bezos: World’s richest man pledges $10bn to fight climate change

    Cancel COP26 – there’s the dosh 😂

  7. oldbrew says:

    How are weather forecasts made?
    By Nick Miller
    Meteorologist, BBC Weather Centre
    8 hours ago

    Why are weather forecasts wrong?

    Because of the chaotic nature of the atmosphere, even small developments in the ocean can have a significant impact on the position and strength of a weather system when it reaches land, for example.

    The atmosphere is vast and complex and it is impossible to accurately monitor every part of it, so inevitably there are gaps in those observations.

    As a result, something can be missed or just not observed fully enough.

  8. Mike Ellwood says:

    Piers Corbyn does it on the back of an envelope (as far as I can see), but still gets it right.

    A few days ago, I was reading quite an old interview (maybe 15-20 years old, before the MSM had taken up Climate Alarmism anyway), with an economist. He was deploring the lack of resources going into economics, saying: “When the weather forecasters get it wrong, they get a new computer; when economists get it wrong, they get their grants cut”.

    Ho ho, I thought; a slight exaggeration. Practically the next day I think, I saw the headline: “Met Office to get £1.2bn supercomputer to improve forecasting of weather and [of course[ Climate Change…”. (or words to that effect).

  9. oldbrew says:

    FEBRUARY 18, 2020
    Better long-term forecasts can help the transition to renewable energy

    Predicting the weather plays a crucial role in electricity price forecasting and seasonal forecasts can thus help energy companies improve their hedging strategy