Met Office and Microsoft’s £1bn machine to be ‘world’s most powerful weather computer’

Platform to launch next summer

Credit: Crown Copyright/Open Government Licence v3.0

The Met Office has teamed up with Microsoft to create what it claims is the “world’s most powerful weather- and climate-forecasting supercomputer”.

The supercomputer, which has been funded by £1.2bn of government money, will reportedly be “more than twice as powerful” as any other computing machine in this country, and among the 25 most powerful in the world.

The technology will launch next summer and will offer new functionality such as “very detailed city scale simulations to provide localised climate information to improve city design, such as public transport infrastructure”.

It will also provide “high-resolution simulations that can be quickly turned on in an area where severe weather is forecast”, as well as improved forecasting of wind and temperature that, according to the Met Office, will help the aviation sector become safer and more efficient. 

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Businesses will also benefit from greater access to weather and climate data, which they can use to create services.

The Met Office claims that, over the 10 years that the technology is in operation, it will deliver to the UK a financial return of £13bn – more than 10 times the money spent on building it.

Chief executive Penny Endersby said: “We are delighted to be working in collaboration with Microsoft to deliver our next supercomputing capability. Working together we will provide the highest quality weather and climate datasets and ever more accurate forecasts that enable decisions to allow people to stay safe and thrive.  This will be a unique capability which will keep not just the Met Office, but the UK at the forefront of environmental modelling and high-performance computing.”

The kit, which will be entirely powered by renewable energy sources, will be based “in the south of the UK”, and the government believes it will deliver employment and training opportunities in the region and throughout the country.

Microsoft UK chief executive Clare Barclay said: “The potential of the deep expertise, data gathering capacity and historical archive of the Met Office, combined with the sheer scale and power of supercomputing on Microsoft Azure will mean we can improve forecasting, help tackle climate change and ensure the UK remains at the forefront of climate science for decades to come.”


Sam Trendall

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