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World’s biggest weather supercomputer announced

Thursday 22 April, 2021

The UK’s Met Office and Microsoft are joining forces to build the world’s most powerful weather and climate forecasting supercomputer. The Met Office announced the plan in a statement released today, 22 April.

The Met Office revealed it has signed a multimillion-pound agreement with Microsoft for the provision of a “world-leading supercomputing capability” that will take weather and climate forecasting to the “next level”.

They said the new supercomputer is expected to be the world’s most advanced supercomputer dedicated to weather and climate. It will be one of the top 25 supercomputers in the world and be twice as powerful as any other in the UK.

The data it generates will be used to provide more accurate forecasting and climate change modelling.

The announcement of the new supercomputer follows a commitment in February 2020 by the UK government to £1.2bn funding to develop the state-of-the-art computer.

The supercomputer is expected to be up and running by June/July 2022.

The Met Office said it will provide more detailed forecasting models combined with an increased number of model scenarios. That will mean, “Better forecasting of local-scale weather using very high-resolution simulations … [and] ever more accurate forecasts of wind and temperature information for the aviation industry.”

Penny Endersby, Chief Executive, Met Office, 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.”

Clare Barclay, Chief Executive Officer, Microsoft UK, 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.”

The supercomputer will be based in the south of the UK.

In line with Met Office, Microsoft and UK government commitments to Net Zero, the supercomputing capability will be one of the world’s most environmentally sustainable, powered by 100% renewable energy and delivered through market leading energy efficiency, the Met Office said.

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