Gov invests £1.2bn in Met Office supercomputer

The government has pledged a £1.2 billion investment in the world’s most powerful supercomputer to predict severe weather events more accurately and help the UK prepare for the impact of climate change.

The new supercomputer, to be managed by the Met Office, will also be used to help ensure communities can be better prepared for weather disruption, including adverse weather events such as storms Ciara and Dennis, which have hit the UK and caused widespread flooding in recent weeks.

The Department for Business and Energy said that data from the new supercomputer - expected to be the world’s most advanced dedicated to weather and climate - will be used to help more accurately predict storms, select the most suitable locations for flood defences and predict changes to the global climate.

It will also contribute more detailed information for the energy sector to help the industry mitigate against potential energy blackouts and surges.

The government is hoping that the new supercomputer will strengthen the UK’s data technology capabilities, driving forward innovation and growing skills across computing, data science, machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI).

The government also announced a £30 million investment for advanced supercomputing services, providing researchers with access to the latest technology and expert software engineers. It will help them speed up scientific breakthroughs like developing ‘food fingerprinting’ to detect chemical contaminants in food and improving drug design.

Business and energy secretary Alok Sharma said: “Over the last 30 years, new technologies have meant more accurate weather forecasting, with storms being predicted up to five days in advance.

“Come rain or shine, our significant investment for a new supercomputer will further speed up weather predictions, helping people be more prepared for weather disruption from planning travel journeys to deploying flood defences.”

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