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Supercomputer makes UK world leader in weather and climate science 31.10.14

£97 million supercomputer carries out 16,000 trillion calculations per second

The weather’s volatility has long been a popular British conversation topic – but the government’s plans for a new £97 million supercomputer unveiled this week will cement the UK’s position as a world leader in weather and climate prediction.

Enabling forecast updates every hour and the ability to provide detailed weather information for precise geographical areas, the world-leading High Performance Computer (HPC) will help the UK to more effectively predict disruptive weather events such as flooding, strong winds and heavy snowfall. The supercomputer’s impressive computing power also offers the ability to pinpoint more detail for small scale, high-impact weather, such as fog over airports. Scientists will also explore the benefits of adapting the resolution to improve UK winter forecasts months in advance, and assessing the specific regional impacts of climate change such as floods, droughts and heatwaves. The supercomputer’s sophisticated forecasts are anticipated to deliver £2 billion of socio-economic benefits to the UK by enabling better advance preparation and contingency plans to protect peoples’ homes and businesses.

This supercomputer will be 13 times more powerful than the current system used by the Met Office and will have 120,000 times more memory than a top-end smartphone. At 140 tonnes, it will weigh the equivalent of 11 double decker buses. The first phase of the supercomputer will be operational in September 2015 and the system will reach full capacity in 2017.

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