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  1. Published on: 17/02/2020 07:28 AMReported by: roving-eye
    Predicting severe weather and the impacts of climate change will be faster and more accurate than ever before.

    £1.2 billion investment confirmed for state-of-the-art supercomputer to improve severe weather and climate forecasting
    the latest supercomputing technology will unleash the full potential of weather and climate data for the UK
    data from the supercomputer will be used to inform government policy as part of leading the global fight against climate change and meeting net zero emission targets
    Predicting severe weather and the impacts of climate change will be faster and more accurate than ever before, thanks to confirmation of £1.2 billion government funding to develop a state-of-the-art supercomputer, Business and Energy Secretary and COP26 President Alok Sharma announced today (17 February 2020).

    Data from this 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.

    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 through:

    More sophisticated rainfall predictions, helping the Environment Agency rapidly deploy mobile flood defences

    Better forecasting at airports so they can plan for potential disruption; and
    More detailed information for the energy sector to help them mitigate against potential energy blackouts and surges

    With the government announcing its Year of Climate Action, the news further demonstrates the UK is leading by example ahead of hosting UN climate conference COP26, where the world will meet to agree more ambitious action.

    The new supercomputer will also strengthen the UK’s supercomputing and data technology capabilities, driving forward innovation and growing world-class skills across supercomputing, data science, machine learning and artificial intelligence.

    The Met Office is at the forefront of supercomputing, using its current technology to drive advances in environmental forecasting.

    As a result, detailed weather predictions for the UK now take place every hour instead of every three hours, providing crucial and timely updates when extreme weather is approaching.

    The benefit of this has been felt recently: major storms Ciara and Dennis, and the ‘Beast from the East’ in 2018, were forecast five days in advance, enabling local councils and emergency services to prepare and instigate resilience plans. Similarly, the Environment Agency has used the Met Office’s latest UK climate projections set out potential future flooding scenarios and how funding can be best allocated.

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

    The funding will support seven High Performance Computing (HPC) services run by universities from across the UK, including Queen’s University Belfast, the University of Edinburgh, and Durham University. The services will provide researchers with invaluable access to powerful systems to support ground-breaking work in areas from Artificial Intelligence, energy storage and supply, and therapeutic drug design, as well as boosting the skills of UK scientists.
     

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