The Met office’s moonshot

in Technology Insight

The Met Office and Microsoft have joined forces to build world’s most powerful weather and climate forecasting supercomputer in the UK.

This new supercomputer – expected to be the world’s most advanced dedicated to weather and climate – will be in 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 warnings of severe weather, helping to build resilience and protect British citizens, businesses and infrastructure from the impacts of increasingly extreme storms, floods and snow.

It will also be used to take forward ground-breaking climate change modelling, unleashing the full potential of the Met Office’s global expertise in climate science. The precision and accuracy of its modelling will help to inform Government policy as part of the UK’s fight against climate change, and its efforts to reach net zero by 2050.

UK Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said, “This partnership between the Met Office and Microsoft to build the world’s most powerful weather and climate forecasting supercomputer is a ringing endorsement for the UK’s credentials in protecting our environment, as we prepare to host COP26 later this year.

“The new supercomputer, backed by a billion-pound UK government investment, will act as a catalyst for unlocking new skills, technologies and jobs right across our economy – from data scientists to AI experts – all as part of our efforts to build back better and create a cleaner future.”

Penny Endersby, Chief Executive of the Met Office added, “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 that will keep not just the Met Office but the UK at the forefront of environmental modelling and high-performance computing.

“This investment by the UK government is a great vote of confidence in the Met Office’s world leading status as a provider of weather and climate science and services, as well as in our national commitment to build a more resilient world in a changing climate, helping build back greener across the UK and beyond.”

As the Met Office and Microsoft work together over the next 10 years, it is expected that the collaboration will deliver both scientific and technological innovation that will ensure the Met Office and the UK is ready to harness the next generation of supercomputing and data technologies. This will enable the exploitation of scientific expertise to answer many of the big questions presented by our changing climate – improving forecasting of severe weather and impacts today and in the future.

This will ensure the UK maintains its global reputation for world-leading scientific and technological research and innovation. It is expected that the investment will result in financial benefits totalling up to £13 billion (or £9:1) for the UK over its 10-year lifespan.

The supercomputer will be based in the south of the UK, and will help to bring about employment, apprenticeships, internships, mentoring opportunities, training in digital skills and support for start-ups primarily in the South West of England.

Find out more in the Met Office’s Mostly Climate podcast.

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