Government commits £1.2bn for supercomputer to predict extreme weather

Written by Eleanor Langford on 18 February 2020 in News
News

High-tech system will be managed by the Met Office

Storm Dennis caused flooding in Acaster Malbis near York    Credit: Danny Lawson/PA Wire/PA Images

The government has pledged to spend £1.2bn on a supercomputer to forecast extreme weather.

The announcement comes as the UK is rocked by Storm Dennis, which saw some areas experience a month’s rainfall in 48 hours. It is hoped the supercomputer, which will be managed by the Met Office, will help authorities to predict severe weather and the impacts of climate change more accurately.

Current systems are set to reach the end of their life in 2022, and the money will be used to replace the existing systems over a 10-year period.


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Business and Energy Secretary and COP26 President 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.”

Over the weekend the extreme weather led to a record number of flood warnings and a major incident being declared in parts of south Wales and Herefordshire. On Sunday, 594 were in place including several severe warnings, which indicate a danger to life. 

It was the second major storm in as many weeks, following the damage caused by Storm Ciara the previous weekend. The government has been criticised for its response after it focused flood preparations in Yorkshire despite forecasters suggesting Wales would be worst hit.

Transport has also been affected by the storm, with rail services suspended in many parts of the west of England and Wales, and over 300 flights cancelled.

 

About the author

Eleanor Langford is a reporter for PublicTechnology sister publication PoliticsHome, where this story first appeared. She tweets as @eleanormia.

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