Met Office £97 Million Supercomputer Can Do 16,000 Trillion Sums A Second

Weather forecast blunders will become a thing of the past when a new £97 million "supercomputer" is up and running next year, the Met Office has said.

The Cray XC40 will be 13 times more powerful than the one currently used by meteorologists and will be able to perform more than 16,000 trillion calculations per second.

Met Office chief executive Rob Varley said: "We are very excited about this new investment in UK science.

"It will lead to a step change in weather forecasting and climate prediction and give us the capability to strengthen our collaborations with partners in the South West, UK and around the world.

Above: the Met office thinks its new machine can make events like this more predictable than ever

"The new supercomputer, together with improved observations, science and modelling, will deliver better forecasts and advice to support UK business, the public and government.

"It will help to make the UK more resilient to high impact weather and other environmental risks."

The device - which will weigh 140 tonnes, the equivalent of 11 double-decker buses - will have 120,000 times more memory than a top-end smartphone.

It will be able forecasters to give hourly updates and highly detailed weather information for local areas.

The world-leading High Performance Computer will also help to predict flooding, strong winds, fog and heavy snowfall more effectively.

Universities, science and cities minister Greg Clark said: "I am confident that the supercomputer will make this nation more resilient and better prepared for high impact weather and boost the economy - improving lives up and down the country."

Scientists will also explore the benefits of adapting the resolution to improve UK winter forecasts out to months ahead, and determine the impact of climate change such as floods, droughts and heatwaves.

Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander said: "We are a country fascinated by the weather, so it's no surprise that from early barometers to this weather supercomputer, we've always led the way in developing technology to predict the weather.

"This £97 million investment is a crucial part of the Government's wider drive to make the UK the best place in the world to do science and research."

It is hoped that the new technology will bring £2 billion in benefits to the economy by giving people more advanced warning to protect their homes and businesses against extreme conditions.

The supercomputer, which will be based at the Met Office and Exeter Science Park, will be operational in September next year and the system will reach full capacity in 2017.