The weather and climate forecasting supercomputer is slated to be commissioned in summer 2022


UK Met Office, Microsoft join forces for developing a weather and climate forecasting supercomputer. (Credit: Microsoft)

The UK Met Office has entered into a multimillion-pound deal with Microsoft for providing it with a powerful weather and climate forecasting supercomputer.

The deal follows last year’s announcement by the UK government of committing £1.2bn of funding for developing the high-performance computing machine.

Expected to be commissioned in summer 2022, the new supercomputer will help the government, industry, and communities in their preparations for severe weather and changing climate.

According to the Met Office, the new machine is anticipated to be among the world’s top 25 supercomputers. Besides, it is expected to be two times as powerful as any other of its kind in Britain, said the national weather service.

Data generated by the new machine will help the Met Office in issuing more accurate warnings of severe weather. It will also help to develop resilience and safeguard the British population, infrastructure, and businesses from the effects of increasingly extreme storms, snow, and floods, said the weather agency.

Furthermore, the new supercomputer will help advance the Met Office’s climate change modelling. The expected precision and accuracy of the modelling will help the government in making policy as part of the country’s fight against climate change, and also efforts to achieve net-zero by 2050.

Met Office CEO Penny Endersby said: “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 which will keep not just the Met Office, but the UK at the forefront of environmental modelling and high-performance computing.”

To be based in the southern UK, the supercomputer will pave the way for new jobs, internships, apprenticeships, opportunities for mentoring, digital skills training, and support for start-ups in the South West and other locations across Britain.

The Met Office expects the investment in the machine to provide financial benefits totalling up to £13bn for the country during its 10-year lifespan.

Microsoft UK CEO Clare Barclay said: “The potential of the deep expertise, data gathering capacity and historical archive of the Met Office, combined with the sheer scale and power of supercomputing on Microsoft Azure will mean we can improve forecasting, help tackle climate change and ensure the UK remains at the forefront of climate science for decades to come.”