Next to football, the moaning about the weather is the most popular sport in the UK and also one where they still are better than anyone else in the world. So the UK government thought it would be a wizard wheeze to splash out on a new super computer which enabled weather people to predict the weather a year in advance.
In October 2014 the government confirmed its investment of £97 million in a new high performance computing facility for the Met Office.
Now apparently the first phase of this supercomputer has gone live. A spokesman for the Met Office said that turning research into highly detailed operational forecasts and services will enable us to produce innovative forecasts – for example focussing high resolution models on strategically important infrastructure such as airports and flood defences.
More detailed forecasts will make it possible to predict small-scale, high impact weather features with greater skill, such as thunderstorms that have the potential to lead to flash flooding.
The computer is based at the Exeter Science Park. It will run a project called the Earth System Model which captures all major aspects of the Earth’s climate system – oceans, atmosphere, atmospheric chemistry, terrestrial carbon cycle and ocean biogeochemistry.
It can improve UK environmental prediction by using weather forecasting models together with other detailed prediction models, such as for flooding, coastal and river impacts, and atmospheric dispersion – used for volcanic ash, disease spread.
In the study paper entitled, Skilful predictions of the winter North Atlantic Oscillation one year ahead, the forecast researchers claim that new supercomputer-powered techniques have helped them develop a system to accurately predict North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) – the climatic phenomenon which heavily impacts winters in the UK.
Using a ‘hindcasting’ technique, the researchers discovered that since 1980 the supercomputer would have been able to predict winter weather a year in advance with 62 percent accuracy.