UK Meteorological Agency and Microsoft collaborate on supercomputer construction–to achieve advanced weather forecasts

The Met Office has a billion-dollar contract with Microsoft for supercomputers. The plan is to greatly improve the accuracy of weather forecasts and climate change modeling.

Provided by: Microsoft In February 2020, the British government announced that it would invest a total of £ 1.2 billion in the development of state-of-the-art supercomputers. Microsoft and the Met Office will collaborate over the next decade to develop “the world’s most powerful weather and climate forecasting supercomputer.” The new system is expected to start operation in July 2022. This investment is the largest in the Met Office’s 167-year history. Scientists hope that this supercomputer will enable more accurate warnings of bad weather and improve predictive models of the long-term effects of climate change on the planet. The new system will be installed in the south of England. According to Microsoft, it is expected to be the most advanced supercomputer dedicated to weather and climate, making it one of the top 25 supercomputers in the world. Clare Barclay, CEO of Microsoft UK, said, “The Met Office’s deep expertise, data collection capabilities, and the potential of historical archives add to the sheer scale of supercomputers powered by Microsoft Azure. The combination of power can improve forecasts and support climate change efforts, and will allow the UK to remain at the forefront of climate science for decades to come. ” .. Microsoft will integrate the Azure cloud platform with Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) “HPE Cray EX” supercomputers to provide supercomputing as a service. The “AMD EPYC” processor is used, and the entire system is equipped with more than 1.5 million processor cores. It is expected to achieve more than 60 petaflops (1 petaflops is capable of performing 1000 trillion floating point operations per second). These performances will improve as Microsoft improves over the next decade. The supercomputer can also store and process about 4 exabytes of data. According to the Met Office, the first phase will achieve six times the compute capacity of the current system. With the upgrade, it is expected to be tripled after 2027. After operation, the new supercomputer will be applied to various modeling and forecasting use cases. Based on more advanced simulations, short-term, local weather forecasts will be improved, and emergency response preparedness will be strengthened in preparation for storms, floods, snow, etc. There will also be more model scenarios, more environmental and social data, and when combined with more detailed models, will significantly improve forecasts and forecasts for risk-based planning. For example, it is possible to create detailed simulations on a city scale and provide local climate information to improve urban design, such as public transport infrastructure. The aviation industry will also benefit from more accurate weather forecasts, improving safety and fuel efficiency. In addition, the Met Office says that access to more weather and climate data will give businesses the opportunity to create new services and innovate based on this information. The investment is expected to bring a total of £ 13 billion in economic benefits over a 10-year period.