The Met Office, the UK’s national weather service, has just significantly boosted its computational capabilities by hiring Microsoft to build a billion dollar supercomputer capable of improving the accuracy of weather forecasting and weather modeling. climate change. For a bill estimated at 1.2 billion pounds sterling (or 1.4 billion euros) financed by the British authorities will take ten years to upgrade the computing capacities of the Met Office, while the the new system will have to be operational in July 2022.
This is the largest investment since the Met Office was created 167 years ago. Scientists hope the supercomputer will allow more accurate weather warnings to be issued while improving models that predict the long-term impact of climate change on the planet. The new system, which will be built in the south of England, will be among the top 25 supercomputers in the world, and is expected to be one of the most advanced weather and climate devices, Microsoft says.
Microsoft will deliver the supercomputer as a service by integrating the company’s Azure cloud platform with four HPE Cray EX supercomputers, each of which will constitute a separate quadrant of the overall system to ensure operational resiliency. The combined system will have a total of over 1.5 million AMD processor cores and achieve over 60 petaflops – that is, the supercomputer will be able to perform 60 quadrillion calculations per second. These capabilities are expected to increase as Microsoft improves the device over the next decade.
Four exabytes of data
The supercomputer will also store and process nearly four exabytes of data, more than four million times the data volume of most modern laptops. At first, scientists will see the computational capacity increased six-fold compared to the current Met Office’s current supercomputer system, Cray XC40. This capacity is expected to further triple from 2027 as upgrades continue.
Once operational, the new supercomputer will be applied to various modeling and forecasting use cases. It will be used for short-term and local weather forecasting, based on more sophisticated simulations that will prepare for extreme storms, floods and snowfalls.
Through more detailed models and better anticipation of future scenarios, the new supercomputer could also help city planners improve risk planning by changing the design of cities, including public transport infrastructure. The aviation industry will also benefit from more accurate weather forecasts, which will improve safety and fuel efficiency.
The Met Office will be able to predict with greater accuracy how climate change might affect ecosystems, which the agency says will open up new opportunities for companies to innovate. The investment, in fact, is expected to translate into financial benefits totaling up to £ 13 billion ($ 18 billion) over its ten-year lifespan.