Posted on October 10, 2019 by staff

Government to spend £45m on weather predicting supercomputer


The government is to invest £45m into the development of supercomputer software designed to make weather predictions.

The five year project, which will involve the Met Office, is designed to give businesses up-to-the-minute weather forecasts so that sectors including agriculture, aerospace and pharmaceuticals can better plan for disruption.

The government said it could help farmers protect crops for consistent food supplies, help airports keep flights running and help businesses to plan for disruptions such as flooding.

Named ‘ExCALIBUR’ (Exascale Computing Algorithms and Infrastructure Benefiting UK Research) the project will ensure the UK can meet the scientific and engineering challenges of the future with maximum efficiency and safeguard future industry productivity.

It is said the project will include a multidisciplinary cohort of research software engineers and scientists, a scoping workshop to establish high priority use cases, and the development of proof-of-concept systems with new computer architectures in partnership with industry.

As part of the project, calls will be made to businesses, higher education institutions, and public sector research establishments.

Met Office director of Meteorological Science, Simon Vosper, said the software would mirror the mirror the real world, which would accelerate “advances in a wide range of important areas that rely on cutting edge computer technology: from climate prediction to drug research and nuclear fusion.”

The £45m funding is part of an £88m investment into what it calls the ‘productivity gap’, between the UK and other major world economies.

The remaining £43m will support researchers and analysts in exploring ways to increase UK productivity levels through a new productivity institute designed to tackle productivity imbalances between sectors and regions, poor management practices and skills investment.

The £88m funding is itself part of the government’s Strategic Priorities Fund (SPF), which follows a government commitment to invest at least 2.4 per cent of GDP in research and development by 2027.