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UK splashes £1 billion on a weather-forecasting supercomputer

The UK has invested over £1 billion in a state-of-the-art supercomputer to help battle Storm Dennis and the recent spate of severe weather.

The new tech will make predicting severe weather and the impacts of climate change faster and more accurate than ever, announced business and energy secretary and UN climate conference COP26 president Alok Sharma today.

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The £1.2 billion computer will be used to increase storm prediction accuracy and help the Met Office pick the best locations for flood defences, with weather predictions taking place every hour instead of every three hours.

With this investment, the UK hopes to ensure that the country is better prepared for weather disruption. Improvements will include more sophisticated rainfall predictions, better forecasting at airports so airlines can plan for potential disruption and more detailed info for the energy sector to help mitigate blackouts and surges.

Feedback from the computer will also inform government policy in the fight against climate change and in meeting net zero emission targets.

The supercomputer is expected to be the most advanced of its kind dedicated to weather and climate. It arrives alongside the government’s £30 million investment in advanced supercomputing services for detecting chemical contaminants in food and improving drug design.

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“This investment will ultimately provide earlier more accurate warning of severe weather, the information needed to build a more resilient world in a changing climate and help support the transition to a low carbon economy across the UK,” said Met Office chief executive Professor Penny Endersby.

“It will help the UK to continue to lead the field in weather and climate science and services, working collaboratively to ensure that the benefits of our work help government, the public and industry make better decisions to stay safe and thrive. We welcome this planned investment from UK Government.”

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