More supercomputers!

Steam computing at the Met Office?

All that’s standing between the UK Met Office and better forecasts is bigger and more expensive supercomputers. So says chief scientist Julia Slingo, in an interview in Nature:

What’s the biggest obstacle to creating better, hazard-relevant weather forecasts?

Access to supercomputers. The science is well ahead of our ability to implement it. It’s quite clear that if we could run our models at a higher resolution we could do a much better job — tomorrow — in terms of our seasonal and decadal predictions. It’s so frustrating. We keep saying we need four times the computing power. We’re talking just 10 or 20 million a year — dollars or pounds — which is tiny compared to the damage done by disasters. Yet it’s a difficult argument to win. You just think: why is this so hard? (source)

So here’s a report from the BBC in May 2009 which the Met Office would probably like to stay posted down the memory hole:

One of the most powerful computers to predict the weather in the UK is being tested in Devon.

The giant IBM machine fills two special halls, said to be about the size of two football pitches, at the Met Office headquarters in Exeter.

By 2011, the computer should have a peak performance of about one PetaFlop – equivalent to more than 100,000 PCs.

It is 30 times more powerful than what is currently in place and will give more accurate and detailed forecasts.

The Met Office “supercomputer” will offer 15 million megabytes of memory and requires 1.2 megawatts of energy to run.

The system, which is expected to be fully up and running by August, will also be used for research on climate change and its impacts on society and the economy.

Met Office chief executive John Hirst said the new computer was an important step.

“In a world where the effect of extreme weather events is becoming more severe and the potential impact of global warming is becoming ever more apparent, the Met Office plays an increasingly vital role in researching and forecasting these events,” he said. (source)

And getting them spectacularly wrong. It doesn’t matter how many Petaflops your supercomputer can crunch through, if the models suck (which they do, since they have been warm-mongerized to minimise natural climatic forces and maximise the effect of anthropogenic CO2) then the output will suck too. And here’s another from the UK Telegraph in 2007:

The Met Office wants to buy a super computer costing as much as £200m to make its forecasts more accurate.

It said a bigger and more sophisticated computer was a key element of being able to predict severe weather events – such as the Great Storm of 1987 – earlier and more accurately.

In a briefing to mark the 20th anniversary of the storm on October 15 the Met Office said the use of satellite imagery and modelling by computers meant the mistakes made then would not be repeated. [Ha, ha, my aching sides – Ed]

Much of the country was unaware of the huge storm that was to sweep across the southern half of the country on the night of October 15/16.

Although the Met Office had been warning of severe weather in the days before they “lost sight” of the severity and path of the storm in the final few hours. (source)

And another, from 2004:

The Met Office is celebrating 150 years by unveiling a new supercomputer which they predict will put them at the forefront of weather forecasting.

It will allow meteorologists to provide more accurate advice to the government and the public in the face of increasingly extreme weather patterns.

The Met Office made the announcement at the British Association’s Festival of Science at the University of Exeter.

The new system is one of the most sophisticated in Europe.

It allows forecasters to track weather patterns across the world – from a massive dust storm to a single cloud.

Such technology makes it easy to forget how far forecasting has come, the Met Office says. (source)

The list goes on. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. You’d get better forecasts on a Sinclair ZX Spectrum if the models actually represented the climate system realistically. Autonomous Mind asked what kind of supercomputers Piers Corbyn and Joe Bastardi use… and got a reply from both.


  1. Prior to doling out all that money for the supercomputers, how about an installment of ethics, professionalism, and scientific objectivity into the work of everyone at the Met Office?! There’s no point in spending all that money simply to program computers to give the results that are already predetermined by the “researchers”. Note: The last word is deliberately in quotes to express my absolute mockery for the “research” done there!

    • The Loaded Dog says:

      how about an installment of ethics, professionalism, and scientific objectivity into the work of everyone at the Met Office?!

      Or alternatively, and more amusingly, they could simply employ someone like the Climategate emails leaker….

  2. I highly recommend reading Joe and Piers’ reply regarding using computers. It’s a total smackdown of the Met Office’s attitude towards models.

  3. froggy uk says:

    If this isnt proof on how corrupt the Met office & the AGW religion is then i dont know what is, nobody in their right mind would keep going to a car dealer if every car they bought had wheels falling off,instead they would go to someone with a proven track record for reliability, Ignoring Piers Corbyn despite of his accuracy just shows how they deliberately shun the facts in favour of the green tax raising religion & chastise anyone who doesnt conform, the whole thing stinks like Al Gores laundry basket. (not that ive been there you understand!)

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