Feeds

Met Office wants better supercomputer to predict EXTREME weather

Says its bad rep is down to 'non-expert' reporting

Top three mobile application threats

The UK's Met Office needs bigger and better supercomputers if it is to confidently and accurately predict the weather and give emergency services a longer lead time for extreme weather conditions, a government group said today.

The Science and Technology committee of MPs advised in a report on the Met Office that, despite the cost, the government had to consider further investment in supercomputing capacity to increase the weather-watchers' chances of getting it right.

"It is of great concern to us that scientific advances in weather forecasting and the associated public benefits (particular in regard to severe weather warnings) are ready and waiting but are being held back by insufficient supercomputing capacity," the MPs' report said.

"We echo the recent conclusions of the Government Chief Scientific Adviser and others, that a step-change in supercomputing capacity is required."

The recommendation for more supercomputers for the Met has been made before, but has been held up by the government's request for a formal business case for the investment. UK.gov has suggested that it should take 18 months for this to be put together, but the MPs said it shouldn't "take anywhere near" this time.

"In our view, the government should finalise the business case in the next six months," they said.

The Met needs the massive processing space to work through billions of mathematical formulas that use data from thousands of observations, including temperature, pressure, wind speed, wind direction, humidity, etc to predict the weather.

The weather office told the committee that supercomputers could help with extreme weather events, such as the localised floods in Dorset in August last year, which entailed the Fire Service having to deal with over 100 incidents in two hours.

If the Met had had the supercomputing power, it reckoned it could have known about the intense downpours further in advance, giving people more time to prepare for it.

The committee also noted that the Met didn't have the best record for accurately predicting the weather with the public, especially for seasonal forecasts, even though it's considered one of the top three weather centres in the world.

The National Oceanography Centre told the committee that the Met's bad rep was "largely due to sensationalist media reporting and shortcomings in how probability and risk were understood by non-experts".

The MPs want the Met to work harder at making sure that the people telling the public about the weather, usually broadcasters, give Brits a better idea of how certain or uncertain the forecast is.

"The Met Office should work closely with broadcasters, such as the BBC, to ensure that forecasts are communicated accurately. In particular, we are keen to see broadcasters make greater use of probabilistic information in their weather forecasts, as is done in the United States," the committee's report said. ®

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

More from The Register

next story
This time it's 'Personal': new Office 365 sub covers just two devices
Redmond also brings Office into Google's back yard
Kingston DataTraveler MicroDuo: Turn your phone into a 72GB beast
USB-usiness in the front, micro-USB party in the back
AMD's 'Seattle' 64-bit ARM server chips now sampling, set to launch in late 2014
But they won't appear in SeaMicro Fabric Compute Systems anytime soon
Brit boffins use TARDIS to re-route data flows through time and space
'Traffic Assignment and Retiming Dynamics with Inherent Stability' algo can save ISPs big bucks
Microsoft's Nadella: SQL Server 2014 means we're all about data
Adds new big data tools in quest for 'ambient intelligence'
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.