Poll: The UK’s new £1.2bn supercomputer

In the wake of nationwide flooding caused by Storms Ciara and Dennis, it was announced that the UK is to spend £1.2bn on a new supercomputer to aid forecasting. We’re asking our readers whether the money represents a good investment.

Advances in computing power have greatly improved weather forecasting in recent years, appearing to discern some form of order from what are inherently chaotic systems. According to the Met Office, which will manage the new supercomputer, data from the device will be used to help more accurately predict storms, as well as identify the best locations for flood defences and predict changes to the global climate.

“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 Professor Penny Endersby, Met Office chief executive.

“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.”

But in the comments below The Engineer’s news report on the announcement, some readers were less than convinced. One claimed the money would be better spent on sandbags, while another countered that sandbags aren’t much use for forecasting anything, other than a delay in getting wet. Several commenters pointed to the fact that forecasting is all well and good, but government – both local and national – must act appropriately on the information. There are undoubtedly some affected by the latest flooding who feel that this is currently not the case, and that more funding is needed on the ground to protect communities vulnerable to extreme weather.

Let us know whether or not you think the £1.2bn is a worthwhile investment, or if the money would be better spent mitigating flooding rather than predicting it. As ever, all comments will be moderated.


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