HPC

Met Office wants better supercomputer to predict extreme weather

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


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. ®

Similar topics

Broader topics


Other stories you might like

  • Ransomware encrypts files, demands three good deeds to restore data
    Shut up and take ... poor kids to KFC?

    In what is either a creepy, weird spin on Robin Hood or something from a Black Mirror episode, we're told a ransomware gang is encrypting data and then forcing each victim to perform three good deeds before they can download a decryption tool.

    The so-called GoodWill ransomware group, first identified by CloudSEK's threat intel team, doesn't appear to be motivated by money. Instead, it is claimed, they require victims to do things such as donate blankets to homeless people, or take needy kids to Pizza Hut, and then document these activities on social media in photos or videos.

    "As the threat group's name suggests, the operators are allegedly interested in promoting social justice rather than conventional financial reasons," according to a CloudSEK analysis of the gang. 

    Continue reading
  • Microsoft Azure to spin up AMD MI200 GPU clusters for 'large scale' AI training
    Windows giant carries a PyTorch for chip designer and its rival Nvidia

    Microsoft Build Microsoft Azure on Thursday revealed it will use AMD's top-tier MI200 Instinct GPUs to perform “large-scale” AI training in the cloud.

    “Azure will be the first public cloud to deploy clusters of AMD's flagship MI200 GPUs for large-scale AI training,” Microsoft CTO Kevin Scott said during the company’s Build conference this week. “We've already started testing these clusters using some of our own AI workloads with great performance.”

    AMD launched its MI200-series GPUs at its Accelerated Datacenter event last fall. The GPUs are based on AMD’s CDNA2 architecture and pack 58 billion transistors and up to 128GB of high-bandwidth memory into a dual-die package.

    Continue reading
  • New York City rips out last city-owned public payphones
    Y'know, those large cellphones fixed in place that you share with everyone and have to put coins in. Y'know, those metal disks representing...

    New York City this week ripped out its last municipally-owned payphones from Times Square to make room for Wi-Fi kiosks from city infrastructure project LinkNYC.

    "NYC's last free-standing payphones were removed today; they'll be replaced with a Link, boosting accessibility and connectivity across the city," LinkNYC said via Twitter.

    Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine said, "Truly the end of an era but also, hopefully, the start of a new one with more equity in technology access!"

    Continue reading
  • Cheers ransomware hits VMware ESXi systems
    Now we can say extortionware has jumped the shark

    Another ransomware strain is targeting VMware ESXi servers, which have been the focus of extortionists and other miscreants in recent months.

    ESXi, a bare-metal hypervisor used by a broad range of organizations throughout the world, has become the target of such ransomware families as LockBit, Hive, and RansomEXX. The ubiquitous use of the technology, and the size of some companies that use it has made it an efficient way for crooks to infect large numbers of virtualized systems and connected devices and equipment, according to researchers with Trend Micro.

    "ESXi is widely used in enterprise settings for server virtualization," Trend Micro noted in a write-up this week. "It is therefore a popular target for ransomware attacks … Compromising ESXi servers has been a scheme used by some notorious cybercriminal groups because it is a means to swiftly spread the ransomware to many devices."

    Continue reading
  • Twitter founder Dorsey beats hasty retweet from the board
    As shareholders sue the social network amid Elon Musk's takeover scramble

    Twitter has officially entered the post-Dorsey age: its founder and two-time CEO's board term expired Wednesday, marking the first time the social media company hasn't had him around in some capacity.

    Jack Dorsey announced his resignation as Twitter chief exec in November 2021, and passed the baton to Parag Agrawal while remaining on the board. Now that board term has ended, and Dorsey has stepped down as expected. Agrawal has taken Dorsey's board seat; Salesforce co-CEO Bret Taylor has assumed the role of Twitter's board chair. 

    In his resignation announcement, Dorsey – who co-founded and is CEO of Block (formerly Square) – said having founders leading the companies they created can be severely limiting for an organization and can serve as a single point of failure. "I believe it's critical a company can stand on its own, free of its founder's influence or direction," Dorsey said. He didn't respond to a request for further comment today. 

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022