The Met Office weather forecasting and climate prediction models are run on very powerful Supercomputers. These are very powerful and require a lot of energy. They must also be kept cool.
Our IBM Supercomputers run the computer models which provide us with weather forecasts and climate predictions.
They compile data ranging from weather observations (land, sea and air) to satellite images. The computer models perform trillions of calculations per second, ultimately giving us output which our forecasters and scientists interpret.
These powerful computers use vast amounts of energy to power them. They must also be kept cool.
A number of schemes have been implemented to make the Supercomputers more energy efficient.
Cold aisle containment
In the past the whole of the IT hall was kept cool, not just the Supercomputers. This was inefficient and costly.
In 2010 a 3D computer model was created showing relative temperatures of the computer racks and the IT hall itself and some issues were raised.
It is seen as good practice to cool the equipment and not the whole room.
Clear plastic curtains were installed around the Supercomputer racks. This system enables hot and cold aisles to be segregated.
This more efficient system enabled 20 Recirculating Air Conditioning Units to be switched off and saves around £104,000 and 764 tCO2e per year.
The Met Office has been the first organisation in the world to run a Supercomputer using Direct Current (DC) power. Most domestic and commercial appliances run on AC/DC power.
Running on DC power removes the final conversion process. In 2010 we ran a month long trial to run our Monsoon Supercomputer (run in collaboration with NERC) on DC power.
This ground-breaking project lead to us being shortlisted for the Institute of Engineering and Technology Innovation Awards. A 10% energy saving was made.
It is hoped that the next phase of IBM Supercomputers will have the ability to run on DC power in the not too distant future.
In FY 2010/11 a Free Cooling system was installed.
Free cooling involves 4 evaporative cooling plants on the roof.
Water is pumped through a coiled pipe. The pipe is sprayed with water from a sprinkler.
A fan blows air across the wetted surface of the coil. This cools the water in the coil and this water is used to cool the Supercomputers.
This system can be used as long as the wet bulb temperature is <=22oC.
The free cooling system saves around £140,300 on imported electricity and produces 1,030 tCO2e less than using electric chillers.