Our supercomputers

Cray supercomputer

Our supercomputers are very powerful and naturally, require a lot of energy.

We use an IBM supercomputer which can do more than 1000 trillion calculations a second. Its power allows it to take in hundreds of thousands of weather observations from all over the world which it then takes as a starting point for running an atmospheric model containing more than a million lines of code.

Delivering environmental benefits

Necessarily, the supercomputer requires a large amount of energy to run and maintain - about 2.5 MW of electricity. While everything possible is being done to minimise this, the power consumption remains small in comparison to the socio-economic benefits delivered, including CO2 emissions reductions.

Take our global aviation forecasts, for example, which allow airlines to save fuel by using the wind to help them to their destination. We have estimated that this alone helps save around 20 million tonnes of CO2 a year through increased efficiency.

Crucially, Met Office forecasts save lives. Through our Severe Weather Warnings, mountain area forecasts and marine forecasts, with a host of other services, an independent report estimated we help save as many as 74 lives a year. Financially the same report concluded we save the UK economy more than £260 million a year.

Reporting our energy consumption

Our GHG emissions performance is overseen by our Sustainability Committee which includes our Operations and Services Director and our Chief Financial Officer. Each year we publish details of our energy performance in the Sustainability section of our Annual Report.

Since 2012, we have participated in the Carbon Reduction Commitment Energy Efficiency Scheme (CRC EES), the regulatory scheme administered by the Environment Agency with the aim of improving energy efficiency in large public and private sector organisations.

A summary of our CRC emissions for each reporting year can be seen below:
2012-13 CRC Emissions: 23,737 tCO2
2013-14 CRC Emissions: 20,764 tCO2
2014-15 CRC Emissions: 20,520 tCO2

Our High Performance Computer (HPC) accounts for the majority of our energy consumption and the variation between the different reporting years is due to the different HPC phases, for example, during 2012/13 we were running both our old and new HPCs in parallel for a period.

More information about the CRC EES scheme.

Our new supercomputer

In October 2014 the Government confirmed its investment of £97 million in a new high performance computing facility for the Met Office. Enhanced processing power will help us protect life and property and will also enable us to turn more science into services for the benefit of government, business and the public.

Last updated: 28 September 2015