An external view of the Met Office building at night.

Met Office COVID-19 support measures

This page provides a summary of the work the Met Office has been a part of and will be updated as activity changes. Read about our support in this news release.

Climate data availability to COVID-19 researchers

The Met Office is providing weather data in support of modelling efforts on the pandemic. The Infomatics Lab have worked with Microsoft and The Environmental Futures & Big Data Impact Lab to provide access to environmental data and computing support for researchers. The data is available under open Government License.

The dataset currently comprises air temperature, precipitation, shortwave radiation (sunshine), air pressure, wind and specific humidity available as:

  • Hourly & daily global gridded weather data
  • Hourly & daily high resolution UK gridded weather data
  • Daily processed weather data for administrative and health reporting areas defined using shape files for UK, Italy, USA, Brazil, Uganda and Vietnam 

More information on this package of work can be seen on the host project page


Supercomputer time for Folding@Home

Another package of work is providing supercomputer, or HPC, time to an initiative called Folding@Home. Folding@home is a distributed computing project for simulating protein dynamics, including the process of protein folding and the movements of proteins implicated in a variety of diseases. It brings together citizen scientists who volunteer to run simulations of protein dynamics on their personal computers. The organisation is working on a COVID project of its own.

The simulation requires vast computing power and the Met Office has opened part of its HPC system to provide significant computing power. This project is not using our operational systems and as such existing Met Office operations will not be impacted by this support.


Researching how COVID-19 related responses are impacting climate change

Annual carbon dioxide emissions for 2020 are expected to decrease due to the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, but carbon-dioxide will continue to build up in the atmosphere because carbon-dioxide emissions are still entering the atmosphere, albeit at a slower rate than originally forecast.

Even with the reduction in emissions in recent weeks, the highest concentrations of atmospheric carbon-dioxide on record have already been measured. Instrumental records go back to 1958, but ice core records show that the current levels are the highest for at least the last 2 million years.

Each January, the Met Office produces an annual carbon-dioxide forecast for the coming year. A revised CO2 forecast has been produced in partnership with the Scripps Institution for Oceanography, who have taken the CO2 measurements at Mauna Loa in Hawaii since 1958.

This year was initially predicted to see a relatively large rise in CO2 due to the impact of mild El Niño-like conditions until recently. However, the emissions reductions are forecast to offset this and bring the rise back to a more average rate.

The full analysis and revised forecast can be seen in this Met Office blog or in this Carbon Brief guest article.


Reconfiguring the Air Quality forecast model

The steps being taken in the UK and across Europe to slow/limit the spread of COVID-19 have had impacts on various anthropogenic pollutant emissions. Baseline emissions in the Met Office air quality forecast are based on the latest annual inventories from preceding years. There are generally only small changes from year to year and various temporal and spatial cycles and adjustments are normally applied to these.

Starting from 7 April 2020, the emissions in the Met Office air quality forecast model have been adjusted on the basis of available evidence and expert judgment to better reflect current conditions. The impact on emissions is complex and there are many independent and inter-dependent sources. Work continues on evaluating the model performance and other evidence e.g. traffic and other activity data, and further changes will be made when necessary to ensure forecast accuracy.