MET Weather Supercomputer Amongst UK's Biggest Air Polluters

UK's second fastest computer which is owned by the Met Office has been singled out as the reason why the Met Office headquarters in Exeter came amongst one of the worst public buildings in the UK when it comes to pollution.

The computer, which has a processing power of 125 Teraflops, is a vital tool to help the Met predict climate change but yet, it produces more than 12,000 tons of carbon dioxide, the same amount as a small town.

The IBM System P was purchased in August last year costing the taxpayers a whopping £33 million (for a five year contract). It has 13TB of memory plus 550TB disk storage space and is said to be 30 times more powerful than the computers it replace.

A spokesperson for the Met Office said that the supercomputer was vital for British Meteorology and to help reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the country. He also added that it was a necessary evil, saying that without it, the Met would be throwing itself "into the dark ages of weather forecasting ".

The list was drawn by the Department of Communities and Local Government and the Met also pointed out that the government quango failed to discriminate between the "office and supercomputing facilities", something which it said, reflected badly on the entire Met Office site.

The Met is currently investigating the possibility of using direct current rather than AC in a bid to save power and cut emissions by as much as 10 percent. It is also evaluating the possibility of using water cooling rather than air to pump out excess heat.

Our Comments

When meteorology, as a science works, it can save thousands of lives and greatly reduce greenhouse emissions through accurate forecasting. It was perhaps more a case of a storm in a tea cup though because the Met Office HQ actually came 103 out of more than 28,000 buildings.

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