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Met Office to build a £97m supercomputer to predict the weather

Guessing the weather in the UK is never an easy task. Thankfully, the Met Office is pumping a £97 million into a new supercomputer designed to spot weather trends faster and with greater accuracy.

The new system will work 13 times faster than the current computer modelling system, enabling detailed, UK-wide forecast models with a resolution of 1.5km to be run every single hour, rather than every three.

The supercomputer will be built in Exeter throughout 2015, and is forecast to become operational by next September.

The Met Office claims it will deliver a "step change" in forecast accuracy.

"It will allow us to add more precision, more detail, more accuracy to our forecasts on all time scales for tomorrow, for the next day, next week, next month and even the next century," said Met Office chief executive Rob Varley.

It will address one of the key challenges of climate projections - to "answer the real questions people need to know", said Mr Varley.

"We can tell you that the global average temperature is going to increase by 3C or 4C if we carry on as we are - but the critical question is what is that going to mean for London?"

"What is it going to mean for Scotland? What is it going to mean for my back garden? At the moment the general looks that we can produce really don't answer those kinds of questions," he told BBC Radio 4's Today.

Britain lies at the downstream end of the North Atlantic storm track, a feature that dominates the weather and climate of the North Atlantic and Western Europe.

This describes the typical paths of low-pressure weather systems as they move eastward in the jet-stream across the North Atlantic Ocean.

The day-to-day variations in British weather that we experience are intimately connected with the passage of these storm systems eastward across our region, and explain why we can be baking in unseasonal sunshine one week and then buried in snow two weeks later.

So is the new system just going to get our wrong weather reports to us faster, or will it actually help? Let us know in the comments section below, or stop by for a chat with the ITProPortal team and other readers on ITProPortal's tech talk live chat.