Select Committee on Science and Technology Written Evidence


Memorandum 43

Submission from Professor Paul Hardaker, Chief Executive, Royal Meteorological Society, the UK's Professional and Learned Society for Meteorology

SUPERCOMPUTING RESOURCES FOR UK METEOROLOGY

  I noted from a recent evidence session carried out under the "Investigating the Oceans" enquiry that you expressed an interest in the supercomputing capacity available to the Met Office for modelling and forecasting.

  Through the efforts of both the Natural Environment Research Council and the Met Office, the UK has a world leading reputation in the field of atmospheric modelling and climate prediction. I believe that this leading position is important because of the role of the meteorological community in both the UK's civil contingencies and in driving forward global and national climate change policy. Our science and innovation in these areas leads the current levels of technology investment and our global lead in climate in particular is being threatened as other countries significantly increase their supercomputing resources.

  At present the current shortfall of our supercomputing resources is limiting the UK's ability to deliver the benefits from the investment in the underpinning science. This is particularly relevant to the climate modelling work that is focusing on both mitigation and adaptation issues, both of which require a far greater ability to unravel these complex policy issues at regional scale.

  This was highlighted recently in an independent review of the Met Office's Hadley Centre, which concluded that although "it is beyond dispute that Hadley occupies a position at the pinnacle of world climate science, and in translating that science into valuable policy advice" it also stated that "world leading climate research is not sustainable over any reasonable period of time without continued access to supercomputers amongst the world's fastest". The full report is available at "http://www.defra.gov.uk/environment/climatechange/research/index.htm".

  My belief is that investment can come in terms of both increased financial support and in the greater integration of existing facilities and the programmes of work that surround these. The latter, of course, is more practically challenging but offers significant benefits if it can be effectively achieved.

July 2007





 
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