Climate computer earns met office super polluter tag

The Met Office headquarters in Devon has been named as one of Britain's worst polluters because of a £30m supercomputer used to predict climate change.

The Met Office headquarters in Devon has been named as one of Britain's worst polluters because of a £30m supercomputer used to predict climate change. The giant IBM machine fills two special halls the size of two football pitches in Exeter and is believed to be the second most powerful system in the UK.

 

It produces 12,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year, which led to the Met Office's HQ being named as one of the worst polluters in a new green league table published by the Department of Communities and Local Government. But Met Office spokesman Barry Gromett defended the computer and said it is needed to accurately predict the weather, and its predictions help reduce global carbon emissions.

 

Grommett said most of the building has an excellent green rating. "By failing to discriminate between office and supercomputing facilities, the process reflects badly on the entire Met Office site." By 2011, the computer is anticipated to have a peak performance approaching 1 PetaFlop - equivalent to more than 100,000 PCs and over 30 times more powerful than what is currently in place. It will offer 15 million megabytes of memory and require 1.2 megawatts of energy to run.

 

Gromett said the extra power will mean they can achieve more accurate and detailed short-range weather forecasts through "high-resolution computer simulations".

He said the system is also being used for research on climate change and its impacts on society and the economy.

 

Friends of the Earth spokesman Maurice Spurway said: "Life is full of ironies and I think this is one of those situations."

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