A supercomputer projected to be the second most powerful system in the UK is to be installed by the Met Office at a cost of £33m.
Weather forecasters will benefit from extra computing power to achieve even more accurate short-range forecasts with high-resolution computer simulations. The system will also be used to progress research on climate change and its impacts on society and the economy.
The supercomputer will be supplied by IBM, and is projected to be within the top 20 most powerful systems in the world. It is capable of a peak performance of 125 trillion floating point operations per second. By 2011, the total system is anticipated to have a total peak performance approaching 1 PetaFlop - equivalent to over 100,000 PCs and over 30 times more powerful than what is in place today.
As part of the agreement, IBM will also provide a mid-life system upgrade, support and maintenance services during the five-year contract.
John Hirst, chief executive of the Met Office said: "In a world where the effect of extreme weather events is becoming more severe and the potential impact of global warming is becoming ever more apparent, the Met Office plays an increasingly vital role in researching and forecasting these events. The new supercomputer is an important step in delivering our strategic targets."