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Weather Computers


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  • Location: just south of Doncaster, Sth Yorks
  • Location: just south of Doncaster, Sth Yorks

    This is an attempt to put items, in fairly simple language, on how and why computers are run.

    As I find more relevant information I will add it into this spot.

    First how computers developed in the Met Office

    Computers in the Met Office

    With thanks to the Met Office site for much of this data.

    Name/date Calculations/sec horizontal resolution

    1959/Ferranti Mercury 3X10(3) 320km(North Atlantic only)

    1968/English Electric KDF9 50X10(3) 300km/3 levels

    1972/IBM 360/195 4X10(6) 300(global) and 100km N Atlantic/10 levels

    1982/CDC Cyber 205 200X10(6) 150km global/75km/15 levels

    1991 Cray Y-MP C90/16 256X10(6) 90km/17km/19 levels

    The original, around 1920 or so was set up by LF Richardson; you might call him the father of Met Office computing. He suggested that the possibility of numerical weather prediction using a forecast factory, as he called it, consisting of thousands of humans seated round a globe shaped auditorium, each one calculating, the future state of the atmosphere at a fixed location by calculating a set of calculations.

    Between 1997 and 2004 they used two Cray T3E supercomputers. This was a new ‘beast’ in that it had several hundred processors.

    The latest, I think, is the NEC SX-6 for its operational model.

    It has fewer processors than the T3E but they are much more powerful. It has 30 nodes, each node has 8 processors and this increases the computer power X6 to that on the two T3E’s.

    In 2005 an upgrade was planned to increase this to 12.5 X times the power of the T3E’s.

    More information, and probably much more up top date can be found on the Met Office web site at


    this gives what seems to be the latest about the NEC SX-6

    Now an article about recent developments in computing and forecasting


    Some basic ideas about NOAA and their GFS model

    To be added



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