Met Office supercomputer: A megawatt, here, a megawatt there, and pretty soon we're talking real carbon pollution

Weather supercomputer used to predict climate change is one of Britain’s worst polluters

Excerpts from the story by the Daily Mail See WUWT’s original story on this

The Met Office has caused a storm of controversy after it was revealed their £30million supercomputer designed to predict climate change is one of Britain’s worst polluters.

The massive machine – the UK’s most powerful computer with a whopping 15 million megabytes of memory – was installed in the Met Office’s headquarters in Exeter, Devon.

It is capable of 1,000 billion calculations every second to feed data to 400 scientists and uses 1.2 megawatts of energy to run – enough to power more than 1,000 homes.

computerThe computer used 1.2 megawatts to run – enough to power 1,000 homes

The machine was hailed as the ‘future of weather prediction’ with the ability to produce more accurate forecasts and produce climate change modelling.

However the Met Office’s HQ has now been named as one of the worst buildings in Britain for pollution – responsible for more than 12,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year.

It says 75 per cent of its carbon footprint is produced by the super computer meaning the machine is officially one of the country’s least green machines.

Green campaigners say it is ‘ironic’ that a computer designed to help stave-off climate change is responsible for such high levels of pollution.

But Met Office spokesman Barry Grommett said the computer was ‘vital’ to British meteorology and to help predict weather and environmental change.

He said: ‘We recognise that it is big but it is also necessary. We couldn’t do what we do without it.

‘We would be throwing ourselves back into the dark ages of weather forecasting if we withdrew our reliance on supercomputing, it’s as simple as that.’

The figures have been published by the Department of Communities and Local Government which calculated the ratings and emissions of every public building in the country.

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“We couldn’t do what we do without it.” – like botch the BBQ summer forecast?

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1209430/Weather-supercomputer-used-predict-climate-change-Britains-worst-polluters.html#ixzz0PUNYd7RN

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David Corcoran

All that carbon output, all that expensive, sophisticated technology, but ever since the Met Office jumped on the alarmist bandwagon they’ve had a horrid track record on predictions. For the last several years they’ve predicted mild, warm winters; what the citizenry got were brutal, freezing winters. Last year the seas froze off the south of England. Is that mild?
Maybe they should reduce their PR budget and instead focus on science.

Mr Watts,
What’s the purpose of (re)publishing such poppycock about green/carbon footprints, the biggest polluter, etc information platitudes concerning supercomputers on your sci blog which gained popularity thanks to scientific weblogs, not political ones or other idiotic topics?
Supercomputers need a lot of energy. You know physics too well.
Too many times lately I wonder whether you are immune enough to green propaganda.
Regards

rbateman

Isn’t this the HAL that keeps getting the weather upside-down, inside-out, tangled mess?
It would be far cheaper for poor UK to sell the hungry beast and get a Farmer’s Almanac.
Something that can actually get it right most of the time.
It’s probably not even being used to predict the weather.
Somebody at a desk somewhere is making the forecast up.
The least they could have done is hire a real meteorologist and make it look like the computer monster is doing something useful.

Leon Brozyna

So, without that supercomputer they’d be back in the “the dark ages of weather forecasting”? Meanwhile, the politically correct environmentalists seem to want the rest of civilization slammed back into the dark ages of life without cheap, easily exploited energy sources. Talk about hypocrisy.

rbateman

This reminds me of the Lemon Computer System some outfit sold the California DMV a few year back. It never worked right, and threw the DMV into total chaos after which they had to admit it was a dud. The people who sold it to them couldn’t fix it either.
They finally had to scrap it and start over.
Sell the thing and try to recoup some of the loss.

Tom in Florida

Ignoring the first post,
“But Met Office spokesman Barry Grommett said the computer was ‘vital’ to British meteorology and to help predict weather and environmental change.
He said: ‘We recognise that it is big but it is also necessary. We couldn’t do what we do without it. ‘We would be throwing ourselves back into the dark ages of weather forecasting if we withdrew our reliance on supercomputing, it’s as simple as that.’ ”
So he wants to use it for weather forcasting?
Perhaps he should just flip a coin instead.

Maybe they could purchase some carbon indulgences from Al Gore. Then it’s guilt free “pollution.”

Retired Engineer

Random Thoughts:
1.2 MW powering 1000 homes? The usual value is 2KW/home, perhaps the Brits are already rationing electricity? And if that is the power needed for the computer, how much does it take to keep it cool?
A teraflop for that kind of power seems poor by today’s standards. Did they buy this thing used on eBay?
If the world is in a cooling trend, this thing could keep the local environment warmer.
Some tea leaves and animal entrails would produce results just as accurate results for a lot less power consumption.

DaveE

‘We would be throwing ourselves back into the dark ages of weather forecasting if we withdrew our reliance on supercomputing, it’s as simple as that.’

Instead they intend to use its output to persuade governments to throw the rest of the community into the real dark ages.
DaveE.

David Jones

Quote “Met Office spokesman Barry Grommett said the computer was ‘vital’ to British meteorology and to help predict weather and environmental change.
He said: ‘We recognise that it is big but it is also necessary. We couldn’t do what we do without it.
‘We would be throwing ourselves back into the dark ages of weather forecasting if we withdrew our reliance on supercomputing, it’s as simple as that.’ Unquote.
They hardly ever left “the dark ages of weather forecasting” in the sense that they have NOT improved the accuracy of their forecasts and have never been any good at forecasting beyond a day or two (to be generous).
What else should we expect from a bunch of civil servants? After they botched the “long range” forecast for this summer they are losing a lot of their commercial customers (e.g. retail chains trying to assess what products are likely to be in demand) thus expecting the British taxpayer to pick up even more of their costs.
It is time the Met Office was privatised and made into a commercial business and let’s see if they can cut it in competition with the commercial forcasters in Britain. My guess “not a chance.”

Boudu

42.

Dave

Like Al Gore, its okay because it’s all for the cause.

Thomas J. Arnold.

Oh dearie me! – Practice what you preach???
“Homeowners could be forced to improve the insulation and energy efficiency of their properties when carrying out renovation work as part of a landmark strategy on energy to be unveiled by the Government this week.
* Telegraph Earth homepage
Ministers are considering introducing new laws which would compel Britons to increase the energy efficiency of their properties over the next decade.
Inefficient appliances such as oil-fired boilers may also be outlawed.
One of the major concerns of the Government’s green advisers is the amount of energy being wasted heating older homes which do not have double-glazing and other energy saving measures which are now commonplace in newer properties.
The proposal forms part of the renewable energy strategy which will be published later this week.”
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/science-news/3345203/Homeowners-may-be-forced-to-improve-energy-efficiency-when-renovating.html
There is a delicious irony here!

Mark

CO2 is not pollution!

Johnny Honda

Great Computer!
But: You can make it twice big, triple it, etc. You still can’t predict climate change!!
You have dozens of unknown mechanism
You have a turbulent, chaotic system
You have 3 phases in the system
You have a complicted geometry (i.e. surface of land, subsea surface)
and you have morons who program it
There is the saying: If you have a million of monkeys typing many years on a typewriter, they will write one day something like Shakespeare.
Since “climate change science”, we know that this is not true.

OceanTwo

Boudu (08:23:51) :
42.
————————————-
Classic! It looks like some programming team moaned loudly enough that the get themselves a faster hamster wheel.
But, you know, the thing about computers is they can’t think for themselves. Which seems to come as a shock to some people. More computing power will not equal better predictions. You’ll simply come to the same garbage conclusion that little bit sooner.
AKA: Garbage In Garbage Out.
Here’s a prediction: it’s going to be hotter before it gets colder; unless it gets colder first, then it’ll get hotter.

Neven

Hydrocarbon use is a technical term for prosperity. The warmists know that their hoax is just that, so they are not really interested in reducing the temperature. What they are interested in is undermining American prosperity thereby undermining our nation’s ability to serve as a light unto the nations and introduce the lost to the Lord Jesus Christ. America’s reputation in the world depends upon “hydrocarbon use” from the coal we burn to power our televisions, to the oil we use to maintain our military dominance, and the gasoline we burn to drive our Hummers down to the store. The methane we release at a football game, the propane we use to heat our trailers, the butane we use to fill our lighters, the octane we use in our hot rods, the asphalt we use to pave over wasteland, the kerosene we use to light our crosses and most of the plastics we use for everything are all hydrocarbons.
Without hydrocarbons, our glorious republic would be nothing more than a third world slum like France or Canada. “Hydrocarbon use” does indeed mean prosperity and this is precisely what the warmists want to steal from us. This point can not be stressed enough. After all, if the warmists were serious they would not be using any hydrocarbons, would they? I say that the second that every single warmist on Earth stops using all hydrocarbons and their derivatives (like electricity and anything made of plastic), then I’ll take their fantastic ranting a bit more seriously. Until then, well, they’ll have to fight to steal my prosperity.

Ron de Haan

I don’t agree with the title of the article because I totally reject the combination of the word Carbon and Pollution.
There is absolutely no scientific justification to assume that any generation of energy
which involves carbon fuels results in “carbon pollution”.
It’s the core of the current AGW Hoax to make people believe that driving your car is the equivalent of poisoning the environment.
Co2 is not a poison but a harmless plant food, essential for the support of all life on our planet.
I am really disappointed that an organization like Met Office, with such a long history of excellence in weather and climate science, is overtaken by a breed of management that has sidelined the science in order to serve a political agenda.
They have squandered the rock solid reputation of Met Office in a few years time, turning the organization into the laughing stock of the scientific world.
No new super computer will change that.

Doesn’t matter how powerful their computers are. It’s the model programs which fail to predict. You have to know everything there is to know about something before you can model it.

Tim Clark

Anthony, the picture for this thread is incorrect.
Your picture shows a man waiting for a vacant portapotty.

crosspatch

That must be the one they are calling HAL Gore.

Bob H.

Perhaps the MET office could invest in a ouija board or a crystal ball to improve the accuracy of their forcasts…and a ouija board or crystal ball has a minimal carbon footprint. You get better forcasts, a small carbon footprint, and minimal power requirements. Sounds like a good deal.

Nogw

It has been shown that One single human being (a british btw) can make better forecasts than this silly hardware and without spending so many Watts…Whattsupwiththat?

The accompanying picture of a poster of a pledge of allegiance is not off topic when you consider what has often been mentioned on threads on this site. It is easy to justify many things when you believe in a green religion. It is also easy to believe the green political solution is the right one when your first allegiance is to the concept of the green Earth. Click for a link to a poster from a school that offers a pledge of allegiance much different from the one I used to say every day in school…
http://www.glennbeck.com/content/articles/article/198/29820/

tallbloke

I can see the ebay ad now:
“2nd user computer system, very powerhungryful.
This item is heavy, so no postage, buyer collects.
No returns, what you see is what you buy.

Gary Hladik

Boudu (08:23:51),
What is Al Gore’s IQ?

Tim Clark

Opps! In retrospect that picture is actually a valid analogy:
B.S. in/B.S. out

Nogw

A thousand years ago, southamerican indians, the Incas, just looked at the seven sisters, in the sky,(The pleiades globular cumulus, in the constellation of Taurus ) if these looked hazy, it was going to be a rainy season. As simple as that…
An x-box, nintendo or whatever electronic gadgets wouldn´t be better and cheaper for these met office grown up kids?…
They´re gonna kill the rest of the world just by laughing at them.

Richard deSousa

It doesn’t matter how powerful these computers get, it’s still the problem with GIGO. The climate scientists still don’t get it.

Kum Dollison

Gotta agree with Przemystaw.

If 2000 advocates shut off their computers it could make up the difference.

LarryOldtimer

They can just power it with one of those wind turbines. Then, when it doesn’t work, they will know that the wind is blowing less than about 10 mph. How marvelous. As the climate has been rightfully described as a chaotic non-linear system, it can’t be forecast or predicted. GIGO, however powerful the computer. But they are now able to make the errors they make much more quickly.

Aron

In socialist worker’s paradise we all have equally friendly carbon footprints, except some are more equal than others!

Fred from Canuckistan . . .

Przemysław Pawełczyk (08:07:13) : . . . look up the definition of two words
1. Irony
2. Hypocrisy
Then think about the post in the context of the meaning of these two words and you’ll eventually figure it out.

Howarth

As often stated on this blog, Bad Data in, Bad Data out. The power of this computer is useless if the MET is using selective(AGW bias) AlGoreithms. Its just one big carbon foot print. Not that thats a problem in the long run, but does the UK need the added tax? Isn’t the economy tough as it is?

dorlomin

Burn down this evil computer and its false prophicies!

timetochooseagain

“Green campaigners say it is ‘ironic’ that a computer designed to help stave-off climate change is responsible for such high levels of pollution.”
HA! So the models aren’t created to get at the truth, they are created with a political goal in mind.
I knew it!

Alan the Brit

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/8224543.stm
Take a look at this one fellas! Of course it’s par for the course to announce that it doesn’t explain the warming over the last 30 years, etc. I suspect rears are being covered to avoid total embarrassment in due course. This is unprecendented for the BBC, rather unlike the unprecedented warming over the last 30 years or so. Think ICECAP nailed this one a tad earlier on their site. Curiously, the paper doesn’t appear to have any mention a disclaimer about warming over the last 30 years, unless I missed it, which is possible., but the BBC report does. Hmmmm, how strange.

Keith

“… uses 1.2 megawatts of energy to run – enough to power more than 1,000 homes.”
These statements always bother me. First, “1.2 megawatts of energy” is a statement of power, not energy. Energy would be expressed in W*hr. And then, “to power more than 1000 homes” for how long? In this case, it’s easy to assume they simply meant 1.2 MW of power which would imply 1.2KW of power for each home. As Retired Engineer already stated, this seems slightly low, but at least in the ballpark.
I’ve noticed it becomes much more egregious when discussing things like wind power when all that is mentioned is peak generating capacity (which almost never happens!) and the ability to power a bazillion homes based on that number as if the wind turbines would always run at peak capacity.

John Luft

Garbage in, Gospel out

Adam from Kansas

Have you checked out plantsneedco2.org? This big machine is responsible for pumping out tons of plant food into the atmosphere, thank the UK MET office for doing its part for the good of plants everywhere 😉

John Galt

That’s a real purty piece of hardware.
But it doesn’t matter what because of the GIGO principle. All that expensive, energy-sucking hardware does it let them get the wrong answer faster.

Sorry to put a damper on this parade. But for about 7 months out of the year, the low grade heat output (room temperature plus) can and should be used for SPACE HEATING.
Then we only have the 400,000 watts to run the AC units during the summer to account for. THERE I cut the “Carbon Footprint” by 1/4 in a piece of brilliant logic.
Wait, maybe the SuperComputer runs off NUCLEAR? Then it has NO carbon footprint.
Or, they could take ALL the solar power available in UK and run it. Then it would run only during sunny days. Of course that TOO would cut down on its use. (Sunny days in England? What, about 100?)
All jesting aside, I’ll repeat my primary “large computer” mantra:
GIGO GIGO GIGO GIGO GIGO…
Now if they were to BAN printing the outputs and keep them as vapor (binary digits, screen displays only) we’d have a REAL “Green” winner.
I guess I’ll just be a green WHINER for now.
Dr. Joe

Sean

I wish everyone would stop complaining about the MET office computer. Its the best money that’s been spent on climate science from a skeptics point of view (unless you are a UK taxpayer of course). The MET office is the only organization using global circulation models to predict the weather on a seasonal basis so they are making verifiable predictions. From my perspective, let them have all they want. Let there be no uncertainty about the quality and reliability of global circulations models and their ability to predict the future.

MattN

Awesome. You can’t make something up this good!
Oh, and CO2 is not pollution….

Scott B

I love this quote: He said: ‘We recognise that it is big but it is also necessary. We couldn’t do what we do without it.
‘We would be throwing ourselves back into the dark ages of weather forecasting if we withdrew our reliance on supercomputing, it’s as simple as that.’
Yes, that’s right. It’s amazing to think that increasing our machines’ capabilities requires more power, which as of now, requires burning those fossil fuels. Maybe it will click in someone’s head that a lot of those other things they are trying to make hugely expensive are also necessary.

Ray

Seeing the negative public response about their carbon footprint, maybe now they will run models that are actually good and confirm that CO2 is not the cause of climate change… or they could just relocate it is some third world country and make them pay for the carbon credits tax and continue showing that CO2 is bad. The heat produced by the supercomputer could be used to heat space and water for a small village in Africa.

Daryl M

rbateman (08:17:25) :
This reminds me of the Lemon Computer System some outfit sold the California DMV a few year back. It never worked right, and threw the DMV into total chaos after which they had to admit it was a dud. The people who sold it to them couldn’t fix it either.
They finally had to scrap it and start over.
Sell the thing and try to recoup some of the loss.
I rather doubt there is anything wrong with the computers. All computers are subject to two fundamental rules: garbage in – garbage out and they do exactly what you tell them to do. A supercomputer is no different, it just does everything on a bigger scale. In this case, it’s probably a bit of both.

ThomasL

Wasn’t their some MET guy that did solar monitoring and had a better track record of prediction than the “real” MET team? I think he used commercial off-the-shelf PC hardware. Just saying…

DERise

But they need a computer like this to painstakingly maintain through retrievable records, boldly apply completely unbiased corrections, and maintain as thoroughly impartial a register of climatic conditions as humanly possible!