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Met office gets £60m for climate science

The government has answered calls to ramp up the research capacity at the Met Office Hadley Centre’s with a £60 million investment.

Funding for the climate research centre, from the Department of Energy and Climate Change and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, is centred on a £50m programme of research and modelling, lasting until 2015.

Announcing the investment on 11 April, the government said the investment would “significantly enhance” the evidence available to government on mitigation and adaptation, as well as support renewable energy research and help organisations better understand the threats and opportunities of climate change.

Under the programme, DECC will contribute £12m alongside Defra’s £4.5m each year. The departments are working with the Met Office and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, of which the Met Office is an executive agency, on a memorandum of understanding intended to outline the research programme over the next three years.

In recent years both the Government Office for Science and the House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee have called for boosts to, and clarification of, the Hadley Centre’s funding.

Today’s £60m announcement is less than the £90m GO Science estimated in 2010 would be needed by the centre between 2011-12 and 2014-15 to meet the government’s need for climate science advice.

In February the science and technology committee also called for greater supercomputing and modelling capacity at the Met Office, as well as for the agency to work with the research councils to develop a 10-year strategy for supercomputing resources in the weather and climate areas.

Giving evidence to the select committee, the Met Office said delivering the necessary improvements to its high performance computing capabilities would cost around £14m per year over the following three years.

However, the computing component of this announcement stands at £11m. According to DECC, this covers hardware installed last month at the centre, which included eight “supernodes” of servers and 33 petabytes of storage.

The committee’s February report said a “step change” in supercomputing capacity was one of the main changes needed at the Met Office, building on existing upgrade plans and in collaboration with the academic community.