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Last Updated: Tuesday, 7 September, 2004, 23:16 GMT 00:16 UK
Met Office unveils supercomputer
BBC weather forecast
The supercomputer will allow more accurate forecasting
The Met Office is celebrating 150 years by unveiling a new supercomputer which they predict will put them at the forefront of weather forecasting.

It will allow meteorologists to provide more accurate advice to the government and the public in the face of increasingly extreme weather patterns.

The Met Office made the announcement at the British Association's Festival of Science at the University of Exeter.

The new system is one of the most sophisticated in Europe.

It allows forecasters to track weather patterns across the world - from a massive dust storm to a single cloud.

Such technology makes it easy to forget how far forecasting has come, the Met Office says.

Commercial spin-offs

It was the invention of the telegraph that allowed the rapid collation of weather observations across large areas.

That allowed forecasters first to chart, and then predict weather patterns.

The Met Office, which started using these methods to provide a storm warning service for sailors, now processes 100,000 million pieces of data every day in its computer models - with considerable commercial spin-offs.

In hot weather, demand for wasp killer increases by up to 500% and leg wax sales go up more than 10-fold - information that supermarkets are happy to pay for.

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