Met Office

Met Office

Overview
The Met Office is the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

's national weather
Weather
Weather is the state of the atmosphere, to the degree that it is hot or cold, wet or dry, calm or stormy, clear or cloudy. Most weather phenomena occur in the troposphere, just below the stratosphere. Weather refers, generally, to day-to-day temperature and precipitation activity, whereas climate...

 service, and a trading fund
Trading Fund
A trading fund is a UK executive agency, government department or part of a department, which has been established as such by means of a Trading Fund Order made under the Government Trading Funds Act 1973....

 of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills is a ministerial department of the United Kingdom Government created on 5 June 2009 by the merger of the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills and the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform .-Ministers:The BIS...

. Part of the Met Office headquarters at Exeter
Exeter
Exeter is a historic city in Devon, England. It lies within the ceremonial county of Devon, of which it is the county town as well as the home of Devon County Council. Currently the administrative area has the status of a non-metropolitan district, and is therefore under the administration of the...

 in Devon
Devon
Devon is a large county in southwestern England. The county is sometimes referred to as Devonshire, although the term is rarely used inside the county itself as the county has never been officially "shired", it often indicates a traditional or historical context.The county shares borders with...

 is the Met Office College, which handles the training for internal personnel and many forecasters from around the world. The current chief executive is John Hirst.

The Met Office was established in 1854 as a small department within the Board of Trade
Board of Trade
The Board of Trade is a committee of the Privy Council of the United Kingdom, originating as a committee of inquiry in the 17th century and evolving gradually into a government department with a diverse range of functions...

 under Robert FitzRoy
Robert FitzRoy
Vice-Admiral Robert FitzRoy RN achieved lasting fame as the captain of HMS Beagle during Charles Darwin's famous voyage, and as a pioneering meteorologist who made accurate weather forecasting a reality...

 as a service to mariners
Sailor
A sailor, mariner, or seaman is a person who navigates water-borne vessels or assists in their operation, maintenance, or service. The term can apply to professional mariners, military personnel, and recreational sailors as well as a plethora of other uses...

.
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The Met Office is the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

's national weather
Weather
Weather is the state of the atmosphere, to the degree that it is hot or cold, wet or dry, calm or stormy, clear or cloudy. Most weather phenomena occur in the troposphere, just below the stratosphere. Weather refers, generally, to day-to-day temperature and precipitation activity, whereas climate...

 service, and a trading fund
Trading Fund
A trading fund is a UK executive agency, government department or part of a department, which has been established as such by means of a Trading Fund Order made under the Government Trading Funds Act 1973....

 of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills is a ministerial department of the United Kingdom Government created on 5 June 2009 by the merger of the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills and the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform .-Ministers:The BIS...

. Part of the Met Office headquarters at Exeter
Exeter
Exeter is a historic city in Devon, England. It lies within the ceremonial county of Devon, of which it is the county town as well as the home of Devon County Council. Currently the administrative area has the status of a non-metropolitan district, and is therefore under the administration of the...

 in Devon
Devon
Devon is a large county in southwestern England. The county is sometimes referred to as Devonshire, although the term is rarely used inside the county itself as the county has never been officially "shired", it often indicates a traditional or historical context.The county shares borders with...

 is the Met Office College, which handles the training for internal personnel and many forecasters from around the world. The current chief executive is John Hirst.

History


The Met Office was established in 1854 as a small department within the Board of Trade
Board of Trade
The Board of Trade is a committee of the Privy Council of the United Kingdom, originating as a committee of inquiry in the 17th century and evolving gradually into a government department with a diverse range of functions...

 under Robert FitzRoy
Robert FitzRoy
Vice-Admiral Robert FitzRoy RN achieved lasting fame as the captain of HMS Beagle during Charles Darwin's famous voyage, and as a pioneering meteorologist who made accurate weather forecasting a reality...

 as a service to mariners
Sailor
A sailor, mariner, or seaman is a person who navigates water-borne vessels or assists in their operation, maintenance, or service. The term can apply to professional mariners, military personnel, and recreational sailors as well as a plethora of other uses...

. The loss of the passenger vessel, the Royal Charter
Royal Charter (ship)
The Royal Charter was a steam clipper which was wrecked off the beach of Porth Alerth in Dulas Bay on the north-east coast of Anglesey on 26 October 1859. The precise number of dead is uncertain as the passenger list was lost in the wreck but about 459 lives were lost, the highest death toll of any...

, and 459 lives off the coast of Anglesey
Anglesey
Anglesey , also known by its Welsh name Ynys Môn , is an island and, as Isle of Anglesey, a county off the north west coast of Wales...

 in a violent storm in October 1859 led to the first gale warning service. In 1861 FitzRoy had established a network of 15 coastal stations from which visual gale warnings could be provided for ships at sea.

The development of the electric telegraph in the 1870s led to the more rapid dissemination of warnings and also led to the development of an observational network which could then be used to provide synoptic analyses.

In 1879 the Met Office started providing forecast to newspapers.

Connection with the Ministry of Defence


Following the First World War
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, the Met Office became part of the Air Ministry
Air Ministry
The Air Ministry was a department of the British Government with the responsibility of managing the affairs of the Royal Air Force, that existed from 1918 to 1964...

 in 1920, the weather observed from the top of Adastral House (where the Air Ministry was based) giving rise to the phrase "The weather on the Air Ministry roof". As a result of the need for accurate weather information for aviation, the Met Office located many of its observation and data collection points on RAF airfields, and this accounts for the large number of military airfields mentioned in weather reports even today. In 1936 the Met Office split with services to the Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

 being provided by its own forecasting services.

It currently holds a quasi-governmental role, being required to act commercially, but also has remained an executive agency
Executive agency
An executive agency, also known as a next-step agency, is a part of a government department that is treated as managerially and budgetarily separate in order to carry out some part of the executive functions of the United Kingdom government, Scottish Government, Welsh Assembly or Northern Ireland...

 of the Ministry of Defence
Ministry of Defence (United Kingdom)
The Ministry of Defence is the United Kingdom government department responsible for implementation of government defence policy and is the headquarters of the British Armed Forces....

 since April 1990. A branch of the Met Office known as the Mobile Met Unit
Mobile Meteorological Unit
The Mobile Meteorological Unit is a part of the United Kingdom Met Office that provides meteorological and environmental support to deployed elements of the UK’s joint forces, in order to enhance the effectiveness of national or combined contingency operations...

 (MMU) accompany forward units in times of conflict advising the armed forces of the prevailing conditions for battle, particularly the RAF. The Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research
Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research
The Met Office Hadley Centre for Climate Change — named in honour of George Hadley — is part of, and based at the headquarters of the Met Office in Exeter...

 and the National Meteorological Library and Archive are also parts of the Met Office.

On July 18th 2011, the Met Office became part of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills is a ministerial department of the United Kingdom Government created on 5 June 2009 by the merger of the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills and the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform .-Ministers:The BIS...

.

IPCC


Until 2001 the Met Office hosted the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is a scientific intergovernmental body which provides comprehensive assessments of current scientific, technical and socio-economic information worldwide about the risk of climate change caused by human activity, its potential environmental and...

 working group, chaired by John Houghton
John Houghton
John Houghton may refer to:* John Houghton , English Catholic priest and martyr* Sir John T. Houghton, British scientist*John Houghton , New Zealand international football player...

, on climate science. In 2001 the working group moved to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration , pronounced , like "noah", is a scientific agency within the United States Department of Commerce focused on the conditions of the oceans and the atmosphere...

.

Locations


In September 2003 the Met Office moved its headquarters to a purpose-built £80m structure near Exeter Airport
Exeter International Airport
Exeter International Airport is an airport located at Clyst Honiton in the District of East Devon close to the city of Exeter and within the county of Devon, South West England....

 and the A30
A30 road
The 284 miles A30 road from London to Land's End, historically known as the Great South West Road used to provide the most direct route from London to the south west; more recently the M3 motorway and A303 road performs this function for much of the route and only parts of A30 now retain trunk...

, in Devon
Devon
Devon is a large county in southwestern England. The county is sometimes referred to as Devonshire, although the term is rarely used inside the county itself as the county has never been officially "shired", it often indicates a traditional or historical context.The county shares borders with...

, being officially opened on 21 June 2004—its 150th anniversary—by Robert May, Baron May of Oxford
Robert May, Baron May of Oxford
Robert McCredie May, Baron May of Oxford, OM, AC, PRS is an Australian scientist who has been Chief Scientific Adviser to the UK Government, President of the Royal Society, and a Professor at Sydney and Princeton. He now holds joint professorships at Oxford, and Imperial College London...

, from its previous location of Bracknell
Bracknell
Bracknell is a town and civil parish in the Borough of Bracknell Forest in Berkshire, England. It lies to the south-east of Reading, southwest of Windsor and west of central London...

 in Berkshire
Berkshire
Berkshire is a historic county in the South of England. It is also often referred to as the Royal County of Berkshire because of the presence of the royal residence of Windsor Castle in the county; this usage, which dates to the 19th century at least, was recognised by the Queen in 1957, and...

, and it has a worldwide presence including a forecasting centre in Aberdeen
Aberdeen
Aberdeen is Scotland's third most populous city, one of Scotland's 32 local government council areas and the United Kingdom's 25th most populous city, with an official population estimate of ....

, and offices in Gibraltar
Gibraltar
Gibraltar is a British overseas territory located on the southern end of the Iberian Peninsula at the entrance of the Mediterranean. A peninsula with an area of , it has a northern border with Andalusia, Spain. The Rock of Gibraltar is the major landmark of the region...

 and on the Falklands. Other outposts lodge in establishments such as the Joint Centre for Mesoscale Meteorology (JCMM) at University of Reading
University of Reading
The University of Reading is a university in the English town of Reading, Berkshire. The University was established in 1892 as University College, Reading and received its Royal Charter in 1926. It is based on several campuses in, and around, the town of Reading.The University has a long tradition...

 in Berkshire, the Joint Centre for Hydro-Meteorological Research (JCHMR) site at Wallingford in Oxfordshire, and there is also a Met Office presence at many Army and Air Force bases within the UK and abroad (including frontline units in conflict zones). Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

 weather forecasts are generally provided by naval officers, not Met Office personnel.


Shipping Forecast


One of the British stalwarts, the Shipping Forecast
Shipping Forecast
The Shipping Forecast is a four-times-daily BBC Radio broadcast of weather reports and forecasts for the seas around the coasts of the British Isles. It is produced by the Met Office and broadcast by BBC Radio 4 on behalf of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency. The forecasts sent over the Navtex...

, is produced by the Met Office and broadcast on BBC Radio 4
BBC Radio 4
BBC Radio 4 is a British domestic radio station, operated and owned by the BBC, that broadcasts a wide variety of spoken-word programmes, including news, drama, comedy, science and history. It replaced the BBC Home Service in 1967. The station controller is currently Gwyneth Williams, and the...

. The Shipping Forecast has long been of real interest to, and vital to the safety of, mariners traversing the Sea Areas around the British Isles
British Isles
The British Isles are a group of islands off the northwest coast of continental Europe that include the islands of Great Britain and Ireland and over six thousand smaller isles. There are two sovereign states located on the islands: the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and...

. Less vitally, the Shipping Forecast has been the subject of both books and song lyrics.

Weather forecasting and warnings


The Met Office is responsible for issuing Severe Weather Warnings for the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 through the National Severe Weather Warning Service
National severe weather warning service
The National Severe Weather Warning Service is a service produced by the UK Met Office which informs the public of the United Kingdom of severe weather which may damage the country's infrastructure and endanger lives...

 (NSWWS). These warn of weather events that may affect transport infrastructure
Infrastructure
Infrastructure is basic physical and organizational structures needed for the operation of a society or enterprise, or the services and facilities necessary for an economy to function...

 and endanger people's lives. In March 2008, the system was improved and a new stage of warning was introduced, the 'Advisory'.

Weather prediction models


Its main role is to produce forecast models by gathering all the information from weather satellite
Weather satellite
The weather satellite is a type of satellite that is primarily used to monitor the weather and climate of the Earth. Satellites can be either polar orbiting, seeing the same swath of the Earth every 12 hours, or geostationary, hovering over the same spot on Earth by orbiting over the equator while...

s in space and observations on earth, then processing it using two IBM
IBM
International Business Machines Corporation or IBM is an American multinational technology and consulting corporation headquartered in Armonk, New York, United States. IBM manufactures and sells computer hardware and software, and it offers infrastructure, hosting and consulting services in areas...

 supercomputer
Supercomputer
A supercomputer is a computer at the frontline of current processing capacity, particularly speed of calculation.Supercomputers are used for highly calculation-intensive tasks such as problems including quantum physics, weather forecasting, climate research, molecular modeling A supercomputer is a...

s with a variety of models, based on a software package known as the Unified Model
Unified Model
The Unified Model is a Numerical Weather Prediction and climate modeling software suite originally developed by the United Kingdom Met Office, and now both used and further developed by many weather-forecasting agencies around the world...

. The principle weather products for UK customers are 36-hour forecasts from the operational 1.5 km resolution UKV model covering the UK and surroundings (replacing the 4 km model), 48-hour forecasts from the 12 km resolution NAE model covering Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

 and the North Atlantic, and 144-hour forecasts from the 25 km resolution global model (replacing the 40 km global model). The Met Office's Global Model forecast has consistently been in the top 3 for global weather forecast performance over the past few decades in independent verification to WMO standards. A wide range of other products for other regions of the globe are sold to customers abroad, provided for MOD
Ministry of Defence (United Kingdom)
The Ministry of Defence is the United Kingdom government department responsible for implementation of government defence policy and is the headquarters of the British Armed Forces....

 operations abroad or provided free to developing countries in Africa. If necessary, forecasters may make adjustments to the computer forecasts. This main bulk of data is then passed on to companies who acquire it. Data is stored in the Met Office's own PP-format
PP-format
The PP-format is a Met Office proprietary file format for meteorological data.Simulations of the weather are performed by the Met Office's Unified Model, which can be used for Numerical Weather Prediction or Climatology, and data is collected...

.

Flood Forecasting Centre


Formed in 2009 the Flood Forecasting Centre
Flood Forecasting Centre
The Flood Forecasting Centre is a joint venture between the Environment Agency and the Met Office to provide warnings of flooding which may affect England and Wales...

 (FFC) is a joint venture between the Environment Agency
Environment Agency
The Environment Agency is a British non-departmental public body of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and an Assembly Government Sponsored Body of the Welsh Assembly Government that serves England and Wales.-Purpose:...

 and the Met Office to provide warnings of flooding in which may affect England and Wales. The FFC is based in the Operations Centre at the Met Office headquarters in Exeter. In Scotland this role is performed by the Scottish Flood Forecasting Service, a joint venture between the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) and the Met Office.

Seasonal forecasts


The Met Office has regularly made seasonal forecasts, and continues to distribute them to customers. In Spring 2009, they forecast only a 40% chance of Britain getting higher than average rainfall (and correspondingly a 60% chance of getting average or less than average rainfall), with the text summary reading:
  • For the UK and much of Western Europe
    Western Europe
    Western Europe is a loose term for the collection of countries in the western most region of the European continents, though this definition is context-dependent and carries cultural and political connotations. One definition describes Western Europe as a geographic entity—the region lying in the...

     rainfall is likely to be near or below average. A repeat of the very wet summers of 2007 and 2008 is unlikely.



This was widely reported in the UK media as being a forecast for a "barbecue summer". Parts of the country in fact had higher than average rain and relatively little bright sunshine. In the Autumn of 2009, the Met Office forecast a 65% chance of an average or mild winter, but the winter of 2009/2010 was one of the coldest experienced for many decades. Frustration with the media generating misleading news stories from the probabilistic forecasts (such as the "barbecue summer" headlines in May 2009), with intense negative publicity from the Met Office's rivals such as Daily Telegraph/Press Association
Press Association
The Press Association is the national news agency of the United Kingdom and Ireland, supplying multimedia news content to almost all national and regional newspapers, television and radio news, as well as many websites with text, pictures, video and data content globally...

-owned MeteoGroup
MeteoGroup
MeteoGroup is Europe’s largest private sector weather business with forecasting offices in ten European countries and the US, sales representatives in the Far East and Middle East, and customers worldwide....

 and with publicity resulting from the low probability predicted for the cold winter of 2009-2010 led the Met Office to stop disseminating their seasonal forecasts to the media in February 2010, although these forecasts are still available for customers.

Supply of forecasts for broadcasting companies


In particular, two of the main media companies, the BBC
BBC
The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...

 and ITV
ITV
ITV is the major commercial public service TV network in the United Kingdom. Launched in 1955 under the auspices of the Independent Television Authority to provide competition to the BBC, it is also the oldest commercial network in the UK...

 produce forecasts using the Met Office's data. At the BBC Weather Centre, they are continuously updated on the latest information arriving by computer, or by fax
Fax
Fax , sometimes called telecopying, is the telephonic transmission of scanned printed material , normally to a telephone number connected to a printer or other output device...

 and e-mail
E-mail
Electronic mail, commonly known as email or e-mail, is a method of exchanging digital messages from an author to one or more recipients. Modern email operates across the Internet or other computer networks. Some early email systems required that the author and the recipient both be online at the...

. The BBC's new graphics are used on all of their television weather broadcasts, but ITV Weather
ITV Weather
ITV Weather is the national and regional forecast shown on UK terrestrial network ITV, and is provided by the Met Office...

 use animated weather symbols. This is mainly how the public are informed of weather events which may affect day-to-day life. The forecasters at the BBC Weather Centre are employed by the Met Office, not the BBC.

World Area Forecast Centre


The Met Office is also one of only two World Area Forecast Centres or WAFCs, and is referred to as WAFC London. The other WAFC is located in Kansas
Kansas
Kansas is a US state located in the Midwestern United States. It is named after the Kansas River which flows through it, which in turn was named after the Kansa Native American tribe, which inhabited the area. The tribe's name is often said to mean "people of the wind" or "people of the south...

, USA but known as WAFC Washington. WAFC data is used daily to safely and economically route aircraft, particularly on long-haul journeys. The data provides details of wind speed and direction, air temperature, cloud type and tops, and other features of interest to the aviation community.

Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre


As part of its aviation forecast operation the Met Office operates the London VAAC
Volcanic Ash Advisory Center
A Volcanic Ash Advisory Center is a group of experts responsible for coordinating and disseminating information on atmospheric volcanic ash clouds that may endanger aviation. As of 2010, there are nine Volcanic Ash Advisory Centers located around the world, each one focusing on a particular...

. This provides forecasts to the aviation industry of volcanic ash
Volcanic ash
Volcanic ash consists of small tephra, which are bits of pulverized rock and glass created by volcanic eruptions, less than in diameter. There are three mechanisms of volcanic ash formation: gas release under decompression causing magmatic eruptions; thermal contraction from chilling on contact...

 clouds that could enter aircraft flight paths and impact aviation safety. The London VAAC, one of nine worldwide, is responsible for the area covering the British Isles
British Isles
The British Isles are a group of islands off the northwest coast of continental Europe that include the islands of Great Britain and Ireland and over six thousand smaller isles. There are two sovereign states located on the islands: the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and...

, the north east Atlantic and Iceland
Iceland
Iceland , described as the Republic of Iceland, is a Nordic and European island country in the North Atlantic Ocean, on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Iceland also refers to the main island of the country, which contains almost all the population and almost all the land area. The country has a population...

. The VAAC were set up by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), an agency of the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

, as part of the International Airways Volcano Watch (IAVW). The London VAAC makes use of satellite images, plus seismic, radar and visual observation data from Iceland, the location of all of the active volcanoes in its area of responsibility. The NAME dispersion model
NAME (dispersion model)
The NAME atmospheric pollution dispersion model was first developed by the UK's Met Office in 1986 after the nuclear accident at Chernobyl, which demonstrated the need for a method that could predict the spread and deposition of radioactive gases or material released into the atmosphere.The...

 developed by the Met Office is used to forecast the movement of the ash clouds 6, 12 and 18 hours from the time of the alert at different flight levels.

Air quality


The Met Office issues air quality forecasts made using NAME
NAME (dispersion model)
The NAME atmospheric pollution dispersion model was first developed by the UK's Met Office in 1986 after the nuclear accident at Chernobyl, which demonstrated the need for a method that could predict the spread and deposition of radioactive gases or material released into the atmosphere.The...

, the Met Office's medium-to-long-range atmospheric dispersion model. It was originally developed as a nuclear accident model following the Chernobyl accident in 1986, but has since evolved into an all-purpose dispersion model capable of predicting the transport, transformation and deposition of a wide class of airborne materials. NAME is used operationally by the Met Office as an emergency response model as well as for routine air quality forecasting. Aerosol dispersion is calculated using the UKCA
UKCA
The United Kingdom Chemistry and Aerosols is a community Chemistry-Aerosol-Climate model which are research runs of the Met Office's operational Unified Model...

 model.

The forecast is produced for a number of different pollutants and their typical health effects are shown in the following table.
Pollutant Health Effects at High Level
Nitrogen dioxide
Ozone
Sulphur dioxide
These gases irritate the airways of the lungs, increasing the symptoms
of those suffering from lung diseases.
 
Particulates
 
Fine particles can be carried deep into the lungs where they can cause
inflammation and a worsening of heart and lung diseases

High performance computing


Due to the large amount of computation needed for Numerical Weather Prediction
Numerical weather prediction
Numerical weather prediction uses mathematical models of the atmosphere and oceans to predict the weather based on current weather conditions. Though first attempted in the 1920s, it was not until the advent of computer simulation in the 1950s that numerical weather predictions produced realistic...

 and the Unified model
Unified Model
The Unified Model is a Numerical Weather Prediction and climate modeling software suite originally developed by the United Kingdom Met Office, and now both used and further developed by many weather-forecasting agencies around the world...

, the Met Office has had some of the most powerful supercomputers in the world. In November 1997 the Met Office supercomputer was ranked third in the world.
Year Computer Calculations a second Horizontal Resolution (Global/local) Number of Vertical levels
1959 Ferranti Mercury
Ferranti Mercury
The Mercury was an early 1950s commercial computer built by Ferranti. It was the successor to the Ferranti Mark 1, adding a floating point unit for improved performance, and increased reliability by replacing the Williams tube memory with core memory and using more solid state components...

 
3Kflops (N.A./320 km) 2 levels
1965 English Electric KDF9
English Electric KDF9
KDF9 was an early British computer designed and built by English Electric, later English Electric Leo Marconi, EELM, later still incorporated into ICL. It first came into service in 1964 and was still in use in 1980 in at least one installation...

 
50Kflops (N.A./300 km) 3 levels
1972 IBM System/360 195 4Mflops (300 km/100 km) 10 levels
1982 CDC Cyber
CDC Cyber
The CDC Cyber range of mainframe-class supercomputers were the primary products of Control Data Corporation during the 1970s and 1980s. In their day, they were the computer architecture of choice for scientific and mathematically intensive computing...

 205
200Mflops (150 km/75 km) 15 levels
1991 Cray Y-MP C90
Cray C90
The Cray C90 series was a vector processor supercomputer launched by Cray Research in 1991. The C90 was a development of the Cray Y-MP architecture. Compared to the Y-MP, the C90 processor had a dual vector pipeline and a faster 4.1 ns clock cycle , which together gave three times the...

/16
10Gflops (90 km/17 km) 19 levels
1997 Cray T3E
Cray T3E
The Cray T3E was Cray Research's second-generation massively parallel supercomputer architecture, launched in late November 1995. The first T3E was installed at the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center in 1996. Like the previous Cray T3D, it was a fully distributed memory machine using a 3D torus...

 900/1200
430Gflops (60 km/12 km) 38 levels
2004 NEC SX-6
NEC SX-6
The SX-6 is a supercomputer built by NEC Corporation that debuted in 2001; the SX-6 was sold under license by Cray Inc. in the U.S. Each SX-6 single-node system contains up to eight vector processors, which share up to 64 GB of computer memory...

2.0Tflops (40 km/12 km) 50 levels
2006 NEC SX-8 and SX-6 5.4Tflops (40 km/4 km) 50 levels
2009 IBM Power6
POWER6
The POWER6 is a microprocessor developed by IBM that implemented the Power ISA v.2.03. When it became available in systems in 2007, it succeeded the POWER5+ as IBM's flagship Power microprocessor...

140Tflops (25 km/1.5 km) 70 levels

Weather stations


Reports (observations) from weather station
Weather station
A weather station is a facility, either on land or sea, with instruments and equipment for observing atmospheric conditions to provide information for weather forecasts and to study the weather and climate. The measurements taken include temperature, barometric pressure, humidity, wind speed, wind...

s vary considerably. They can be automatic
Automatic weather station
An automatic weather station is an automated version of the traditional weather station, either to save human labour or to enable measurements from remote areas...

 (totally machine produced), semi-automatic (part-machine and part manual), or manual. Some stations produce manual observations during business hours and revert to automatic observations outside these times. Many stations now also feature recent innovations such as "present weather" sensors, CCTV
Closed-circuit television
Closed-circuit television is the use of video cameras to transmit a signal to a specific place, on a limited set of monitors....

, etc.

Some stations have limited reporting times, while other report continuously, mainly RAF
Royal Air Force
The Royal Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Formed on 1 April 1918, it is the oldest independent air force in the world...

 and Army Air Corps stations where a manned met office is provided for military operations. The "standard" is a once-hourly reporting schedule, but automatic stations can often be "polled" as required, while stations at airfields regularly report twice-hourly, with additional (often frequent in times of bad weather) special reports as necessary to inform airfield authorities of changes to the weather that may affect aviation operations.

Some stations report only CLIMAT
CLIMAT
CLIMAT is a code for reporting monthly climatological data assembled at land-based meteorological surface observation sites to data centres. CLIMAT-coded messages contain information on several meteorological variables that are important to monitor characteristics, changes, and variability of climate...

 data (e.g. maximum and minimum temperatures, rainfall totals over a period, etc.) and these are usually recorded at 0900 and 2100 hours daily. Weather reports are often performed by observers not specifically employed by the Met Office, such as Air traffic control
Air traffic control
Air traffic control is a service provided by ground-based controllers who direct aircraft on the ground and in the air. The primary purpose of ATC systems worldwide is to separate aircraft to prevent collisions, to organize and expedite the flow of traffic, and to provide information and other...

 staff, coastguards, university
University
A university is an institution of higher education and research, which grants academic degrees in a variety of subjects. A university is an organisation that provides both undergraduate education and postgraduate education...

 staff and so on.
  • Eskdalemuir Observatory
    Eskdalemuir Observatory
    The Eskdalemuir Observatory is located near Eskdalemuir, Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland. Built in 1904, its remote location was chosen to minimise electrical interference with geomagnetic instruments, which were relocated there from Kew Observatory in 1908 after the advent of electrification in...

  • Penkridge weather station
    Penkridge weather station
    Penkridge weather station is a weather station at Penkridge in Staffordshire, England, operated by the Met Office. It is situated on the site of Rodbaston College.The station is 101 m above mean sea level.-External links:**...

  • Prestatyn weather station
  • Stonyhurst
    Stonyhurst Observatory
    The Stonyhurst Observatory is a functioning observatory and weather station at Stonyhurst College in Lancashire, England. Built in 1866, it replaced a nearby earlier building, built in 1838, which is now used as the Typographia Collegii....

  • Sutton Bonington
  • Wye weather station
    Wye weather station
    Wye Weather Station is a Met Office weather station in Wye, Kent, England.The station is above mean sea level.These are average temperature and rainfall figures taken between 1971 and 2000 at the station:-References:...

  • RAF Benson
    RAF Benson
    RAF Benson is a Royal Air Force station near Benson in South Oxfordshire, England. It is home to the Royal Air Force's support helicopters, the Aérospatiale Puma and the EH-101 Merlin, known as the Puma HC.Mk 1 and the Merlin HC.Mk 3 and Mk 3a....

  • RAF Brize Norton
    RAF Brize Norton
    RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire, about west north-west of London, is the largest station of the Royal Air Force. It is close to the settlements of Brize Norton, Carterton and Witney....

     weather station
  • RAF Coningsby
    RAF Coningsby
    RAF Coningsby , is a Royal Air Force station in Lincolnshire, England. It has been commanded by Group Captain Martin Sampson since 10 December 2010.-Operational units:...

  • RAF Cottesmore
    RAF Cottesmore
    RAF Cottesmore was a Royal Air Force station in Rutland, England, situated between Cottesmore and Market Overton. The station housed all the operational Harrier GR9 squadrons in the Royal Air Force, and No 122 Expeditionary Air Wing...

  • RAF Cranwell
    RAF Cranwell
    RAF Cranwell is a Royal Air Force station in Lincolnshire close to the village of Cranwell, near Sleaford. It is currently commanded by Group Captain Dave Waddington...

     weather station
  • RAF Kinloss
    RAF Kinloss
    RAF Kinloss is a Royal Air Force station near Kinloss, on the Moray Firth in the north of Scotland. It opened on 1 April 1939 and served as an RAF training establishment during the Second World War. After the war it was handed over to Coastal Command to watch over Russian ships and submarines in...

     weather station
  • RAF Leeming
    RAF Leeming
    RAF Leeming is a Royal Air Force station in North Yorkshire, UK.HRH The Duchess of Cornwall is the Honorary Air Commodore of RAF Leeming. The Station Commander is Group Captain Anthony Innes....

     weather station
  • RAF Leuchars
    RAF Leuchars
    RAF Leuchars is the most northerly air defence station in the United Kingdom. It is located in Leuchars, Fife, on the east coast of Scotland, near to the university town of St Andrews.-Operations:...

     weather station
  • RAF Little Rissington
    RAF Little Rissington
    RAF Little Rissington is an RAF aerodrome and former RAF station in Gloucestershire, England. It was once home to the Central Flying School, the Vintage Pair and the Red Arrows.Built during the 1930s, the station was opened in 1938 and closed in 1994...

     weather station (supported by RAF Brize Norton
    RAF Brize Norton
    RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire, about west north-west of London, is the largest station of the Royal Air Force. It is close to the settlements of Brize Norton, Carterton and Witney....

    )
  • RAF Lossiemouth
    RAF Lossiemouth
    RAF Lossiemouth is a Royal Air Force station to the west of the town of Lossiemouth in Moray, Scotland. It is one of the RAF's biggest bases and is currently Britain's main base for Tornado GR4s. From 2013 the Northern QRA force of Typhoon F2 will relocate to Lossiemouth following the closure of...

     weather station
  • RAF Lyneham
    RAF Lyneham
    RAF Lyneham is a Royal Air Force station in Wiltshire, England. It was the home of all the Lockheed C-130 Hercules transport aircraft of the Royal Air Force before they were relocated to RAF Brize Norton.The station was also home to No...

     weather station
  • RAF Marham
    RAF Marham
    Royal Air Force Station Marham, more commonly known as RAF Marham, is a Royal Air Force station; a military airbase, near the village of Marham in the English county of Norfolk, East Anglia....

     weather station
  • RAF Northolt
    RAF Northolt
    RAF Northolt is a Royal Air Force station situated in South Ruislip, east by northeast of Uxbridge in the London Borough of Hillingdon, West London. Approximately north of London Heathrow Airport, the station also handles a large number of private civil flights...

     weather station 51.55 N 0.417 W
  • RAF Odiham
    RAF Odiham
    RAF Odiham is a Royal Air Force station situated a little to the south of the historic small village of Odiham in Hampshire, England. It is the home of the Royal Air Force's heavy lift helicopter, the Chinook HC2, HC2A and HC3...

     weather station
  • RAF Shawbury
    RAF Shawbury
    RAF Shawbury is a Royal Air Force station by the village of Shawbury near Shrewsbury, Shropshire.The station at Shawbury was first used for military flying training in 1917 by the Royal Flying Corps, but it was returned to agricultural use in 1920. In 1938 it was reactivated as a training...

  • RAF Waddington
    RAF Waddington
    RAF Waddington is a Royal Air Force station in Lincolnshire, England.-Formation:Waddington opened as a Royal Flying Corps flying training station in 1916 until 1920, when the station went into care and maintenance....

     weather station
  • AAC Wattisham weather station
  • RAF Valley
    RAF Valley
    RAF Valley is a Royal Air Force station on the island of Anglesey, Wales, and which is also used as Anglesey Airport. It provides fast-jet training using the BAE Hawk and provides training for aircrew working with Search and Rescue. Unofficially the motto for RAF Valley is 'One Valley, Training...


  • AAC Middle Wallop weather station

Meteorological Research Unit & the Facility for Airborne Atmospheric Measurements (FAAM)


For many years Meteorological Research was carried out at RAE Bedford with instruments being carried by barrage balloons until the RAE facility closed in the 1980s.

The Met Office association with Cardington
RAF Cardington
RAF Cardington started life as a private venture when Short Brothers bought land there to build airships for the Admiralty. They constructed a Airship hangar in 1915 to enable them to build two rigid airships, the R-31 and the R-32. Shorts also built a housing estate, opposite the site, which...

 continues by maintaining a Meteorological Research Unit (MRU), this is responsible for conducting research into part of the atmosphere called the boundary layer
Boundary layer
In physics and fluid mechanics, a boundary layer is that layer of fluid in the immediate vicinity of a bounding surface where effects of viscosity of the fluid are considered in detail. In the Earth's atmosphere, the planetary boundary layer is the air layer near the ground affected by diurnal...

 by using a tethered balloon which is kept in a small portable hangar.

FAAM


The Facility for Airborne Atmospheric Measurements (FAAM) is part of the National Centre for Atmospheric Sciences  and is based nearby at Cranfield Airport
Cranfield Airport
Cranfield Airport is an airfield just outside the village of Cranfield, south-west of Bedford in Bedfordshire, England. It was originally a World War II aerodrome, RAF Cranfield....

 and it is part of a collaboration with the Natural Environment Research Council
Natural Environment Research Council
The Natural Environment Research Council is a British research council that supports research, training and knowledge transfer activities in the environmental sciences.-History:...

.
The FAAM was established as part of the National Centre for Atmospheric Sciences (NCAS), which is itself part of NERC, to provide aircraft measurement for use by UK atmospheric research organisations on worldwide campaigns. The main equipment is a modified BAe 146 type 301
BAe 146
The British Aerospace 146 is a medium-sized commercial airliner formerly manufactured in the United Kingdom by British Aerospace, later part of BAE Systems. Production ran from 1983 until 2002. Manufacture of an improved version known as the Avro RJ began in 1992...

 aircraft, registration G-LUXE, owned by BAE Systems
BAE Systems
BAE Systems plc is a British multinational defence, security and aerospace company headquartered in London, United Kingdom, that has global interests, particularly in North America through its subsidiary BAE Systems Inc. BAE is among the world's largest military contractors; in 2009 it was the...

 and operated for them by the company Directflight Limited.

Areas of application include:
  • Radiative transfer
    Radiative transfer
    Radiative transfer is the physical phenomenon of energy transfer in the form of electromagnetic radiation. The propagation of radiation through a medium is affected by absorption, emission and scattering processes. The equation of radiative transfer describes these interactions mathematically...

     studies in clear and cloudy air;
  • Tropospheric
    Troposphere
    The troposphere is the lowest portion of Earth's atmosphere. It contains approximately 80% of the atmosphere's mass and 99% of its water vapor and aerosols....

     chemistry measurements;
  • Cloud physics
    Cloud physics
    Cloud physics is the study of the physical processes that lead to the formation, growth and precipitation of clouds. Cloud formations are composed of microscopic droplets of liquid water , tiny crystals of ice , or both...

     and dynamic studies;
  • Dynamics of mesoscale
    Mesoscale meteorology
    Mesoscale meteorology is the study of weather systems smaller than synoptic scale systems but larger than microscale and storm-scale cumulus systems. Horizontal dimensions generally range from around 5 kilometers to several hundred kilometers...

     weather systems;
  • Boundary layer
    Boundary layer
    In physics and fluid mechanics, a boundary layer is that layer of fluid in the immediate vicinity of a bounding surface where effects of viscosity of the fluid are considered in detail. In the Earth's atmosphere, the planetary boundary layer is the air layer near the ground affected by diurnal...

     and turbulence studies;
  • Remote sensing
    Remote sensing
    Remote sensing is the acquisition of information about an object or phenomenon, without making physical contact with the object. In modern usage, the term generally refers to the use of aerial sensor technologies to detect and classify objects on Earth by means of propagated signals Remote sensing...

    : verification of ground based instruments;
  • Satellite ground truth: radiometric measurements and winds;
  • Satellite instrument test-bed;
  • Campaigns in the UK and abroad.

Directors General and Chief Executives

  • Sir William Napier Shaw
    Napier Shaw
    Sir William Napier Shaw FRS, , was a British meteorologist. He introduced the air pressure unit millibar, as well as the tephigram, a diagram of temperature changes....

     1905-1920
  • Sir Graham Sutton
    Graham Sutton
    Sir Graham Sutton CBE FRS was a British mathematician and meteorologist.He was educated at Pontywaun Grammar School, the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth, and at Jesus College, Oxford .He was Professor of Mathematics at the Royal Military College of Science, Shrivenham,...

     1954-1965
  • Basil John Mason
    Basil John Mason
    Sir John Mason, CB, FRCP, FRCPEd, FRFPS, FRS is an expert on cloud physics and former Director of the UK Meteorological Office.His work includes the Mason Equation, giving the growth or evaporation of small water droplets...

     1965-1983
  • Sir John Houghton 1983-1991
  • Julian Hunt
    Julian Hunt, Baron Hunt of Chesterton
    Julian Charles Roland Hunt, Baron Hunt of Chesterton FRS is a leading British authority on turbulence modelling, former Director General and Chief Executive of the UK Meteorological Office.-Life:...

     1992-1997
  • Peter Ewins 1997-2004
  • Dr David Rogers 2004-2005
  • Mark Hutchinson 2005-2007
  • John Hirst 2007-

See also

  • Climatic Research Unit hacking incident
  • Climate of the United Kingdom
    Climate of the United Kingdom
    The United Kingdom straddles the geographic mid-latitudes between 50-60 N from the equator. It is also positioned on the western seaboard of Eurasia, the world's largest land mass. These boundary conditions allow convergence between moist maritime air and dry continental air...

  • Climate change in the United Kingdom
  • Burns' Day storm
    Burns' Day storm
    The Burns' Day Storm occurred on 25–26 January, 1990, over north-western Europe, and is one of the strongest storms on record. This storm has received different names as there is no official list of such events in Europe. It is also known as Daria. Starting on the birthday of Scottish poet...

  • Eskdalemuir Observatory
    Eskdalemuir Observatory
    The Eskdalemuir Observatory is located near Eskdalemuir, Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland. Built in 1904, its remote location was chosen to minimise electrical interference with geomagnetic instruments, which were relocated there from Kew Observatory in 1908 after the advent of electrification in...

  • Great Storm of 1987
    Great Storm of 1987
    The Great Storm of 1987 occurred on the night of 15/16 October 1987, when an unusually strong weather system caused winds to hit much of southern England and northern France...

  • Met Éireann
    Met Éireann
    Met Éireann is the national meteorological service in Ireland, part of the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government.-History:...

    , the Irish
    Republic of Ireland
    Ireland , described as the Republic of Ireland , is a sovereign state in Europe occupying approximately five-sixths of the island of the same name. Its capital is Dublin. Ireland, which had a population of 4.58 million in 2011, is a constitutional republic governed as a parliamentary democracy,...

     meteorological service, which separated from the UK Met Office in 1936.
  • North West Shelf Operational Oceanographic System
    North West Shelf Operational Oceanographic System
    The North West Shelf Operational Oceanographic System monitors real-time sea levels for the North Sea area. NOOS is operated by partners from the nine countries bordering the extended North Sea and European North West Shelf; Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden,...


Further reading

  • Hunt, Roger, "The end of weather forecasting at Met Office London", Weather magazine, Royal Meteorological Society
    Royal Meteorological Society
    The Royal Meteorological Society traces its origins back to 3 April 1850 when the British Meteorological Society was formed as a society the objects of which should be the advancement and extension of meteorological science by determining the laws of climate and of meteorological phenomena in general...

    , June 2007, v.62, no.6, pp. 143–146

External links