Sunday, June 24th 2012, 5:02 AM EDT
THE boss of the cash-rich Met Office has boasted that its £41million super computer will deliver accurate forecasts “a century ahead”.
But critics say the money would have been better spent getting the next day’s forecast right.
John Hirst said taxpayers would be well served by the massive computer because it would ensure Britain leads the world in climate science.
He said £20.7million was invested in the project last year alone, taxpayers’ money “which will enable the Met Office to deliver more accurate forecasts, from hours to a century ahead”. Mr Hirst said this referred to climate change predictions.
A Met Office forecast issued last Thursday for yesterday predicted hours of sunshine in central London. But there was hardly any, with rain clouds covering the capital for much of the day.
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Mr Hirst’s claim was made in the Met Office’s annual report for 2011-12, which reveals he was paid £215,000, including a £45,000 bonus.
Despite the recession, the Met Office saw revenues from governments and business hit a record £196.2million, although redundancy costs meant profits slipped slightly from £9.4million to £9.1million.
The accounts show that eight senior executives pocketed “golden goodbyes” worth £150,000 each.
The Met Office has now completed the third phase of its IBM super computer project, having spent £30million.
Another £11million from Whitehall was announced earlier this year after the Commons Science and Technology committee urged the Government to release more money.
The computer is so powerful the Met Office has installed solar panels on its Exeter headquarters to lessen its huge carbon footprint.
In a contrast to the grumblings about its forecasts at home, Mr Hirst used his director’s report to detail the high regard in which the Met Office is held abroad.
“An increasing number of countries are using the Met Office systems,” he said.
“In terms of being better prepared, the impacts are huge. A key highlight was our performance with extreme weather warnings.
“The red warning issued in advance of severe gales in Scotland in December 2011 enabled preventative action to be taken. Our success is a clear reminder of the importance of what we do.”
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Source Link: express.co.uk
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