Dr Catherine Ross has been a decade working on the extensive archives of the Met Office and is a mine of information on its history, role and contributions to many aspects of our nation and individuals . Amongst that is the use of and impact of technology. Catherine traces the use of pre-digital IT back to the employment of the Victorian telegraph to transmit readings and broadcast predictions and storm warnings. Between then and the invention of the stored program digital computer, Dr Ross charts the use of other technologies, including “computors” and the early vision of how armies of people with mechanical calculators might have presaged the use of super computing.
The Met Office was one of the first users of digital computers as we know them in 1951, running its programs on the Leo at Cadby Hall. Its first own computer was a Ferranti Mercury. The Met Office’s ever more sophisticated numerical modelling of the atmosphere has created a continually expanding demand for computing power. That has made it one of the most demanding users of processing power, leading it to use larger and larger supercomputers from Control Data, Cray and IBM.
Chris Little is in his 50th year of applying IT to numerical weather prediction at the Met Office. He has been involved in many of the most important developments in weather and climate modelling over that time and is still there working on international collaboration projects. Chris has programmed some of the most powerful supercomputers of their days and instigated the use of a wide range of graphic devices for forecasters and researchers. He spent three years at the European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting (based in Reading) that extended weather forecasting beyond a few days with the application of the first Cray supercomputer.
Charles (Charlie) Ewen, of the Met Office, works at the cutting edge of Tech, enabling one of the, most advanced and capable weather and climate forecasting services in the world. Charles joined the RAF as a graduate apprentice straight from school: he gained a Higher National Certificate in Electronic Systems and served in operations and research before joining the private sector as a sales engineer. He joined the Met Office as the head of Web and media and became director of technology in 2014. Not surprisingly, Charlie ranks in the Computing Top 100 CIOs and talks about his career the Met Office and the future vision of supporting researchers and forecasters with super-computing in the Cloud.
Over his career he has combined theory and practice to master Fortran and Assembler programming and has worked on proprietary operating systems right through to Linux. He helped plan and execute the Met Office’s move from Bracknell to Exeter, the largest IT relocation in Europe at the time and is now examining the future of supercomputing in the cloud.