Australians will benefit from enhanced forecasting services provided by the Bureau of Meteorology with the acquisition of a new supercomputer scheduled to begin operation in mid-2016.

Environment Minister Greg Hunt and Parliamentary Secretary Senator Simon Birmingham visited the Bureau’s Victoria Regional Office today and said procurement of the new supercomputer will begin before the end of this year.

“The new supercomputer announced in the Federal Budget will ensure the continued and improved delivery of forecast and warnings services,” Minister Hunt said.

“The Australian community relies on the Bureau to deliver accurate and timely information on a daily basis, particularly during events where life and property are at risk.”

“The new supercomputer will enable the Bureau to provide more accurate and localised weather information, such as the location and timing of severe thunderstorms and cyclones, improved timing and direction of wind changes in fire weather, and better flood warnings.”

“Funding for the new supercomputer is long overdue as a result of the previous government’s neglect and incompetence. Labor left a black hole in the Environment Department’s funding totalling some hundreds of millions of dollars. The Coalition is delivering this vital funding.”

Parliamentary Secretary Senator Simon Birmingham said this increase in computing capability will also offer the Bureau additional processing power and the ability to run the complex mathematical models used to forecast weather at a higher resolution, as well as more frequently.

“Like all IT infrastructure, supercomputers have a limited operational life. This will be the eighth replacement since the Bureau’s first supercomputer was commissioned in 1988,” Senator Birmingham said.

“Improvements in the forecast services of the Bureau will better inform emergency services and the community in making important decisions regarding safety, resourcing and response strategies during severe and extreme weather events.”

“The new supercomputer will enable the Bureau to deliver improvements to forecasts and warnings incrementally over the five-year lifespan of its operation.”