The Met Office forecasts sunny weather with the NAGWare f90 Compiler and S/390

Information technology is at the heart of weather forecasting. At the UK Meteorological Office in Bracknell, computers have been in use for nearly 40 years.

The NAGWare f90 Compiler gives The Met Office the flexibility to move applications and skills across all available platforms, particularly onto the IBM S/390. This will allow significant improvements in numerical weather forecast models to be made by software developers at the UK's Meteorological Office using the NAGWare Fortran 90 Compiler.

By consolidating to the S/390 platform The Met Office is achieving new levels of weather information management and productivity. The IBM S/390 and NAG thus enable The Met Office to maintain its status as a world leading Meteorological Service.

World-wide leadership

The idea of using a mathematical model to predict the weather was invented by a mathematician called L.F. Richardson whilst he was a soldier in the trenches during World War 1.

Today, 70 years later, The Met Office has a world wide reputation as a leader in advanced modelling and analysis of weather behaviour. Best known for providing TV and radio weather forecasts, it serves a growing number of customers around the world with an expanding range of specialist weather information services.


A wide variety of computing technology is used for weather forecasting. The Met Office recognises the need to enable rapid and easy access to the vast store of weather information for all users, from a range of different systems, so raising productivity, and reducing business overheads by lowering system management costs.

Mathematical Modelling and Analysis are at the heart of weather forecasting and programs are written in Fortran to take advantage of the superior efficiency in numerical calculations. The Met Office needed a compiler that safeguards existing investment in Fortran 77 code, already developed on other platforms, whilst also taking advantage of the efficiency gains in Fortran 90.

Consolidating to a single server platform would allow The Met Office to meet these objectives, while supporting the existing mixture of computing technology.

Workstation users wanted improved access to weather information without having to learn new procedures or system commands and operations.

Data needed to be retained in a secure reliable and high-performance environment, capable of supporting information storage, manipulations and printing services.

The solution - S/390 and the NAGWare f90 Compiler

To meet its business objectives The Met Office chose to consolidate both applications and information management onto S/390 and the NAGWare f90 Compiler.

Use of the NAGWare f90 Compiler enables Met Office applications developers to use both Fortran 77 and Fortran 90 in their programs for modelling and analysis and gives them the flexibility to move their applications and skills across all available platforms, particularly the IBM S/390. The NAGWare f90 Compiler is the only Fortran 90 Compiler available for all the platforms used by The Met Office giving them increased flexibility.

The Met Office has introduced a major new application on S/390, the Meteorological Archive and Retrieval System(MARS), originally developed by ECMWF (European Centre for Medium range Weather Forecasts) for use in a

distributed UNIX** environment.

MARS provides access to huge archives of weather data now handled by S/390, delivering lower business costs and boosted productivity for researchers.

By transferring MARS to S/390 The Met Office is exploiting the strengths of the S/390 platform while delivering the functionality and power of the applications that users need.

Server consolidation

Consolidating to S/390 enables The Met Office to handle many terabytes of weather information in a highly secure robust and manageable environment meeting its primary business requirements.

In addition workload has been transferred from other systems to maximise the return on investment by exploiting S/390's UNIX capabilities to the full.

Business benefits

Consolidating to S/390 and the NAGWare f90 Compiler has reduced system costs, enabled seamless access to information throughout The Met Office and enabled it to preserve and exploit the existing skills of users.

"Porting the NAGWare f90 compiler to the IBM S/390 enables the Met Office to leverage the full effectiveness of its decision to consolidate both applications and information management onto the IBM S/390", said Dr Brian Ford, OBE, Director of NAG Ltd. "NAG has supplied the Met Office with applications software development tools for a number of years, and we were keen to ensure we tracked their business objectives of moving to the IBM S/390 by supplying the first Fortran 90 compiler for that platform. Met Office programmers can now build and deploy computationally intensive solutions across the enterprise employing all the advantages provided by Fortran 90."