To support the forecasting activities of users in its Member and Co-operating States, ECMWF continually develops new products, software and computing services and seeks to offer high-quality, relevant training.
We also contribute to Europe’s initiatives to provide open and free environmental information.
Making deliverables and expertise available
To support our partners in the use of our products, the User Guide to the ECMWF Integrated Forecasting System was updated and made available online. Improved descriptions for some of the most popular parameters have also made data discovery easier.
A probabilistic point-rainfall product, which can be used to support the prediction of flash floods across the globe, was one of the new products developed this year.
A new interpolation library, Meteorological Interpolation and Regridding (MIR), and a new Python interface to Metview were among the software developments.
In the spirit of homogenising data archiving and the handling of ECMWF forecasting systems, work began during 2018 to make ocean output available in ECMWF’s Meteorological Archival and Retrieval System (MARS).
Demand for ECMWF forecasts through commercial and non-commercial licences continued to grow rapidly, along with demands for open data and other pressures, leading the Centre to commission a legal study of ECMWF licensing. A new vision was also developed for future data services based on the provision of ECMWF numerical weather prediction (NWP) products via an on-site cloud (the European Weather Cloud).
Since a decision in December 2017, the European Commission and its Agencies have been able to receive ECMWF products. The DG Joint Research Centres were granted two licences under this agreement in October 2018.
OpenIFS provides an easy-to-use version of the ECMWF Integrated Forecasting System (IFS) for research and teaching, to encourage academic use and to enhance collaboration. At the end of 2018, the number of institutes licensed to use OpenIFS stood at 73. Training opportunities using OpenIFS prove extremely popular and a number of high-impact scientific papers have been published based on its use.
ECMWF training courses support the professional development of participants within the national meteorological and hydrological services (NMHSs) and research sectors. We strive to make them as efficient as possible through developments such as blended learning; eLearning modules; practical sessions designed around participants’ ongoing work; and guest lectures from visiting scientists.
The Centre continues its commitment to support the training partnerships with the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) mandated by the Council. For example, ECMWF is working with the World Bank in Central Asia on a capacity building initiative for the WMO Severe Weather Demonstration Projects.
We continued an active programme of visiting scientists, short-term secondments and graduate trainee placements through 2018.
In December, ECMWF appointed three new Fellows to begin in January 2019, which will take the total number of ECMWF Fellows to eight.
Working with the WMO, ECMWF extended its support to NMHSs by making more forecast products available and continued its role as the archive centre for the WMO TIGGE (medium-range) and S2S (subseasonal) datasets. ECMWF agreed to provide real-time data, until the end of 2019, to the African Centre for Meteorological Applications for Development (ACMAD) for the Satellite and Weather Information for Disaster Resilience in Africa project. ECMWF also continues to work closely with space agencies, with the development of wind products from ESA’s Aeolus mission of particular note this year.
With the ECMWF Council’s agreement, this year saw the exchange of real-time data, software and support between ECMWF and the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Our partnership with INPE (the Brazilian National Institute for Space Research) was formalised at the beginning of the year.
ECMWF workshops and seminars attracted delegates from a wide range of nationalities. The Annual Seminar, this year on Earth System Assimilation, marked the 20th anniversary since the original introduction of the 4D-Var scheme at ECMWF. Scalability and efficiency of computing and data handling for weather and climate applications was the key topic for the five-day workshop on High Performance Computing in Meteorology.
Meteorological Interpolation and Regridding software (MIR)
After four years of development and testing, the new MIR software package was introduced in October. Such software is needed for many weather forecasting applications: mapping weather data to different grids and transforming from spectral to grid space, for example.
Improvements in functionality and data handling were noted by users. In general, MIR can produce higher quality and smoother interpolated fields than its ageing predecessor EMOSLIB. The new interpolation package will be an important building block for a new version of the Product Generation software which prepares all data products delivered through ECMWF’s real-time dissemination system. Users will use this new interpolation package automatically when retrieving data from the MARS archive.
Python interface to Metview
As a workstation application and tool box that provides powerful data access, processing and visualisation, Metview is a key tool for Member and Co-operating States. A Python interface to Metview has been developed to exploit Python’s extensive language features and wide use. Metview’s Macro language is effective, but Python is more widely known and connects well to a whole ecosystem of other tools for scientific data processing and has even more language features. The new interface will mean a shorter learning curve for people who already know the Python language. During 2018, an early version of the interface was used successfully to interact with the Copernicus Climate Data Store. A Python interface to map GRIB files to the NetCDF Common Data Model has also been released as part of this work.
Supercomputing resources for Member State time- critical applications
Members States can request use of their share of ECMWF’s high-performance computing facility (HPCF) to run time-critical work. In 2018, both the Republic Hydrometeorological Service of Serbia (RHMSS) and the Hellenic National Meteorological Service (HNMS) began running their operational forecast models at ECMWF using suites developed in ecFlow. Initial data and lateral boundary conditions are taken from ECMWF forecasts, disseminated to the ECMWF HPCF.
Delivering environmental information
The Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS) and Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S), both implemented by ECMWF on behalf of the EU, made excellent progress during 2018 in line with their Implementation Plans as Third-Party Activities.
With the release of the Climate Data Store (CDS) in June 2018, C3S reached a major milestone and moved from proof-of-concept to its operational phase. By the end of the year, more than 5,500 users had registered to use the CDS with its easy access to the portfolio of C3S products. C3S also published the first European State of the Climate Report, covering the climate of 2017 with headline climate indicators to provide a longer-term view of regional and global climate change. The C3S User Learning Services started their activities by delivering a ‘train-the-trainer’ course in the Netherlands and four blended training events in Serbia, Croatia and Italy.
Development of the fully operational CAMS Service continued, with a major modelling upgrade in summer 2018 and the public launch of eight CAMS use cases to support further uptake of its products. The CAMS reanalysis, covering 2003 to 2016, was released to the public in September. Providing consistent information on aerosols and atmospheric gases, the reanalysis is one of the most important ECMWF deliverables to CAMS and it serves a multitude of users from application developers to scientists and policymakers. CAMS provided dedicated information to monitor the Antarctic ozone hole during 2018, and the information was also used by the WMO.
ECMWF is the computational centre for the operational fire and flood services of the Copernicus Emergency Management Service Early Warning Systems (CEMS-EWS). A major upgrade of the CEMS-EWS European Flood Awareness System (EFAS) became operational in May, following a three-year collaboration between ECMWF and the European Commission Joint Research Centre (JRC). Improvements included the expansion of geographic coverage and improved representation of hydrological processes.
Led by ECMWF, the ambitious CO2 Human Emissions (CHE) project, which is exploring a European system to monitor worldwide CO2, published its first strategic research agenda.
ERA5 global climate reanalysis
ECMWF made major progress this year towards producing the ERA5 global reanalysis for the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S). We completed the production of the first phase (covering 1979–2017) and started producing the second phase (covering 1950–1978). Once complete, ERA5 will replace the ERA-Interim reanalysis. It uses a newer model version with higher resolution than ERA-Interim and includes newly reprocessed observational data. Re-forecasts starting from the ERA5 reanalysis show a gain of up to about a day in skilful range with respect to ERA-Interim
Growing CAMS audience
The number of CAMS users continued to increase steadily, reaching 9,000 by December 2018. The actual audience was much larger, with many successful smartphone applications relying on CAMS data. For example, the “Météo Pollen” app, developed by Weatherforce and Météo-France, had been downloaded by more than 30,000 people by the end of the year. The CAMS daily European air quality bulletins broadcast on Euronews reached an estimated 18.8 million viewers in the second quarter of 2018. A five-week Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on monitoring atmospheric composition, created in conjunction with EUMETSAT, reached an audience of over 2,500 from all over the world.
Operational global flood forecasts
In April, the Global Flood Awareness System (GloFAS), part of CEMS-EWS Floods, was migrated from a prototype service to a full operational service, run and managed by ECMWF on behalf of CEMS. Pre-operational since 2011, GloFAS is the first operational global flood forecasting system and now provides a 24/7 service to produce ensemble forecasts of river discharge up to 30 days ahead (GloFAS 30-day) and seasonal hydrological outlooks up to 16 weeks ahead (GloFAS Seasonal).
Operational European fire danger forecasts
After a period of intensive activity to optimise the fire model and production suites, ECMWF started the operational phase of the fire danger forecast production in June 2018, as part of the computational service that ECMWF provides for CEMS-EWS Fire. The 10-day forecasts produced feed into the European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS) and its global extension, the Global Wildfire Information System (GWIS). These web portals support the services in charge of the protection of forests against fires in the EU countries and provide the European Commission services and the European Parliament with updated and reliable information on wildland fires in Europe and worldwide.