Another very busy year during which the forecast performance has been consistently high with the highest ever skill for the Extreme Forecast Index (EFI) for 10-metre wind speed.
2019 was rich in developments and achievements. One highlight worth singling out has been watching our new data centre in Bologna take shape, with considerable progress both on site and in the processing of tenders to procure equipment and services.
Another was the opportunity to look back over 40 years since ECMWF’s first operational forecast was disseminated to the Member States. The international cooperation behind that remarkable achievement continues to underpin the scientific advances presented in this Report. Examples include the European Weather Cloud pilot, which was launched in partnership with EUMETSAT; a new short-term secondment scheme developed with Member States; and the opportunity to welcome three new ECMWF Fellows to work with us in the coming years. We made more data available to WMO Members, and the Subseasonal-to-Seasonal (S2S) real-time pilot was launched, another great illustration of our close collaboration with the WMO.
A major milestone for the EU-funded Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) implemented by ECMWF was reached at the beginning of 2019 with the availability of 40 years of the latest ECMWF reanalysis dataset (ERA5) being made available in the Copernicus Climate Data Store (CDS).
We were allocated time on the world’s biggest computer via a US Department of Energy award, enabling us to explore the competitiveness of the spectral-transform based Integrated Forecasting System (IFS).
The year ended on a high note, with our Council authorising the Centre to enter into contractual arrangements with Atos for the supply of a BullSequana XH2000 high-performance computing facility (HPCF), illustrating the continuous support and trust of the Member States in ECMWF.
Putting together this Annual Report has been a very different experience this year. As we live through the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic felt around the world, 2019 is taking a different dimension. The achievements of the past few years, and more specifically those of the past year that we are reviewing here, challenge us to ask ourselves how they prepared us for what was to come in 2020.
The work of the Computing Department on our Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI), allowing staff to access their work setup from anywhere in the world, was instrumental in enabling the teleworking pilot which successfully ended at the end of 2019. Though our VDI and teleworking schemes were never designed to cope with the whole organisation using them at the same time, the experience of the past couple of months has demonstrated the extreme resilience of the system. The investment we made in 2019 to upgrade our live-streaming equipment, as well as the experience gained over the year, allowed the smooth transformation of all training courses and workshops into virtual events when circumstances required us to close our premises.
A programme that we launched in 2019 to enable Member and Co-operating States to install ECMWF’s Scalable Acquisition and Pre-Processing System (SAPP) in their own operational processing environments is now proving helpful for coordinating with our partners upcoming changes to the observing system due to the pandemic. The fantastic achievements of ESA with the Aeolus satellite and our close partnership with the teams involved (the German Aerospace Center, DLR; Météo-France; the Dutch national meteorological service, KNMI; and the software company DoRIT) allowed Aeolus to be ready for implementation for data assimilation at ECMWF at the end of 2019. Implementing continuous data assimilation in operations as part of the 46r1 cycle upgrade, with the purpose of gaining more benefits from the global observing system, made us much more resilient. The same applies to accelerating the implementation of the EUMETSAT Metop-C sensors in operations and to the observation monitoring and alarm system becoming completely automated, giving us up-to-the-minute alarms when observations are missing, or indeed not being reported correctly.
These are just a few examples, and I invite you to read the highlights of 2019 through the lens of this year’s challenges. It is an inspiring experience.
2019 was a year in which the work of our staff and our friends and partners around the Member States and beyond proved instrumental in preparing us for the challenges of 2020.