2022 At a glance

Open dataset released

In a further step towards making more forecast data publicly available, we released a new set of real-time data based on high-resolution and ensemble forecasts with a free and open data policy. The accompanying Jupyter Notebooks help users to build their own charts using the dataset, which was available directly from ECMWF as well as via Microsoft Azure. By the end of the year, our open numerical products were being accessed hundreds of thousands of times a day.

ERA5 climate reanalysis extended

We released a new segment of the ERA5 global climate reanalysis, extending the dataset back in time
to include the period 1959–1978. Produced as part of the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S), which we operate on behalf of the European Commission (EC), ERA5 gives more than 100,000 registered users access to hourly data on many atmospheric, land-surface and sea-state parameters together with estimates of uncertainty from 1959 to present. By the end of October, we had also completed the 1939–1958 segment, ready for release in 2023.

Copernicus Fire contract renewed

ECMWF was selected to continue providing the fire forecast data to the EU’s Copernicus Emergency Management Service (CEMS) for the period 2022–2027, in collaboration with Météo-France. This includes operating and enhancing the fire danger forecast of the European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS) and helping to develop the Global Wildfire Information System (GWIS). Fire forecasts support national authorities responsible for the management of forest fires in the EU and neighbouring countries and provide the EC and the European Parliament with reliable information on trends associated with these incidents.

CAMS supports COVID-related air quality study

Following on from its work to support COVID-related research into weather, air quality and the spread of the pandemic, the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS), with the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) and other leading institutions, published a study on the impact of lockdowns on air quality. It quantitatively evaluated the link between various lockdown measures and decreased pollution levels, and an associated drop in mortality, across 47 European cities in February–July 2020. CAMS is operated by ECMWF on behalf of the EC.

Workshop considers radio spectrum issues

Our workshop on radio frequency interference (RFI) attracted over 160 scientists from fields such as radio astronomy, meteorology, Earth remote sensing and spectrum management. The workshop series offers the opportunity for science users of the radio spectrum to share their experiences and discuss monitoring and possible mitigation strategies, as well as how best to influence the regulatory process.

Storm Eunice hits north-west Europe

Mid-February was very cyclonic over north-western Europe, with three named storms affecting the area in
one week. Cyclone Eunice was one of those; it delivered major wind-related impacts in many countries on 18 and 19 February. More than a week before the event, ECMWF ensemble forecasts predicted a risk for windier-than-normal conditions. The forecast from 12 February showed high Extreme Forecast Index (EFI) values over northern Europe six days ahead.

First operational services provided from Bologna

The Copernicus Data Service started running from our data centre in Bologna, supporting the Copernicus Climate and Atmosphere Data Stores on a new cloud infrastructure. At the time, the Data Stores were serving over 130,000 users, with close to 100 terabytes of data being downloaded daily.

Destination Earth initiative launched

Representatives of ESA, EUMETSAT, ECMWF and the EC came together virtually on 30 March to formally inaugurate Destination Earth (DestinE), an ambitious EU initiative to develop a highly accurate digital twin of our planet. ECMWF’s role is to create the software and data environment needed to power the high-resolution digital twins (the digital twin engine) and to provide the first two digital twins.

Machine learning focus of two virtual workshops

Machine learning (ML) took centre stage at two virtual workshops.
One focused on ML applications for numerical weather predictions and climate services. The second presented the work of the MAELSTROM project, a project funded by the European High-Performance Computing Joint Undertaking and coordinated by ECMWF. It provided a high-profile forum on the present and future of ML-based weather and climate forecasting in a high-performance computing context.

European climate report reviews 2021

C3S released its flagship publication, the European State of the Climate (ESOTC) report, providing a timely, transparent and detailed description of Earth’s evolving climate. The report for 2021 showed a year of contrasts for Europe, which experienced its warmest summer on record, severe floods in western Europe, and heatwaves across the region, particularly in the Mediterranean. Globally, atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases continued to increase.

Handover ceremony held for new data centre

The premises of our new data centre in Bologna were officially handed over to ECMWF at a ceremony attended by Director-General Florence Rabier and representatives of the Emilia-Romagna region and the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The event provided an opportunity to showcase the close partnership between all involved.

In-person training courses return

After a two-year break, we returned to offering face-to-face training courses for our Member and Co-operating States. Alongside our established programme of meteorological and computing courses, a new course on machine learning proved popular.

Science showcased at European conferences

With the return of in-person international conferences, we shared our science at ESA’s Living Planet Symposium and the General Assembly of the European Geosciences Union (EGU). Alongside updates from our regular research programme for medium-range weather prediction, we presented results from CAMS and C3S and our plans for the EU’s Destination Earth initiative.

Nils Wedi, Digital Technology Lead for Destination Earth at ECMWF, at the ESA Living Planet Symposium in May.

Nils Wedi, Digital Technology Lead for Destination Earth at ECMWF, at the ESA Living Planet Symposium in May.

Experts discuss model uncertainty in weather forecasting

More than 100 online and 47 in-person participants attended our event on model uncertainty in weather forecasting. Model uncertainty is an important topic for ensemble forecasting, in which several slightly different forecasts are run to present the range of future weather possibilities. The outcomes of the event will feed into model development at ECMWF.

Sarah-Jane Lock, ECMWF scientist, at the workshop on model uncertainty in May.

Sarah-Jane Lock, ECMWF scientist, at the workshop on model uncertainty in May.

Forecasts benefit from Spire satellite data

We began using Spire satellite data operationally through a licence from EUMETSAT, after an extended test period in which a significant impact on forecasts was demonstrated. We anticipate an additional supply of Spire data purchased by NOAA in 2023, which is also expected to have a positive impact on ECMWF forecast quality.

User meeting focuses on visualising meteorological data

More than 40 people took part in person in Reading and up to 85 participated online at any one time in our Using ECMWF’s Forecasts meeting (UEF2022), dedicated to the theme of visualising meteorological data. The meeting was followed by a hackathon exploring how weather and climate data could be visualised to be more useable, understandable and impactful for users and the broader public.

Europe experiences intense and prolonged heatwaves

During the summer of 2022, Europe saw several heatwaves and much drier conditions than normal in western Europe. Some temperature records were broken, including in France and the UK. In ECMWF forecasts, a signal for a warmer-than-normal summer was consistently present in 6-week forecasts from the extended-range system. CAMS forecast very high levels of surface ozone pollution across a large region of Europe as temperatures soared. CEMS repeatedly warned of increased fire danger due to the lack of rain and the resulting dry vegetation, combined with high temperatures.

C3S map of temperature anomalies in Europe in July 2022.

C3S map of temperature anomalies in Europe in July 2022.

WMO Fellow develops agriculture application for Africa

A meteorologist from Cameroon’s National Department of Meteorology completed a 12-month WMO fellowship at ECMWF. He developed an application to support agriculture in Africa, based on ERA5 climate reanalysis data and climate projection data from the World Climate Research Programme’s Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 6 (CMIP6). The ‘African Agroclimatic Indicators’ application will provide long-term past and future climatic information required by agro-industries for their farming practices and crop yield projections and will help policy-makers.

Data Handling System move begins

The relocation of our meteorological archive and Data Handling System from the headquarters in Reading to the new data centre in Bologna started on 8 September. The relocation took just over two months, finishing on 11 November, with minimal disruption to operational, research and user activity. The total data volume transferred was 700 petabytes.

Annual Seminar focuses on seamless prediction

At our first in-person Annual Seminar in three years, over 100 scientists and students considered the large range of physical processes and scales that have to be represented in seamless weather prediction. The seminar was also followed daily by over 50 attendees on a livestream.

Coding programme produces open-source solutions

The 2022 edition of the ECMWF Summer of Weather Code (ESoWC) concluded with the presentation of six innovative open-source software solutions at the intersection of web development, software development, and applied data science. From 2023, the programme will be renamed Code for Earth.

Attendees at the Annual Seminar in September considered challenges in physics across forecast model resolutions and timescales.

Attendees at the Annual Seminar in September considered challenges in physics across forecast model resolutions and timescales.

SPARC General Assembly trials multi-hub format

The World Climate Research Programme SPARC project held its General Assembly across three ‘hubs’ for the Americas, Europe and Asia. The new format was designed to retain the face-to-face element and international collaboration while reducing the carbon footprint of the meeting. ECMWF was selected to host the European hub in Reading.

CESOC agreement fosters collaboration in Earth system science

We signed a memorandum of understanding with the Center for Earth System Observations and Computational analysis (CESOC), marking the start of a broad scientific collaboration between ECMWF and several German academic institutions.

First operational forecasts produced from Bologna

On 18 October, we started issuing operational forecasts from Italy using our new Atos high-performance computing facility. The highperformance computing services provided by the two Cray clusters at our headquarters in the UK finished at the end of October.

Michele Toni, Senior Site Engineer, at ECMWF’s Atos high-performance computing facility in Bologna.

Michele Toni, Senior Site Engineer, at ECMWF’s Atos high-performance computing facility in Bologna.

Photographer: Stefano Marzoli

ECMWF participates at COP27 climate change conference

At the COP27 climate change conference in Sharm el-Sheik, Egypt, we made high-level interventions at the UN-led Earth Information Day and at events presenting the WMO Systematic Observations Financing Facility (SOFF) and the EU Destination Earth initiative. The Copernicus services run by ECMWF had a strong presence, with events highlighting the wealth of Earth observation data provided by CAMS and C3S, collaboration with the Union for the Mediterranean and the European Investment Bank, and the Copernicus contribution to a new CO2 Monitoring and Verification Support Capacity.

SOFF pilot project to provide high-resolution real-time data

To support the implementation of the WMO Unified Data Policy, we agreed to provide a first set of countries selected by the SOFF with a high-resolution dataset in real time and with the operational support of the WIGOS Data Quality Monitoring System. Data provision will begin following a gap analysis to guide the next steps towards compliance with the Global Basic Observation Network minimum requirements.

Interest grows in machine learning in Earth sciences

We hosted the third in our series of joint workshops with ESA on machine learning for Earth observation and prediction, with about 120 participants on site in Reading and about 700 registered for online participation. It was apparent that increasingly sophisticated ML techniques had further spread into research and operational practice in the Earth sciences and were being tailored to this specific domain with compelling results.

High-resolution hydrological data released

A new, substantially upgraded hydrological reanalysis dataset of the Global Flood Awareness System (GloFAS) from 1980 to July 2022 was produced by the Joint Research Centre of the EC in collaboration with ECMWF and released as part of CEMS. It is available in the Copernicus Climate Data Store and includes daily maps of discharge over the globe at a resolution of 0.05 degrees (about 5 km).

Thirty years of ensemble forecasting

The first operational medium-range ensemble forecasts were introduced at ECMWF in 1992 and have since transformed the way weather forecasts and their uncertainties are understood, communicated and used. Events and information marked the anniversary and the significance of ensemble forecasts.

Council appoints new scientific advisers

Dr Oliver Fuhrer from the Federal Office of Meteorology and Climatology (MeteoSwiss), Prof. Simon Vosper from the Met Office and Prof. Dr Nedjeljka Žagar from the University of Hamburg were elected as members of the ECMWF Scientific Advisory Committee.

New satellite to benefit meteorology

EUMETSAT launched a new geostationary satellite, MTG-I1, carrying two instruments of particular importance for meteorology: the Flexible Combined Imager (FCI), which provides images in the infrared and visible part of the spectrum, and the Lightning Imager (LI), which is a new instrument observing lightning flashes and their intensity. At ECMWF, preparatory work to develop an assimilation architecture, using data from similar existing instruments on GOES satellites, is expected to lead to an early and effective operational exploitation of the new satellite.

CAMS monitors third unusual ozone hole in a row

Similarly to what was observed in the previous two years, monitoring data from CAMS showed the 2022 Antarctic ozone hole closed much later than those of the previous 40 years and was one of the 15 largest in the CAMS record dating back to 1979. While this needs to be investigated further in the context of a changing climate, the variability seen in recent years is thought to be largely dynamically driven, and it does not challenge the eventual recovery of the ozone layer in the 2060s as that is determined by the already observed declining amount of ozone-depleting substances in the stratosphere.

CO2 emissions monitoring prototype on track

The CoCO2 EU-funded research project coordinated by ECMWF presented progress towards creating a prototype system to monitor anthropogenic CO2 emissions worldwide. The project’s wide-ranging work includes data sources, vegetation models, transport models, and data assimilation methods, and will feed into the anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions Monitoring and Verification Support Capacity (CO2MVS) being developed as part of CAMS.

Europe records second-warmest year on record

The year 2022 was the second warmest on record in Europe, and the summer was the hottest in Europe, according to data released by C3S in January 2023. Persistent low levels of European rainfall, in combination with high temperatures and other factors, led to widespread drought conditions. Atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations increased at a similar rate to recent years, while methane concentrations increased more than average.

EUMETSAT’s MTG-I1 satellite launched in December.

EUMETSAT’s MTG-I1 satellite launched in December.

© EUMETSAT, using 3D models from ESA