European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts
The European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) is an independent intergovernmental organisation supported by most of the nations of Europe and is based at Shinfield Park, Reading, United Kingdom. It operates one of the largest supercomputer complexes in Europe and the world's largest archive of numerical weather prediction data.
|Headquarters||Reading, United Kingdom|
ECMWF was established in 1975, in recognition of the need to pool the scientific and technical resources of Europe's meteorological services and institutions for the production of weather forecasts for medium-range timescales (up to approximately two weeks) and of the economic and social benefits expected from it.
It comprises 22 European countries:
- the eighteen founding states of 1975: Austria, Belgium, Yugoslavia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Republic of Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom.
- four states that joined since 2010: Iceland (April 2011), Slovenia (December 2012), Serbia (January 2015) and Croatia (January 2016).
In 2017, the Centre's member states accepted an offer from the Italian Government to move ECMWF's data centre to Bologna, Italy. The new site, a former tobacco factory, would be redesigned by the architecture firm gmp.
Member and Co-operating States
|Member state||Year of joining|
|Co-operating State||Year of joining|
|12 July 2010|
|1 August 2001|
|7 November 2005|
|9 February 2011|
|1 July 1994|
|28 October 2010|
|30 April 2008|
|20 November 2006|
|5 November 2007|
|1 December 2006|
|22 December 2003|
|1 January 2008|
|Co-operating agreements||Year of joining|
|WMO||1 November 1975|
|EUMETSAT||18 May 1988|
|ACMAD||11 May 1995|
|ALADIN/HIRLAM - Use of IFS/Arpege||19 February 1999|
|JRC||6 May 2003|
|CTBTO||24 June 2003|
|CLRTAP||26 January 2005|
|ESA||31 May 2005|
|Memorandum of Understanding for Joint Liaison Office with European institutions in Brussels||23 April 2010|
|RIMES||8 February 2012|
|CMA||21 January 2014|
|US NWS||23 January 2015 - amended 30 January 2018|
|US NCAR||31 August 2016|
|INPE Brazil||31 August 2017|
ECMWF aims to provide accurate medium-range global weather forecasts out to 15 days and seasonal forecasts out to 12 months. Its products are provided to the national weather services of its member states and co-operating states as a complement to their national short-range and climatological activities, and those national states use ECMWF's products for their own national duties, in particular to give early warning of potentially damaging severe weather.
- Produce numerical weather forecasts and monitor planetary systems that influence weather
- Carry out scientific and technical research to improve forecast skill
- Maintain an archive of meteorological data
To deliver this core mission, the Centre provides:
- Twice-daily global numerical weather forecasts
- Air quality analysis
- Atmospheric composition monitoring
- Climate monitoring
- Ocean circulation analysis
- Hydrological prediction
The Centre develops and operates global atmospheric models and data assimilation systems for the dynamics, thermodynamics and composition of the Earth's atmosphere and for interacting parts of the Earth-system. It uses numerical weather prediction methods to prepare forecasts and their initial conditions, and it contributes to monitoring the relevant parts of the Earth system.
Work and projects
Numerical weather prediction (NWP) requires input of meteorological data, collected by satellites and earth observation systems such as automatic and manned stations, aircraft, ships and weather balloons. Assimilation of this data is used to produce an initial state of a computer model of the atmosphere, from which an atmospheric model is used to forecast the weather. These forecasts are typically:
- medium-range forecasts, predicting the weather up to 15 days ahead
- monthly forecasts, predicting the weather on a weekly basis 30 days ahead
- seasonal forecasts up to 12 months ahead.
Over the past three decades ECMWF's wide-ranging programme of research has played a major role in developing such assimilation and modelling systems. This improves the accuracy and reliability of weather forecasting by about a day per decade, so that a seven-day forecast now (2015) is as accurate as a three-day forecast was four decades ago (1975).
Monthly and seasonal forecasts
ECMWF's monthly and seasonal forecasts provide early predictions of events such as heat waves, cold spells and droughts, as well as their impacts on sectors such as agriculture, energy and health. Since ECMWF runs a wave model, there are also predictions of coastal waves and storm surges in European waters which can be used to provide warnings.
Early warning of severe weather events
Forecasts of severe weather events allow appropriate mitigating action to be taken and contingency plans to be put into place by the authorities and the public. The increased time gained by issuing accurate warnings can save lives, for instance by evacuating people from a storm surge area. Authorities and businesses can plan to maintain services around threats such as high winds, floods or snow.
In October 2012 the ECMWF model suggested seven days in advance that Hurricane Sandy was likely to make landfall on the East Coast of the United States. It also predicted the intensity and track of the November 2012 nor'easter, which impacted the east coast a week after Sandy.
ECMWF's Extreme Forecast Index (EFI) was developed as a tool to identify where the EPS (Ensemble Prediction System) forecast distribution differs substantially from that of the model climate. It contains information regarding variability of weather parameters, in location and time and can highlight an abnormality of a weather situation without having to define specific space- and time-dependent thresholds.
ECMWF, through its partnerships with EUMETSAT, ESA, the EU and the European Science community has established a leading position for Europe in the exploitation of satellite data for operational numerical weather prediction, and for operational seasonal forecasting with coupled atmosphere-ocean-land models. The increasing amount of satellite data and the development of more sophisticated ways of extraction information from that data have made a major contribution to improving the accuracy and utility of NWP forecasts. ECMWF continuously endeavours to improve the use of satellite observations for NWP.
ECMWF makes significant contributions to support research on climate variability, pioneering an approach known as reanalysis. This involves feeding weather observations collected over decades into a NWP system to recreate past atmospheric, sea- and land-surface conditions over specific time periods to obtain a clearer picture of how the climate has changed. Reanalysis provides a four-dimensional picture of the atmosphere and effectively allows monitoring of the variability and change of global climate, thereby contributing also to the understanding and attribution of climate change.
To date, and with support from Europe's National Meteorological Services and the European Commission, ECMWF has conducted several major reanalyses of the global atmosphere: the first ECMWF re-analysis (ERA-15) project generated reanalyses from December 1978 to February 1994; the ERA-40 project generated reanalyses from September 1957 to August 2002. The ERA-Interim reanalysis covered the period from 1979 onwards. A reanalysis product (ERA5) with higher spatial resolution (31 km) was released by ECMWF in 2019 as part of the Copernicus Climate Change Service.
Operational forecast model
ECMWF's operational forecasts are produced from its "Integrated Forecast System" (sometimes informally known in the United States as the "European model") which is run every twelve hours and forecasts out to ten days.
It includes both in a "deterministic forecast" mode and as an ensemble. The deterministic forecast is a single model run that is relatively high in both resolution but also in computational expense. The ensemble is relatively low (about half that of the deterministic) in resolution and so in computational expense, so less accurate. But it is run 51 times in parallel, from slightly different initial conditions to give a spread of likelihood over the range of the forecast.
The Centre currently serves as the Entrusted Entity responsible for delivery of two of the Services of the EU's Copernicus Programme. The two services are the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS) and the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S).
- "Who we are". ECMWF. Retrieved 1 January 2016.
- "MeteoWorld". 22 September 2015.
- "Slovenia becomes ECMWF's 20th Member State". ecmwf.int. ECMWF. Archived from the original on 3 September 2013. Retrieved 8 December 2012.
- "Serbia becomes ECMWF's 21st Member State".
- Jeppesen, Joanne (1 July 2016). "Croatian flag raised at ECMWF". ECMWF.
- "Press kit: Bologna to host ECMWF's new data centre". 3 March 2017.
- "ECMWF Member States". ECMWF. 2017.
- "ECMWF Co-operating States". ECMWF. 2017.
- "ECMWF Co-operating Agreements". ECMWF. 2017.
- Deutscher Wetterdienst. "ECMWF - European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts". Berlin, Germany: Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure. Retrieved 29 April 2014.
Established in 1975, ECMWF is renowned worldwide for providing the most accurate medium-range global weather forecasts up to 10 days ahead, monthly forecasts and seasonal outlooks to six months ahead.
- ECMWF (30 December 2013), What we do, retrieved 11 June 2019
- "The Forecast For Weather Technology". Sky News. 17 July 2015. Retrieved 1 January 2016.
- Roulstone, Ian; Norbury, John (25 July 2013). "How Math helped forecast Hurricane Sandy". Scientific American. Retrieved 9 August 2013.
- "Moderate-strength Nor'easter may hit Sandy-devastated areas Wednesday | Category 6™". www.wunderground.com. Retrieved 1 May 2017.
- Dee, D. P.; Uppala, S. M.; Simmons, A. J.; Berrisford, P.; Poli, P.; Kobayashi, S.; Andrae, U.; Balmaseda, M. A.; Balsamo, G.; Bauer, P.; Bechtold, P.; Beljaars, A. C. M.; Van De Berg, L.; Bidlot, J.; Bormann, N.; Delsol, C.; Dragani, R.; Fuentes, M.; Geer, A. J.; Haimberger, L.; Healy, S. B.; Hersbach, H.; Hólm, E. V.; Isaksen, L.; Kållberg, P.; Köhler, M.; Matricardi, M.; McNally, A. P.; Monge-Sanz, B. M.; et al. (2011). "The ERA-Interim reanalysis: Configuration and performance of the data assimilation system". Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society. 137 (656): 553–597. Bibcode:2011QJRMS.137..553D. doi:10.1002/qj.828.
- "New ERA5 dataset provides weather and climate details back to 1979". 17 January 2019.
- "Modelling and Prediction". ECMWF. 29 November 2013. Retrieved 2 January 2016.
- "Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service". ECMWF. Retrieved 23 October 2019.
- "Copernicus Climate Change Service". ECMWF. Retrieved 23 October 2019.
- Woods, Austin (2006). Medium-Range Weather Prediction – the European Approach. Springer. ISBN 978-0-387-26928-3.
- Official website
- ECMWF Re-analysis (ERA)