The European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) is based in Reading, UK, and is an independent intergovernmental organisation supported by 34 states.

ECMWF is both a research institute and a 24/7 operational service, producing and disseminating numerical weather predictions to its Member States. This data is fully available to the national meteorological services in the Member States. The Centre also offers a catalogue of forecast data that can be purchased by businesses worldwide and other commercial customers. The supercomputer facility: (and associated data archive) at ECMWF is one of the largest of its type in Europe and Member States can use 25% of its capacity for their own purposes.

The organisation was established in 1975 and now employs around 300 staff from more than 30 countries.

Weather science and prediction have improved greatly over the past few decades. Yet it is critical to keep improving predictive skill as weather- and climate-related disasters continue to cost lives and destroy property.

Improved weather predictions will come from increasing the complexity of the forecast models, through higher spatial resolution and by representing more physical processes in the atmosphere, oceans, land surface and cryosphere. As weather prediction is time critical, forecasts as well as the generation and dissemination of forecast products are run to very tight operational schedules.

Being able to run ever more complex forecasting systems on time and with affordable power consumption requires new levels of code efficiency and parallelism to which current numerical weather prediction (NWP) codes are not yet adapted. Changes are needed throughout the entire NWP processing chain if we are to exploit these new opportunities for energy efficiency.


ECMWF’s Scalability Programme was launched in 2013 and aims to develop an integrated forecasting system capable of running efficiently on future generations of hardware. The programme strongly involves ECMWF Member States and also draws in expertise from HPC centres, hardware developers and academia.

The programme is high level and high profile within the organisation and the current focus includes investigating systems based on near-future processors and accelerators. The research addresses not only the dynamic core of the forecasting system but all aspects of the forecast pipeline (data collection, data assimilation, and forecast and product generation).

In addition, the Centre has a strong interest in research into exascale data handling, storage and archival. ECMWF currently holds over 100 PB of unique data with nearly half of the data being written once and read many times. The archive is growing at over 100 TB per day, making exascale data management fundamental to the Centre’s activities.

ECMWF’s Scalability Programme ( brings together meteorological modellers, computer scientists and hardware providers from around the world for a co-ordinated approach to hardware and software development.

ECMWF is participating in a number of EU-funded projects, including:


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