ECMWF becomes a multi-site organisation

13 September 2021
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Map showing ECMWF sites in the UK, Germany and Italy

ECMWF has officially become a multi-site organisation, with the opening ceremonies for offices in Bonn, Germany, and its data centre in Bologna, Italy, on 13 and 14 September 2021 respectively. This marks an exciting new phase for ECMWF, strengthening ties with its Member States through new locations in Europe as well as its existing UK headquarters, and the first step towards upgrading its already world-class supercomputing capability for the advancement of its forecasts.

ECMWF offices open in Bonn  

Following an international tender amongst its Member States, ECMWF’s third site opens in Bonn, Monday 13 September, a city already known as home to several international and intergovernmental organisations. The focus of ECMWF’s work in Bonn is that conducted in partnership with the European Union (EU), including the Copernicus Earth observation programme and the planned Destination Earth initiative.

The location in Bonn also enables further collaboration with scientific institutions across Germany and the region, and closer connection with ECMWF Member States. In particular, ECMWF will collaborate with the Center for Earth System Observations and Computational analysis (CESOC), which integrates research at the Universities of Bonn and Cologne as well as the Forschungszentrum Jülich. From 2022, a visiting scientist programme, targeting activities in Bonn, will also begin.

To mark the occasion and ECMWF’s arrival, welcome speeches from the Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI), the Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU), and the Mayor of Bonn’s office will be followed by a flag-raising ceremony and words by Dr Florence Rabier, Director-General of ECMWF, and by Dr Daniel Gellens, President of ECMWF Council. The ECMWF flag will fly outside of the BMU headquarters, the organisation’s new home before it transfers to a brand-new building in 2026.

Artist's impression of ECMWF building in Bonn, Germany

The ECMWF facility in Bonn, Germany, to be ready in 2026. (Image: Visualisation: Render Vision; Design: SL/A Architekten)

ECMWF Bonn opening ceremony

Welcome speeches at the opening ceremony in Bonn on 13 September.

ECMWF Bonn plaque handover

Symbolic handover of the interim ECMWF site in Bonn with Dr Tobias Miethaner, Head of Digital Society, Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (left) and ECMWF Director-General Dr Florence Rabier (right). (Photo: BMVI/Bernd Lauter)

More information is available in the PDF icon ECMWF Bonn Press Kit 13 September 2021.

A new data centre opens in Bologna

ECMWF’s new data centre in Bologna, Italy, formally opens on 14 September 2021, housing the Centre’s new Atos BullSequana supercomputer system, scheduled to begin running operationally mid-2022. 

The new system will increase sustained performance by a factor of about five compared to ECMWF’s current high-performance computing facility and provides the flexibility to accommodate the latest technologies in supercomputing. It will also facilitate the continuation of investigative work into the field of machine learning in numerical weather prediction, as well as the use of advanced high-performance computing, big data and AI methodologies to create a digital twin of the Earth with a breakthrough in realism.

The data centre is on the site of the Tecnopolo di Bologna campus that is redeveloping the unused buildings and grounds of a former tobacco factory.

Dr Rabier opens the facility alongside President of Council Dr Daniel Gellens and representatives from Italian local, regional and national governments, including Undersecretary of Foreign Affairs Manlio Di Stefano, Minister of Education Patrizio Bianchi, and President of the Emilia-Romagna Region Stefano Bonaccini.

ECMWF data centre, Bologna

ECMWF data centre, Bologna, Italy.

ECMWF Council President Dr Daniel Gellens

Dr Daniel Gellens, Director of the Royal Meteorological Institute of Belgium and President of the ECMWF Council, addressed guests at the opening ceremony.

More information is available in the PDF icon ECMWF Bologna Press Kit 14 September 2021.

Speaking about the new locations and their benefits, Dr Rabier said:

“It is an important moment in the life of ECMWF as we formally become a multi-site organisation, with our head offices in the UK, our new data centre in Bologna, Italy, and our new offices in Bonn, Germany.

“As an intergovernmental organisation, ECMWF’s dedication and loyalty are to its Member States. Over the years, however, ECMWF has also developed a close and extremely constructive working partnership with the European Union. When you consider that most of ECMWF’s Member States are also members of the EU, this partnership makes considerable sense. It allows EU and ECMWF Member States to be efficient by avoiding duplication of efforts and spending in areas of work where synergies are paramount.”

Ribbon cutting at ECMWF data centre, Bologna

Ribbon cutting ceremony at the ECMWF data centre in Bologna.