ECMWF moves further towards open data

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ECMWF has released a new data service charge model, which is an important step in its journey towards open data.

It also now permits licence holders to redistribute or sell ECMWF real-time data to users for personal use, and it has reduced the price of its Maximum Charge Licence by nearly 30%. The changes add to a series of updates introduced since June 2021.

ECMWF data are provided automatically to ECMWF Member and Co-operating States, and some are freely accessible to NMHSs of WMO members. The changes outlined here concern data that are freely available to all or that can be obtained by users for a fee.

New data service charge model

The new service charge model replaces the ECMWF Handling Charge with a volume charge and a service package, which users select based on the level of support and services they require.

This new approach enables ECMWF to gradually decrease Information Cost by removing the automatic link between Information Cost and ECMWF’s Handling Charge. This is a crucial step towards open data. The Product Requirements Catalogue (PRC) has been updated accordingly.

“The new service charge model represents the biggest change in how we charge for our data in the last 20 years," says the Head of User Services, Victoria Bennett. “It makes data cheaper for approximately 56% of users and enables more users to access self-service tools that were initially restricted to Maximum Charge Licence holders.”

Other changes

Historically, ECMWF prevented any redistribution or brokerage of ECMWF real-time data. In June 2021, it launched a pilot scheme to examine the impact of permitting 'limited redistribution'. In this scheme, licence holders can redistribute or sell ECMWF real-time data to users for their personal use. The pilot scheme transitioned to a permanent data policy in July 2022.

In another change, the Maximum Charge Licence was reduced from 140,000 euros per year to 100,000 euros per year for new and renewing contracts after 1 July 2022. This is the first major price revision in over ten years and represents a step towards making data more accessible for more users.

In a further move towards open data, a wide range of ECMWF’s forecast data became openly available earlier this year. Other recent changes are summarised in this table:

January 2022 A new Small Business Discount scheme widens the number of eligible users and simplifies the process. ‘Micro’ businesses (as defined by the EU) are now eligible for a 50% discount on real-time data, while full delivery charges apply, and they gain access to the MARS archive.
January 2022  National meteorological and hydrological services no longer have to pay the Information Cost for data they receive as part of their Non-Commercial Licences, only for delivery. Previously they paid 10% of a Maximum Charge Licence (14,000 euros a year) for access to the data.
June 2021 ECMWF can license its data to all users irrespective of location, including for research purposes. Previously ECMWF was only permitted to license outside of its Member States or inside Member States that had delegated licensing. Official duty provision and licensing remain with Member and Co-operating States.
June 2021 A ‘European cut-out licence’ pilot scheme was introduced. This special-price licence enables users to receive up to 15 parameters per day over a fixed area for a fraction of the Maximum Charge Licence cost, plus appropriate delivery fees.

Visit the Access to forecasts page for more information about how to gain access to ECMWF forecasts.