Working with the WMO

WMO headquarters, Geneva

Photo: World Meteorological Organization, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Assisting the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) is one of ECMWF’s founding objectives and holds an important place in the Centre’s ten-year Strategy to 2030. The support to the WMO includes the provision of free datasets to WMO Members and discounted access to the full catalogue of data, support to fellowships and projects to improve severe weather forecasting in developing countries, training, and participation in expert teams on scientific, technical and policy matters.

ECMWF relies on the WMO for the global exchange of observations, as a prerequisite for all our NWP forecasting activities.

ECMWF has a formal PDF icon co-operation agreement with the WMO, which has designated ECMWF as a:

  • World Meteorological Centre
  • Regional Specialized Meteorological Centre for medium-range forecasts
  • Lead Centre for deterministic NWP verification 
  • Lead Centre for upper-air observation monitoring
  • Lead Centre for wave forecast verification
  • Global Producing Centre for seasonal predictions 
  • Global Producing Centre for sub-seasonal predictions 
  • Lead Centre for sub-seasonal prediction multi-model ensemble 

We contribute to the WMO Severe Weather Forecasting programme (SWFP) as a Global Centre and to the Systematic Observations Financing Facility (SOFF) as a Knowledge partner. 

We also contribute to WMO committees, working groups and expert teams, especially on issues relating to the World Weather Watch. We support the World Weather Research Programme (WWRP) and in particular we are active members of the DAOS, S2S, PPP and WGNE committees.

ECMWF provides the meteorological community with the ecCodes software in support of the WMO's standard data formats BUFR and GRIB, and it hosts a number of meteorological archives as part of WMO projects.

ECMWF as a World Meteorological Centre

World Meteorological Centres (WMCs) provide WMO Members with a range of forecast products based on their global models for both medium-range and seasonal ensemble forecasts. They also provide relevant documentation and verification to demonstrate the quality of their forecasts. This is to assist WMO Members in their official duties at national level.

WMO Members can access a subset of ECMWF products free of charge. These include deterministic and ensemble medium-range forecasts and ensemble seasonal forecasts.

A subset of products is available via the WMO information system (WIS). The main dissemination routes are the GTS (Global Telecommunication System) and EUMETSAT's EUMETCast service.

WMO Members can gain access to the entire catalogue of ECMWF forecast products with a non-commercial licence.

ECMWF supports the UN’s Systematic Observations Financing Facility (SOFF) to widen the provision of weather observations in some countries, with priority for Small Island Developing States and Least Developed Countries. ECMWF supports SOFF countries by providing free access to weather products and on-demand basic support to use these products. We have also offered support through observation monitoring, training for SOFF country forecasters, and investigating the potential impact of additional observations from SOFF countries.

Deterministic NWP verification

ECMWF has been the WMO lead centre for deterministic NWP verification (LC-DNV) for many years. The task of this lead centre is to collect, archive, and display verification scores (mainly upper-air) from participating global NWP centres. Scores are computed by each centre following the guidelines in WMO Manual 485.

Observation monitoring

ECMWF is the WMO lead centre for upper-air observation monitoring.

ECMWF hosts the WIGOS Data Quality Monitoring System (WDQMS) web tool developed by the WMO to monitor the performance of all WMO Integrated Global Observing System (WIGOS) observing components.

The monitoring module of the GOS networks is based on near-real-time numerical weather prediction (NWP) monitoring information provided by the four participating global NWP centres: DWD, ECMWF, JMA and NCEP. The GCOS monitoring module is based on data collected from the GCOS monitoring centres and includes the monitoring of the GCOS Surface Network (GSN) and the GCOS Upper-Air Network (GUAN). The GCOS monitoring relies on monthly statistics provided by DWD.

The tool links the availability and quality of observational data from those WIGOS Monitoring Centres with the WIGOS metadata and user requirements from OSCAR, providing information on network/station issues to WMO Members and to Regional WIGOS Centres (RWCs) for follow up. The open access to the WDQMS web tool allows all national meteorological services to get feedback in near-real time on the usage and quality of their observations and gives global NWP centres the opportunity to improve their monitoring capabilities by comparing the data coverage and data quality with other NWP centres.

For more details about ECMWF's work on observation monitoring, see Monitoring of the observing system.

Wave forecast verification

ECMWF is the WMO Lead Centre for wave forecast verification (LC-WFV). Participating centres provide forecasts of wave parameters and 10 m wind speed, and the lead centre computes and publishes scores for these forecasts. The project has reached full operational status with a monthly data update and a three-monthly update of scores.

Seasonal and sub-seasonal prediction

ECMWF is a WMO Global Producing Centre for seasonal predictions (GPC-SP) and sub-seasonal predictions (GPC-SSP). GPC-SP and GPC-SSP fulfil a set of mandatory functions aiming to enhance the consistency and usability of seasonal and sub-seasonal forecast information and to facilitate the exchange of data. The list of mandatory functions includes the provision of:

  • a defined standard set of forecast products 
  • forecasts with regular frequency
  • skill assessment based on the WMO standard verification measures
  • data to the WMO Lead Centre on a regular schedule.

ECMWF is also the WMO Lead Centre for sub-seasonal prediction multi-model ensemble (LC-SSPMME). The role of this centre is to coordinate multi-model ensembles of sub-seasonal forecasts by maintaining an archive containing a set of selected model fields, by creating graphical products from individual and multi-model ensembles under an agreed format, and by creating verification statistics.

Archives to support WMO projects

We host an archive of ensemble forecasts from 13 global centres to support the WMO TIGGE project. This project seeks to improve high-impact weather forecasts by strengthening international collaboration between operational centres and academia. The forecast data is freely available to all users for research purposes.

We also develop and maintain an archive for extended-range (sub-seasonal) forecasts to support the WMO Sub-seasonal to Seasonal Prediction Project (S2S).

Severe Weather Forecasting Programme (SWFP)

ECMWF supports the WMO’s Severe Weather Forecasting programme (SWFP) with state-of-the-art weather forecasts. The SWFP strengthens the capacity of NMHSs in developing and least developed countries to deliver improved forecasts and warnings of severe weather to save lives, livelihoods and property.

The SWFP uses the cascading forecasting process, moving high-value information from global prediction centres to regional hubs, and then down to national meteorological centres.

This enables the production of more accurate and timely forecasts and warnings of hydrometeorological hazards. It helps build capacity and expertise in developing countries.

The SWFP involves and benefits over 75 developing countries, least developed countries (LDCs) and Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in eight sub-regions, including Southern Africa, South Pacific, Eastern Africa, South-East Asia, South Asia, Central Asia, West Africa and Eastern Caribbean.

ECMWF contributes to all the SWFP regional subprojects with dedicated areas on the website which offer easy access to forecast products using the ecCharts framework:

ECMWF has also supported the SWFP by participating in training activities with lectures, practical activities and eLearning training resources.