Workshop on observations and analysis of sea-surface temperature and sea ice for NWP and Climate Applications

ECMWF | Reading | 22-25 January 2018

Workshop Announcement

An accurate characterisation of the ocean in terms of its surface temperature and sea ice coverage is vital for Numerical Weather Prediction (NWP) forecasts a few days in advance out to the seasonal range. This workshop is organised to bring together experts involved in all aspects of this field, including the treatment of ocean surface observations (both satellite and in situ), data assimilation techniques and modelling. Three days of presentations will be followed by working group meetings which will try to assess the current state of the art and identify areas where significant improvements and progress can be made.


A key part of the ECMWF new strategy is to develop an Earth-system analysis and forecast system, and to introduce more coupling in data assimilation and the forecasting model since this could be the best way to extract predictable signals from the initial conditions, and thus improve the quality of our forecasts. This will imply further developing the ECMWF prototype coupled assimilation that has been used to generate the first European coupled reanalysis of the 20th century. ECMWF new ocean reanalysis/analysis ORAS5, at a 1⁄4 degree resolution and with 75 layers, includes also the sea-ice. In Q4-2016, ECMWF  introduced an interactive sea-ice in its medium-range/monthly ensemble (ENS). The development of an ECMWF’s own sea-surface temperature (SST) data assimilation capability could be another necessary step to move towards better initial conditions for the coupled model, and to develop a ‘stronger’ coupled data assimilation. This workshop will give us the opportunity to discuss with experts from the international community how best to proceed in this area.


The landscape of users and applications of Sea Surface Temperature (SST) and Sea Ice (SI) information has changed considerably in the past few years. Observations, applications and methodologies are undergoing a major shift. In the case of SST and SI, the paradigm of Earth System Forecasting systems has brought together activities and communities traditionally separated, such as the weather and marine communities, and the weather and climate. There is a pressing need to revisit the current practices in view of new potential and current deficiencies, to provide guidelines for future directions and to prepare the ground for institutional collaboration at international level.


The workshop will take place at ECMWF on 22 - 25 January 2018. It will revolve around four central themes:

Session 1: Observations of the SST and SeaIce: overview of observations of SST and seaice. Remote sensed and in-situ. Past-Present-Future.

Session 2: Processing chains: retrievals, gap filling and product delivery.

Session 3: Applications: defining the observational requirements.

Session 4: New methods.

Working Groups

WG1: Observations and processing chains

WG2: Applications and processing chains

WP3: Methods  and processing chains

Some Questions to be addressed:

  • Which level of information should be assimilated in NWP for timeliness?
  • Which level of information should be used in reanalyses? How to guarantee consistency between reanalyses and real time?
  • Are the required data streams in place? how to avoid duplication?
  • How to manage different spatial scales?
  • How to manage temporal evolution (stability, bias correction, merging old and new methods, timeliness).
  • Which other observations should be used?
  • Which developments in data assimilation methods are needed?
  • Which developments in forward modelling are needed?


Registration for this workshop is now closed.

Organising committee

Magdalena A. Balmaseda, Patricia de Rosnay, Hans Hersbach, Sarah Keeley, Tony McNally, Steffen Tietsche