A special year

In number theory, 2017 is a special type of prime which can be written as the sum of two squares as it is congruent to 1 modulo 4, based on Fermat’s Christmas theorem. A special number for a very special year, and I want to wish all of you a great start to what will no doubt be a special year for all of us.

For ECMWF, 2017 is the first full year of implementing the Strategy 2016–2025: the Strength of a Common Goal. It brings with it all the excitement that comes with the early stages of such an ambitious plan. The year will be marked by many important moments for the Centre: 25 years of ensemble prediction, leading up to the primacy of probabilistic prediction in our new Strategy; tests to define the best possible configuration of the 5 km ensemble planned for 2025; the release of the seasonal System 5, which will be a step towards seamless prediction, bringing forecasts similar in resolution to our monthly forecasts; progress in the ERA5 climate reanalysis, which is expected to cover the period up to 2010 by the end of 2017; and two scheduled upgrades of the Integrated Forecasting System (IFS).

As usual, all this will happen through collaboration with the national meteorological services of our Member and Co-operating States and with the wider meteorological community. Recent examples of the fruits of this collaboration, featured prominently in this Newsletter, include the introduction into the IFS of the interactive sea-ice model LIM2 developed at the Belgian Université Catholique de Louvain and of the higher-resolution ocean model based on the community model NEMO.

Our supercomputer is also a clear and strong symbol of the spirit of collaboration that is at the heart of ECMWF. This is of course where we develop and test our science, and where we produce our forecasts. But some of ECMWF’s High-Performance Computing Facility (HPCF) is also available for use by our Member States. It is clear that we have now reached the maximum capacity at our headquarters in Reading as implementing the Strategy will require an increase in computing power of at least one order of magnitude.

Whilst technological advances as well as the efficiency gains made through our Scalability Programme will help, ultimately a new site for a larger HPCF will be needed. After visits to potential sites in several Member States, we are now approaching the crucial moment when our Council will decide where to relocate ECMWF’s Data Centre. This decision, which marks a critical moment for ECMWF’s future, will be taken at the end of February at an extraordinary Council session.

We are confident that once again the spirit of cooperation will prevail and will drive our governing body’s choice towards a solution which will maintain ECMWF as a common asset and a source of pride.

Florence Rabier