ECMWF widens role in WMO severe weather projects

Anna Ghelli, Cihan Sahin


ECMWF has started to provide forecast products to three more regions taking part in the Severe Weather Forecasting Demonstration Project (SWFDP) run by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). The project aims to strengthen the capacity of national meteorological and hydrological services (NMHSs) in developing and least developed countries to deliver improved forecasts and warnings of severe weather to save lives, livelihoods and property. The SWFDP is implemented as a number of regional subprojects and uses a ‘cascading forecasting process’ (global to regional to national). ECMWF participates as a global numerical weather prediction (NWP) centre, providing graphical products derived from ensemble and high-resolution forecasts for the domains of each regional project. Participants in these projects can access the forecast charts available via ECMWF’s website (login required).

ECMWF contributes to all six SWFDP regional subprojects: Southern Africa, South Pacific, Eastern Africa, Central Asia, Bay of Bengal and Southeast Asia. In 2016, dedicated areas for the three latter subprojects (Central Asia, Bay of Bengal and Southeast Asia) were created on the website. They offer easy access to forecast products using the ecCharts framework.

As part of efforts to maximise the impact ECMWF products have on SWFDP countries, a WMO Fellow from the NMHS of Vietnam started a 12-month visit in September 2016. Vietnam is a regional centre for the Southeast Asia SWFDP. The main focus of the visit will be on the verification of ensemble products for Vietnam and the Southeast Asia SWFDP region, with an emphasis on ECMWF products provided for the SWFDP. The work will also review the use of ensemble forecasts in operational forecasting in the region, and in particular their interpretation for severe weather event forecasts. The use of local observations available to the Vietnam NMHS and the experience of the Fellow in operational forecasting for Southeast Asia will help ECMWF to improve its understanding of model behaviour in the region.

ECMWF has also supported the SWFDP by participating in training activities. Lectures and practical activities have been provided for SWFDP Eastern Africa (November 2015, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia); West Africa (webinar in December 2015, Dakar, Senegal); SWFDP Central Asia (webinar in February 2016, Almaty, Kazakhstan); and SWFDP Bay of Bengal (webinar July 2016).

In 2017, ECMWF will seek to continue to support the Southern Africa subproject as it moves to the operational phase. In the longer term, it will work with WMO to provide enhanced training support for the SWFDP.