Inspiration for 2018

ECMWF had a busy and inspiring start to 2018. For the first time we were an exhibitor at the Annual Meeting of the American Meteorological Society in Austin, Texas. This was a great opportunity to catch up with colleagues and partners from around the world and to share findings and exchange views on some of the events that had marked 2017, such as the devastating hurricanes which hit the Caribbean islands and the US. There were also intense discussions on the technical challenges meteorology is facing, from adopting the Python programming language for data analytics and machine learning to using cloud computing to run models and perform big-data computations.

An important development at the beginning of the year was the publication of complete climate data for 2017 produced by the Copernicus Climate Change Service we operate on behalf of the EU. As predicted, 2017 turned out to be one of the three warmest years on record, and the warmest year not influenced by a warming El Niño. This latest finding adds to the weight of evidence of global warming in the 21st century, which now includes 16 of the 17 warmest years on record.

These results came at the end of a year that had its fair share of extreme weather and environmental conditions. In Europe this included catastrophic wildfires in Portugal in June, a heat wave in large parts of southern Europe in August and devastating windstorms that hit Poland, the Czech Republic and Germany in August and October. We know that climate change affects the frequency and severity of extreme weather events. However, a lot more research and data are now required to be able to assess with more certainty the full breadth of the impact the changing climate has on our weather.

At ECMWF 2018 will be very much about supercomputing. The year will see the start in earnest of the procurement for our new supercomputer and of the migration of our data centre to Bologna. The building work is scheduled to start, as is the recruitment for the technical roles which will be located in Bologna. At the heart of the new building will be the new supercomputer. We are looking forward to a good response to the invitation to tender to be issued later this year.

We will run our usual range of workshops and seminars this year, covering topics such as data assimilation, sea-surface temperatures, radiation, physics–dynamics coupling and high-performance computing. We will also aim to live-stream as many of our events as possible so that those of you who cannot physically travel to us can still take part virtually.

Let me conclude by wishing you on behalf of all of us at ECMWF a great 2018, with many opportunities to discuss the fascinating science and technology of weather forecasting and how it will evolve in the future.

Florence Rabier
Director-General