Strategic advances

It has taken a lot of development and testing, but we are now in the last stages before implementing the latest upgrade of ECMWF’s Integrated Forecasting System (IFS), scheduled to become operational on 5 June. There is an overall improvement in 2 m temperature in both high-resolution forecasts (HRES) and ensemble forecasts (ENS), particularly for Europe. Some negative impact is noted in upper air fields for the ensemble in the short range in the extratropics, but results are significantly positive across all ranges in the tropics. Changes in scores for the monthly system are generally positive across the range of parameters. Above all, this upgrade marks a milestone towards the delivery of our Strategy to 2025. A key element of the Strategy is the commitment to achieve coherence between our different forecasts, and this is now done. The coupling with the ocean, now extended to the HRES, substantially improves tropical cyclone intensity forecasts. It is making all our forecasts fully coupled and delivers a seamless approach between all ranges and forecasts.

But the advances brought by this upgrade do not stop there. A new lightning flash density scheme will provide additional guidance for severe weather prediction. This new product, presented in this Newsletter, will offer forecasts of average lightning activity with useful skill up to several days ahead. A full review of the upgrade will be included in the next issue of the Newsletter.

Our activities with the EU are continuing to flourish, with several projects successfully coming to fruition and delivering to expectations. These include ERA-CLIM2 and EarthServer-2. A few more projects relating to our Scalability Programme have just been approved. They include ESCAPE-2, MAESTRO and EPIGRAM-HS, which will allow us to continue the ground-breaking work that is under way to make our codes scalable.

This quarter has also provided us with an opportunity to showcase the work we do as part of the EU’s Copernicus programme, at an event hosted by the European Parliament on 10 April. The event allowed us to highlight the synergies at the heart of the environmental sciences we cover, together with the progress achieved by the Copernicus Climate Change Service and the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service.

Finally, I wanted to touch on the Arctic Meteorological Summit hosted by Finland, which I attended and which was an opportunity to discuss the contributions that ECMWF is making to the Year of Polar Prediction. The Summit clearly highlighted the high level of collaboration already in place to enhance our Arctic monitoring capability, but also the urgent need to do more. Topics which were identified include the exchange of data and the need for a closer-knit working relationship between academia, meteorological services and polar experts. The APPLICATE workshop hosted at ECMWF in January 2019 will certainly give us more opportunities to discuss these topics.

Florence Rabier