User feedback helps shape ECMWF’s data services

Emma Pidduck, Umberto Modigliani, Fabio Venuti


ECMWF has seen a steady increase in the number of commercial, research and national meteorological and hydrological service (NMHS) data licences in the past three years, with a growing number of industries looking to use meteorological data in their services. A user survey conducted in the summer of 2017 is helping ECMWF to improve its services by increasing data volume limits and working on a new pricing tool.

The results of the survey identify use of ECMWF data in at least 26 different industries ranging from agriculture and forestry to aviation, shipping, and traffic management. The most widely serviced industries by commercial licence holders are the renewable energy, agriculture, and commodities trading industries. Indeed, ECMWF has observed a growing number of commercial companies undertaking research in renewable energy forecasting. ECMWF is also part of a collaborative research project with Envision Energy and the UK Met Office, which aims to improve wind power forecasting. Meanwhile, NMHS respondents said they use the data primarily in agriculture, aviation, and disaster management.

The high-resolution 10-day forecast (HRES) is a preferred dataset for 75% of participants in the survey overall and 90% of commercial participants. This is closely followed by the 15-day ensemble forecast (ENS), with 63% and 70% for all user responses and commercial customer responses, respectively.

Preferred datasets. User survey respondents were asked to select preferred datasets from a set list. The chart shows the most popular ones. Real-time datasets are marked with RT.

When asked about their primary reason for using ECMWF data, most users (both commercial and NMHS) indicated that the quality of the data was the number one reason, followed by the reputability of the source. Many users commented on the length of time that they have been using ECMWF data: “We have been using it for over a decade now because it is of good quality and from a reputable global producing centre.”

The survey sought to identify areas of improvement for the provision of ECMWF data, including services that users may wish to see in the future. One of the issues for commercial customers is the limit on the volume of data that is available with a licence. Additionally, users said that they would like to be able to generate their own quotes for data requirements using an online shopping application, the ability to access data at different height levels (meters above ground), and alternative data formats (e.g. netCDF). In response to these user requests, ECMWF has increased the volume cap, from 300 GB to 600 GB per day, and is developing a new pricing tool that will enable customers to generate their own prices. The tool will also streamline the licensing process for ECMWF and its Member States.

For more information on accessing ECMWF forecast data, please visit