A new web portal for OpenIFS initial experiment data

Marcus Köhler, Paul Burton, Glenn Carver, Sylvie Lamy-Thépaut, Eduard Rosert, Krzysztof Ściubisz, Carlos Valiente, Milana Vučković


OpenIFS model users will soon have the possibility to create initial experiment data for their own forecast experiments. A new web application is being developed which will allow users to specify the requirements for their experiment and generate the model's initial data with a few clicks of the mouse.

New portal

For approximately ten years, the OpenIFS activity at ECMWF has provided a portable version of the Integrated Forecasting System (IFS) operational model to ECMWF Member State users and beyond. The OpenIFS model is used by licensed institutions for a wide range of research and training purposes. To carry out a forecast experiment, the OpenIFS model requires data for the initial conditions from which the experiment commences. Until now, this data has usually been created from the ERA reanalysis products, but it can also be based on operational analyses.

Producing such initial data on request for the model's user community is one of the routine tasks for the OpenIFS team at ECMWF. Due to the success of OpenIFS, its user community has continually expanded over the years with currently over 80 institutions holding an OpenIFS licence. The number of requests for initial experiment data has increased correspondingly.

Data selection form. An early preview of some of the web interface for OpenIFS initial data requests.

The new web application puts the user in the driving seat and will remove the need to contact OpenIFS support with a request for initial data. ECMWF scientists from the IFS section and the web development team are developing the new facility. It produces the initial data at the user's request from an easy-to-use web-based data request form. Once the data has been generated, the user will be informed via email and provided with a download web link.

In its first release, the web portal will be able to generate initial data for deterministic forecasts, for single and multiple start dates, for OpenIFS 43r3 only. When new OpenIFS versions are released, the portal will be updated to support them. Initial data is based on the ERA5 reanalysis. It can be requested for either linear reduced or cubic octahedral model grids at all spectral resolutions that are supported by the corresponding IFS cycle, up to the operational resolution. Ensemble initial data (using the Ensemble of Data Assimilations) will not be available initially. At its release, the system will be operational on the ECMWF high-performance computing facility in Reading but will later be moved to the new data centre in Bologna with minimal interruption to the user.


This new facility provides a consistent and traceable method to produce accurate initial experiment data in the same way ECMWF prepares experiment data for internal IFS forecasts. As an automated system, it will be available 24/7 (subject to maintenance). It also frees up time for the OpenIFS team to deal with other user support queries. It has been designed with expandability in mind, towards building an OpenIFS data web site. This will allow users to easily find and access data for tutorials, exercises, case studies, relaxation files for nudged experiments, and other OpenIFS-related data products from the single site.

We expect the capability to generate initial experiment data to become publicly available to OpenIFS users before the end of 2021.