ECMWF holds atmospheric composition training with ESA and EUMETSAT

Chris Stewart, Stijn Vermoote


Almost 790 participants from 107 countries registered for the third joint ECMWF, European Space Agency (ESA) and European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT) training in atmospheric composition from 6 to 17 December 2021. The event was chiefly organised by ECMWF and a format was chosen to accommodate a large number of participants from across the globe.

The leading role of ECMWF in the domain of atmospheric monitoring is reflected in the number of lecturers and trainers from ECMWF who contributed to the training. These include Anna Agusti-Panareda, Johannes Flemming, Chris Stewart, Miha Razinger, Antje Inness, Mark Parrington, Martin Suttie, Erik Andersson and Julia Wagemann.

Gabriele Pfister, an ECMWF Fellow from the US research centre UCAR/ NCAR, also contributed, as did many scientists from a wide variety of respected institutions. A large part of the training made use of data and services provided by the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS,, entrusted to ECMWF by the European Commission. We have recently entered the second phase of CAMS, paving the way for continued service delivery for the next seven years (2021–2027).

Training elements

The online training took place as a series of webinars distributed over two weeks. Each webinar began with a short icebreaker quiz, followed by morning lectures given by leading atmospheric composition scientists. The afternoons comprised demonstrations of how to process data from ECMWF, ESA and EUMETSAT, using free and open source tools in the form of Jupyter notebooks. At the end of each practical demonstration, participants were given assignments to complete in the days between the practical sessions. The results of these were discussed in dedicated sessions, and prizes were awarded for the best results.

The distributed programme, combined with the use of online tools for managing questions and sharing results, and the fact that all lectures and practical demonstrations were recorded and available on the course website soon after each session, enabled students to actively participate regardless of their time zone. The emphasis on the use of freely available data and tools made it possible to increase the level of participation, and to prepare students to directly apply what they learned in the real world without any need for costly environments or cumbersome installations.

Joint Training in Atmospheric Composition

While the course was open to all, the target audience included young scientists at PhD and post-doc level. Given that ECMWF led the organisation, the focus was on modelling, but other aspects of atmospheric composition were also included. The first day provided an introduction to atmospheric processes. The second and third days focused on modelling and observations respectively. The fourth day covered the service element of atmospheric composition monitoring and the ‘data value chain’ from services such as CAMS to downstream businesses. The last day focused on future developments in modelling, future satellite missions, and future services, including the development of a European CO2 monitoring and verification support capacity as part of CAMS.

Participants were given assignments each day, which were based on the practical sessions. These began with simply accessing CAMS data and analysing plots and animations of atmospheric composition events, such as wildfire activity, SO2 emissions from the Cumbre Vieja volcano, or dust transport across the Atlantic. Later assignments included calculating the Air Quality Index and applying averaging kernels to compare satellite observations with model data. The latter was done using the ADC Toolbox developed by Alba Vilanova as part of the ECMWF Summer of Weather Code (ESoWC) programme.

Value statements from participants

“Thank you for this amazing training. Probably the best one!”​

“Please continue using this online format that allows more young scientists to learn from the best.”​

“Thank you all very much for giving me a chance to attend this excellent course. I have learnt a lot.”​

“It was amazing. I gained so much I couldn’t even imagine when I was registering.”

“Please keep it up. It is very, very useful.”​

“I do not know who has been the visionary behind this training effort, but I wholeheartedly want to thank him/her.”​

Excellent feedback

The training received excellent evaluation from the participants. Eighty-three per cent gave the highest rating of 5 in their overall evaluation of the course. Many stated their intention to begin using for the first time, or more actively, the data, tools and services provided by the three organisations.

Taking advantage of the high participation rate, attendees were invited to complete a survey to capture information on their experience with ECMWF, ESA and EUMETSAT data and resources, their needs, and any suggestions they may have to help the three organisations better serve their respective user communities.

This was the third in a series of joint ECMWF, ESA and EUMETSAT trainings in atmospheric composition. Next year ESA will lead the organisation of the training, which will be more focused on satellite and in‑situ monitoring of atmospheric composition.

For more details on the training, and to view the recordings and presentation files, which are available for all lectures and practical sessions, please visit