Special Projects are defined as 'experiments or investigations of a scientific or technical nature, undertaken by one or more Member States, likely to be of interest to the general scientific community'.

Users within one of ECMWF's Member States may apply for resources as a Special Project. This possibility is particularly, but not exclusively, suitable for projects which are undertaken in co-operation between several institutions, nationally or internationally. The decision to treat a project request as a Special Project application is made ultimately by the Director of the national meteorological service of the project's Principal Investigator. Internal procedures will, however, depend on the national meteorological service.

European organisations with which ECMWF has concluded Co-operation Agreements may apply for resources for a Special Project, such a request to be considered by the Director-General of ECMWF.

To get an idea of the kind of research which has been approved as Special Projects, please refer to the table of active Special Projects.

Computing resources available to Special Projects

The allocation of computing resources is decided by the ECMWF Council. The Council guidelines on distribution of computer resources  currently state that a maximum of 10% of the computing resources available to Member States may be allocated to Special Projects. 20% of that 10% is set aside as a reserve for allocation by ECMWF directly (following consultation with the Chairmen of the Technical Advisory Committee and the Scientific Advisory Committee) either to late applicants or to projects which have exhausted their allocation before the end of the year.

The total resources available for allocation to Special Projects in 2017 are estimated to

million units
Data Storage:

of which the following reserve is set aside for later allocation

million units
Data Storage:

Estimating your resource requirements

HPCF System Billing Units (SBU) are currently based on the total elapsed time of physical CPUs used. For more information please refer to our HPCF accounting documentation.

Your Computing Representative may be able to advise you on the amount of resources you should apply for or (s)he may suggest that you contact your Member State's User Support contact point at ECMWF for advice.

Special Projects - how to apply

A form 'Request for a Special Project' should be completed and sent to ECMWF via the appropriate national meteorological service Director. If possible, you should submit the form to reach ECMWF by 30 June of the year preceding the year in which you wish to begin work on the project. Your request will be reviewed, along with all the other Special Project requests, by the Scientific Advisory Committee and Technical Advisory Committee and finally approved (or not) by the ECMWF Council at its December session in the same year (see the "Guidelines for handling applications for computing resources for Special Projects").

If you miss the 30 June deadline, you should apply as soon as you can: you may be eligible to receive resources from the 20% of Special Project resources which are set aside as a reserve specifically for ad hoc allocation. To submit a late request via your national meteorological service please use the form provided.

If you wish to make any changes to a previously agreed Special Project, you should submit an updated request to reach ECMWF before 30 June. If you ask for more resources than initially allocated, the allocation granted will be subject to their availability and evaluation of your progress report.

Procedure for the handling of applications

Due to the oversubscription of computing resources available to Special Projects, the following procedure for the handling of applications from Member States for computer time for Special Projects has been agreed.

  • Each project will have a well defined duration, up to a maximum of three years, agreed at the beginning of the project.
    • The amount of resources requested by each project for each year cannot exceed more than 8% of the total amount of resources available for that year. For 2017 these limits are

      million units
      Data Storage:
  • To avoid accepted Special Project requests needing reduction by more than 20%, some Special Projects requesting large amounts of computing resources may not be accepted.

Applying for additional resources for an existing project

Should you exhaust your resource allocation before the year's end, you can, at any time, apply for an allocation from any resources remaining in the reserve. Please note that a relatively large request for additional resources might trigger a more thorough evaluation of your project. To apply for additional resources, please use the form provided.

Progress and final reports

ECMWF expects to receive annual progress reports by 30 June each year and a final report by 30 June in the year following the end of a Special Project. Both final reports and annual progress reports will be published on the ECMWF website and taken into consideration by the Scientific Advisory Committee for the evaluation of any new Special Project application from a Principal Investigator or from members of the same project/working group.

For your reports please use the progress report template and final report template.


To acknowledge the resources provided by ECMWF, e.g. the following text or variations on it could be used:

"Acknowledgement is made for the use of ECMWF's computing and archive facilities in this research."