ECMWF (European Centre for Medium-range Weather Forecasts)

ECMWF (the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts) is an independent intergovernmental organisation established in 1975. Belgium was one of the 18 founding members. In the meantime, many other countries have joined the Centre; currently ECMWF has 22 member states and 12 partner countries.

EMCWF's most prominent activity is the production and dissemination of global numerical weather prediction data to its Member States as a 24/7 operational service, but it is also very active in weather and climate research, and has gathered a massive catalogue of forecast data which can be purchased by businesses and commercial customers the world over. For its activities it makes use of one of the largest supercomputers of its kind in Europe. Moreover, 25% of the computer's processing capacity can be used by Member States for their own purposes.

ECMWF's core mission is to:

  • produce numerical weather forecasts and monitor the Earth-system;
  • carry out scientific and technical research to improve forecast skill;
  • maintain an archive of meteorological data.

To deliver this core mission, the Centre provides:

  • twice-daily global numerical weather forecasts; air quality analysis;
  • atmospheric composition monitoring;
  • climate monitoring;
  • ocean circulation analysis;
  • hydrological prediction.

ECMWF carries out medium-term weather forecasting using complex computer models and distributes these to its Member States.

The most recent observational data from meteorological satellites are used to forecast the evolution of the atmosphere.

Reliable medium-term weather forecasts meet the needs of transport, tourism, construction, agriculture, environmental management, the general public, etc.

Since 1995, long-term weather forecasting (seasonal forecasting) has also been carried out and is very important for drought and flood management (e.g. El Niño effect).

Belgium is represented at ECMWF by Royal Meteorological Institute and the Federal Science Policy Office.


ECMWF website


Pieter Rottiers
Space Research & Applications