The European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts has announced that hundreds of its forecast charts will become free and accessible to all.
Medium-range, extended-range and long-range forecast charts of temperature, wind, precipitation, clouds and ocean waves are just some of the products that are becoming available. With ECMWF’s focus on ensemble prediction, charts also cover probability-based information, which provides a guide to forecast confidence. The likelihood of extreme conditions, as well as tropical and extratropical cyclone activity, are also included.
Up to now, full access to these forecast charts was restricted to national meteorological and hydrological services of ECMWF’s member and co-operating states, WMO members and commercial customers. Access was subject to a range of bespoke licenses and often incurred charges for customers. Only a few charts were freely available.
Making these charts free and open means that, not only is there no charge for the information, but users can also share, redistribute and adapt the information as they require, even for commercial applications, as long as they acknowledge the source as ECMWF. The charts are available under the Creative Commons license (CC-BY 4.0).
The changes also mean a move to an open data policy for historical information in ECMWF’s data repository – the Meteorological Archival and Retrieval System, or MARS. This repository contains hundreds of petabytes of data including recent and past forecasts, analyses, climatological data and research experiments; it represents the largest archive of such data in the world. Making this MARS data open will simplify and expand its use and, importantly, allow its re-use, thus stimulating further research and the development of applications related to weather and beyond.
“WMO welcomes this announcement at a time when it is reviewing its own data policy with the aim of making more data accessible to the global community. The greater availability of ECMWF data and products will be a strong incentive for greater data sharing by WMO members for global benefit,” said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas.