ECMWF to join NERC and UK Met Office at the University of Reading

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The European Centre for Medium-range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) is to move to a new state-of-the-art headquarters at the University of Reading’s Whiteknights campus.

In its new position, the ECMWF will be adjacent to the university’s department of meteorology which also houses parts of the UK Met Office, NERC National Centre for Atmospheric Sciences and NERC National Centre for Earth Observation. The plans to move the headquarters were agreed at a meeting of the ECMWF’s governing council earlier this month (December 2021). Currently, the headquarters are located around a mile away on Shinfield Road, Reading.

The new headquarters for ECMWF will be fully funded by the UK government through the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. Subject to planning, the international headquarters building will have a prominent location at the Earley Gate entrance to the Whiteknights campus, replacing the university’s school of art.

The new building’s weather-inspired facade will be flanked by flags representing the member nations of the ECMWF Council. It will sit in a landscaped setting, with a design that takes inspiration from ECMWF’s research and operations. Key internal features, such as the weather room, council chamber and atrium staircases, are designed to reflect further themes around weather forecasting and environmental science.

George Freeman, UK science minister, said, “UK scientists in the British Antarctic Survey discovered the hole in the ozone layer and we are now leading in the science of climate mitigation. We want the UK to lead in climate research and are proud to continue to host the ECMWF headquarters at the University of Reading.

“By investing in this crucial cluster of scientists, we are using UK science for global good to understand our climate and help us build back better from the pandemic. The UK and the ECMWF have worked hand in hand for well over four decades and we look forward to continuing our work with them at the highest levels of weather and climate science.”

Dr Florence Rabier, director-general of ECMWF, said, “This is a very positive result for ECMWF, paving the way for a new headquarters building with sustainability at its core. We are grateful to the UK government and the University of Reading for their thoughtful and thorough proposal and to all of our member states for their support in approving it.”

Prof. Robert Van de Noort, the vice-chancellor of the University of Reading, said, “ECMWF and the university have worked closely together on cutting-edge science for decades and have become known as leading institutions in the fields of weather and climate. I am thrilled that, through the agreement between the UK government and ECMWF, we will be able to build on this success at a time when a greater scientific understanding of the Earth’s changing weather and its impacts is more important than ever.”

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