ECMWF makes Integrated Forecasting System components open source

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The European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) has begun making its Integrated Forecasting System (IFS) available on an open-source basis to facilitate collaboration on the code.

Some of the code is already available on the internet via a GitHub space to host open-source IFS components. The merits of moving the full IFS forecast model to open source in the future will be reviewed this year in consultation with ECMWF’s member states.

The main aim of the move is enhanced collaboration. Removing restrictions on redistribution could make working with ECMWF more attractive to collaborators who wish to work with their partners. Contributing to open-source codes could also be more attractive to academic partners.

Another aim is greater efficiency. There currently is a mix of bespoke licenses and open-source material which is time-consuming to handle. Some journals also require open access to the codes used.

A third reason is to position ECMWF and its member states at the center of international efforts on emerging high-performance computing architectures. Making IFS code open source should encourage work on the IFS by computational science experts in academia and vendors.

The IFS GitHub space contains code released primarily to support pre-existing collaborations. While available to anyone, code in the IFS space is not generally supported. It currently contains the following elements:

  • ecRad: The first component to become available was the ecRad radiation package. This was previously available under a bespoke license but is now freely available under Apache‑2.
  • ecTrans: The parallel spectral transforms from the IFS have been extracted and adapted in a standalone form useful to collaborators.
  • FIAT: A subset of IFS auxiliary routines required by multiple other packages has been released as FIAT (Fortran IFS and Arpège Toolkit). It includes routines used in the IFS for tracing, timing, controlling precision, and parallel communication.
  • CLOUDSC: A standalone version of the cloud scheme from the IFS. It was extracted in the EU-funded ESCAPE project (2015–2018) and was previously available under an ESCAPE license.
  • CLOUDSC2: A new, simplified cloud microphysics scheme, including code to test the tangent-linear and adjoint versions of the scheme. Its purpose is to explore the impact of compiler optimizations and rounding behavior on the symmetry of tangent-linear and adjoint solutions.
  • ecBundle: The bundle management tool used to build the IFS and other apps. It downloads code including dependencies and allows architecture-specific configuration for builds.

Further components agreed to become open source soon are:

  • ecLand: This is the standalone land-surface scheme in the IFS, key to ongoing and future external collaborations, such as the addition of CaMa-Flood for hydrology modeling and EU-funded projects such as CoCO2, CONFESS and NextGEMS. Collaborations target developments on vegetation and photosynthesis modeling, urban tiles, snow and soil hydrology, and tight snow–ocean–sea-ice coupling.
  • ecWAM: This is the standalone wave model in the IFS, which will in future be even more tightly coupled to the IFS atmosphere, adopting the same grid. A crucial forthcoming activity is the GPU adaptation of ecWAM.
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, editor-in-chief

Dan first joined UKi Media & Events in 2014 having spent the early years of his career in the recruitment industry. As editor, he now produces content for Meteorological Technology International, unearthing the latest technological advances and research methods for the publication of each exciting new issue. When he’s not reporting on the latest meteorological news, Dan can be found on the golf course or apprehensively planning his next DIY project.

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