Working together to minimise the impact of Covid-19

Working together to minimise the impact of Covid-19


National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHS) operate a number of in-situ observing systems in order to feed in-situ data into Numerical Weather Prediction systems. The data produced by what we call the European Composite Observing System (EUCOS) is also used for situational awareness of forecasters (e.g. warning/advisory production, aviation) and climate applications.

EUMETNET’s Observation Programme coordinates EUCOS across all domains that span from research to operations. It also includes a comprehensive performance monitoring tool for the ground-based, shipborne or aircraft-based observing systems operated by the NMHS that form its membership.

The hardest hit by the COVID-19 situation are clearly aircraft-based observations. We have seen a severe drop (-78%) of what are known as AMDAR reports in which reliable and high-quality wind and temperature in-situ data from the atmosphere are produced. When well distributed spatially, AMDARs represent a significant contribution to numerical model performance. The number of AMDAR reports has plunged in proportion to the drop in the number of aircraft that are still flying.

Fig. 1 AMDAR data stats through May 4th 2020.

The COVID-19 situation has also created other shortcomings and increased the risk of other types of data gaps should the situation last. Although most ground-based weather stations or moored buoys are automatic, maintaining them requires engineering e.g. people that can travel on-site regularly and working calibration labs.

Drifting buoys have an average lifespan of 18 months but require people and ships to deploy them regularly. Some older generation ship-borne measuring systems require shipmates to operate them. If less of these ships are plying, less data is produced in the Atlantic and the data sparse Arctic.

Moreover, a lot of the data provided by in-situ systems requires several stages of quality control. If some can be automated, a lot requires manual intervention from staff that may not be able to telework with the same capacities as usual.

EUMETNET Members are coordinating efforts to mitigate some of these risks.

Responding to the reduction in aircraft data, EUMETNET is coordinating an enhanced programme of radiosonde launches across Europe.  Many NMHS have agreed to increase the number of radio-soundings they make each day which has been widely appreciated by global NWP centres. Radiosondes provide very high-quality observations of temperature, wind and humidity as they ascend from the ground to an altitude that can exceed 35km (~115,000 feet). Although relatively few in number compared to the huge quantities of data obtained from meteorological satellites, they are highly complementary and continue to be one of the most valuable sources of weather data.

Another response thread consists of accelerating the expansion to a wider geographical area of a novel system initially funded by the EU’s SESAR programme. The system derives Air Traffic Management aircraft transponder data in order to calculate wind and temperature through ‘big data’ algorithms and bias corrections. Although few aircraft are flying, the volume of processed data is 2 orders of magnitude higher than the traditional AMDAR sensor data.

The sharing of such resources and implementing solutions is at the core of the cooperative spirit that must prevail when facing hard times.


WMO Press release regarding the impact of Covid-19 on observing systems




EUROCONTROL’s Network Manager


The European aviation industry is highly susceptible to the impacts of weather. EUMETNET’s members are coordinating on a collaborative planning forecast for EUROCONTROL’s Network Manager to try and mitigate some of the impacts that convective weather can have on the European Network.

One of the challenges faced by air traffic controllers is that they only have awareness of air traffic in their state, there is no overarching network view of the traffic movements in Europe. The aim of Network Manager is to have a cross border view of the weather and air traffic flows and assist the air traffic organisation in the expanded domain to keep traffic moving, reducing delays and congestion.

Further information can be found on the EUROCONTROL website

ECMWF Webinars


ECMWF is organising a series of seminars given by international experts to explore aspects of the use of machine learning in weather prediction and climate studies. See below for further details:

Seminars to probe potential for machine learning in weather prediction


Supporting SESAR Deployment


EUMETNET Members participate in four SESAR Deployment Implementation Projects and supports the SESAR Deployment Manager.

For further information see the press release and the statement delivered on Twitter:

Process of automatic pollen counting


The hayfever radar website has an interesting and explanatory article about the process of automatic pollen counting.

It links back to our Autopollen Programme.

European Nowcasting Conference (ENC) 2019


ENC 2019

27 May 2019

3rd European Nowcasting Conference
24-26 April 2019
AEMET, Madrid

The third European Nowcasting Conference took place in Madrid from 24 to 26 April 2019, and was attended by around 100 participants from 22 countries (Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Russia, Singapore, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States), representing National Meteorological and Hydrological Services, universities/research institutes and the commercial sector. They presented their latest findings on observations, seamless prediction, nowcasting techniques and systems, verification and user aspects. Different methods of warning procedures were presented, the potential of artificial neural networks was examined (e.g. concerning the evolution of thunderstorms), and new approaches for forecast uncertainty estimates were investigated. Besides the many excellent presentations, there was room for discussions during dedicated time slots at the end of each session and during poster sessions.

To see all the posters and presentations of the conference please click here.

Book of abstracts

Conference programme

E-SURFMAR – 2018 A year in review



This animation shows the weather and surface marine observations over the Europe-Atlantic area for the year 2018.

Each of the 24 frames per second shows, for a given date and hour, contours of 6-hour averages of mean-sea-level pressure from ERA5 (generated using Copernicus Climate Change Service information 2019), as well as locations of all observations from buoys or ships or fixed platforms received within +/- 12 hours.


EMS Session on SRNWP


Find out more about the SRWNP session that will take place at the annual EMS meeting in Copenhagen.


Weekend storm animation


During the weekend of 26-27 January 2019, a deep cyclone passed across  British Isles and Ireland, over the North Sea and into central Europe.  It caused severe winds across the British Isles, Ireland, parts of France, BeNeLux and France. This OPERA animation shows the showers and precipitation bands.