Humidity measurements



This map is updated every day at 00:01 UTC and displays yesterdays´ humidity measurements from E-AMDAR aircraft over Europe. The coloring indicate different pressure altitudes (turquoise = high levels, red = near ground).

Global E-AMDAR data distribution



This map is updated every day at 00:01 UTC and displays yesterdays´ global E-AMDAR data distribution. The coloring indicate different pressure altitudes (turquoise = high levels, red = near ground).




Programme Management




The objectives of the EUMETNET Observations Programme Management are:

– To design and coordinate the evolution of the ground based EUMETNET Composite Observing System (EUCOS) to be optimized on a European scale with a view to improving short range forecasting and climate monitoring over Europe without increasing the overall cost, in line with the EUMETNET Strategy defined by the Assembly;

– To monitor and control EUCOS performance;

– To ensure effective management for the fully integrated components E-ABO, E-ASAP, E-GVAP, E-PROFILE,  E-SURFMAR and OPERA;

– To support Member State activities to design, coordinate and operate networks to support general forecasting, including kilometre-scale NWP, and climate monitoring and to facilitating international collaboration (e.g. through the facilitation of information exchange and multi-lateral discussions);

– To provide representation on observational matters on behalf of and supporting the interests of EUMETNET Members within international fora including those relating to WMO and GMES;

– To support the evolution of European and national network design through a studies programme.

  • "optimisation of EUCOS on a European scale"

The tasks

– Organising two meetings a year with the Operational Service Managers and Project Managers of the Observations Programme,

– Coordinating activities, monitoring progress, work plans, requirements tracker, risk register etc.

– Produce common Observations Programme mid-year reports to STAC, PFAC and Assembly.

– Work with the EUMETNET Secretariat to ensure that the programme budget proposals for the Observations Programme and integrated Operational Services are delivered in line with the EUMETNET EIG budget and business planning cycle in the Financial Rules.


The requirements

Coordinate the Observation Programme and the Observation Operational Services and Projects according to the tasks given in the programme decisions of the individual services and projects by:

– Identify issues and prepare supporting information for decisions within the Observations programme that have to be referred to STAC and/or PFAC.

– Prepare statements on proposals for new operational services, projects or activities within the Programme.

– Represent EUMETNET at meetings of the Observation Programme Managers.

– Represent EUMETNET at international Conferences/Meetings.

– Represent the Observation Programme at STAC, PFAC and /or Assembly, if necessary.

– Coordinate and lead strategic roadmap development in the Observations Programme.

– Interact with and ‘light’ coordination of STAC Working Group activities (example: WG-INS). Usually those WGs should work independently.

– End of Phase reviews of Observation Programme.

The organisation

The current phase of the Programme started in January 2019 and will last until the end of 2023.The Coordinating Member is the UK Met Office. The Programme Manager is Jacqueline Sugier. The Observations Programme Management Team is comprised of three staff members.

The Observations Programme Management Team is advised by the Observations Programme Advisory Group and the Observations Scientific Expert Team.

The overall structure of the Obs Programme can be found here.

More information


EUCOS is the ground-based or non-satellite observing system designed for EUMETNET Members to serve the needs of the EUMETNET Forecasting (incl. general numerical weather prediction) and Climate Programmes and those of the Members over Europe.

Data is provided from several observing networks of all National Meteorological (and Hydrological) Services (NMHS) participating in EUMETNET. The data are collected within the EUCOS area 10°N – 90°N, 70°W – 40°E.

The EUMETNET Observations Programme Management Team is responsible for the EUCOS co-ordination. One of the main deliverables is to provide statistics summarising the performance of each component of the network, which now comprises of:

– All European ASAP ships (ASAP = Automated Shipboard Aerological Programme)
– All European AMDAR aircraft (AMDAR = Aircraft Meteorological Data Relay Programme)
– Selected European radiosonde stations
– Selected surface synoptic stations
– European VOS ships (VOS = Voluntary Observing Ships)
– Selected moored and drifting buoys
– Selected European wind profilers and weather radars
– Selected GNSS sites providing GPS delay and water vapour measurements.

The co-ordination of the data acquisition is on the one hand within the responsibility of the Observations Programme Management Team – such as the co-ordination of the surface synoptic stations and the radiosonde stations. On the other hand the Observations Programme Management Team is supported by programme components which are co-ordinated by Operational Service Managers or Project Managers. The operational services and projects are:

– E-AMDAR (data acquisition from AMDAR aircraft)
– E-ASAP (data acquisition from ASAP ships)
– E-GVAP (data acquisition of European GPS delay and water vapour measurements)
– E-PROFILE (data acquisition from European wind profilers and weather radars and work on establishing a data exchange of Lidar/Ceilometer measurements for the purpose of volcanic ash monitoring)
– E-SURFMAR (data acquisition from European VOS ships and buoys)
– OPERA (data acquisition of European weather radar data to provide European weather radar composite products).

Studies Programme

The operational part of the Observations Programme will be steadily improved by considering experience gained from operations and specifically by taking into account the results of a dedicated studies programme. Changes in networks should be based on scientific analyses and therefore the EUMETNET Observations Programme launched several data impact studies in the past. A selection of completed studies is briefly described on the bottom of this page.
Data impact studies usually comprise of a set of observing system experiments (OSE) or similar NWP experiments which are run to assess the impact of different observing systems on NWP forecast skill. NWP groups of NMHSs or ECMWF conduct the studies and the Observations Programme works as an interface between data users and providers.
Eventually recommendations are derived from the data impact studies which shall give guidance on how to (re)design the EUCOS in order to better meet the user requirements.

Planned studies in the Programme phase 2013-2018

In the current programme phase new findings from recently developed ‘Forecast Sensitivity to Observations Impacts’ (FSOI) tools or classical Observing System Experiments (OSEs) will help to define the contributions made by the various components of the terrestrial composite observing system. It will also be vital to take into account the increasingly important contribution made by the space segment, therefore the EUCOS network must be designed to best complement the operational space segment, and this should be an ongoing process.

·       The study on the impact of humidity observations reported from aircraft is one of the major issues to cope with in the current programme phase. In parallel a general FSO study which shall assess the impact of all EUCOS networks will be prepared. Outcomes of this study will be the basis for any EUCOS redesign considerations.

·       Taking into account especially results from the second Space-Terrestrial Study a new set of scenarios for OSEs will be proposed, which shall help to determine the impact of 10 and 20% reductions or increases in the budgets of the expensive ground-based observing platforms: E-AMDAR, E-ASAP and national radiosonde networks.

·       Taking into account that EUMETNET is going to significantly increase its efforts to create high quality Radar data and products via its OPERA programme, a first combined FSO/OSE impact study for kilometre-scale models will be initiated which will look into the impact of spatially and temporarily highly resolved observations like Radar observations. Special emphasis will also be given to other observing platforms with high temporal resolution like wind profilers, E-GVAP and E-AMDAR.

Selection of Studies of the Programme phase 2007-2012

Space Terrestrial Study

A joint study between EUCOS, EUMETSAT, ECMWF and a number of NMHSs had been conducted in 2006/2007 to better understand the impact of the various components of the full space-based and terrestrial observing system on the performance of regional NWP in the 1 to 6 day forecast range.

Forecast Error Contribution for different observing types; copied from 2nd Space Terrestrial Study ECMWF Final Report.

Upper-Air Network Redesign study

The main objective for the Upper-Air Network Redesign study was the definition of a European-wide network of ground-based upper-air observing systems whose configuration and setting is based on scientific analyses. The S-T study had shown that despite of all the additional new satellite observations, the degrading of the current terrestrial observing system to a basic network would have a significant negative impact on the forecast skill.


Horizontal distribution and vertical histogram (relative frequency) of European AMDAR profiles below flight level as used in baseline scenario in a typical 4DVAR window; copied from Upper-Air Network Redesign Observing System Experiment ECMWF Final Report

Data Targeting System (DTS)

The aim of data targeting is to deliver additional observations when and where they will be most beneficial to subsequent forecasts. The locations, “sensitive areas”, will vary from day to day and the supplementary observations will be most valuable if they help reduce uncertainty in cases of potential high-impact weather. A full trial of the DTS took place three times. For the EURORISK/PREVIEW project between February and December 2008, for the DTS-MEDEX-2009 campaign between September and December 2009 and for the HyMeX campaign between September and November 2012. Extra observations were requested from available E-AMDAR (commercial aircraft), E-ASAP (ships) and EUMETNET Members’ radiosonde stations in the target areas. All additional observations were available on the GTS and could be used in forecast models.

Example of ECMWF DTS Extra Observations Proposal for 05/10/2008

Programme Evolution

The EUCOS Operational Programme was established on 1st January 2002, based on recommendations resulting from the EUCOS Implementation Programme managed by Météo-France, which started in 1999 and ended on 31st December 2001. It aimed to establish and operate a truly European observing network under the auspices of the European Meteorological Network (EUMETNET), to deliver increased efficiency, leading to better-quality numerical and general forecasts, initially on a European scale.

EUCOS Operational Programme 2001-2006
Since 2002 the EUMETNET Composite Observing System (EUCOS) was being developed from the planning phase to an operational programme as an integrated terrestrial observing system for Europe serving the needs of regional numerical weather prediction. EUCOS has evolved rapidly by active co-operation and support of all the members of EUMETNET. In the period 2002 till 2006 the UK Met Office was responsible member of the EUCOS Operational Programme.
2002 saw the establishment of EUCOS as an ‘operational’ network with agreed performance standards, fault reporting and change control mechanisms. Monitoring of overall network performance began in earnest in 2003 and quickly revealed areas for improvement. At the same time major parts of the Studies Programme were implemented including:

  • the High Frequency AMDAR trial (HF AMDAR)
  • the Atlantic THORPEX Regional Campaign (A-TREC)


The first study confirmed the surfeit of upper air data across central Europe and indicated that benefits from sub 3 hourly sampled AMDAR profiles would only be obtained in the more outlying, data sparse zones such as northern Scandinavia, the Mediterranean and the Iberian Peninsula.

The second study was designed to help address the definition of a targeted observations programme for Europe to improve regional NWP skill, especially concerning high impact weather events. Small positive impacts on forecast quality were generally obtained but it was clear that further research effort is needed to fully define a targeted terrestrial observing system. This work continued under the EU GMES EURORISK-PREVIEW Programme in which EUCOS was responsible for developing improved methodologies for meteorological observations targeting and conducting a demonstration of capability in 2008.

The E-SURFMAR programme was established during 2003 as an optional element supported by 15 countries on the basis of a detailed programme proposal. This was followed by a comprehensive design study which was accepted at the autumn 2004 EUMETNET Council meeting. The E-SURFMAR Programme has seen significant reorganisation in the management of marine observing programmes within Europe.

EUCOS Operational Programme 2007-2011 (prolonged to 2012)

The EUMETNET Composite Observing System (EUCOS) has been developed as a comprehensive and integrated terrestrial observing system for Europe serving the needs of regional numerical weather prediction (NWP). Already in the programme phase 2002-2006 it was clear that in the long term the remit of the programme may be extended to other application areas such as short range forecasting, nowcasting or even climate monitoring, but for the programme phase 2007-2012 the focus remained on meeting the needs of regional NWP.

The discussion planning the programme phase 2007-2012 for EUCOS started at the specially convened PB-OBS workshop in Dublin, November 2004. Given the fact that results from the Studies Programme were not available before mid 2007, a two stage approach was accepted for the programme 2007-2012. In order to achieve the programmatic targets set in, this programme phase was split into two parts.

In January 2007 the Deutscher Wetterdienst (DWD) took over the responsibility of the EUCOS Programme Management. To achieve the programmatic targets it was furthermore necessary to develop the EUCOS infrastructure by:

  • operating and improving the EUCOS information system;
  • revising quality monitoring requirements and improving the reliability of some of the existing important radiosonde and surface synoptic stations in co-operation with the national contact points;
  • delivering a timely flow of EUCOS funds from participants to the various components of the programme.


Within the programme phase 2007-2012 DWD launched and operated a new EUCOS Quality Monitoring Portal (QMP) and initiated and monitored scientific studies like the ‘Upper-Air Network Redesign Study’ or the ‘2nd Space-Terrestrial Study’. In collaboration with the programme component E-AMDAR the addition of humidity measurements on AMDAR aircraft was initiated with high priority. A second space terrestrial study investigating the benefit of the expected additional satellite data from METOP and the improvements in data assimilation schemes has also been initiated by the EUCOS Team. Further the EUCOS Team continued to operationally integrate data from WINPROF, OPERA-III and E-GVAP and the requirements for a central data hub with high availability were exploited.

Due to the transition of EUMETNET into the new legal body ‘EIG EUMETNET’ the operational EUCOS Programme phase was prolonged to 2012.

In the period 2010-2012 the EUCOS Team contributed to the evolution of the EUMETNET Observation capability area by proposing new activities or by supporting the development of the EUMETNET Observations Roadmap 2012-2020. Thereby the EUCOS Team responded to the growing interest of Members to include requirements from many different data users (e.g. general NWP, Climate and Nowcasting), to extend the remit of the programme beyond regional NWP and to show benefits for the Members. The EUCOS Team led the drafting of the Observation Requirements for the new programme phase 2013-2017 on which the call for tenders for the next programme phase 2013-2017 was based.

DWD successfully applied again to be Coordinating Member of the current Observations Programme phase 2013-2017 (prolonged to 2018).

Quality Monitoring

One of the major tasks of the Observations Programme Management Team is to ensure the delivery of quality assured data by operating several web-based automated tools to monitor the performance of the EUCOS networks and to perform active quality control of the EUCOS and Members’ observing networks by regularly monitoring of data availability, timeliness and accuracy.

Following defined fault recognition and escalation procedures the Observations Programme Management Team raises fault reports in case of failures or outages of observing systems, contacts national focal points or Operational Service/Project Managers and coordinates tasks to solve the issues. Further the Observations Programme Management Team provides quarterly and annual reports on quality monitoring issues for all EUCOS networks.

The performances of designated EUCOS stations are compared against targets on data availability, timeliness and accuracy defined in the ‘EUCOS Performance Standards’. These Performance Standards have to be revised in order to take into account new requirements of EUMETNET’s Forecasting and Climate Programmes and new emerging needs from NWP in the programme phase 2013-2018.

Initial integration of GUAN and GSN station lists into the existing EUMETNET EUCOS RA VI Quality Monitoring Portal and associated procedures and programmes.

In coordination with the GCOS Network Manager the station lists of GUAN and GSN stations to be monitored in the EUMETNET RA VI Quality Monitoring Portal were defined in summer 2015. To distinguish between the quality monitoring statistics of Regional Association VI (Europe) and the global GCOS quality monitoring a selection function was implemented to allow the users to select the area / network of interest. Furthermore it was decided to rename the RA VI QMP into ‘WMO Quality Monitoring Portal’. The release of the new WMO Quality Monitoring Portal containing the GCOS quality monitoring statistics went online under https://eucos.dwd.de on 9th November 2015. Thus, the initial integration of GUAN and GSN stations into the quality monitoring portals operated by EUMETNET was finalized end of 2015 and quality monitoring statistics are available back to July 2015 at present.


Radiosonde Stations

The EUCOS territorial segment comprises of selected radiosonde and surface stations operated by members. The EUCOS upper-air network includes those radiosonde stations necessary to meet the requirements of Regional NWP over Europe. Results from the EUCOS studies of the programme phase 2002-2006 have led to a network comprising of 50 stations, data from which should be complemented by approximately 750 AMDAR profiles per day by 2006. Following the recommendations of the Upper-Air Network Redesign Study the EUCOS upper-air network has been revised in 2010 and consists of 93 stations since then.

The Observations Programme Management Team monitors the performance of the designated EUCOS radiosonde stations on a regular basis and contacts the operating Members in case of failures and outages. Within the current programme phase the EUCOS radiosonde station network might be revised according to new user requirements from km-scale modelling, nowcasting and climate monitoring.

Surface Land Stations

The EUCOS territorial segment comprises of selected radiosonde and surface stations operated by members. The EUCOS surface land station network comprised of 210 manual and automatic stations since 2006 satisfying the main user requirements from general forecasting and NWP. The central monitoring of the EUCOS surface land stations aims at improving data quality, network reliability, and data timeliness. An evenly-spaced network has been selected with an average spacing of not more than 250 km. Priority has been given to stations collocated with EUCOS upper-air sites, and additional surface stations were selected around the Alps and Pyrenees as well as Azores, Canary Islands, Iceland and Greenland.

In 2010 the EUCOS surface land station network has been updated to close gaps within the network and to allow the new member countries Croatia, Estonia, Slovenia, Poland and Serbia to introduce surface land stations to the EUCOS network. It was agreed in 2009 to harmonize the EUCOS surface land station network with the requirements of climatology. At its meeting in March 2010, the ECSN (European Climate Support Network) Advisory Committee (EAC) has developed a roadmap for embedding climate requirements into the EUCOS surface land station network. EAC has set up a working group to develop the design of ESCLSN, the EUCOS surface climate land station network in cooperation with the EUCOS Team.

The Observations Programme Management Team monitors the performance of the designated EUCOS surface land stations on a regular basis and contacts the operating Members in case of failures and outages.

Within the current programme phase the EUCOS surface land station network might be revised according to new user requirements from km-scale modelling, nowcasting and climate monitoring. The updated EUCOS surface land station network 2013 consists of 268 synoptic stations (see map below).





The purpose of E-GVAP is to provide for EUMETNET members ground-based GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) Zenith Total Delay (ZTD) estimates in near real-time (NRT) for use in operational meteorology.  As ZTD is sensitive to water vapour E-GVAP provides additional water vapour information to weather models and meteorologists in Europe and beyond.  That´s important, since water vapour is a key constituent in many weather phenomena, and varies strongly in both space and time. Water vapour is “under observed”. E-GVAP is helping to fill that gap.

  • water vapour data from Navigation Satellite Systems

The tasks

The main task of E-GVAP is first of all to provide GNSS ZTD data in NRT for usage in operational numerical weather prediction (NWP) models and for usage by forecasters.

Secondly E-GVAP is to expand the GNSS network contributing to meteorology. Mainly as regards inclusion of new regions, but also as regards densification in regions.

Thirdly E-GVAP is to help its members using ground-based GNSS data in their operations, which is done by sharing of results and howto´s from successful users.

Also E-GVAP is to follow the development in ground-based GNSS meteorology, where several new techniques are emerging and gradually maturing, such as estimation and use of ZTD gradients, Slant Total Delays (STDs) and 3D water vapour from tomography. In the future they will lead to much more humidity information from the same number of GNSS receivers.

The requirements

 Requirements are set both with respect to timeliness and precision of the E-GVAP ZTD data.

The EUCOS QMP monitors timeliness and precision of E-GVAP data in a similar fashion to the monitoring of other EUMETNET Obs Programme data.

E-GVAP itself, as well as many of the analysis centres, performs  more detailed monitoring. Part of the E-GVAP monitoring can be seen at http://egvap.dmi.dk select entry “validation”.

Other parts require access to the E-GVAP ftp server.


The organisation

The current programme phase will last to the end of 2023. The Danish Meteorological Institute (DMI) has been the coordinating member since 2005. The programme itself is run in a collaboration between DMI, the UK Met Office and the Royal Dutch Meteorological Office (KNMI). The programme manager is Dr. Henrik Vedel, DMI.

The real base of the programme is a tight collaboration between geodesy and meteorology. The vast majority of the raw GNSS data used E-GVAP come from geodetic institutes and private GNSS companies. The majority of the GNSS data processing is done at geodetic institutions and universities, but also at a few met offices.  

As several members run global weather models, and there is currently no global organisation of ZTD exchange, some E-GVAP analysis centres process also global GNSS data, and E-GVAP is expanding its collaboration with analysis centres outside Europe.


More information

History & Status

GNSS meteorology explained

Review of the state of the art and future prospects of the ground-based GNSS meteorology in Europe:


(to be completed)

Participating GNSS analysis centres





Coordinate, optimize, and progressively integrate European activities for surface observations over the sea in support of Numerical Weather Prediction and climate.

  • "Surface marine observations globally account for 3.5% of the total error reduction on Day 1 forecasts achieved by all types of observation ingested in real-time by NWP models*."

The tasks

– Surface drifter operations
– Data buoys coordination
– Automated VOS coordination and development
– Conventional VOS coordination and development
– Marine data processing
– Quality assurance
– Capacity building and knowledge transfer
– Management

The requirements

– Maintain an operational network of drifting buoys measuring air pressure and sea surface temperature in the North Atlantic, Tropical Atlantic, and Arctic, with data made available in real time onto the Global Telecommunication System of WMO, and reach a sustained network size of 150 operating units.
– Support financially and technically the moored buoys operated by programme participants or national partners.
– Support the activities of Voluntary Observing Ships (VOS) through technical developments, better coordination and harmonisation of practices, and compensation of participating members for the observations and the communications related to this component.

The organisation

The Coordinating Member for this optional programme is Météo-France and its Manager is Paul Poli. Météo-France delivers the programme in partnership with KNMI.

An Expert Team is organized within the programme, bringing together international participants. Their roles include formulating recommendations, assigning priorities, tackling common issues, arbitrating between development options.

Work on data quality is supported by a dedicated web resource: http://esurfmar.meteo.fr/qctools/


*Estimates are based on ECMWF Operations observation feedback for all observations assimilated between May 2015 and June 2016, considering the first day of each month.

More information

History & Status


The Operational Service was established during 2003 as an optional element of the EUMETNET Observation Programme (previously called EUCOS), on the basis of a detailed Operational Service proposal.

Supported by 15 countries, it had been initially defined with a period of four years divided into two stages of two years each under the responsibility of Meteo France-France. During stage 1 (2003-2004), a comprehensive design study was carried out and given to the EUMETNET Council. This study was accepted by the EUMETNET Council in September 2004. Stage 2 (2005-2006) mainly consisted in the implementation of the designed network.

In 2006, the Council renewed its confidence in Meteo France to manage the Operational Service during its next phase (2007-2011). Like other Operational Services, this phase was extended to one year (2012).

In November 2012, the EUMETNET EIG Assembly decided to continue the E-SURFMAR Operational Service for 5 years from the 1st January 2013 to the 31st December 2017, under the responsibility of Meteo-France, and the programme was extended for another year, until 31st December 2018.

In November 2018, the EUMETNET EIG Assembly decided that E-SURFMAR continues as an Optional Programme, to be delivered by Météo-France and KNMI.

Since its creation, the E-SURFMAR Operational Service has seen significant reorganisation in the management of marine observing programmes within Europe:

– the COSNA group (Composite Observing System for the North Atlantic) was disbanded in August 2003;

– a VOS Technical Advisory Group (VOS-TAG) was established in September 2003. Before its forming, no forum or organisation actually existed in Europe to co-ordinate technical and operational strategies for European voluntary observing ships;

– the European Group on Ocean Stations (EGOS) reformed as the Data Buoy Technical Advisory Group (DB-TAG) of the E-SURFMAR Operational Service in January 2005. A Data Buoy manager was appointed by the EUMETNET Council (Meteo France responsibility);

– an integrated fleet of AWS which served to develop the AWS technology and demonstrate its operational readiness.

The initial E-SURFMAR design study was driven by the main EUCOS aim: to improve the quality of numerical and general forecasts over Europe. It showed that the most suitable parameter required by regional Numerical Weather Prediction (NWP) which cannot be provided by the space segment, is air pressure.
The recommendation was to increase the density of observations for this parameter as a matter of priority. It also showed that this could be achieved through the use of more drifting buoys and Voluntary Observing Ships (VOS) reporting hourly data from sensitive areas: in the North Atlantic (north of 35°N) and in the Mediterranean Sea.
Some parameters measured by satellites, such as Sea Surface Temperature (SST), wind and waves, require calibration and validation. However, reliable in situ SST data are already provided by drifting buoys. So, an increase of these platforms would naturally contribute to improve the quality of satellite data calibration for SST.

For wind and waves, the E-SURFMAR design study recommended the use of four existing moored buoys which would be upgraded to provide directional wave spectra and 10-minutes wind data, and possibly being re-located in more suitable positions.

In 2017, the design was revisited, taking into account progress in satellite observation and numerical modeling capabilities, as well as more stringent requirements from the climate community, and a new sets of requirements were approved. The current programme, approved for 2019-2023 was designed to address these requirements.


A considerable amount of work was carried out during the first fifteen years of the Operational Service. Results include:

– the direct management of a network of about 100 drifting buoys and 26 Shipborne Automated Weather Stations in an integrated VOS fleet;
– full integration of the former EGOS group activities;
– a significant decrease in costs of observations carried out by automated systems operated by the Operational Service management but also by individual NMSes;
– a significant increase in the volume of observations reported by these systems;
considerable savings on data transmission costs thanks to the use of Iridium and data compression techniques as and when possible;
– improvements in the timeliness of drifting buoy data thanks to the use of Iridium instead of Argos for these platforms;
– the development and the use of a global metadata database for ships, which was adopted by the international community and then transferred under of the Joint Technical Commission for Oceanography and Marine Meteorology (JCOMM) in-situ Observations Programme Support Centre (JCOMMOPS);
– the development of a European Common Shipborne AWS (EUCAWS project);
– the establishment of financial arrangements to compensate national activities that are suitable for the Operational Service;
– co-operations, most of them informal, with third parties: MSC (Canada), Puertos des Estado (Spain), GHRSST group…;
– formal cooperation with NOAA (US);
– the set up of quality control tools available on the Web to monitor all operational surface marine observation networks in the world.

Drifting Buoys

Since mid-2007, between 90 and 105 drifting buoys fully or partially funded by E-SURFMAR were permanently operating. This number significantly decreased in 2011 due to wrong batches of buoys delivered by the two usual manufacturers. The average number of operational buoys was below 75 buoys till mid-2012.

Since, more than 100 E-SURFMAR drifting buoys are permanently operating in the EUMETNET area. In parallel, about 45 non-project buoys in average – from NOAA, Meteo-France, LOCEAN, Marlin -, are operating in the area. E-SURFMAR monitor their data as it does for those funded by the Operational Service.
Drifting buoys are deployed from different harbours thanks to local partners (e.g. Port Meteorological Officers): Charleston, Fos-sur-Mer, Halifax, Helsingborg, Kirkenes, Le Havre, Liverpool, Norfolk, Rotterdam, Reykjavik, Southampton…

The number of drifting buoys equipped with barometers is now increasing thanks to barometer upgrades in cooperation with NOAA, and the network size is expected to reach 150 units by 2020.

European Union Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation

E-SURFMAR takes part in the European Union (EU) Horizon 2020 (H2020) research and innovation programme under grant agreement no. 633211 within the project AtlantOS.

AtlantOS aims to improve and innovate the Atlantic observing by using the Framework of Ocean Observing to obtain an international, more sustainable, more efficient, more integrated, and fit-for-purpose system. AltantOS is a large-scale EU Horizon 2020 research and innovation project that contributes to the Trans-Atlantic Research Alliance and GEO.

The participation of E-SURFMAR in this project is to lead the surface drifter network component. Three axes of enhancement are being explored: enhance the geographical coverage, enrich the variety of variables measured at low cost by drifters, and study whether vertical sampling of the upper ocean layer by drifters would assist in understanding and predictability. In addition, E-SURFMAR is working within this project to improve the general data access and data integration, for all categories of users of surface drifter data.

Started on 1 April 2015, the project ends in March 2019. The EU funding in AtlantOS enabled annual deployment of 13 drifters measuring currents, sea-surface temperature, and atmospheric surface pressure in the Tropical Atlantic. In addition, a prototype drifter to measure sea-surface salinity at an affordable cost was developed by partners.

The work carried out also enabled to identify a patch in the data management of delayed-mode drifter data. An architecture for a surface drifter Global Data Assembly Centre (GDAC) was developed as a result.

Moored Buoys

The operations of four moored buoys have been compensated by the Operational Service since 2007: K-pattern buoys K5, M6 and Lion and SeaWatch buoy Cabo Sillero. The first three are operated by Met Office, Met Eireann – in association with MRI – and Meteo France, respectively. The last one is operated by Puertos del Estado. These buoys were chosen for their theoretical ability to perform accurate wind and wave measurements (spectra). During a long time, Cabo Silleiro was the only buoy to provide directional wave spectra and Lion buoy was only providing omnidirectional spectra. Since mid-2008 and October 2013 respectively, K5 and Lion moored buoys have also been reporting directional wave spectra. M6 does not measure this parameter yet.

In general, the current quality of moored buoy data is among the best we can get from surface marine stations. For instance, the RMS of air pressure differences with model outputs was 0.7 hPa in 2013 for the 4 moored buoys (against 0.6 hPa for drifting buoys, 0.7 hPa for S-AWS and 1.3 hPa for conventional VOS). For wind data, the RMS of differences with model outputs was 2.6 m/s in 2013 (against 3.9 m/s for S-AWS and 4.5 m/s for conventional VOS).

These four buoys are part of national networks which are also monitored by the Operational Service. The aim is here to get, in real time, as many quality observations as possible.

Besides moored buoy networks operated by E-SURFMAR participating members or historical partners (Puertos del Estado and MRI), other networks exists.

The Operational Service seeks for cooperation with the institutes which operate these networks and their closest NMS in order to have their data fed into the GTS in real time. Thus, the Greek Poseidon network, the Portuguese moored buoy network, and moored buoys operated by BSH (Germany), have been fed into the GTS and carefully monitored. The close cooperation between E-SURFMAR and these institutes also allowed to improve the measurements carried out by these buoys which now are close to reach WMO standards.

Observing Ships

In 2013, each month about 370 European conventional VOS reported 270 observations per day in average from the EUMETNET area of interest. This is 20% less observations than in 2002 (for 30% less ships), before E-SURFMAR started, and this number has since decreased to under 200. However, during the same period, each month about 125 European S-AWS reported 1,700 observations per day from the EUMETNET area. This is 5 times more than in 2002. As of end 2018, there are over 150 European S-AWS units in operation, reporting on average over 2,000 observations per day in the EUMETNET area.

For different reasons, the data delivery delay of conventional VOS data remains longer than for S-AWS.

Early in the Operational Service, it was noted that the quality of pressure values reported by conventional VOS was below that of automated systems. The most common errors are due to a wrong correction of the height of the barometer above the waterline. Despite the set up of daily updated blacklist, the situation did not change much during the past years.

The S-AWS integrated fleet of VOS was an opportunity to try out various technologies. By the end of 2013, 10 BaTos and 18 BaRos AWS funded by the Operational Service were in operation (E-SURFMAR S-AWS fleet). The BaRos is normally a simple (autonomous) system reporting air pressure only (see picture here below). Moreover, three systems out of the 18 have been upgraded in BaRos+ AWS by Meteo France (air temperature, air humidity and wind measurements added). In 2013, several installations were done thanks to MOON members on ships plying in the Mediterranean Sea. This fleet served to demonstrate that the maintenance of a S-AWS network is not an easy job. Ships are often changing their programmes and may be sold or de-constructed without any lead time.

The procurement and development of a common solution S-AWS (EUCAWS) was started in 2013. After several prototypes, first series were ordered by several programme participants. As of 2019, over 30 operational EUCAWS units are reported data on the GTS, from ships recruited by several NMSes.

The development of an electronic logbook solution by KNMI was recognized as important early on, to improve data quality and quantity from conventional VOS. This has resulted in the development of several software packages: Turbowin, Turbowin+, Turboweb.

This development benefits from a new wind effective in 2019, with KNMI on the delivery side of the programme for the items that pertain the conventional VOS.

Metadata, monitoring & performance assessments

An online database was developed within the first years of the Operational Service to manage VOS metadata (WMO Pub47 format). It contains all VOS metadata available in the world (permanently updated), and is now operated by JCOMMOPS. With the announced transition to WIGOS, the programme participants have developped a new metadata standard, in collaboration with international partners, widening the scope to all ship-based observations (and not only VOS).

A set of quality control tools was developed by Meteo France to monitor E-SURFMAR observation networks. Mainly based on comparisons with model outputs, they may be actually used to monitor any surface marine observation platform in the world reporting onto the GTS.

Every month, the performances of the networks in matter of data availability, timeliness and quality, are assessed and compared to previous months and targets.





The objective of the EUMETNET-ASAP (E-ASAP) Operational Service is to:

coordinate and optimize weather balloon observations (so called radiosoundings) over the data sparse ocean regions in the EUCOS area of interest. Most of these observations are performed by the crew members on board merchant vessels in regular service between Europe and North America.

  • "Coordination and optimisation of weather balloon observations over the ocean regions"

The tasks

– to design the E-ASAP Operational Service to meet the requirements, and in particular identify suitable merchant ships;

– to negotiate and conclude contracts in association with NMSs as appropriate with the shipping companies;

– to procure the necessary equipment or reimburse NMSs for the procurements;

– to ensure proper installation, training and logistics for the supply of consumables;

– to establish means of communication, insertion on the GTS and monitoring of performance;

– to liaise with the other components of the EUCOS programme and with the ASAP Task Team of the WMO.

The requirements

A. To deliver 3900 radiosoundings (from 18 stations) onto the Global Telecommunication System (GTS) and to make the data available to all National Meteorological Services (NMSs) for their weather forecast.

B. To optimize the overall system regarding efficiency of sounding operations and distribution of sounding data.

C. To contribute to the World Weather Watch of WMO through a limited number of soundings produced outside the EUCOS area of interest.

The organisation

The current Programme phase will last until the end of 2023. The Deutscher Wetterdienst has been the Coordinating Member for the Operational E-ASAP since 2003. The Operational Service Manager is Mr Rudolf Krockauer.


Article published in the December 2009 issue of the periodical Seaways. Purpose of the Article is to promote E-ASAP in the seafarer’s community. Read the article.