ECMWF Makes another Move in the NWP Arms Race Today

The European Centre for Medium Range Forecasting (ECMWF) based in the United Kingdom is initiating some significant changes in its NWP suite today. For full details on the changes visit their web page dedicated to this implementation (IFS cycle 40r1).  One of the bigger changes is the increase in the vertical levels of the ECMWF ensemble forecast (ENS) which will increase from 62 to 91 with the model top raised from 5 hPa to 0.01 hPa.

The table below highlights some of the differences in the various NWP systems available to forecasters. The setup of the ECMWF ENS is truly remarkable with 51 members with both analysis and model physics perturbations and a grid spacing of 32km with 91 vertical levels.  The differences between the deterministic ECMWF (IFS) and the GFS, especially beyond 192 hours, is also striking.


The NWS is investing considerable resources to improve its NWP capability and will increase the capacity of the supercomputer running the GFS model by around a factor of 10 by 2015. Changes made to the GFS during the past 6-12 months have also resulted in perceived improvements.

We wanted to take this opportunity to share a reference we put together for the more common NWP systems that is available on our science page.  NWP Configuration and Setup Reference –

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1 Response to ECMWF Makes another Move in the NWP Arms Race Today

  1. skeighton says:

    Nice summary Jonathan! Did you make the smaller table above or can this be found on the NCEP page or somewhere else? We already have a link to your larger table. Thanks!

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