Observations Capability Area


EUMETNET runs seven Programmes related to meteorological observations. Using a variety of different meteorological instruments it is possible to get reliable information on the state of the atmosphere. The EUMETNET Programmes, together with the National Meteorological and Hydrological Services, provide the relevant observations from Europe which are indispensable for missions such as numerical weather prediction.

Observations Capability Area

The Observations Capability Area offers a framework for EUMETNET activities in the field of Observing Systems. The main objective of this Programme is to coordinate the activities of the integrated Operational Services and Projects (E-ABO, E-ASAP, E-GVAP, E-PROFILE, E-SURFMAR and OPERA). These services and projects themselves have the primary task of delivering observations in the atmosphere and near the earth ‘s surface, particularly at sea. Furthermore, the Observations Programme has to design and coordinte the evolution of the ground-based EUMETNET composite observing system (EUCOS) to be optimized on a European scale with a view to improving general weather forecasting (e.g numerical weather prediction and nowcasting) and climate monitoring over Europe without increasing the overall cost, in line with the EUMETNET strategy defined by the Assembly. The Programme Manager is Bruce Truscott from the UK Met Office.


    The strategic goals


    The two strategic goals for the EUMETNET Observations Programme are the following:

    1. EUMETNET will develop an integrated composite observing system for Global, Regional and 1 km Scale Convection Resolving Models and for Climate, building on existing infrastructure.
    2. EUMETNET will ensure that observational and climate data gathered by the composite observing system will be of appropriate quality to meet the requirements of Numerical Weather Prediction (NWP) and climate by working with Members to share and implement best practice and methodologies within the system.


    Goal 1 classifies the observational requirements at three different horizontal scales. Global and especially regional requirements have been studied and dealt with by EUMETNET since its establishment, but consideration of ’kilometric’ (1km horizontal scale) requirements has started only recently in relation with the development of operational convection-resolving models, mainly for operational NWP. In the past, several numerical studies have been carried out on observation requirements of global and regional NWP, leaving now similar studies to be carried out to define observation requirements of kilometre-scale NWP.

    Goal 2 stresses the importance of quality, quality control and quality management for two important meteorological application areas: NWP and Climate monitoring. The current situation is highly variable across the different observing systems. Some of them require many more developments and progress to be made in the field of homogeneity and quality to achieve this goal. This is particularly the case with observing systems, such as Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) networks which have been developed by several public or private actors outside the meteorological community and present a huge potential for meteorological applications, but have only recently begun to be used in operational NWP.

    The key priorities


    Radar activities, standardization of surface weather stations and the improvement of vertical profile measurements of the atmosphere are of highest importance for Members. Especially the latter item has several aspects: improvement of vertical resolution, improvement of horizontal coverage and a general investigation of new upper air observing capabilities.

    The key priorities for the Programme are:

    – To foster the OPERA developments in order to be able to produce quantitatively usable 2D radar products and to exchange single site 3D volume data (reflectivity, Doppler winds) by the end of the programme phase;

    – To further expand operations by trying to extend the horizontal coverage over the EUCOS area, by assessing new technologies in obtaining aircraft data and leveraging this technology in order to reduce costs;

    – To consolidate the E-PROFILE network with the aim to include more Lidar/Ceilometer observations and to explore technologies such as Microwave Radiometers;

    – To improve the user consultation process with data users from the Climate and Forecasting Programmes and Members via the central Observation Programme and its Scientific Expert Team.

    The programme milestones


    A few important milestones of the Observations Programme are:

    – Finalization of a first set of data impact studies on all various ground-based observing systems.

    – Full end-to-end provision of humidity observations from 9 aircraft for the humidity trial within the E-ABO Operational Service, to routinely monitor the new observing system from 2015 onwards, to consider a further roll-out of humidity sensors and eventually to re-design the entire EUCOS upper-air network.

    – The finalisation of OPERA’s development of an operational data centre will play an important role for the entire Observations Programme, because the availability of quality improved 2D composites and single site 3D volume data will allow the Observations Programme Management to initiate new data impact studies with the aim to assess the importance and impact of radar data on NWP on all modelling scales. Members will be in a position to better exploit Europe-wide radar data for modelling, general forecasting and precipitation monitoring purposes.

    The objectives


    The general objective for the Observations Programme is to provide EUMETNET Members with observations from the integrated operational services and projects:

    – E-ABO (aircraft based observations),

    – E-ASAP (radiosoundings from merchant ships and some research vessels),

    – E-GVAP (deriving humidity related observations from Global Navigation Satellite System networks),

    – E-PROFILE (wind observations from weather radars and dedicated wind profilers and Lidar/Ceilometer observations),

    – E-SURFMAR (surface marine observations from ships and buoys),

    – OPERA (collection and processing of data from national weather radar networks).

    Further objectives are:

    – To design and coordinate the evolution of the integrated ground-based EUMETNET Composite Observing System (EUCOS) and

    – To monitor and control EUCOS performance.

    The organization


    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 Bruce Truscott.