Report on the Seventh Meeting of the Working Group on
Cooperation between European Forecasters (WGCEF)

Budapest, Hungary, 29 September 2001

1. Introduction

The seventh annual meeting of the WGCEF took place at the Meteorological Institute of Hungary, Budapest in conjunction with ECAM 2001. The chairperson, Liisa Fredrikson opened the meeting, welcomed the participants and extended thanks to the Institute for their hospitality. In reply, Marta Sallai Buranszki, representing the Hungarian Meteorological Service (HMS), presented an opening address in which she mentioned that it was considered a great honour to act as host for the meeting. She also welcomed the WUCEF members to their headquarters in Budapest. In total, 27 participants representing 20 Meteorological Services were present and each person was invited to give a brief personal introduction. Michael Walsh (Ireland) sent apologies for his absence.

2. Report of the chairperson of the WGCEF

Liisa Fredrikson presented a short report of relevant events for the period September 2000 September 2001. She informed the group about the news of Hugo Ottoy (Belgium) who died on May 1st 2001. Hugo had attended previous WGCEF meetings and was an enthusiastic meteorologist who will be sadly missed. This was Liisa' s first year as chairperson having taken over from Manfred Kurz (Germany). In April 2001, she submitted the first circular of the ECAM 2001 announcement and the WGCEF meeting and in July she submitted the participating invitation to 31 representatives of the European Meteorological Services. She was also involved in the website development (see section 4).

3. Discussion of Newsletter No.6 (February 2001)

Liisa thanked DWD and especially Manfred Kurz for the editing and printing of previous newsletters. Each participant was invited to comment on the content, distribution and interest expressed by forecasters in the last issue. All said that the newsletter was considered interesting and copies were distributed within the forecast room for colleagues to read. Teresa Abrantes (Portugal) underlined the fact that their Meteorological Service is particularly interested in this publication. Herbert Gmoser (Austria) suggested that we should obtain feedback from the forecasters relating to the topics presented in the newsletters. Liisa Fredrikson, representing the Finnish Meteorological Institute, said that there is close collaboration with the forecasters and they are informed about WGCEF activities. She suggested that in each forecasting service there should be a small team working to became aware of forecaster problems and make these known to the working group for discussion at the annual meetings. Vida Raliene (Lithuania) reported that there were some problems with the English language for members from the Baltic states but explained that their English speakers often helped those who experienced difficulties with the translation. Some of the more

recent members of WGCEF expressed a wish to obtain the whole series of newsletters and Manfred Kurz said that back copies can be obtained from DWD if required. Marta Sallai suggested that past and present newsletters should become accessible on the Internet at some stage in the future.

4. Launch of the new WGCEF website and logo

This conveniently led on to the fourth topic with Andre-Charles Letestu (Switzerland) presenting the new website of WGCEF. Andre-Charles, Nick Grahame (United Kingdom) and Liisa Fredrikson met in Zurich at the end of March 2001 to discuss the website format and content and also agreed on a new logo for working group. Andre- Charles asked participants for ideas to expand information on the website and suggested that any initiatives for changing or adding topics should be made exclusively by the webmaster and communicated through the WGCEF Secretary. Herbert Gmoser suggested that there should be links to all of the National Meteorological Services.

5. Members reports on exchanges

At the previous annual meeting, working group members were asked to monitor examples of forecaster cooperation and exchanges between the NMS' s and report their findings. Liisa Fredikson opened the discussion and stated that Finland had a close collaboration with the other Nordic countries especially in the staff training domain. Ilmar Karro (Sweden) noted that Nordic countries were also cooperating together with respect to weather warnings and that SMHI has been designated as a Coordination Centre for different activities. Teresa Abrantes mentioned that the Portuguese Service collaborated with the Spanish Meteorological Service and Meteo France but the direct link between forecasters is difficult because of some language differences. Marta Sallai presented the bilateral cooperation with Romania and Ukraine, especially regarding hydrological problems. Frank Kroonenberg (Holland) and Jean Nemeghaire (Belgium) said that there had been some forecaster exchanges between their respective National Meteorological Services (KNMI and IRM) whilst there had been some bilateral exchanges with the Finnish Meteorological Institute relating to SATREP use. Both countries are also engaged in developing severe weather warning exchanges. Claude Sales (Luxembourg) mentioned that some observers were going to Belgium on training courses and that forecasters from Luxembourg regularly attended courses at DWD and Meteo-France. Bernard Roulet (France) noted that a forecaster from Meteo-France had spent a few months working at the Met Office in the UK and Nick Grahame explained that there were plans to send a forecaster from Met Office to Meteo-France during Spring 2002. Nick also mentioned that there had been a workshop on Met Office RSMC products two weeks before ECAM2001 and many senior forecasters within RAVI had attended.

Otilia Diaconu (Romania) underlined the bilateral cooperation of the Romanian Meteorological Service with the Hungarian Meteorological Services. Romania contracted a special agreement with the Moldavian Meteorological Service by providing them with specialized books and staff training activities, etc. Forecasters from Bucharest have also attended courses in Spain and France. Dimitris Ziakopoulos

(Greece) underlined the interest of his Service in collaborating closely with the European Meteorological services relating to work on severe weather warnings and also about the involvement of forecasters in stategic workshops. Merike Merilain (Estonia) told the participants that her Meteorological Service was keen to continue the increased cooperation with other services and that they were working closely with the Finnish Meteorological Institute on many issues. Vida Raliene (Lithuania) explained that financial constraints tend to inhibit participation in different activities and bilateral exchanges are unlikely to happen in the near future. However, there was good collaboration with the Polish Meteorological Service and some of the Lithuanian forecasters had attended courses and lectures organized by WMO, DWD, Met Office and EUMETSAT. An important moment took place in April 2001 when Vilnius hosted a workshop involving Nordic countries.

Herbert Gmoser noted the important collaboration amongst forecasters from participating countries involved in the MAP Project. Branka Ivancan-Picek (Croatia) also pointed out that their Meteorological Service has become involved in a joint project with Austria relating to nowcasting issues. Croatia has recently become a member of EUMETSAT. Giuseppe Frustaci (Italy) mentioned that there had been increased cooperation in the last couple of years with KNMI, ZAMG and Meteo Suisse. More recently, collaboration with Czech collegues has been enhanced. Manfred Kurz (Germany) was hoping that an exchange of forecasters will take place in the near future between DWD and KNMI. Manfred then formally announced that this would be his last 'official' meeting and his successor would be Dirk Heizenreder, Head of the Central Forecasting Unit at DWD.

In summary, there appears to be a great deal of cooperation between forecasters at the various NMS's but exchanges are less common, mainly because of financial constraints and staffing problems.

6. Other contributions

Manfred Kurz presented the results of the questionnaire on 'forecaster behavior when models fail and/or opinions differ' which was submitted to all of the Meteorological Services. There were then presentations by the following:

Herbert Gmoser - Hail Warnings at ZAMG
Norvald Bjergene - DNMI Weather Routeing System for Shipping
Bernard Roulet - New Meteo-France Alert System for Severe Weather
Nick Grahame - EUMETNET Proposal for a European Graphical Severe Weather
Warning System

The above presentations (including Manfred' s) have been published separately in this newsletter. Merike Merilain presented a case study of a severe weather event which occurred in Estonia during July 2001. Heavy rainstorms and tornadoes caused damage estimated at around 10 million Euros. Warnings of severe weather were provided to the relevant authorities well in advance under an improved arrangement which came into effect in January 2001.

Otilia Diaconu gave a brief description of the European Meteorological Society (EMS) and future aims. The first annual meeting of EMS took place in Budapest in conjuction with ECAM 2001. Otilia showed some of the information which can be accessed on the EMS website and explained how to become involved in its activities.

Each presentation was followed by questions and discussions.

Action: All members were encouraged to document any interesting case studies which could be presented at future WGCEF meetings.

7. Plan of action for 2002

Nick Grahame reminded participants that there was much discussion at ECAM 2001 about the accuracy of numerical weather prediction (NWP) and whether the forecaster can add sufficient value to raw model products. Automated products are adequate and convenient for many customers and there is a premium to pay for the "added value" provided by forecasters. Therefore, the challenge for forecasters in 2002 is to demonstrate the importance of their role within individual NMS' s and find ways of measuring the "added value" in a meaningful way. Herbert Gmoser agreed and proposed that methods of verifying the 'meteorologists final forecast ' should be discussed at the next meeting of WGCEF with some examples of "added value

Action: All members to define the role of the forecaster within NMS's in the context of providing "added value" products and find verification schemes to measure "added value".

The action plan for 2002 is expected to become gradually established according to the development of different activities. First of all, it will be important to update the website by adding information which will be useful to forecasters, especially relating to conferences and working groups, for example. Secondly, the links between WGCEF and EMS are planned to be strengthened.

The form of future newsletters was discussed and it was generally agreed that paper versions should still be available for distribution in addition to a soft-copy version which will be accessible via the WGCEF website. Manfred Kurz announced that DWD would still be happy to produce and publish Newsletter No. 7, despite his personal retirement.

8. Presentation of the Hungarian Meteorological Service structure

During the break our host invited all participants to a delicious lunch in a specially prepared hall. After lunch, Manfred Kurz said good-bye to WGCEF, and wished everybody good luck for the future. Liisa Fredrikson thanked him on behalf of all the participants for his dedication in setting up and leading the group over the past few years. All agreed that he would always be welcome as a 'guest of honour' at future meetings. After the official photograph, Martha Sallai Buranszki and Imre Bonta gave the participants a guided tour of the HMS which included a visit to the forecast room and the television studios. An article by Martha Sallai Buranszki on the HMS can be

found in this newsletter together with a description of the Hungarian Advanced Workstation (HAWK) system.

9. Date and place of the next meeting

It was proposed that the next WGCEF meeting should be held in conjuction with the second annual meeting of the EMS in Brussels, Belgium around September/October 2002. This was agreed and the representative of Belgium, Jean Nemeghaire announced that he would be honoured to act as host for the next meeting.

10. Closing of the meeting

Liisa Frederikson (chairperson) thanked the hosts for their hospitality and noted that the meeting had achieved the highest number of participants of any so far. Nick Grahame (vice-chairperson) thanked those who had made presentations and urged others to take advantage of the informal atmosphere of the meetings, which provides an ideal opportunity to present material such as case studies of interesting weather events. Liisa summed up by wishing the participants good luck in their work and looked forward to meeting up again in the future.