Scientist Hydrological forecast evaluation

1. Position information

Vacancy No.: VN17-09
Grade: A2
Job Ref. No.: STF-PL/17-09
Department: Forecast
Section: Evaluation Section
Reports to: Team Leader
Closing Date: 17 August 2017

2. About ECMWF *

ECMWF is both a research institute and a 24/7 operational service, producing and disseminating numerical weather predictions to its Member States. This data is fully available to the national meteorological services in the Member States. The Centre also offers a catalogue of forecast data that can be purchased by businesses worldwide and other commercial customers. The supercomputer facility (and associated data archive) at ECMWF is one of the largest of its type in Europe and Member States can use 25% of its capacity for their own purposes.

For details, see

ECMWF has long recognised the value of high-quality forecasts in mitigating the effects of natural disasters.

Recognising that floods are among the costliest natural disasters in Europe, the European Commission instigated the development of the European Flood Awareness System (EFAS) at its Joint Research Centre (JRC). Development and testing were carried out in close collaboration with national hydrological and meteorological services, European civil protection agencies (through the Emergency Response and Coordination Centre (ERCC)), and other research institutes. Since 2011, EFAS has been part of the Copernicus Emergency Management Service (CEMS) and it became fully operational in 2012.

EFAS helps to protect European citizens, the environment, property and cultural heritage when major floods occur by providing:

  • added-value early flood forecasting products for hydrological services;
  • unique overviews of current and forecast floods in Europe more than 3 days in advance;
  • a European network of operational hydrological services.

Current products include pan-European overview maps of flood probabilities up to 15 days in advance and detailed forecasts at stations where the national services are providing real-time data. More than 50 hydrological services and civil protection services in Europe are part of the EFAS network.

Several European organisations, including ECMWF, are responsible for running the operational EFAS system. As well as providing ensemble meteorological forecasts, ECMWF:

  • acts as the EFAS Computational centre, the heart of data processing and model calculations;
  • hosts the web interface for the EFAS Information System.

Alongside this, ECMWF co-operates with the JRC in the provision of the pre-operational Global Flood Awareness System (GloFAS). GloFAS scales the approaches used in EFAS to the global domain and is expected to go fully operational as part of the Copernicus EMS during 2017.

3. Summary of the role

The focus of the position will be the evaluation of hydrological forecasts produced at ECMWF, especially those from EFAS and GloFAS. Currently, overall skill assessments are undertaken during the development of improvements to the EFAS and GloFAS systems, but the methods employed are not always consistent across the different products and forecasting ranges. Whilst verification of hydrological forecasts against pseudo-observations is conducted every month, in-situ observationalbased verification and model diagnostics occur on a more ad-hoc basis after major flood events have been reported.

New developments are envisaged to move towards a more systematic evaluation of hydrological forecasts, and for methods to be better aligned with techniques currently applied to the ECMWF Integrated Forecasting System (IFS). More specifically, the developments should:

  • develop a systematic, consistent approach to hydrological forecast evaluation, including skill metrics, performance verification and diagnostics;
  • build synergies between the evaluation of CEMS (e.g. EFAS and GloFAS) products and the approaches developed for ECMWFs IFS evaluation

The role may also include further work associated with addressing these two objectives

4. Main duties and key responsibilities

  • Maintaining and developing approaches and tools for the evaluation of forecasts from the European and Global Flood Awareness Systems and ECMWFs hydrological forecasts more generally
  • Investigating the use of hydrological observations within the evaluation of hydrological forecasts
  • Working closely with the team delivering ECMWFs CEMS activities, scientists from the Forecast Department involved in ECMWFs evaluation activities, and with the EFAS data collection and dissemination centres
  • Leading monthly reporting of hydrological forecasting performance
  • Documenting tools and results through scientific documents and publications

5. Personal attributes

  • Good communication and interpersonal skills
  • Excellent analytical and problem-solving skills, and a proactive approach
  • Flexibility, with the ability to adapt to changing priorities and user needs
  • Dedication and enthusiasm to work independently and in a small team
  • Eagerness to work in a collaborative environment for shared ownership
  • Ability to work across disciplines and with different international organisations

6. Qualifications and experience required


  • A university degree, or equivalent experience, in hydrology, statistics or a related discipline.


  • Extensive experience in hydro-climatology and use of statistics in hydrology.
  • Experience in operational hydrological forecasting and evaluation, including an understanding of hydrological data quality and knowledge of access to observational databases, would be an advantage,
  • Experience in processing outputs from ensemble hydrological forecasts and large datasets would be an advantage.
  • Experience in drafting and producing written reports, scientific papers or other relevant documentation.

Knowledge and skills

  • Excellent knowledge of scientific programming, programming languages and shell scripts. Knowledge of one of Python, R or Fortran is essential; and SQL would be an advantage.
  • Good knowledge of Linux systems (and/or UNIX).
  • Ability to develop, modify, implement and test code.
  • Candidates must be able to work effectively in English and interviews will be conducted in English.
  • A good knowledge of one of the Centres other working languages (French or German) would be an advantage.

7. Other information

Grade remuneration

The successful candidate will be recruited at the A2 grade, according to the scales of the Co-ordinated Organisations and the annual basic salary will be 56,487 net of tax. This position is assigned to the employment category STF-PL as defined in the Staff Regulations.

Full details of salary scales and allowances are available on the ECMWF website at, including the Centres Staff Regulations regarding the terms and conditions of employment.

Starting date: 1 January 2018, or as soon as possible thereafter
Length of contract: Three years.
Location: The position will be based in the Reading area, in Berkshire, United Kingdom.

8. How to apply

Please apply by completing the online application form available at

ECMWF has an Equal Opportunities Policy and applications from all suitably qualified candidates are welcome.

Staff are usually recruited from among nationals of the following Member States and Co-operating States:

Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, France, Hungary, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Montenegro, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and the United Kingdom.

Staff from other countries may be considered in exceptional cases

Interviews for this position will take place in Reading, Berkshire, on 15 September 2017.

published: 25 July 2017     Please mention EARTHWORKS when responding to this advertisement.