Science Lead for Destination Earth

1. Position information

Vacancy No.: VN21-22
Grade: A5
Job Ref. No.: STF-PL/21-22
Location: Bonn, Germany
Department: Research
Section: (Destination Earth Management)
Reports to: Director of Destination Earth, with a functional reporting line to the Director of Research
Closing Date: 10 May 2021

2. About ECMWF

ECMWF is the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts. It is an intergovernmental organisation created in 1975 by a group of European nations and is today supported by 34 Member and Co-operating States, mostly in Europe. The Centre’s mission is to serve and support its Member and Co-operating States and the wider community by developing and providing world-leading global numerical weather prediction. ECMWF functions as a 24/7 research and operational centre with a focus on medium and long-range predictions and holds one of the largest meteorological archives in the world. The success of its activities relies primarily on the talent of its scientists, strong partnerships with its Member and Co-operating States and the international community, some of the most powerful supercomputers in the world, and the use of innovative technologies such as machine learning across its operations.

Over the years, ECMWF has also developed a strong partnership with the European Union, and for the past seven years has been an entrusted entity for the implementation and operation of the Climate and the Atmosphere Monitoring Services of the EU Copernicus Programme, as well as a contributor to the Copernicus Emergency Management Service. The collaboration does not stop there and include other areas of work, including High Performance Computing and the development of digital tools. It is enabling ECMWF to now provide data and products covering weather, climate, air quality, fire and flood prediction and monitoring. ECMWF has recently become a multi-site organisation, with its headquarters based since its creation in Reading, UK, its new data centre opening in 2021 in Bologna, Italy, and new offices, also opening in 2021 in Bonn, Germany.

For ECMWF’s Strategy, which sets the Centre’s direction of travel until 2030, please visit the following link:

For additional details, see

It is foreseen that ECMWF will be a major partner in the implementation of the Destination Earth (DestinE) initiative starting later in 2021, together with ESA and EUMETSAT as partners. The objective of the European Commission DestinE initiative is to deploy several highly accurate thematic digital replicas of the Earth, called digital twins, to monitor and predict natural and human activities as well as their interactions, to develop and test scenarios that would enable more sustainable developments and support corresponding European policies for the Green Deal.

DestinE will be run in several phases, of which the first, the implementation phase, covers the period mid-2021 – end-2023. Future phases are foreseen (subject to funding) that will operationalise the digital twins, scale-up system production and add applications and new twin options.

DestinE covers several demanding digital technology aspects required to develop, implement and operate the two high-priority digital twins on weather induced and geophysical extremes and on climate change adaptation. These twins will rely on complex Earth-system simulation models, data assimilation methods for fusing simulations and observations through inverse modelling and the integration of observations and models from sectors such as water and food management, renewable energies and socio-economic risk and disaster management.

These science components require advanced digital technology solutions to maximize the efficient computing and data handling on extreme-scale infrastructures, and to adapt and operate these infrastructures across different heterogeneous architectures within a federated framework. This federated framework includes the Core Platform and Data Lake developed, deployed and operated by ESA and EUMETSAT respectively.

For more information on DestinE, see

3. Summary of the role

ECMWF is recruiting a Science Lead to work on Earth-system science activities of DestinE.

The DestinE Science Lead will be responsible for the development and implementation of the Earth-system science elements of ECMWF’s contribution to DestinE in coordination with ESA and EUMETSAT and will supervise the Earth-system science components procured to external partners. They will be a member of the DestinE Management Team under the supervision of the Director of DestinE. The selected individual will be responsible for the successful delivery of this federated framework in collaboration with nominated contacts at ESA & EUMETSAT.

The scope of this role is to develop and deliver the digital twin simulation, assimilation and use-case components towards operational production. The resources will be provided through ECMWF’s own staff assignments and those allocated to contractual partners.

The successful candidate will work closely with the DestinE Director, Digital Technology and Partnership Leads, the ECMWF Directors of Research and Forecasting and with other members of the ECMWF Senior Management Team, to ensure that the DestinE simulation, assimilation, evaluation and application products fulfil current and evolving user needs and expectations, both in terms of products and quality of service.

The Science Lead will establish and maintain strong relationships with the DestinE partners and contracted consortia and promote the ECMWF DestinE outcomes with stakeholders and user communities. Together with the DestinE Director, the successful candidate will provide regular progress reports to the European Commission.

This is a leadership role within ECMWF and will operate through matrix-management across the organisation, with ECMWF science developments delivered from within existing teams, and will contribute to the relevant parts of the ECMWF Strategy delivery led by the Director-General.

As part of ECMWF's Leadership Team, this role will be responsible for leading and/or coordinating strategic, cross-cutting, inter-dependent projects in an operational environment, which will involve close collaboration and frequent interaction with a variety of internal and external experts, users and partner organisations and programmes including ECMWF’s Copernicus activities. These projects require linking related activities across departments distributed across multiple ECMWF locations and partner institutes.

This role will involve frequent travel within Europe.

4. Main duties and key responsibilities

  • Leading the scientific delivery of DestinE and developing the scientific roadmap for both weather-induced extremes and geophysical extremes and climate adaptation digital twins; specifically relating to:
    • Earth-system modelling and data assimilation methodology implementation
    • Earth-observation data usage and information extraction
    • Impact-sector science ingestion
    • Scenario-driven intervention option generation
    • Scientific performance diagnostics and scientific KPI monitoring
  • Supporting the DestinE Director in the scientific delivery of DestinE through procurements to third-party consortia and ECMWF
  • Advising the DestinE Director on the scientific elements of the service tendering process and contract lifecycle management
  • Developing the science strategy for DestinE together with ESA and EUMETSAT, the European Commission, and ECMWF teams
  • Leading the programmatic delivery of digital twin science upgrades and migration of new digital twin options from research into production
  • Advising DestinE and ECMWF Directors on scientific challenges and contribute to programme-wide solutions and implementation
  • Advising the DestinE Director on defining the science elements of the DestinE budget and to deliver the programme within the budget

5. Personal attributes

  • Leadership and excellent collaboration skills in a diverse science-technology-user environment
  • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills
  • Ability to motivate and develop diverse teams, whilst creating a compelling vision
  • Ability to cope with the demands of a constantly changing environment
  • Good technical support skills, diplomacy and tact
  • Supportive, service-oriented attitude with a willingness to embrace change and new challenges
  • Ability to develop strong relationships and influence others
  • Flexibility and the ability to work on multiple concurrent projects efficiently and effectively
  • Ability to lead in a matrix-managed environment across multiple locations

6. Qualifications and experience required


  • Advanced university degree (EQF Level 8) or equivalent professional experience.


  • Proven scientific excellence and track-record in Earth-system and impact science areas relevant for DestinE (see Main Duties).
  • Understanding of operational constraints and management of user-driven processes would be an advantage.
  • Substantial experience of defining scientific strategies and roadmaps.
  • Experience of leading the technical/scientific elements of service tendering processes and contract lifecycle management including developing/reviewing technical specifications, evaluation of responses, and the monitoring/management of the technical performance of the subsequent contract is highly desirable.
  • Considerable experience of leading substantial projects or activities that involve large numbers of diverse stakeholders, partners and delivery teams.
  • Demonstrated experience of supporting emerging technologies, services and applications.
  • Proven track-record of developing processes and procedures to deliver high standards of efficiency through leading change and continuous improvement programmes in a fast-paced environment.
  • Understanding of advanced IT infrastructure, such as high-performance computing and large data handling systems would be highly desirable.

Knowledge and skills (including language)

  • Excellent ability to analyse and complex and diverse scientific challenges and to deploy adequate scientific and strategic solutions.
  • Excellent decision-making skills. Strong influencing, communication and presentation skills.
  • Candidates must be able to work effectively in English and interviews will be conducted in English.
  • A good knowledge of one of the Centre’s other working languages (French or German) would be an advantage.

7. Other information

The successful candidate will be recruited at the A5 grade, according to the scales of the Co-ordinated Organisations and the annual salary will be EUR 124,826.28 net of tax. ECMWF also offers a generous benefits package. 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 Centre’s Staff Regulations regarding the terms and conditions of employment.

Starting date: As soon as possible.

Length of contract: The total contract duration is expected to be four years (with the possibility of further extension). However, please note that the DestinE Contribution Agreement is likely to be divided in phases, the first of which will last for two and a half years. The Centre is therefore required to contract initially for the same period. Extensions to complete the four-year period (which could be subsequently extended even further) will be offered to the successful candidate as soon as funding beyond the initial phase is confirmed.

Location: The position will be based at ECMWF’s duty station in Bonn, Germany, which is currently expected to open in the second half of 2021.

Successful applicants and members of their family forming part of their households will be exempt from immigration restrictions.

8. How to apply

Please apply by completing the online application form available at

To contact the ECMWF Recruitment Team, please email

Please refer to the ECMWF Privacy Statement. For details of how we will handle your personal data for this purpose, see:

At ECMWF, we consider an inclusive environment as key for our success. We are dedicated to ensuring a workplace that embraces diversity and provides equal opportunities for all, without distinction as to race, gender, age, marital status, social status, disability, sexual orientation, religion, personality, ethnicity and culture. We value the benefits derived from a diverse workforce and are committed to having staff that reflect the diversity of the countries that are part of our community, in an environment that nurtures equality and inclusion.

Applications are invited from nationals from ECMWF Member States and Co-operating States, listed below:

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

Applications from nationals from other countries may be considered in exceptional cases.

published: 09 April 2021     Please mention EARTHWORKS when responding to this advertisement.