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European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) Expansion

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European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF)

Plans for forecasting centre move could enhance Reading University as world-leading weather and climate research hub.  Plans to build a new headquarters for a world-leading weather forecasting centre at the University of Reading have taken a step forward after detailed investigation work was backed.


ECMWF – European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasting


The Council of the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) has asked for work to expand the proposal to create future staff headquarters accommodation and conference facilities for ECMWF on the University’s Whiteknights campus to go ahead.  Investigative work will take place over the next 12 months before a final decision on the plans is made by ECMWF’s Council in June 2019. The project would be funded by ECMWF and the Government’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).


Professor Robert Van de Noort, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Academic Planning and Resource at the University of Reading, said: “Having ECMWF on campus would help enhance Reading’s reputation as a world-leading hub for weather and climate research.  “If successful, this would be a huge step towards our 2026 Vision, to establish the University as a vibrant, global research institution that informs change around the world. We look forward to working with ECMWF and the Government to develop these plans.”


Shinfield Road, Reading


The ECMWF headquarters is currently located on MoD land in Shinfield Road in Reading. The Centre is in discussion with the UK Government over relocating its staff headquarters accommodation and conference buildings, with an agreement already in place to move the Data Centre to Italy.


The University of Reading had been in competition with other potential UK sites for a number of years to host the new headquarters, but was awarded sole bidder status by the UK Government in December 2017.  Council members agreed at a meeting on 14 June to establish a feasibility group to work on the logistics of creating the new building on University land. The group contains representatives from ECMWF, the University of Reading and BEIS.


Whiteknights Campus


The feasibility work will include investigating the most suitable location for the headquarters within the Whiteknights campus, considering the needs of students and staff. The project could lead to greater collaboration between ECMWF and the University of Reading, with co-location allowing a close working relationship to build upon existing international partnerships, while also helping the University further reduce its energy consumption and carbon footprint.