Computer Scientist for Data Storage & IO
Reading, UK

Job reference: VN21-71

Location: Reading, UK

Deadline for applications: 24/01/2022

Publication date: 16/12/2021

Salary and Grade: Grade A2: £63,782.28, net annual basic salary + other benefits

Contract type: STF-C

Department: Forecast

Contract Duration: Four years, with the possiblity of further contract


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's Copernicus component of its Space Programme, as well as a contributor to the Copernicus Emergency Management Service. The collaboration does not stop there and includes other areas of work, including High Performance Computing and the development of digital tools that enable ECMWF to extend its provision of 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 in Bologna, Italy, and new offices in Bonn, Germany.

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. 

For additional details, see:

Summary of the role

This position is in the Production Services Team, within the Development Section in the Forecast Department. The Production Services team is responsible for the design and development of all software and systems related to ECMWF’s core data production services. This includes high-throughput specialist software that supports the time-critical operational forecast model, systems for acquisition of incoming observations, management of direct model output, perpetual archival of forecasts and observations, and the generation and dissemination of products to member states and clients. The team also develops cloud meteorological and climate data provisioning services (Data-as-a-Service) in support of ECMWF's cloud activities.

The successful candidate will be responsible, as part of a team, for the further development, maintenance, and support of ECMWF’s MARS and FDB services. This work will be in close cooperation with the analysts of the Data Archives and Dissemination Services Team in a DevOps configuration.

The Meteorological Archival and Retrieval System (MARS) is a managed archive of meteorological data. It currently stores more than 300 PiB of data, largely in GRIB, BUFR and ODB2 formats. MARS is a distributed service, operating with a client/server architecture, currently running on multiple platforms operated by ECMWF. It handles roughly 600 TiB/day (archive and retrieve) from a dedicated cluster of Linux servers, with data stored on a mix of disk and tape systems.

The scalability, performance, and robustness of the full time-critical operational weather forecasting pipeline in the face of future model upgrades is a significant focus of the team. We expect data volumes to reach 1 PiB per forecast cycle (four times daily) as we plan for Exascale HPC weather forecasting by 2030. As such, the team actively engages in research of novel, potentially disruptive, algorithms and methods to achieve these objectives, and actively works to evaluate upcoming hardware options. It also invests in the analysis and development of new data access paradigms in support of novel data-centric workflows which will enable new insights into ECMWF's massive data sets. As part of this research effort, the team often seeks and secures external funding (e.g. via EU Horizon programme) to supplement the investments in the areas of data storage, I/O systems and scalable workflows.

The FDB is a software layer that handles model output data from ECMWF’s Numerical Weather Prediction model (the Integrated Forecasting System, IFS). This software runs at very-large scale within ECMWF’s HPC system as part of the time-critical operational forecasting system and is tightly integrated into ECMWF’s production workflows. All operational data produced at ECMWF is handled by the FDB, roughly 150 TiB/day. This is supplemented by larger non-time-critical data flows from ECMWF’s research activities. The FDB also operates as a hot-data cache in front of the MARS archive, sharing much of its data management philosophy and several technical components.

Main duties and key responsibilities

  • Developing and maintaining the MARS/FDB software
  • Ensuring the quality of service of MARS/FDB and helping to plan its evolution
  • Ensuring the scalability of the FDB software to higher-resolution datasets and its portability across HPC and storage systems
  • Providing developer support to the users of MARS/FDB and the Production Services analysts, as well as support for ECMWF’s operations team
  • Supporting the data lifecycle management of the contents of the MARS archive
  • Contributing to securing external funding in the areas of I/O performance, data storage and scalable workflows
  • Contributing to the development and testing of novel I/O strategies and the exploration of new hardware options

Personal attributes

  • Excellent analytical and problem-solving skills with a proactive continuous improvement approach
  • Initiative and ability to work collaboratively with other ECMWF teams but also able to work independently
  • Good interpersonal and communication skills
  • Dedication, passion, and enthusiasm to succeed both individually and across teams of developers
  • Highly organised with the capacity to work on a diverse range of tasks to tight deadlines

Education, experience, knowledge and skills (including language)

  • An advanced university degree (EQ7 level or above) or equivalent professional experience in computer science or engineering, computational science, physics or natural sciences, mathematics, or a related discipline
  • Demonstrated experience developing large scale, object-oriented software with C++
  • Demonstrated experience developing software to handle large datasets, with strong understanding of I/O concerns and access to data storage
  • Experience in developing client/server applications and a good understanding of performance-related issues (memory, disk I/O, networking, etc.) would be a distinct advantage
  • Experience developing and running distributed scientific computing applications with good understanding of scalability concerns particularly in HPC environments would be advantageous.
  • Experience with handling environmental data format standards for international exchange, such as WMO GRIB, WMO BUFR, NetCDF or others, would be an advantage
  • Experience developing software for, or operating software in high-availability operational environments would be advantageous.
  • Experience in Object-Oriented Analysis and Design
  • Experience in C/C++ development and software lifecycle maintenance
  • Experience with Python and interfacing to C/C++, is highly desirable
  • Demonstrated experience programming in UNIX/Linux
  • Experience writing software in an HPC or scientific computing environment would be advantageous
  • Candidates must be able to work effectively in English and interviews will be conducted in English
  • Good knowledge of one of the Centre’s other working languages (French or German) would be an advantage

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 £63,782.28 net of tax. ECMWF also offers a generous benefits package, including a flexible teleworking policy. The position is assigned to the employment category STF-C as defined in the ECMWF Staff Regulations. Full details of salary scales and allowances available on the ECMWF website at, including the ECMWF Staff Regulations and the terms and conditions of employment.

Starting date: As soon as possible

Length of contract: Four years, with the possibility of a further contract.

Location: The position will be based at ECMWF's headquarters in Reading, UK.

As a multi-site organisation, ECMWF has adopted a hybrid organisation model which allows flexibility to staff to mix office working and teleworking.

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

Videoconference interviews (via Microsoft Teams) are expected to take place 17 & 18 February 2022.

Who can apply

Applicants are invited to complete the online application form by clicking on the apply button.

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, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, 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. 


The closing date for this job has now passed.