ECMWF – Head of Earth System Assimilation Section

ECMWF, Reading, UK, or Bonn, Germany
Closing date: 15 December 2021

The Earth System Assimilation Section works on research and development in data assimilation and the use of observations to initialise Earth System models. As such its activities feature prominently in the ECMWF 10-year strategy and it plays a central role in contributing to continued improvement in ECMWF’s predictions and reanalyses. The Section comprises around 40 staff, with roughly three quarters in Reading and one quarter to be located in Bonn. These are distributed across teams covering data assimilation methodology, coupled assimilation, microwave radiance observations, infra-red radiance observations, actively-sensed observations and UV and visible observations.

New science, in the use and interpretation of observations and data assimilation methods, is needed to meet the challenges of the Earth System approach, higher spatial resolution and more diverse applications. In particular ever more non-linear observations are being used, often sensitive to multiple components of the system (e.g. atmosphere and surface). The role requires to provide strategic and scientific direction to these efforts and the choices that need to be made.

The successful candidate will have excellent knowledge and advanced thinking in the area of data assimilation and a deep understanding of Earth System observations. This is a senior management position reporting to the Director of Research. The incumbent will have direct responsibility for the Earth System Assimilation Section, and is expected to deal with a wide spectrum of technical and scientific complexity, people management and the management of financial resources.

Main duties and key responsibilities

  • Leading the Earth system assimilation section by providing scientific direction, coaching and support, including direct management of the Team Leaders in the section
  • Initiating and stimulating scientific developments
  • Planning, organising and managing the resources of the Section, and complementing these when appropriate by attracting funds from externally funded projects (e.g. EU research funds, ESA and EUMETSAT) and by developing further collaborations
  • Developing and enhancing relations with observation providers, notably space agencies, with particular attention to challenges for new observation providers, for example in the commercial sector
  • Developing and maintaining strong relationships with key internal stakeholders from across all departments at ECMWF to ensure a timely delivery of upgrades to the forecasting system
  • Co-ordinating the planning and monitoring of the strategic actions on ‘Earth system assimilation’ and ‘Earth System Observations’ of the 10-year ECMWF strategy, in particular ensuring delivery from the Section.
  • Acting as a member of the Research Department Management Team and of the ECMWF Senior Management Team

Other information

The successful candidate will be recruited at the A4 grade, according to the scales of the Co-ordinated Organisations and the annual basic salary will be £89,118.72 or EUR 107,790.12 net of tax. ECMWF also offers a generous benefits package, including a flexible teleworking policy.
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: Four years with the possibility of a further contract.

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.


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