Special Project application

Special Projects are defined as 'experiments or investigations of a scientific or technical nature, undertaken by one or more Member States, likely to be of interest to the general scientific community'.

Users within one of ECMWF's Member States may apply for resources as a Special Project. This possibility is particularly, but not exclusively, suitable for projects which are undertaken in co-operation between several institutions, nationally or internationally. The decision to treat a project request as a Special Project application is made ultimately by the Director of the national meteorological service of the project's Principal Investigator. Internal procedures will, however, depend on the national meteorological service.

European organisations with which ECMWF has concluded Co-operation Agreements may apply for resources for a Special Project, such a request to be considered by the Director-General of ECMWF.

To get an idea of the kind of research which has been approved as Special Projects, please refer to the table of active Special Projects.

Computing resources available to Special Projects

The allocation of computing resources is decided by the ECMWF Council. The PDF icon Council guidelines on distribution of computer resources  currently state that a maximum of 10% of the computing resources available to Member States may be allocated to Special Projects. 20% of that 10% is set aside as a reserve for allocation by ECMWF directly either to late applicants or to projects which have exhausted their allocation before the end of the year.

Resources available in 2022

Please note that according to the current migration plan the future Atos HPCF will take over from the Cray as operational HPCF on 1 May 2022. All HPC users should get access to the Atos HPCF from early next year. From 1 May 2022 batch usage on the Atos HPCF will be charged against any SBU allocations.  Special Projects starting in 2022 are advised to preferably use the Atos HPCF only. For more information on the SBU accounting please refer to our HPCF accounting documentation.

The resources available to Special Projects in 2022 are estimated as follows

Total resources
High Performance Computing Facility
2825
million units
Accumulated data storage (total archive volume)
7200
terabytes
Reserve
High Performance Computing Facility
565
million units
Accumulated data storage (total archive volume)
1440
terabytes
Maximum per Special Project per year

The amount of resources requested by each project for each year cannot exceed more than 8% of the total amount of resources available for that year.

High Performance Computing Facility
226
million units
Accumulated data storage (total archive volume)
576
terabytes

The maximum amount of 226.0 million billing units is equivalent to about 12 million hours elapsed time for a serial job or e.g.  to running a parallel job on two nodes for 46895 hours on the Atos HPC.

Large Special Project requests

Requests asking in any year for these resources or more might receive a detailed review by members of the Scientific Advisory Committee.

High Performance Computing Facility
 35

 

million units
Accumulated data storage (total archive volume)
 90
terabytes

Estimating your resource requirements

HPCF System Billing Units (SBU) are currently based on the total elapsed time of physical CPUs used. For more information please refer to our HPCF accounting documentation.

Your Computing Representative may be able to advise you on the amount of resources you should apply for or may suggest that you contact the ECMWF Service Desk for advice.

Special Projects - how to apply

Requests for a Special Project 2022-2024 should be submitted using the Special Project request submission web form, which will automatically forward your request to the relevant meteorological service for assessment. If possible, you should submit your request in good time so that it can be processed by the relevant meteorological services and, if supported, forwarded by its director to ECMWF by 30 June 2021.

All Special Project requests should provide an abstract/project description including a scientific plan, a justification of the computer resources requested and the technical characteristics of the code to be used. Requests asking for 3,000,000 SBUs or more should be more detailed (3-5 pages).

Once a Special Project request has been endorsed by the national meteorological service it will be evaluated by ECMWF and its Scientific Advisory Committee. The evaluation of the requests is based on the following criteria: Relevance to ECMWF’s objectives, scientific and technical quality, and justification of the resources requested. Previous Special Project reports and the use of ECMWF software and data infrastructure will also be considered in the evaluation process.

Large Special Project requests might receive a detailed review by members of the Scientific Advisory Committee.

At the end of this process Special Project requests will finally be approved (or not) by the ECMWF Council at its December session in the same year (see the "Guidelines for handling applications for computing resources for Special Projects").

If you miss the 30 June deadline, you should submit a "late request" as soon as you can: you may be eligible to receive resources from the 20% of Special Project resources which are set aside as a reserve specifically for ad hoc allocation. To submit a late request via your national meteorological service please use the web form provided. Please note that late requests will be limited to the threshold defining a large Special Project request.

For all new Special Project requests please login to the ECMWF website and submit/upload your request  via the Special Project request submission web form.

If you wish to make any changes to a previously agreed Special Project, you should send an updated request directly to ECMWF before 30 June. If you ask for more resources than initially allocated, the allocation granted will be subject to their availability and evaluation of your progress report.

Procedure for the handling of applications

To manage any possible oversubscription of computing resources available to Special Projects, the following procedure for the handling of applications from Member States for computer time for Special Projects has been agreed.

  • Each project will have a well defined duration, up to a maximum of three years, agreed at the beginning of the project.
  • The amount of resources requested by each project for each year cannot exceed more than 8% of the total amount of resources available for that year.
  • To avoid accepted Special Project requests needing reduction by more than 20%, some Special Projects requesting large amounts of computing resources may not be accepted.

Applying for additional resources for an existing project

Should you exhaust your resource allocation before the year's end, you can, at any time, apply for an allocation from any resources remaining in the reserve. Please note that a relatively large request for additional resources might trigger a more thorough evaluation of your project. To apply for additional resources, please use the form provided. Please note that requests for additional resources per year and project will be limited to the threshold defining a large Special Project request.

Progress and final reports

ECMWF expects to receive annual progress reports by 30 June each year (except for one-year projects) and a final report at the latest by 30 June in the year following the end of a Special Project. All reports will be published on the ECMWF website and taken into consideration by the Scientific Advisory Committee for the evaluation of any new Special Project application from a Principal Investigator or from members of the same project/working group.

Please submit your report via the Special Project report submission web form.

Acknowledgements

To acknowledge the resources provided by ECMWF, e.g. the following text or variations on it could be used:

"Acknowledgement is made for the use of ECMWF's computing and archive facilities in this research."