Weather  Climate  Water


CBS Registry of Software Available for Exchange
EDITION 2000         


In the meteorological community technical and procedural innovations as well as the need to handle the steadily increasing volume of meteorological data that are being exchanged on the GTS motivate more and more Member countries, and in particular the developing ones among them, to employ computers in their routine operations. Certain types of data and products can only be generated, handled, pre-processed, or displayed by means of computers, as the following examples may illustrate:      

  • Handling of WMO binary codes (GRIB and BUFR)
  • Performing conversions between binary formats and character codes or between different representations of graphical data
  • Receiving and using satellite images
  • Participating in satellite based point-to-multipoint broadcast services
  • Accessing and using data generated by automated observing systems
  • Receiving and using numerical weather prediction products and generating value added products
  • Generating forecast model products

Meteorological Services wishing to move forward into such domains of meteorological applications will find no other alternative but to resort to automated data processing. However, computers are only worth as much as the software that runs on them. In meteorology, the software required is often highly complex and difficult to obtain, especially in developing countries. Although a given amount of money can buy ever higher computer power and better hardware reliability from the industry, the actual benefit of computers can only be attained when appropriate computer programs are available and proficiently applied. Member countries embarking upon the use of automation in their centers may well look for help from outside.

To this end, WMO has undertaken a number of efforts to provide various kinds of assistance in form of donations of computer hardware and applications packages. These activities are mainly carried out as VCP projects. Support of this type is rather demanding in terms of organizational work, engineering support and, above all, financial resources. This is the main reason why only a relatively small number of countries can actually benefit from these projects in any given financial planning cycle of WMO.

Countries that are somewhat further advanced in their automating activities (so-called "threshold countries") usually have a steadily growing requirement for meteorological applications software to meet newly emerging requests for products in their own country and to stay abreast with procedural changes agreed by WMO (such as changes in codes or amendments in telecommunication procedures).

It is, therefore, important that WMO activates other resources to help Members in acquiring software and related technical assistance. CBS felt that it may be a promising and cost-effective way to encourage Members to exchange software that is already available in meteorological centers. This approach raises a number of questions pertaining to software compatibility and portability.

Three trends in computer applications make porting of software between different computer centers more and more feasible. First, standardization in the meteorological community has rendered common data formats, data handling and telecommunications procedures. Many basic functions performed by computer programs in meteorological centers are essentially very similar or even identical. This is particularly obvious for real-time functions such as handling of WMO-formatted messages, handling of WMO-coded reports, plotting of station-model and contour charts and for a wide range of non-real-time data management functions. Suitable programs are available in meteorological centers of most developed countries. Second, efforts in WMO in developing WMO-agreed standards for software designing, programming techniques and software documentation will gradually alleviate the level of incompatibility in meteorological computer solutions. Third, international and industry standards spread aggressively and are now more readily accepted in the software laboratories of meteorlogical services than some years ago.

All this will lessen hardware-induced incompatibilities of computer programs. In many cases it can be more rewarding to adapt other center's software to ones own operations vis-a-vis local development or commercial procurement, especially in developing and "threshold" countries. It is, therefore, reasonable to assume that an exchange of meteorological application software among WMO Member countries would help Members in obtaining well-proven software modules, standardized design ideas or development methodologies without "re-inventing the wheel" many times over and without big financial investment.

The purpose of th computer sofware registry is:

  • to strengthen the WWW system by making more readily available a wider range of suitable meteorological software to Members
  • to improve the self-sufficiency of evolving computer centers of developing countries
  • to assist in spreading well-proven software packages and standardized software techniques in the meteorological community

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In order to prvide a manageable structure for the exchage a framework of categories has been established, under which the individual computer programs should be grouped. To this end, both the range of computer hardware and the various areas of meteorological software application are cataloged in simplified categories. These sets of categories serve as coarse guidelines for basic comparability and classification of the computer programs.

The computer hardware has been grouped into three categories:

  1. Personal Computer
  2. Workstation or Minicomputer
  3. Mainframe or Supercomputer

Likewise, operating systems have also been grouped into four categories:

  1. Microsoft Windows
  2. Linux
  3. Unix
  4. Other

The computer programs have been grouped in nine categories:

  1. Telecommunication  (Assembly, disassembly and/or switching of WMO-formatted bulletins)
  2. Decoding/Encoding WMO data forms (Encoding, decoding, code transformation binary to/from character codes)
  3. Quality control
  4. Numerical analysis  (Objective analysis and interpolation)
  5. Visualization (Graphical representation and visualization of data and/or products including generation of derived quantities)
  6. Numerical forecast models (Mesoscale and sub-mesoscale models, or models for specific forecasting tasks)
  7. Objective techniques - Statistical evaluation or interpretation of model output
  8. Archival storage and retrieval (Packing/unpacking and storage/retrieval of observations and/or gridded fields)
  9. Unit conversion

It is hoped that an active co-operation will grow from these activities and that many programs will be exchanged between the meteorological services with automated centers and their counterparts in technologically less advanced countries. CBS envisaged that the exchange of software or provision of related support in the framework of this project, should be arranged as bilateral (multilateral) co-operation between donor country and recipient countries.


The replies received from Member countries were transcribed in the Secretariat to a database file. This was done with a view to achieving comparability and objectivity by harmonizing, as far as possible, the terminology used and by supplementing missing or incomplete information whenever this appeared possible. Descriptive text and remarks were kept in the original language except for replies in Russian and Arabic, which were translated into English.

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