Short history of RC LACE

  The profound political changes in Europe in the late 1980s opened up new communication channels and brought great opportunities for co-operation in the Central European area. These opportunities were recognized at an early stage and eagerly seized upon by several visionary groups. In 1990, a meeting was convened in Vienna to explore the possibility of establishing a Regional Centre for limited-area high-resolution modelling of the atmosphere, for application to operational forecasting. This was the embryo of RC LACE (Regional Centre for Limited Area modelling in Central Europe; later, RC became ‘Regional Co-operation'). The LACE Project was established within a year, the participants being the National Meteorological Services of Austria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia and Slovenia.

The French Government, also quickly spotting the opportunities for co-operation in Central Europe, provided substantial financial support to foster closer links. With this backing, Météo-France proposed a limited-area version of its global ARPEGE model

for future operational application in the countries newly embarking on numerical weather prediction. This proposal included strong training and research components. The LAM-ARPEGE Project started in Toulouse in September 1991. Shortly afterwards it was renamed ALADIN (Aire Limitée Adaptation dynamique Développement InterNational). The major aims of ALADIN were (and are):

  • To develop and maintain an NWP system for use in limited geographical domains, requiring only moderate computational power whilst allowing a mesh refinement with respect to the coupling model ARPEGE.
  • To permit integration with high spatial resolution on small domains, allowing dynamical adaptation to the detailed characteristics of the Earth's surface.
  • To develop, ab initio, a state-of-the-art NWP system, enabling all partners to play an active role in the model development, with the result that the benefits of the common effort would be available to all participants.

  The LACE group evaluated the French proposal and concluded that the ALADIN model would be an ideal basis for the project. Quickly, several scientists from the LACE countries joined the developments in Toulouse, along with other ALADIN participants.

By September 1991 there were 17 scientists from seven countries working on ALADIN. Toulouse was the centre of modelling activity for the following several years. An official co-operation framework agreement between RC LACE and Météo-France was signed in November, 1994. (For a history of the ALADIN Project, see

In Spring 1996 the RC LACE management Group was established, under the leadership of Miroslav Ondráš (Slovakia). Their task was to construct an ALADIN/LACE system to provide a daily dissemination of NWP products to the LACE member institutes.

The ALADIN/LACE model was expected to be the first operational application of ALADIN. At that time, RC LACE and Météo-France reached agreement to use the CRAY-J916/12 computer in Toulouse for pre-operational running of ALADIN/LACE, and to host the LACE Management Group in Toulouse. This was to provide a transition to an operational Regional Centre, originally planned to be in Vienna. However, later political changes in Austria presented difficulties with the establishment of the Regional Centre there.

The Prague Centre

  In early 1997, the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute (CHMI) issued an ITT for a computer platform capable of running the ALADIN/LACE system operationally. Later that year, an NEC computer was chosen and the model software was ported and implemented on that system. The following March, the first RC LACE Memorandum of Understanding was signed by the six participating institutes, formally agreeing the establishment of the Regional Centre in Prague (the MoU was later extended to December, 2002). The leader of the project for this ‘centralized phase' was Radmila Brozkova (Czech Republic).

The ALADIN/LACE operations were transferred from Toulouse to Prague in June, 1998. The Regional Centre was the centre of NWP operations and also the focus of NWP research for the following four and a half years, until December, 2002. Scientists from all the participating institutes spent extended periods working at CHMI in Prague. Boundary conditions for ALADIN/LACE, derived from the global ARPEGE model run in Toulouse, were dispatched to Prague on a regular basis. Vienna acted as the telecommunications and archival centre during this period. The Prague Centre also acted as the back-up centre for the reference ALADIN system software, thereby providing a valuable service to the ALADIN Community.

While the primary RC LACE operations were in Prague, the ALADIN system was also run in operational mode in the other centres: Slovenia (1997), Hungary (1998), Austria (1999), Slovakia (1999) and Croatia (2000). The horizontal model resolution was typically 9 km, and each centre configured the model to local requirements. A variety of computer platforms were used to run the system. Thus, by the end of the ‘Prague Phase', each centre was using a combination of NWP guidance from the Prague Centre and that produced by local ALADIN implementations.

The centralized organization had many attractions but also gave rise to significant tensions. The concentrated research effort was very effective, with a large group of dedicated scientists forming a critical mass. Also, a common operational system could be maintained and developed with considerable efficiency. However, it became increasingly difficult to ensure that the NWP requirements of all the participants were fulfilled. For various reasons, scientists were gradually more reluctant to spend long periods away from their home institutes. And, finally, with the large budget required to support the Centre, the transfer of substantial financial resources away from the national institutes became unsustainable. A re-configuration of the Project was indicated.

The Current LACE Project

  A new, decentralized, phase of the co-operation began in January, 2003. This followed the signing of the second RC LACE Memorandum of Understanding the previous October. RC LACE now became Regional Co-operation LACE. As the MoU has been extended until the end of 2007, this is the current configuration of the collaboration.

Each RC LACE Member is responsible for its own operational NWP system, but scientific research and development is co-ordinated within the project. The policy of the project is determined by the Council, comprising the Directors of the member institutes. The LACE Steering Committee (LSC) is the advisory body for the project. LSC representatives are nominated by the Members of RC LACE, and Météo-France also provides a (non-voting) representative. The Committee meets twice each year, with participation by the Management Group, and reports to the Council.

Observers from (non-LACE) ALADIN and HIRLAM also attend the LSC. The Project Leader is Dijana Klaric (Croatia). The Management Group (MG) comprises the Project Leader (PL), the ALADIN-LACE System Co-ordinator (ASC), the Data Manager (DM) and three Working Group Leaders (WGLs). The three Working Groups established by the MoU were for dynamics and coupling, physical parameterization and data assimilation. Later (2006) a fourth Working Group, for EPS and Predictability, was formed. Appointments to the Management Group are reviewed on an annual basis.

RC LACE continues its close affiliation with the ALADIN Project and with Météo-France. In January, 2004, RC LACE was the first group to officially join the ALADIN-2 Project. Since then, there have been intensive discussions on the roadmap for ALADIN-2 and the relationship to the AROME Project. AROME is a non-hydrostatic mesoscale NWP model with advanced physical parametrization. The AROME project was started in 2000 at Météo-France with the goal of developing a high resolution limited area model for nowcasting and very short range forecasting purposes. It is based on the dynamical kernel of the non-hydrostatic version of ALADIN and the physical parametrization package of the Meso-NH research model, and is designed to run at a resolution of around 2 km. There is great interest within RC LACE (and in the wider ALADIN community) to move towards operational application of AROME. A framework for the transition, called ALARO, has been developed, based on the ALADIN model with a refined formulation of the physical parameterizations.

Another recent development, of great significance to RC LACE, is the collaboration between the ALADIN group and HIRLAM (High Resolution Limited Area Model). This collaboration, called HARMONIE (Hirlam ALADIN Research on Meso-scale Operational NWP in Euromed) has resulted in the coming together of an unprecedented number of European atmospheric scientists to develop the AROME model. There is now an excellent opportunity for LACE scientists to collaborate with HIRLAM staff, particularly in areas such as data assimilation and surface analysis, where HIRLAM is at the forefront of research. A number of RC LACE scientists are already actively engaged in this work.

Finally, an indication of the vibrancy of RC LACE is the interest shown by other centres. Recently, the Romanian National Meteorological Administration applied to join the project, and this application was accepted by the Council.

On 9th of November 2007, during the 24th session of RC LACE Council, the next LACE Mou III has been signed. 

March 2008 RC LACE projects established for non-hydrostatic dynamics, data assimilation (OPLACE), ensemble forecasting (LAEF) and ALARO physics.
September 2008 common observation pre-processing system working in Budapest and providing data to LACE partners

February 2009 the pre-operational ALADIN LAEF is upgraded with initial conditions perturbationy using blending and breeding combination, multi physics and non-cycling surface breeding. March 2009 automatic monthly observation monitoring reports available from OPLACE.

March 2010 VFE available in the hydrostatic dynamics. May 2010 Brainstorming on Advanced Concepts - on High Resolution modelling workshop held in Bra─Ź Croatia. October 2010 operational ALARO0 in CHMI on 4.7 km and 87 levels. December 2010 The fourth ALADIN Memorandum of Understanding is signed.

July 2011 operational ALARO0 at DHMZ on 2 km and 37 levels. 2011 ALADIN LAEF becomes operational using 16 members with resolution 18 km on 37 levels in the vertical.

November 2012 the Fourth Memorandum of Understanding was signed in Vienna.

2013 ALADIN LAEF resolution upgrade to 11 km resolution and 45 levels in the vertical. November-December 2013 directors signed an agreement on the exchange of the surface measurements data among the LACE members for the OPLACE. December 2013 ECMWF optional programme for BC decision to provide LBC data for convection permitting ENS for 06 and 18 UTC runs.

February 2014 request from TSMS to access OPLACE as first request from a non-LACE country. December 2014 ALADIN Assembly and HIRLAM Council decide to go for a single consortium.

April 2015 the first version of HARP available.

February 2016 the fifth ALADIN Memorandum of Understanding is signed. February 2016 an agreement granting access to OPLACE signed with INM Tunisia. March 2016 ModeS EHS data from KNMI to OPLACE.