GENEVA, 27 May 2013 (WMO) -- The World Meteorological Organization’s (WMO) Executive Council has agreed on measures to expand and improve research and observing networks to increase understanding of our rapidly changing climate and strengthen delivery of meteorological services vital to society and the global economy.
At its annual session 15-23 May, the Executive Council also discussed enhanced disaster risk reduction and early warning systems to increase resilience and sustainable development.
The vulnerability of developing and developed countries alike to natural hazards was underlined in the space of a few days by Cyclone Mahasen in the Bay of Bengal and the deadly tornadoes which caused devastation in USA.
A top priority on the agenda was the Global Framework for Climate Services, a cross-cutting international initiative spearheaded by WMO to make user-friendly climate services available to those who need them most. Several countries are rolling out climate services at national level and WMO is promoting the expansion of regional climate centres to address the regional impacts of climate variability and climate change.
WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud said the Global Framework for Climate Services would connect climate experts with other sectors ranging from health to energy managers. “We need to work across disciplines, countries, organizations. It’s a huge but attainable challenge,” he said.
“In most countries there is insufficient climate information. Decisions on dams and dykes for instance, are often based on past statistics and not on future scenarios. But the past for such decision is no longer a sufficient guide to the future. We need to adapt to our climate now and anticipate what we shall have in the next 50 to 100 years,” he said.
In order to achieve this, the Executive Council agreed to intensify observational and research partnerships and activities. as well as to strengthen the cooperation of WMO with all relevant partners in the United Nations system, and even beyond.
The Council discussed how to accelerate progress towards the new WMO Integrated Global Observing System which is needed to consolidate progress in meteorological research, numerical modelling, observing capabilities, and computer and communication technologies.Described as “Our Planet’s Future Hub for Weather, Climate and Water Observations,” WIGOS is due to become operational by 2016. Once implemented, it will contribute to a better understanding of our environment and will benefit society. It will meet the observational needs of the Global Framework for Climate Services, disaster risk reduction and aeronautical meteorology, amongst others.
The Council welcomed international efforts to strengthen the flow of satellite observations for use by global Numerical Weather Prediction (NMP) models. By simulating the behavior of the atmosphere over time, these models are critical to the ability of meteorological services to provide more and more useful weather forecasts.
The Executive Council reaffirmed research as one of WMO’s top priorities given the need for increased understanding of changes in our Earth, atmosphere and oceans. There was special emphasis on boosting research and predictions into the changing climate in the Polar regions as this is expected to have major repercussions for climate in other parts of the world.
During the meeting, the importance of WMO’s Global Atmosphere Watch was highlighted by observations from several stations in its network that carbon dioxide concentrations have exceeded the symbolic 400 parts per million mark. Carbon dioxide remains in the atmosphere for thousands of years, trapping heat and causing our planet to warm further, impacting on all aspects of life on earth.
Efforts to improve predictions at sub-seasonal to seasonal timescales were given a boost. A memorandum of understanding on the establishment of a dedicated office, to be based on Jeju Island, was signed by WMO Secretary-General Jarraud and Lee Ilsoo, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Korea to WMO. Improved weather-to-climate forecasts are critical to many areas such as climate adaptation planning, disaster risk management practices, and environmental stewardship of natural resources.
Aeronautical meteorology is vital for the efficiency safety and environmental sustainability of civil aviation, and a major source of revenue for many national meteorological services. Council discussed the International Civil Aviation Organization’s requirements for Quality Management Systems and the implementation of WMO’s aeronautical meteorological personnel competency standards. It urged Members to investigate the use of cooperative mentoring and twinning arrangements to help meteorological services to comply with these requirements. This will be instrumental to prepare for a major shift towards net-centric and more regionalized service provision to future air traffic systems.
The 37-Member Executive Council meets annually.
The World Meteorological Organization is the United Nations System’s authoritative voice on Weather, Climate and Water