WMO Executive Council meets as cyclone underlines need for weather warnings
The Executive Council of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) opened its annual meeting 15 May to review progress and challenges in providing weather, climate and water services to meet the growing needs of society. The development of cyclonic storm Mahasen, which could potentially impact more than 8 million people in the Bay of Bengal, underlined the vital role of meteorological warnings to protect lives and property.
Enhanced disaster risk reduction, improved quality and use of tropical cyclone warnings and public weather service delivery are on the agenda of the Executive Council.
The Executive Council will also consider atmospheric monitoring and research activities, including on air pollution and greenhouse gases. The importance of WMO’s Global Atmosphere Watch has been 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.
A top priority on the meeting agenda is the Global Framework for Climate Services, which is being implemented by governments with support from WMO and its partners. Several countries are rolling out climate services at national level. The network of regional climate centres is expanding in order to address the regional implications of climate variability and climate change.
“The year that has passed since our last session has been marked by a number of extreme weather and climate events, from the heavy rainfall and floods in Nigeria, Niger, China and Pakistan to the drought in the USA and Mexico, from the cold waves in Russia and China to the heat wave in Australia, from hurricane Sandy in the Caribbean and the USA to typhoon Bopha/Pablo in the Philippines,” said WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud.
“All these events brought significant damages in terms of losses of life and property and this calls once more on the need to further improve early warning systems and strengthen meteorological and hydrological services around the world,” he said.
The Council will also mark the 50th anniversary of the World Weather Watch, which ushered in global standards and procedures for the collection and exchange of weather data, and weather warnings and advice.
“The World Weather Watch also effectively promoted collaboration between weather researchers and forecasters on a global scale, leading to the exchange of technological capabilities and knowledge.,” said WMO President David Grimes, who is chairing the session.
“Today we realize that the need to adapt to seasonal, yearly and multi-decadal climate variations is being exacerbated by the challenge imposed by long-term climate change. It is well recognized that climate and its variability remains an important driver of the way civilizations and sensitive biodiversity and ecosystems evolve. Throughout history, climate has allowed civilizations to flourish or forced settlements and entire civilizations to migrate. Our challenge over the next 50 years is to develop climate services much as we did for weather services with the inception of the World Weather Watch. “
The 37-Member Executive Council meets annually at WMO headquarters in Geneva. The current session lasts until 23 May.