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Regional Association for Asia Agrees Priority Work Areas
Posted 20 December 2012

About 90 delegates from WMO’s Regional Association for Asia (RAII) met 13-19 December in Doha, Qatar, to agree on priority work areas far the next three years to strengthen weather, climate and water services.

Ahmed Abdullah Mohamed, the Permanent Representative of Qatar to WMO, was elected as the new president. Dr Qamar-uz Zaman Chaudhry, Permanent Representatives of Pakistan, was re-elected as Vice President.

The Regional Association for Asia groups 35 countries across a large geographical zone and impacted by diverse hazards including sand and dust storms, droughts, heat and cold waves, tropical cyclones, floods and air pollution.

Through its six Regional Associations, WMO seeks to promote regional cooperation and partnerships to solve problems, especially through the strengthening of end-to-end early warning systems, and collaboration in preparedness planning and relief operations. >> full text

 

WMO Bulletin says 2012 Ozone Hole Smaller than recent past
Posted 20 December 2012

This year’s Antarctic ozone hole was smaller than in recent years, both in terms of area and depth, according to WMO’s Antarctic Ozone Bulletin. Using information gathered from the ground, from weather balloons and from satellites, the Bulletin said that the ozone hole area reached zero on 10
November – earlier than in recent years.

The reason for the weak ozone hole this year is twofold:

Firstly, relatively warm temperatures in the stratosphere (around 20 km altitude) limited the formation of polar stratospheric clouds which, through a chemical chain reaction between water, nitric acid and halogenated reservoir gases cause ozone loss. In this respect, the 2012 ozone hole was similar to the one in 2010, when a sudden stratospheric warming in July/August gave rise to a smaller amount of polar stratospheric clouds than usual.

Secondly, the polar vortex - a large low-pressure system where high speed winds (polar jet) in the stratosphere circle the Antarctic continent – was also relatively perturbed and this led to ozone rich air being transported in from lower latitudes. This transport of ozone rich air affected in particular the stratosphere at around 25 km altitude, which is above the region where most of the ozone loss takes place, which is typically in the 14-20 km height range. Ozone loss in the 14-20 km region took place at nearly the same extent as in recent
years. >> More

 

Southern Africa Regional Climate Outlook Issued
Posted 18 December 2012

Most of Southern African Development Community (SADC) is likely to receive normal to above-normal rainfall for the period January to May, according to a mid-season Update. The outlooks are split into rolling three-monthly periods namely: January to March, February to April and March to May 2013.

Northernmost parts of the contiguous SADC are expected to receive normal to below-normal total rainfall in January-March while in February-April it is only the north-easternmost parts of Tanzania that will experience normal to below normal rainfall. During the March-May period, the sub-region will receive mostly normal to above normal rainfall with the extreme north-western parts receiving normal to below normal rainfall.

The Update was issued by the 16th Southern Africa Climate Outlook Forum (SARCOF-16), held in Lusaka, Zambia and hosted by the Zambia Meteorological Department and coordinated by the SADC Climate Services Centre. Support was provided by the Government of Zambia, African Development Bank and SADC.

WMO has been promoting and supporting Regional Climate Outlook Forums around the world, ever since the inception of the first forum in Southern Africa in 1997.

Regional Climate Outlook Forums presently serve more than half the world’s population and form an integral part of the Global Framework for Climate Services which aims to improve and expand the provision of climate science for decision-making and action.

 

WMO Regional Association for Asia
Posted 12 December 2012

WMO’s Regional Association for Asia (RAII) meets 13-19 December in Doha, Qatar, to discuss how to strengthen weather, climate and water services in a region affected by a wide range of hazards including sand and dust storms, drought, tropical cyclones and floods.

WMO has six regional associations, which meet every four years. The Regional Association for Asia groups 35 countries across a wide geographical zone.

The agenda for the meeting includes:

•Further improvement of service delivery capacity at national and regional level,
•Implementation of the Global Framework for Climate Services recently approved by the Extraordinary World Meteorological Congress
•Enhanced national and regional disaster risk reduction
•Development of the WMO Integrated Global Ob serving Sysgtems and WMO Information Systems
•Capacity building

The increasing frequency of hazards such as floods and droughts pose escalating threats to a number of countries in the region. There is a need for cooperation and partnership, especially through the strengthening of end-to-end early warning systems, and collaboration in preparedness planning and relief operations.

 

Doha climate conference welcomes WMO actions
Posted 10 December 2012

The World Meteorological Organization’s contributions to international cooperation on climate change were recognized in three decisions adopted last Saturday by the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. In these decisions:

• The Conference of the Parties (COP) noted with appreciation the outcome of the Extraordinary Session of the World Meteorological Congress, held in Geneva in October 2012, regarding the further implementation of the Global Framework for Climate Services. WMO was invited to report back next year to the Subsidiary Body on Scientific and Technical Advice on the outcome of the first meeting of the GFCS Intergovernmental Board, which will take place in July 2013. The GFCS aims to strengthen the production, availability, delivery and application of science-based climate prediction and services.

•The COP recognized the relevance of the GFCS to its decision on “Approaches to address loss and damage associated with climate change impacts in developing countries that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change to enhance adaptive capacity”. It further recognized (i) the need to strengthen international cooperation and expertise in order to understand and reduce loss and damage associated with the adverse effects of climate change, including impacts related to extreme weather events and slow onset events; (ii) the importance of the systematic observation of climate change impacts; and (iii) the need to enhance access to hydrometeorological and metadata needed to assess and manage climate-related risk.

•The COP adopted the eight-year Doha work programme on Article 6 of the Convention. Article 6 commits governments to promote and facilitate education, public awareness and training in the field of climate change. The COP decision recognizes WMO and five other UN bodies as members of the United Nations Alliance on Climate Change Education, Training and Public Awareness. WMO brings to the Alliance its invaluable networks of experts and of National Meteorological and Hydrological Services as well as a number of relevant programmes.

WMO’s presence was also felt at the conference through the launches of its reports on atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases in 2011 and on the climate trends and events experienced so far in 2012. These reports received a great deal of press coverage and were widely cited during the conference as providing clear evidence of the need for action on climate change. WMO also organized an exhibit and participated in a variety of side events. Furthermore, a number of decisions by the subsidiary bodies to the COP recognized and welcomed WMO’s work.

 

Arctic Report Card 2012
Posted 6 December 2012

The Arctic Report Card 2012 highlights the dramatic impact of persistent warming in the Arctic, which witnessed numerous record-setting melting events this year.

“Multiple observations provide strong evidence of widespread, sustained changes driving the Arctic environmental system into a new state,” according to the Report Card compiled by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and international partners (AMAP, CAFF, ARCUS).

Changes in the sea ice cover, snow cover, glaciers and Greenland ice sheet are reducing the overall surface reflectivity, with bright, white surfaces that reflect summer sunlight being replaced by darker surfaces, e.g., ocean and land, which absorb sunlight. These conditions increase the capacity to store heat within the Arctic system, which enables more melting - a positive feedback.

“Thus, we arrive at the conclusion that it is very likely that major changes will continue to occur in the Arctic in years to come, particularly in the face of projections that indicate continued global warming,” it said.

A second key point in Report Card 2012 is that changes in the Arctic marine environment are affecting the foundation of the food web in both the terrestrial and marine ecosystems.

Highlights of the Report Card include:

• Record low snow extent and low sea ice extent in June and September respectively

• Increasing growing season length, tundra greenness and above-ground biomass. Below the tundra, record high permafrost temperatures in northernmost Alaska

• Longest observed duration of melting on the Greenland ice sheet, with a rare, nearly ice sheet-wide melt event in July.

 

Southeastern Europe Climate Outlook for winter issued
Posted 6 December 2012

The Southeastern Europe Climate Outlook Forum has issued its seasonal outlook for winter 2012/2013 for the South Eastern Europe and Caucasus Region.

The Outlook, based on input from National Meteorological and Hydrological Services throughout the region and from European and international climate experts, focuses on anticipated precipitation and temperatures for the region. This is based upon an assessment of the current state of the climate including large-scale climate patterns
worldwide and assessments of its likely evolution in the course of the coming months;

With funding from the European Commission’s Directorate General for Englargement, the Southeastern Europe Climate Outlook Forum is intended to help in disaster risk reduction, as well as agriculture, water and energy management.

WMO has been encouraging the implementation of Regional Climate Outlook Forums around the world, ever since the inception of the first forum in Southern Africa in 1997.

Regional Climate Outlook Forums presently serve more than half the world’s population and form an integral part of the Global Framework for Climate Services which aims to improve and expand the provision of climate science for decision-making and action.

 

Updated climate outlook issued for Greater Horn of Africa
Posted 3 December 2012

The Greater Horn of Africa Climate Outlook Forum has issued an update for the September-December 2012 rainy season to take into account the fact that the expected El Niño failed to evolve, as noted by the latest WMO El Niño/La Niña Update.

Although El Niño has a major impact, it is not the only factor that drives regional climate patterns over the Greater Horn of Africa. Others include Indian Ocean systems such as the Indian Ocean Dipole, tropical cyclones and monsoons. These were all considered in the new climate update, according to Prof. Laban Ogallo, Director, of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development’s Climate Prediction and applications Centre (ICPAC), whose activities are supported by WMO along with other partners. ICPAC is implementing a demonstration phase to seek formal designation as a WMO Regional Climate Centre (RCC).

Experts attending a meeting convened by ICPAC 30 November 2012 concluded that there is “still a likelihood of the effects of extreme rainfall to be witnessed in some areas of the region”

September to December constitutes the second most important rainfall season, after the March-May rainfall season, over southern Somalia and other equatorial parts of the Greater Horn of Africa.

 

Busy 2012 hurricane season continues decades-long high activity era in the Atlantic
Posted 30 November 2012

The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has released its summary of the Atlantic hurricane season, which officially ends 30 November. It characterized it as a “busy” hurricane season, which continued decades-long high activity era in the Atlantic.

The 2012 Atlantic Hurricane season produced 19 named storms, of which 10 became hurricanes and one became a major hurricane. The number of named storms is well above the average of 12. The number of hurricanes is also above the average of six, but the number of major hurricanes is below the average of three.

Based on the combined number, intensity, and duration of all tropical storms and hurricanes, NOAA classifies the season as above-normal. 2012 was an active year, but not exceptionally so as there were 10 busier years in the last three decades.

This season marks the second consecutive year that the mid-Atlantic and Northeast suffered devastating impacts from a named storm. Sandy, and Irene last year, caused fatalities, injuries, and tremendous destruction from coastal storm surge, heavy rainfall, inland flooding, and wind. Storms struck many parts of the country this year, including tropical storms Beryl and Debby in Florida, Hurricane Isaac in Louisiana, and post-tropical Cyclone Sandy in New Jersey.

 

Record Arctic Sea Ice Melt, Multiple Extremes and High Temperatures
Posted 28 November 2012

The years 2001–2011 were all among the  warmest on record, and, according to the World Meteorological Organization, the first ten months indicate that 2012 will most likely be no exception despite the cooling influence of La Niña early in the year.

WMO’s provisional annual statement on the state of the global climate also highlighted the unprecedented melt of the Arctic sea ice and multiple weather and climate extremes which affected many parts of the world. It was released today to inform negotiators at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Doha, Qatar.

January-October 2012 has been the ninth warmest such period since records began in 1850. The global land and ocean surface temperature for the period was about 0.45°C (0.81°F) above the corresponding 1961–1990 average of 14.2°C, according to the statement.

The year began with a weak-to-moderate strength La Niña, which had developed in October 2011. The presence of a La Niña during the start of a year tends to have a cooling influence on global temperatures, and this year was no different. After the end of the La Niña in April 2012, the global land and ocean temperatures rose increasingly above the long-term average with each consecutive month. The six-month average of May–October 2012 was among the four warmest such periods on record. >> press release

 

ENSO REMAINS NEUTRAL
Posted 22 November 2012

Neutral conditions (neither El Niño nor La Niña) have continued in the tropical Pacific through recent months. Between July and September 2012, the tropical Pacific sea surface temperature increased to weak El Niño levels. However, because the overlying atmosphere failed to respond (i.e., sea level pressure, wind and cloud patterns were near normal), overall conditions remained neutral. 

Model forecasts and expert opinion suggest that the likelihood of El Niño conditions developing during the remainder of 2012 is now low, and that neutral conditions are likely to persist into the first quarter of 2013. National Meteorological and Hydrological Services and other agencies will continue to monitor Pacific Basin conditions and provide outlooks to assess the most likely state of the climate through the last part of 2012 and into early 2013.

WMO has therefore issued a new Update to reflect the latest developments. 

El Niño phenomenon is due to large-scale interactions between the ocean and the atmosphere. It is characterized by unusually warm ocean surface temperatures in the central and eastern tropical Pacific, in contrast to the unusually cool ocean surface temperatures witnessed in the same region during La Niña events. Both El Niño and La Niña have a large influence on weather and climate around the globe.

(Update in Spanish)

 

Greenhouse Gas Concentrations Reach New Record - WMO Bulletin highlights pivotal role of carbon sinks
Posted 20 November 2012

WMO Releases Annual Greenhouse Gas Bulletin

The amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere reached a new record high in 2011, according to the World Meteorological Organization. Between 1990 and 2011 there was a 30% increase in radiative forcing – the warming effect on our climate – because of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other heat-trapping long-lived gases.

Since the start of the industrial era in 1750, about 375 billion tonnes of carbon have been released into the atmosphere as CO2, primarily from fossil fuel combustion, according to WMO’s 2011 Greenhouse Gas Bulletin, which had a special focus on the carbon cycle.  About half of this carbon dioxide remains in the atmosphere, with the rest being absorbed by the oceans and terrestrial biosphere.

“These billions of tonnes of additional carbon dioxide in our atmosphere will remain there for centuries, causing our planet to warm further and impacting on all aspects of life on earth,” said WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud. “Future emissions will only compound the situation.”

“Until now, carbon sinks have absorbed nearly half of the carbon dioxide humans emitted in the atmosphere, but this will not necessarily continue in the future. We have already seen that the oceans are becoming more acidic as a result of the carbon dioxide uptake, with potential repercussions for the underwater food chain and coral reefs. There are many additional interactions between greenhouse gases, Earth’s biosphere and oceans, and we need to boost our monitoring capability and scientific knowledge in order to better understand these,” said Mr Jarraud.

>> Press Release

 

WMO praises success of ozone treaty
Posted 16 November 2012

The Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer is one of the most successful examples of multilateral environmental agreements, according to WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud. The number of ratifications — 197 — represent a record in the history of the United Nations and it has contributed to a reduction of 97% in the global use of ozone depleting substances.

In an address to the Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol – and coinciding with its 25th anniversary _ Mr Jarraud explained the essential role of WMO in coordinating observations of and research on the ozone layer through a global network of ozone monitoring stations and satellites. He also discussed the role of climate change on the state of the ozone lazer.

“In spite of the efforts to phase out ozone depleting substances, global warming may well lead to a weaker ozone layer in the tropics. In addition, nitrous oxide (N2O), one of the most important long-lived greenhouse gases, and whose atmospheric burden is increasing steadily, might represent a threat to the ozone layer later this century. There is also evidence that the annually recurring Antarctic ozone hole has a direct influence on the surface climate in Antarctica,” said Mr Jarraud.

He said that this reinforced the need for a global mechanism to enable the systematic production and application of climate services in a coordinated and integrated way. The Global Framework for Climate Services, will build on existing initiatives and infrastructure to address the full value chain from observations, research, prediction and product development to service delivery and application in support of decision-making in climate sensitive sectors. An extraordinary session of the World Meteorological Congress in October approved the governance structure and implementation plan of the GFCS. >> Speech

 

Natural hazards and air pollution challenge megacities
Posted 12 November 2012

Weather, climate and environmental services for urban areas are becoming increasingly important to meet growing challenges posed by floods, cyclones and other hazards, compounded by air pollution, according to WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud.

“Our focus is on climate, weather forecasting and disaster risk reduction, and the air we breathe,” WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud told a conference celebrating the 140th anniversary of the Shanghai Xujiahui Observatory, one of the world’s foremost observatories for the continuous long-term time series of climatological data.

As the population increases, the number of people living in urban areas is projected to increase from 3.6 billion in 2011 to 6.2 billion in 2050. The number of megacities—with more than 10 million inhabitants—is expected to rise from 23 to 37 in 2025. WMO recently launched a report highlighting the negative impact of megacities on local air quality.

Mr Jarraud said a pilot project on multi-hazard early warning system launched by WMO with the Shanghai Meteorological Bureau and demonstrated at Expo 2010 provided an excellent example of how to tackle problems facing megacities, including early detection and warning system for tropical cyclones and marine hazards; warning system for heat waves and health; forecasting of air pollution and weather, with a specific project on nowcasting.

“Projects like this can assist WMO Members to identify future directions for collaboration in urban meteorology,” Mr Jarraud said.

 

Meteorological Satellites Make Growing Contribution to Socio-Economic Development
Posted 6 November 2012

The Coordination Group for Meteorological Satellites (CGMS) is celebrating 40 years of successful cooperation as it prepares to meet growing demands from a world which is increasingly vulnerable to the impact of weather and climate.

Created in 1972 by Europe, Japan, USA, and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the CGMS has contributed to significantly improve, global planning, coordination and utilisation of meteorological satellites for weather forecasting and warning, as well as for scientific research, and more recently climate studies.

At its 40th anniversary meeting this week, the CGMS will harness past experience and expertise to devise a high-level priority plan to meet future challenges that will arise from the introduction of a new generation of meteorological satellites.

 “An increasing number of nations operate meteorological satellites to meet the unprecedented demands of society for weather, water and climate-related information,” said WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud. “International coordination and cooperation provided by CGMS is essential if we are to maximize the contribution of satellite observations to socio-economic development and reducing disasters,” he said.

Press release

 

Tuvalu becomes 190th WMO Member
Posted 6 November 2012

Tuvalu has become the 190th Member of the World Meteorological Organization. The extraordinary session of the World Meteorological Congress 29-31 October 2012 took note of the accession of the Pacific island nation 22 September 2012.

As a small island developing state, low-lying Tuvalu is especially vulnerable to climate variability and climate change.

The website of the Tuvalu Meteorological Service is http://informet.net/tuvmet/

 

World  Meteorological Congress Approves Climate Services Implementation Plan
Posted 5 November 2012

As Hurricane Sandy highlighted the force of nature, governments from around the world agreed on a detailed road map to improve and expand climate services essential to cope with weather, climate and water-related hazards several of which are expected to increase in frequency and/or intensity.

A historic extraordinary session of the World Meteorological Congress 29-31 October approved the governance structure and implementation plan for the Global Framework for Climate Services. This is a sweeping initiative to capitalize on scientific advances and roll out user-driven services such as seasonal climate outlooks and El Niño watches, flood prediction and drought monitoring tools.

“We have finished the last kilometer of preparation and now we are beginning the many kilometers of progress to improve the livelihood of citizens all over the world,” said World Meteorological Organization President David Grimes.

“Hundreds of millions, indeed billions, of people are demanding better climate services to respond to reduce the risk of disasters and improve food security, water management and health outcomes,” said WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud. “Together through the Global Framework for Climate Services we can turn these challenges into opportunities and make a very significant contribution to sustainable development.” >> Press release

 

CLIMANDES: Climate services for the Alps and Andes
Posted 30 October 2012

Peru and Switzerland have launched an innovative partnership to strengthen climate services in the Andean nation, building on the scientific knowledge and experience of the Alpine country.

Although geographically distant, Peru and Switzerland share the same challenges as a result of their mountainous terrain. High mountains have a significant influence over local weather and climate conditions in both countries. Both are frontline witnesses to the impact of climate change on shrinking glaciers.

Peru and Switzerland have united under the umbrella of the Global Framework for Climate Services (GFCS) to launch the project CLIMANDES (Servicios climaticos con enfasis en los Ande en apoyo a las decisions). This GFCS twinning activity seeks to improve climate services for the Peruvian region and to facilitate their incorporation into decision-making. >> full text

 

Hurricane Sandy
Posted 29 October 2012

The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Weather Service and National Hurricane Centre is issuing constant updates about Hurricane Sandy. The center of Sandy is expected to reach the mid-Atlantic coast Monday evening. Impacts will be felt over a large area.

A centralized website has been set up with full details.
Further information is available from the National Hurricane Center's website

Hurricane Sandy strengthened a little Monday morning, and is forecast to bring life- threatening storm surge flooding to the mid-Atlantic coast, including Long Island Sound and New York Harbor, as well as coastal hurricane-force winds.

As Sandy approaches land the warm moist air circulating within the hurricane will meet cold air spreading south into the north-eastern USA from Canada. This provides the potential for the storm to develop further and produce severe winds, heavy rain, flooding and even snow on its north and west flanks as it hits land.

 

Atlas of Health and Climate launches new collaboration between public health and meteorological communities
Posted 29 October 2012

As the world’s climate continues to change, hazards to human health are increasing. The Atlas of Health and Climate, published today jointly by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), illustrates some of the most pressing current and emerging challenges.

Droughts, floods and cyclones affect the health of millions of people each year. Climate variability and extreme conditions such as floods can also trigger epidemics of diseases such as diarrhoea, malaria, dengue and meningitis, which cause death and suffering for many millions more. The Atlas gives practical examples of how the use of weather and climate information can protect public health. >> press release

 

Climate ExChange showcases practical examples of climate services
Posted 26 October 2012

In a new publication, Climate ExChange, the World Meteorological Organization shows how climate services can  help food production, disaster risk reduction, health, transport, energy and water and energy management.

The book, published by Tudor Rose, was launched at the start of a conference grouping meteorological services and users of climate services, including the health, humanitarian and engineering sectors.

The Dialogue for Climate Services Users and Providers precedes an extraordinary session of the World Meteorological Congress 29-31 October on the Global Framework for Climate Services. >> full text

 

Strong climate services support climate change adaptation and sustainable development
Posted 25 October 2012

Geneva, 25 October 2012 – Climate change is having a fundamental impact on every aspect of our lives. It affects the sustainability of rural development and urban planning, the security of water supplies, and the strength of disaster defences. It influences the variety and cultivation of crops, the viability of renewable energy projects, the resilience of transport infrastructure,, and public health and disease control campaigns, to name but a few of its impacts.

The World Meteorological Organization is therefore spearheading a UN-wide initiative to improve and increase access to climate information and operational services needed to cope with natural climate variations and with human-induced climate change, which is leading to more extreme weather conditions such as droughts, heat-waves and floods. >> More

 

Global Framework for Climate Services: Twitterview with EUMETSAT
Posted 24 October 2012

The World Meteorological Organization is expanding its use of social media as part of its communications and outreach strategy. WMO and EUMETSAT joined up for a twitterview, an interview conducted on Twitter, to explain the importance of the Global Framework for Climate Services ahead of the World Meteorological Congress Extraordinary Session 29-31 October 2012. >> full text

 

Ministerial Conference adopts Integrated African Strategy for Meteorology 
Posted 24 October 2012

An integrated African Strategy for Meteorology (Weather and Climate) to meet challenges such as climate change and extreme weather hazards has been adopted by an African ministerial-level conference in Zimbabwe.

The Second Session of the African Ministerial Conference on Meteorology 15 - 19 October 2012 also focused on how to improve weather and climate services for sustainable development, particularly for priority sectors such as agriculture, water, health, disaster risk reduction and transport.  

The ministerial conference, organised by the World Meteorological Organization, the African Union Commission and the Government of Zimbabwe, welcomed the general improvement in the capacity and capabilities of African meteorological services over the past decade. But it also noted that many National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs) in the region operate with poor infrastructure and limited capability.  Their meteorological services are generally poorly developed and in a number of countries basic climate services are only available from external sources.

Press Release

 

WMO prepares for Extraordinary Congress 
Posted 16 October 2012

With the Extraordinary Congress less than two weeks away, WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud has outlined the event's goals in a guest article in IISD's Climate Change Policy & Practice.As explained in the article, the World Meteorological Congress will decide on the implementation plan, governance model and rules of procedure for the Global Frameworkfor Climate Services. Mr Jarraud also describes the priorities of the GFCS and the benefits that it will provide to countries.

 

WMO launches report on "Impacts of Megacities on Air Pollution and Climate"
Posted 16 October 2012

The World Meteorological Organization and the International Global Atmospheric Chemistry (IGAC) project have released a study of how megacities affect the climate and pollute the atmosphere. The report concludes that rapid urbanization will pose serious health risks to city dwellers unless stronger efforts are made to reduce pollution.

As summarized by a recent article in Nature, the report notes that over half of the world’s population already lives in cities, and this figure is expected to rise to 70% by 2050. As a result, the consequences of urban air pollution will become increasingly important. More study is needed on how the geography, meteorology, emissions, atmospheric chemistry, and climate of megacities interact with one another and affect human health.

Reflecting the state of relevant data, the report focuses on providing an initial assessment of what information is available on airpollution in megacities across Africa, Asia, South America, North America, and Europe. It also proposes priorities for continued data gathering and research.

 

Ministerial Conference Discusses Integrated African Strategy for Meteorology
Posted 12 October 2012

The development of an integrated African strategy for meteorology to meet challenges such as climate change and extreme weather hazards will be top of the agenda at a ministerial conference in Zimbabwe, 15-19 October, 2012.

The Second Session of the AU Conference of Ministers on Meteorology / African Ministerial Conference on Meteorology will also focus on how to improve weather and climate services for sustainable development, particularly for priority sectors such as agriculture, water, health, disaster risk reduction and transport.  

The meeting, to be held in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, is organised by the World Meteorological Organization, the African Union Commission and the Government of Zimbabwe. It follows on from the inaugural 2010 First Ministerial Conference of Ministers Responsible for Meteorology in Africa, which adopted the Nairobi Declaration calling for the strengthening of National Meteorological and Hydrological Services. >> full text

 

Women and Girls at Centre of International Day for Disaster Reduction
Posted 12 October 2012

WMO joins the international community in marking the International Day for Disaster Reduction 13 October. Women and girls are the focus of this year’s theme. 

Every year natural hazards cause significant loss of life, and erode or destroy development gains. From the ten most commonly reported disasters, nine are directly or indirectly related to weather or climate.

Over the past five decades, economic losses related to hydro- meteorological hazards have increased, but the human toll has fallen dramatically. This is thanks to scientific advances in forecasting, combined with proactive disaster risk reduction policies and tools, including contingency planning and early warning systems in a number of high risk countries.

This is why disaster risk reduction is one of the top four priorities of the Global Framework for Climate Services, which aims to improve climate services for all, especially the most vulnerable. An Extraordinary Session of the World Meteorological Congress 29-31 October will decide on the management and implementation plan of this UN-wide initiative. >> More

 

Seasonal Climate Outlook Issued for Central Africa
Posted 10 October 2012

Precipitation over much of Central Africa is expected to be normal to slightly below normal in October-December 2012, according to the seasonal climate outlook  issued by the African Centre of Meteorological Applications for Development (ACMAD), which is supported by WMO.                     

Normal to slightly above normal precipitation is expected over the coastal  strip of Gabon, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo and the Great Lakes region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, according to the Outlook.

The outlook was issued at the Regional Climate Outlook Forum, PRESAC,  held in Douala, Cameroon, 3 October 2012.  Its theme was “Seasonal forecast: climate service for risk management and adaption to climate change for sustainable development.”

More information (in French)

 

Seasonal Climate Outlook Issued for North Africa
Posted 10 October 2012

Above normal temperatures are very likely over much of North Africa, according to the seasonal climate outlook for October-December 2012 issued by the African Centre of Meteorological Applications for Development (ACMAD)., which is supported by WMO

Precipitation is more likely to be quite close to normal, with slight deficits over coastal parts of Morocco and adjacent areas in Algeria and slight excess over coastal parts of African countries of the eastern Mediterranean region, according to the outlook.

The outlook was issued at the Regional Climate Outlook Forum, PRESANORD,  held in Tunis 24-28 September 2012.  Its theme was “Seasonal forecast: climate service for risk management and adaption to climate change for sustainable development.”

 

IPCC enters new stage of Fifth Assessment Report review
Posted 10 October 2012

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is moving to a new stage in the preparation of its next major report, the Fifth Assessment Report, with the first of three government and expert reviews that will take place between now and May 2013.

The multi-stage review of draft reports is a key element of the IPCC assessment process. The main stages are the review of the first order draft by scientific experts, the review of the second order draft by governments and experts, which starts today, and a final round of government comments on the draft Summary for Policymakers.

In the second stage of the review, IPCC member governments are invited to review the second order drafts of the reports. Individuals with relevant expertise may also provide expert comments. The purpose of this government and expert review is to help ensure that the report represents the latest scientific and technical findings, provides a balanced and comprehensive assessment of the current information and is consistent with the mandate of the working groups and the outline of the Fifth Assessment Report that was approved by the Panel in October 2009.

IPCC is co-sponsored by the World Meteorological Organization and United Nations Environment Programme.

IPCC press release

 

Nadine is Second-Longest Tropical Cyclone in Atlantic Basin
Posted 5 October 2012

The U.S. National Hurricane Center says Nadine has finally dissipated after spinning for more than three weeks across the Eastern Atlantic, but with only limited impact on land.

The National Hurricane Center, which is a WMO Regional Specialized Meteorological Center,  issued a total 88 hurricane advisories about Nadine, which affected the Azores twice. Nadine will tie Ginger of 1971 as the second-longest Atlantic tropical storm on record at 21.25 days.

The record for the longest-lasting tropical storm in the Atlantic basin is 28 days, set by the "San Ciriaco Hurricane" of 1899.

Hurricane/Typhoon John holds the global record for the longest-lasting tropical cyclone at 31 days from 10 August to 10 September 1994. John was also the farthest-travelling cyclone, with a path of 13,280 kilometers from the eastern Pacific to the western Pacific and back to the central Pacific. Because it existed in both the eastern and western Pacific, John was one of the few tropical cyclones to be classed both as a hurricane and a typhoon. It barely affected land.

U.S. National Hurricane Center / WMO’s Tropical Cyclone Programme / Details on how tropical cyclones are named / Full details on global weather and climate extremes / WMO Severe Weather Information Center

 

Arctic Sea Ice Extent Hits Record Low, but Antarctic Winter Ice Reaches High
Posted 3 October 2012

The U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) has released a detailed analysis of the 2012 Arctic sea ice extent, which reached a record low.

By contrast, winter sea ice extent in Antarctica has reached a record high. The Antarctic extent increase is an probable response to changes in circulation patterns in the Southern Hemisphere, according to NSIDC.

Arctic sea ice extent averaged for September 2012 was 3.61 million square kilometers. This was 3.43 million square kilometers below the average for 1979 to 2000, the period of available sea observations form space, and 690,000 square kilometers less than the previous record low for the month that occurred in 2007. (Graphic of ice extent 1979-2012)

>> More

 

Addis Ababa Declaration Supports Stronger Climate Services for Africa
Posted 2 October 2012

The African Union Commission, African regional economic communities, and the Secretariat of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States have declared their support for the U.N. initiative spearheaded by the World Meteorological Organization to strengthen and expand the provision of climate services.

The Addis Ababa Declaration of Support for the Global Framework on Climate Services (GFCS) recognized that it will “enable better management of the risks of climate variability and change, and adaptation to climate change, through the development and incorporation of science-based climate information and prediction into planning, policy and practice on the global, regional and national scale.” >> More

 

1st Regional Seasonal Weather Forecasting Forum
Posted 1 October 2012

Météo France, the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC, Acclimate Project) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) are organizing a sub-regional forum in Saint-Denis (La Reunion Island) on 1st and 2nd October, with a view to reaching a consensus on Summer 2012-2013 weather forecasting.

By better anticipating the meteorological events that may take place in the area in the three coming months, we can strengthen the IOC islands’ resilience. >> Press Release

 

Seasonal rains in Sahel are favourable to locust breeding
Posted 28 September 2012

As a result of unusually good rains and ecological conditions this summer, a second generation of Desert Locust breeding started this month in northeast Mali, in northern and central Niger and in northeastern Chad, according to the Food and Agriculture’s Locust watch. Hatching is likely to commence in the coming days in these countries. Hoppers are expected to be present during September and October, and fledging could start by mid-October, leading to an increase in the number of adults during the second half of October and in November.

The Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) has started to retreat southwards over the Sahel. Consequently, seasonal rains will end soon. As vegetation dries out, hoppers will concentrate and form small groups and bands while second generation adults will form small groups and swarms. The latter are likely to migrate in November from the northern Sahel in Mali, Niger and Chad to southern and central Algeria and Libya, to northwest Mauritania and perhaps reach southern Morocco. So far, a few small groups of first generation adults have been seen in Niger and Chad, and one small swarm was reported in Chad.

WMO’s World AgroMeteorological Information Service seeks to strengthen
meteorological information to help in locust control

Bulletin du Centre Régional AGRHYMET

 

WMO Update Indicates Likelihood of Weak El Niño
Posted 25 September 2012

A weak El Niño may develop in September and October and last until the northern hemisphere winter, according to the World Meteorological Organization’s new El Niño/La Niña Update. 

The El Niño phenomenon is due to large-scale interactions between the ocean and the atmosphere. It is characterized by unusually warm ocean surface temperatures in the central and eastern tropical Pacific, in contrast to the unusually cool ocean surface temperatures witnessed in the same region during La Niña events. Both El Niño and La Niña have a large influence on weather and climate around the globe. Press release

 

Arctic Sea ice Extent Reaches Record Low
Posted 21 September 2012

On September 16, Arctic sea ice appeared to have reached its minimum extent for the year of 3.41 million square kilometers (1.32 million square miles), according to a preliminary assessment from the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center. This is the lowest seasonal minimum extent since satellite records began in 1979 and is the result of persistent warming in the Arctic. The sea ice extent will now begin its seasonal increase through autumn and winter.

The data is provisional. Estimates and trends identified by other national sources are similar to NSIDC. The World Meteorological Organization will consolidate sea ice data from a variety of Members around the globe in compiling its annual Statement on the Status of the Global Climate. >> More

 

EUMETSAT: Metop-B successfully launched
Posted 20 September 2012

Photo : Official Metop-B launch photo. The satellite lifts-off from the launch pad in Baikonur. More photos on our Flickr account: http://bit.ly/QJoknH

The Metop-B satellite was successfully launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on a Soyuz 2.1a rocket on 17 September 2012.

Metop-B’s role is to ensure continuity of observations from polar orbit which are vital to Numerical Weather Prediction– the basis of modern weather forecasting - as well as climate and environmental monitoring. This service is currently provided by the first satellite in the series, Metop- A (launched 19 October 2006), which has exceeded its nominal lifetime.

Alain Ratier, EUMETSAT’s Director-General, said, “Metop data significantly improve weather forecasts up to 10 days ahead. Through these forecasts, they help protect life and property, and also benefit the weather-sensitive sectors of our economy, especially energy, transportation, construction, agriculture and tourism”. The value of Metop data for weather forecasting is illustrated by recent studies of the impact of various data sources (in situ, airborne and space-based) on the performance of 24-hour forecasts, in which Metop-A accounts for the highest level of contribution at 25%. Focusing on the contribution of data from individual satellites, Metop-A’s contribution is nearly 40%, which is more than double the contribution of a polar orbiting satellite of the previous generation.

The polar orbiting Metop satellites together with the geostationary Meteosats form the two pillars of Europe’s system of operational meteorological satellites.

Press release

 

WMO: Ninety-year-old world temperature record in El Azizia (Libya) is invalid
Posted 13 September 2012

A World Meteorological Organization panel has concluded that the all-time heat record held for exactly 90 years by El Azizia in Libya is invalid because of an error in recording the temperature. The announcement follows a danger-fraught investigation during the 2011 Libyan revolution. Death Valley National Park in California, USA, now officially holds the title of the world’s hottest place – as symbolic for meteorologists as Mt. Everest is for geographers.

During 2010-2011, a WMO Commission of Climatology special international panel of experts conducted an in-depth investigation of the long-held world-record temperature extreme of 58ºC (136.4 ºF). That temperature (often cited by numerous sources as the highest surface temperature for the planet) was recorded at El Azizia, approximately 40 kilometres south-southwest of Tripoli on 13 September 1922. The investigation was conducted with the support of the Libyan National Meteorological Centre for the WMO Commission of Climatology World Archive of Weather and Climate Extremes (http://wmo.asu.edu/), the official WMO world meteorology-verified record of weather and climate extremes.

Press release

 

Active Monsoon in West Africa and Sahel
Posted 10 September 2012

Many parts of West Africa and the Sahel have experienced flooding since the end of July because of a very active monsoon. This was mainly caused by interactions between the atmosphere and the ocean and above normal temperatures over the Mediterranean region. The African Centre of Meteorological Applications for Development (ACMAD) has issued a report describing these patterns, related flooding events and impacts.

ENSO (El Niño-Southern Oscillation) is among the major drivers of rainfall variability in the tropics including sub-Saharan Africa. Over the past few months, a transition from ENSO neutral to El Niño was observed in the equatorial Pacific. Such a situation contributes to the irregular distribution of West African monsoon rainfall during the season. Disruptions to the onset and withdrawal of the monsoon, and wet and dry spells have been observed during summers characterized by a transition from ENSO neutral to El Nino conditions in the Equatorial Pacific.

Much more importantly, a very active phase of the Madden Julian Oscillation (a global phenomenon that modulates convection and rainfall in the tropics at intraseasonal timescales) was observed over the region.

There were above normal temperatures over North Africa and the Mediterranean sea from May to July 2012 and beyond. An active monsoon season with rainfall recorded over desert locust prone areas of the Sahel has been reported in association with above normal temperatures in north Africa and the Mediterranean sea during spring and summer. International support is being mobilized to strengthen locust development monitoring in the Sahel this year.

From late July to Late August 2012, precipitation above 150% of normal was recorded in southeastern Mauritania and adjacent areas in Mali, Senegal, the north of Burkina Faso, the middle and lower Niger river basin in Mali, the Lake Chad basin in Niger, Nigeria and Cameroon. Flash and riverine floods due to excessive precipitation at and upstream of many locations of the Lake Chad and River Niger basin were reported.

Report

 

Greater Horn of Africa Climate Outlook Forum assesses coming rainy season
Posted 31 August 2012

GHACOF32_DRAFT_2.bmp The Greater Horn of Africa Climate Outlook Forum has concluded that, in the forthcoming September-December rainy season, most parts of the region are likely to receive near normal to above normal rainfall.

The Forum issued a consensus-based regional climate outlook following a review of the current and expected future state of the global climate system, large-scale climate anomalies and their implications for the 11 countries in the Greater Horn of Africa region. Meteorological experts as well as representatives from disaster risk management, water resources, agriculture and food security, health and development sectors were among the participants. The forum session held from 29 to 31 August 2012 in Zanzibar, United Republic of Tanzania, was convened by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development’s Climate Prediction and Applications Centre (ICPAC) with the support of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and other partners, and hosted by the Tanzanian Meteorological Agency.

September to December constitutes the second most important rainfall season, after the March-May rainfall season, over southern Somalia and other equatorial parts of the Greater Horn of Africa (Kenya, Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda and northern Tanzania). >> More

Roving Seminars help farmers increase productivity
Posted 31 August 2012

Around 120 Roving Seminars on Weather and Climate are being held in 15 Western African countries from July to September. The objective of these seminars is to make farmers become more self-reliant in dealing with weather and climate issues that affect agricultural production on their farms and to increase the interaction between the farmers and the National Meteorological and Hydrological Services.

The organization of the workshops follows a successful four year pilot project in West Africa spearheaded by the World Meteorological Organization which trained 5 700 subsistence farmers – including 1 000 rural women - in how to access and use weather and climate information to maximize yields and minimize risks in a region which is vulnerable to both floods and droughts.

More targeted weather and climate information can increase preparedness and lead to better economic, social, and environmental outcomes for farmers. Given the current concerns with climate change and it’s impacts on crop productivity, there is an urgent need to sensitize farmers about the projected climate change in their regions and the different adaptation strategies that can adopted. Examples of more general decisions that can be aided by targeted weather and climate information include strategic and tactical crop management options, agricultural commodity marketing, and policy decisions about future agricultural land use.

Typically the Roving Seminars are of one-day duration and bring together farmers from a group of villages to a centralized location in any given region. Farmers are given information in local language on aspects of weather and climate in the region, including climate change topics and better risk management. They then provide feedback on the weather and climate issues in their farming operations and the nature of assistance they need.

The Seminars are organized by the National Meteorological and Hydrological Services in cooperation with other institutions, mainly agriculture extension services. The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs is helping fund the activities.

 

Building Resilience To Disasters In Western Balkans And Turkey
Posted 30 August 2012

Geneva/Zagreb, Croatia, 30 August 2012 (UNISDR/WMO) – The United Nations, European Commission and national authorities have launched a new project in the Western Balkans and Turkey that will reduce disaster risks and increase resilience to climate change.

The Western Balkans and Turkey are prone to multiple hazards such as heat and cold waves, precipitation that causes floods as well as landslides, droughts and forest fires and earthquakes. Climate variability and climate change, new land-use patterns and increasing human settlements in vulnerable areas may compound such problems.

The UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) are co-sponsoring the two-year multi-beneficiary project. EUR 2.2 million is being provided by the European Commission’s Directorate General for Enlargement, under the Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance Programme.  Beneficiaries are Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, Serbia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Turkey, and Kosovo (under UN Security Council Resolution 1244/99). >> More

 


Arctic sea ice breaks lowest extent on record
Posted 28 August 2012

Arctic sea ice cover melted to its lowest extent in the satellite record, breaking the previous record low observed in 2007, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) and NASA.

Sea ice extent fell to 4.10 million square kilometers (1.58 million square miles) on August 26, 2012. This was 70,000 square kilometers (27,000 square miles) below the September 18, 2007 daily extent of 4.17 million square kilometers (1.61 million square miles).

The new record was reached before the end of the melt season in the Arctic, which usually takes place in mid- to late-September. Scientists expect to see an even larger loss of sea ice in the coming weeks.

Final data on the 2012 Arctic sea ice extent will be included in WMO’s annual statement on the status of the global climate.

NSIDC scientist Walt Meier said, "By itself it's just a number, and occasionally records are going to get set. But in the context of what's happened in the last several years and throughout the satellite record, it's an indication that the Arctic sea ice cover is fundamentally changing."

The sea ice cap naturally grows during the cold Arctic winters and shrinks when temperatures climb in the spring and summer. But over the last three decades, satellites have observed a 13 percent decline per decade in the minimum summertime extent of the sea ice, according to NASA. The thickness of the sea ice cover also continues to decline. >> More

 

U.N. agencies call for stronger National Drought Policies
Posted 21 August 2012

The drought gripping the United States of America and the ripple effects on global food markets underline the vulnerability of our inter-connected world to a natural hazard that is expected to increase in future.

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and other UN agencies are stepping up efforts to develop more coordinated and proactive policies for managing drought risk to fill the existing vacuum in virtually every nation.

“Climate change is projected to increase the frequency, intensity, and duration of droughts, with impacts on many sectors, in particular food, water, and energy,” said WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud. “We need to move away from a piecemeal, crisis-driven approach and develop integrated risk-based national drought policies.” >> More

 

WMO commends UK's Met Office for looking from London to Rio
Posted 9 August 2012

Four years ago the UK's Met Office forecasters visited the Chinese Meteorological Administration to see how they successfully provided services for the Beijing Olympics. Now, as the Met Office delivers for organisers, athletes and spectators in London, representatives from Brazil's national met service are observing the teams at work to help plan for Rio 2016.

Marcia dos Santos Seabra from  Brazil's Instituto Nacional de Meteorologia (INMET) has spent time observing the Met Office forecasting operation on location at Olympic sites and at Exeter Headquarters.

She said: "This has been a great opportunity to learn more about the work the Met Office has been doing ahead of and during the Games. Seeing their cutting edge science, on-site forecasters and clear communications, I have been very impressed with how they have delivered world class forecast services for this fantastic Olympics."

John Hirst, Chief Executive of the Met Office, said: "Our job for London 2012 is to help organisers minimise the impact of the weather on the sporting action and make sure everyone, from athletes to the spectators, is prepared for what the weather has in store.

"By offering climate information for all the venues to help advance planning, to utilising the latest technology to deliver the most accurate daily forecasts available, we're helping everyone stay one step ahead of the weather."

WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud said: "Weather and climate know no national boundaries, and this is why we need strong international cooperation. Reliable information is critical for many socio-economic activities, including sport. The 2012 Olympics have showcased detailed and accurate weather forecasts for athletes, supporters and organizers. The World Meteorological Organization commends the Met Office for sharing its scientific and technological know-how with the Instituto Nacional de Meteorologia of Brazil for the good of future Olympic Games and indeed future generations."
http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/news/releases/archive/2012/london-to-rio

 

Weather and the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games (MetOffice, UK)
Posted 24 July

Feature image

As a member of the World Meteorological Organization and the United Kingdom's national weather service, the UK’s Met Office is playing an important role in support of London 2012, which is the biggest event the country has ever hosted.

Science and technology developments for the Olympic and Paralympic Games (25 July - 12 August and 29 August – 9 September 2012, respectively) will help to deliver increasing accuracy and detail in weather forecasts during the Games and well into the future.

Working with the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG), the Met Office has been providing essential weather information for planning and logistics over the pasttwo years. >> More

The MetOffice's Olympics page

 

WMO Information System to make metadata available via GEOSS
Posted 12 July

WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud is pleased to announce that metadata from the World Meteorological Organization Information System (WIS) will be made available through the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS) from 13 July onwards. This means that any data registered in the WIS will be automatically registered and thus accessible in GEOSS. This action responds to the commitment made by the World Meteorological Congress in 2007 "that the WIS, as a system with essential data exchange and data management services, would have to play a core role in the GEOSS as an essential WMO contribution with respect to weather, water and climate data and products."

This new functionality complements the existing WIS capability for discovering GEOSS data and products via WIS. This capability is available at WMO’s Global Information and System Centres (GISCs – see www.wmo.int/giscs).

The contribution of WIS metadata to GEOSS further improves the two systems’ interoperability and reflects the WMO Executive Council’s endorsement of GEOSS and its 10-Year Implementation Plan.  The Council also called for full support for the GEO process and for GEOSS, support for GEOSS implementation to the maximum extent possible within WMO’s mandate, and the availability through the GEOSS interoperability arrangements of all essential data as defined in WMO Resolution 40 (which addresses the sharing of meteorological data).

WMO Executive Council honours scientists
Posted 11 July

The World Meteorological Organization’s Executive Council has awarded its most prestigious prize and honoured several distinguished scientists for outstanding contributions in the field of meteorology, climatology, hydrology and related sciences.

Dr Zaviša Janjić won the IMO Prize, the highest award, for his life-long contributions to the advancement of theory and practice of atmospheric modelling and numerical weather prediction. The scope of his scientific interest and expertise is very broad, ranging from all aspects of model dynamics to major aspects of model physics.

Dr Janjić (Serbia  / U.S.A.) is currently a research meteorologist with the U.S. National Center for Environmental Prediction.

The IMO prize originates from WMO's predecessor, the International Meteorological Organization.

Press release

 

Reaching the last mile with climate services
Posted 5 July

Hundreds of thousands of lives, and livelihoods, are threatened and lost every year in Africa due to the impacts of climate variability and severe weather conditions. Some, if not most, of such losses could be avoided if populations had access to reliable, timely localised weather information.

WMO, through its network of National Meteorological and Hydrological Services around the world, is working to improve this situation. With support from the Norwegian Government and the World Bank, the WMO Mobile Weather Alert project pilots the dissemination of weather and climate information directly to end-users in Uganda.

The WMO Mobile Weather Alert pilot projects launched in Uganda have two components, one targeting farmers, the other fishermen on Lake Victoria. Both emphasize the importance of continuous interactions between service providers and end-users. To be relevant, it is essential that service provider understand the real, on-the-ground, needs of end-users and are certain that those users understand the meteorological information that will be sent to them and can use it to make sound decisions.

The pilot projects take advantage of the widespread availability of mobile phones. Over the past decade Africa has experienced an incredible boom in mobile phone use. According to International Telecommunications Union (ITU), Africa has had the fastest expanding mobile telephone market – growing at twice the rate of the global market – over the last five years.

The new issue of WMO’s Bulletin examines the Mobile Weather Alert projects  

Pilot project for Ugandan farmers

Fishermen on Lake Victoria

 

WMO Executive Council discusses climate services and other priorities
Posted 5 July

WMO’s Executive Council has issued guidance on a planned road map to increase the availability, accuracy and relevance of climate services to help society cope with natural fluctuations in our climate and human induced climate change.

The Global Framework for Climate Services (GFCS) was one of the main focuses of the WMO Executive Council’s annual meeting held from 25 June – 3 July 2012. Discussions helped in preparations for the first ever Extraordinary World Meteorological Congress at the end of October to decide on the governance and implementation of the GFCS.

The GFCS is currently being developed by WMO and a wide range of partners within and outside the United Nations System. It aims to fill the critical gaps in provision of science-based climate information, especially to the most vulnerable, and to tailor it to the needs of a wide range of users. The initial priority areas for action are agriculture and food security, water management, disaster risk reduction and health. Press release

 

GCOS 1992-2012 - 20 Years in Service for Climate Observations
Posted 4 July

The year 2012 marks the 20th anniversary of the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS), the system dedicated to ensuring provision of the observational data and information that is the foundation for decisions on climate.

The GCOS Programme formally celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Global Climate Observing System on Friday, 29 June 2012 during the 64th WMO Executive Council meeting in Geneva.  The celebration provided an opportunity to review the origins of the GCOS, to take stock of the accomplishments of GCOS in the first twenty years of its existence, and to think ahead about new opportunities and challenges for GCOS. 

Agenda of the Symposium "GCOS – Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow"

Download the presentations as zip-archive (92 MB)

Download the brochure: "GCOS 1992-2012 - 20 Years in Service for Climate Observations"


Global Climate Observing System marks 20th anniversary
Posted 29 June

The Global Climate Observing System celebrated its 20th anniversary at a ceremony 29 June during WMO’s Executive Council. The anniversary provides an opportunity to take stock of the accomplishments of the first twenty years, and to plan ahead for new opportunities and challenges.

Systematic long-term observations of the system are vital to understand the natural variability of the Earth’s climate system, detecting whether man’s activities are changing it. Increased accuracy and coverage in many observations are required. Associated with expanded observations is the need to develop appropriate comprehensive global information bases for the rapid and efficient dissemination and utilization of data.

Despite key accomplishments in the last 20 years, there are still a significant number of needs to be met. This is especially the case in developing countries, where some networks have been deteriorating, rather than improving.


The Global Climate Observing System is one of the essential elements for a new Global Framework for Climate Services. New climate services are being demanded by important user sectors, including water resources, agriculture, health and disaster risk management. The Global Climate Observing System must be capable of meeting the needs for these new services at global, regional and local scales. Indeed, the effectiveness of climate services will depend at least partly on the adequacy of the component observing networks on which the Global Climate Observing System is built. >>More


IPCC completes review of processes and procedures
Posted 28 June

Over the past two years, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)undertook a complete review of its processes and procedures - effectively the IPCC's "constitution". Decisions on governance and mangement, conflict of interest, and procedures were taken by a meeting of the Panel, the IPCC's governing body, at its 35th session in Geneva on 6-9 June 2012. The Panel also adopted a communications strategy. >> More

 

WMO: slight chance of El Niño developing in second half of 2012
Posted 26 June

There is a slight chance that El Niño conditions may develop some time during July to September, according to a new El Niño/La Niña Update issued by the World Meteorological Organization. The potential strength of any such event is uncertain at this stage.

Neutral conditions (neither El Niño nor La Niña) have prevailed since the 2011-12 La Niña ended in April 2012, and are likely to continue for at least the first half of the northern hemisphere summer (southern hemisphere winter). Beyond July, odds slightly favour El Niño over neutral conditions. The re-emergence of La Niña is considered very unlikely. 

 

WMO Executive Council reviews progress and priorities for weather, climate and water services
Posted 25 June

The Executive Council of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) holds its annual meeting from 25 June to 3 July to review progress in the provision of critical weather, climate and water services to meet the growing needs of society.

The Council will consider WMO priorities including the Global Framework for Climate Services, which is being developed by WMO and its partners. Other priorities are: enhanced disaster risk reduction; improved observation and information systems; more efficient meteorological services for the aviation sector; and capacity-strengthening of National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs) in developing countries.

The 37-member Council is chaired by WMO President David Grimes. The WMO is the UN’s authoritative scientific voice on weather, climate and water. 

 

UN-Water launches status report on water resources management 
Posted 20 June

UN-Water hosted an all-day symposium on the sidelines of the Rio+20 conference to launch a new UN-Water report Status Report on the Application of Integrated Approaches to Water Resources Management. WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud, serving a two-year term as UN Water Chair, presented the report to Rio+20 Executive Coordinator Brice Lalonde. Addressing the assembled Ministers and other participants, Mr Jarraud described water as a fundamental human right and called the new report an important contribution to the sustainable development debate at Rio+20 and beyond.

http://www.unep.org/newscentre/Default.aspx?DocumentID=2688&ArticleID=9185&l=en

 

WMO at Rio+20
Posted 18 June

brochure

Industrialization, population growth and increased demand for food and energy are straining our planet’s limited natural resources. Climate change and environmental degradation are likely to place even further pressure on our ecosystems.

The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), in Brazil on 20–22 June 2012, aims to secure renewed political commitment for sustainable development and to address new and emerging challenges to achieve “The Future We Want".

Weather, climate and water affect all areas of human activity. The delivery of tailor-made weather, climate and water services is increasingly needed to ensure food security, improved water management, disaster risk reduction and better health. Other climate- sensitive socio-economic sectors, such as energy, transport, tourism and urban planning, benefit from such services.

Accurate and timely weather analyses and predictions, with climate predictions in the coming decades, will further improve human safety, prosperity and livelihood and preserve precious natural resources to the benefit of the global community, especially the most vulnerable.

This is the rationale behind the Global Framework for Climate Services which WMO and its partners are developing and which WMO will promote at the Rio+20 conference. Sustainable development holds the promise for a better future for all.

Brochure

Rio +20 home page

 

IPCC makes progress towards Fifth Assessment Report
Posted 12 June

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is making solid progress towards its next major report, the Fifth Assessment Report, which will be released in 2013 and 2014.


The IPCC provides governments with a clear scientific view of the current state of knowledge about climate change, its potential impacts, and options for adaptation and mitigation, through regular assessments of the most recent scientific, technical and socio-economic information published worldwide. These assessments are policy-relevant, but not policy-prescriptive. >> More

 

Greater Horn of Africa Climate Outlook Forum
Posted 31 May

 

The Greater Horn of Africa Climate Outlook Forum predicts there may be near normal to above normal rainfall in parts of the region which have a rainy season in June to September.

The next three-months constitute an important rainfall season over the northern sector (Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, northern and central Somalia, South Sudan and Sudan) and the western parts (southwestern Somalia) of the equatorial sector of the Greater Horn of Africa.

A consensus climate outlook issued 30 May indicated an “increased likelihood of near normal to above normal rainfall over western and central areas of the northern sector as well as the western and coastal parts of the equatorial sector.”

For the rest of Greater Horn of Africa, June to August is a dry season and these areas are expected to remain generally dry during that period. >> more

Sahel Outlook
Posted 29 May

 

The African Centre of Meteorological Applications for Development has issued its seasonal outlook for the July-September rainy season in the Sahel

Here is a summary:

-Above normal precipitation very likely over eastern Sahel (zone II) around Lake Chad in Niger, over north-eastern Nigeria and much of Chad. About 100% to 130% of normal precipitation is expected over much of this zone;

-Below normal to normal precipitation very likely over the Western Sahel (zone I) in the northern half of Senegal, Southern part of Mali and Southern Mauritania. About 70% to 90% of normal precipitation is expected for zone 1;

-Above normal to normal precipitation is very likely (zone III) over much of Burkina Faso and northern parts of Togo, Benin and Ghana. About 80 to 130% of the normal precipitation is expected for zone 3;

-Normal precipitation is very likely (zone IV) along the West African coast from Liberia to Nigeria and much of the southern part of Cameroon;

The region is not expected to experience severe deficit of precipitation. However, knowledge of sub-seasonal variability of the regional climate and analysis of recent experimental products suggest a late onset of precipitation more likely over zone 1 (Northern Senegal, South eastern Mauritania, Western Mali, The Gambia) and disruptions in the distribution of precipitating events during summer 2012 over much of the region.

 

NOAA issues outlook for hurricane season
Posted 25 May

Credit: NOAA

The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says that conditions in the atmosphere and the ocean favor a near-normal hurricane season in the Atlantic Basin this season. The Atlantic hurricane season starts 1 June until 30 November.

For the entire six-month season, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center says there’s a 70 percent chance of nine to 15 named storms (with top winds of 63 kilometers per hour or higher), of which four to eight will strengthen to a hurricane (with top winds of 119 kmh and of those one to three will become major hurricanes (with top winds of 178 kmh or higher, ranking Category 3, 4 or 5).

Based on the period 1981-2010, an average season produces 12 named storms with six hurricanes, including three major hurricanes. 2011 was an active Atlantic hurricane season with 19 tropical storms of which 7 became hurricanes.

Press release

NOAA is predicting a below normal Central Pacific hurricane season and a near normal Eastern Pacific hurricane season.

Tropical Cyclones: Questions and answers

 

Joint press release -Oceanographers and Meteorologists discuss climate change, maritime and coastal safety
Posted 22 May

The interrelationship between our changing climate and oceans which cover two thirds of the Earth’s surface will be on the agenda of an intergovernmental commission of meteorologists and oceanographers discussing improved cooperation in the face of challenges such as maritime and coastal safety and the need for more high-quality data from the ocean to support weather prediction and climate studies.

The Joint Commission for Oceanography and Marine Meteorology (JCOMM) of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC), meets in Yeosu, Republic of Korea, 23-31 May to consider progress and priorities in strengthening our understanding of oceans through collective action.

Press release

 

EL NIÑO/LA NIÑA UPDATE
Posted 16 May

The 2011-2012 La Niña has ended. La Niña conditions in the tropical Pacific transitioned to neutral (neither El Niño nor La Niña) conditions in early April 2012. Model forecasts and expert opinion suggest that neutral conditions are likely to continue into the Northern Hemisphere summer (austral winter). For the second half of 2012 a return of La Niña is unlikely, while neutral or El Niño conditions are currently considered to have equal chances of occurring. National Meteorological and Hydrological Services and other agencies will continue to monitor Pacific Basin conditions and outlooks to assess the most likely state of the climate during 2012.

Update

 

Africa Water Week focuses on sustainable development
Posted 15 May

The Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, to be held next month, should renew the global commitment to integrated and sustainable management of freshwater resources, according to WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud.

“Efficient water resources management is synonymous with sustainable development, and the national gross domestic product is the degree of a country's water resources development,” Mr Jarraud told the African Ministers’ Council (AMCOW) on Water 10th anniversary commemoration held in Cairo, Egypt, during Africa Water Week .

“The crosscutting nature of water issues calls for a strongly-coordinated response of the entire UN System, to provide all the necessary knowledge, tools and skills to the various socio-economic sectors in need and to support high-level decision-making at global, regional and local scales.  While the UN System can provide the operational development framework, the support of all Member States and regional bodies, in particular of AMCOW, is indeed decisive,” said Mr Jarraud, who is current chair of UN-Water.

AMCOW was formed in 2002 in Abuja Nigeria, primarily to promote cooperation through the effective management of the continent’s water resources and provision of water supply services. It organizes Africa Water Week to mobilize  political commitment to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) water and sanitation targets by 2015, and the 2025 Africa Water Vision.

“Increasing attention will be required in Africa on the potential impacts of climate variability and change on the water cycle and its connected issues, especially in terms of the increasing vulnerability of the developing world and the complexity of the associated uncertainties,” said Mr Jarraud. Water management is one of the priorities of the Global Framework for Climate Services currently being developed by WMO and partners.

Speech

 

Mobile weather service improves safety of fishermen in Uganda
Posted 10 May

 

 

 

The Uganda Department of Meteorology, World Meteorological Organization, MTN, Ericsson, National Lake Rescue Institute and the Kalangala Fishing community have come together in a unique partnership, and combined mobile technology, weather forecasting expertise and local know-how, to provide a localised weather alert service to fishing villages on Lake Victoria.

The service has been tested by over 1000 fishermen on Lake Victoria and is due to be made more widely available in the next three months. The free-of-chargeweather information service will enable fishermen and traders to make informed decisions on, for example, when and where to fish in Lake Victoria, thus helping to save lives and preserve livelihoods.

Lake Victoria is the world's second-largest freshwater lake, provides a livelihood, directly and indirectly, to over 3.5 million people. The lake supports Africa's largest inland fishery and produces over 800,000 tons of fish annually, currently worth about USD 600,000,000, and reported estimates indicate that as many as 5,000 members of the fishing community die in boating accidents in the lake each year because they are unprepared for bad weather conditions.

Press release

 

World Weather Information Website Hits One Billion Mark
Posted 27 April

 

graphic

The World Weather Information Service (WWIS) website has just exceeded one billion page visits since it was launched in 2001.

The WWIS website was developed and maintained by the Hong Kong Observatory on behalf of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). The WWIS aims to provide authoritative and reliable weather information from worldwide National Meteorological Services. At present, 131 WMO Members provide official weather forecasts covering more than 1 600 cities on the website. It is also available in 10 different languages, serving the international public in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish.

Apart from website, a mobile version of the WWIS, MyWorldWeather, was launched on the iPhone platform in October 2011. Equipped with location-based technology to detect the user’s location, the application automatically displays the latest official weather forecasts and climatological information of the city nearest to the user. The MyWorldWeather has also become popular and around 39 000 copies have been downloaded since its launch.

My WorldWeather is a free mobile application downloadable here.

 
   

A new World Bank report highlights the impact flood events have around the world and provides practical advice on how to prepare for and manage floods in cities
Posted 25 April

 

 

Credit: gfdrr.org

“Urban flooding poses a serious challenge to development and the lives of people, particularly the residents of the rapidly expanding towns and cities in developing countries. The poor and vulnerable are the hardest hit”, said Abhas Jha, Lead Urban Specialist and Program Leader, Disaster Risk Management, World Bank East Asia and Pacific Region, lead author of the World Bank report titled “Cities and Flooding: A Guide to Integrated Urban Flood Risk Management for the 21st Century”.


In 2010 alone, 178 million people were affected by floods. The total losses in exceptional years such as 1998 and 2010 exceeded US$40 billion. Often located along the coast or in flood plains, with high concentration of assets and people, cities are at a particular risk. Bangkok, Sendai, Brisbane, New York, Karachi, along many other cities, have recently witnessed devastating impact flood events. >> more

 

International Polar Year Conference 2012 seeks to translate knowledge to action
Posted 24 April

  Conference Program
 

Credit: ipy2012

The International Polar Year 2012 conference has opened with calls to increase scientific knowledge and translate it into action.

World Meteorological Organization President David Grimes was one of the guest speakers at the conference in Montreal, Canada, which groups more than 2,000 Arctic and Antarctic researchers and policy makers.

The International Polar Year 2012 conference has opened with calls to increase scientific knowledge and translate it into action.

World Meteorological Organization President David Grimes was one of the guest speakers at the conference in Montreal, Canada, which groups more than 2,000 Arctic and Antarctic researchers and policy makers. >> More

 

South Asian Climate Outlook Forum considers forthcoming monsoon
Posted 24 April

 
 

 

Large-scale summer monsoon rainfall for South Asia and the season (June–September) as a whole will most likely be within the normal range, according to the South Asian Climate Outlook Forum. There is a likelihood of below normal rainfall in some northwestern and southern areas of the sub-region.

However, the outlook statement notes that there is a large degree of uncertainty at this time because of the transition from La Niña to neutral El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) conditions and some possibility for the emergence of El Niño during the later part of the monsoon season. La Niña events are typically associated with a more active monsoon in South Asia, and El Niño events with a weaker monsoon.

A number of factors influence the performance of the South Asian summer monsoon. In addition to sea-surface temperature conditions over the equatorial Pacific and the Indian Oceans, these include winter and spring snow cover and land-surface temperatures over Northern Hemisphere, which are known to have implications for the strength of the monsoon circulation.

In issuing its assessment, the South Asian Climate Outlook Forum considered the various prevailing global climate conditions as well as forecasts from different climate models.

The South Asian Climate Outlook Forum, in its third session in Pune, India, consisted of experts from South Asian countries, supported by international experts. The meeting was co-sponsored by the Ministry of Earth Sciences, Government of India, India Meteorological Department, the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, the Japan Meteorological Agency and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

WMO is actively promoting regional climate outlook forums around the world as part of efforts to improve seasonal climate predictions, facilitate consensus-based outlooks and make them more accessible and useful for forward planning and decision-making by different socio-economic sectors.

For more detailed information on the summer monsoon outlook and further updates on national scale, it is important to consult the concerned National Meteorological Service.

The South Asian Climate Outlook Forum consensus statement

 

WMO Hurricane Committee retires Irene from tropical storm list of names
Posted 17 April

  Hurricane Irene
 

Hurricane Irene over the southern Bahamas on August 24
Credit: NASA

"Irene" has been retired from the official list of Atlantic Basin tropical storm names by the World Meteorological Organization Regional Association IV Hurricane Committee because of the deaths and damage the hurricane caused in August 2011. The name will be replaced with "Irma".

The decision to remove "Irene" from the rotating list of tropical cyclone names was taken during the Hurricane Committee's annual meeting in Florida, the United States of America. The Committee is responsible for the list of storm names used every six years for both the Atlantic and eastern North Pacific basins. >> More

 

IPCC launches Special Report on Extreme Weather Events
Posted 29 March

  cover report IPCC
 

In recent years, extreme weather and climate events have taken many lives and caused billions of dollars in economic losses. Is climate change leading to increases in the number and severity of extreme events? How do social and environmental factors interact with weather and climate events to create disasters? And what can be done to make societies more resilient to extremes?

The scientific information on these questions is assessed by a Special Report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation.

The IPCC, which is co-sponsored by the World Meteorological Organization and the United Nations Environment Programme, released a 19-page Summary for Policymakers in November 2011.

The full 592-page report released 28 March provides the detailed evidence underlying the findings highlighted in the Summary for Policymakers, complete with graphics, full reference details, report glossary and index. In addition the chapters provide comprehensive detail on the concepts and determinants of disaster risk, an assessment of past and future changes in climate extremes and their impacts at global and regional scales, and a discussion of local to international level approaches for managing weather-related risks. Case studies are used to provide valuable insights into best practices and experiences.

“This Special Report, in particular, contributes to frame the challenge of dealing with extreme weather and climate events as an issue in decision-making under uncertainty, analyzing response in the context of risk management,” said WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud and UNEP Executive Director Achm Steiner.

 
   

WMO annual statement confirms 2011 as 11th warmest on record
Posted 23 March

Climate change accelerated in 2001-2010, according to preliminary assessment

  cover
 

The World Meteorological Organization’s Annual Statement on the Status of the Global Climate said that 2011 was the 11th warmest since records began in 1850. It confirmed preliminary findings that 2011 was the warmest year on record with a La Niña, which has a cooling influence. Globally-averaged temperatures in 2011 were estimated to be 0.40°C above the 1961-1990 annual average of 14°C.

Precipitation extremes, many of them associated with one of the strongest La Niña events of the last 60 years, had major impacts on the world. Significant flooding occurred on all continents, whilst major droughts affected parts of east Africa and North America. Arctic sea ice extent fell to near record-low levels. Global tropical cyclone activity was below average, but the United States had one of its most destructive tornado seasons on record.

The annual statement for 2011 was released for World Meteorological Day 23 March. In addition, WMO also announced preliminary findings of the soon to be released Decadal Global Climate Summary, showing that climate change accelerated in 2001-2010, which was the warmest decade ever recorded in all continents of the globe.

Press release

 
   

World Meteorological Day 23 March highlights role of weather, climate and water in sustainable development
Posted 22 March

GENEVA, 22 March 2012 – “Powering our Future with Weather, Climate and Water,” is the theme of this year’s World Meteorological Day (23 March), an opportunity for National Meteorological and Hydrological Services and the WMO community at large to promote their contribution to our daily lives.

The theme highlights the growing importance of weather, climate and water services for sustainable socio-economic development of present and future generations.

“Knowledge about our weather, climate and water has made great strides in recent years and is fundamental to food security, disaster risk reduction, water management, energy supplies and health, to name but a few examples,” said World Meteorological Organization Secretary-General Michel Jarraud.

Press release

 
   

World Water Day focuses on Water and Food Security
Posted 22 March

  World Water Day 2012
   

"Water and Food Security" is the theme of World Water Day 22 March. As President of UN-Water, World Meteorological Organization Secretary-General Michel Jarraud attended the official ceremony in Rome at the headquarters of the Food and Agriculture Organization, which is coordinating this year’s event.

Food security has been very high on the international agenda since the peak food prices of 2008. Population growth, urbanization and development pressure have also contributed to food and water scarcity. Climate change will further aggravate the issue, said Mr Jarraud.

“Increasing attention will be required on the potential impacts on the water cycle and food security from climate variability and change, especially due to the increasing vulnerability and the complexity of the associated uncertainties. Floods and droughts present dramatic threats to food security and freshwater availability and quality, of which the humanitarian crisis in the Horn of Africa and the flooding in Thailand last year are only very recent examples,” said Mr. Jarraud.

“More than ever before, the world is facing the challenges of managing efficiently water resources and ensuring food security for its mounting population, especially in the vulnerable developing world. Countries must improve and consolidate their water resources management systems, and also identify and implement their optimal climate change resilience strategies. This is a challenge for the entire UN system, in particular through UN-Water, to raise the awareness of policy makers and users alike,” he said.

 

World Water Day Video  

Speech by Michel Jarraud

World Water Day Website

World Water Day Webcsast

     
Video -  The World Is Thirsty Because We Are Hungry


 
   

Increasing demand and climate change threatening world water resources says new UN World Water Development Report
Posted 12 March

World water forum logo 2012
 

Unprecedented growth in demands for water are threatening all major development goals, warns the latest edition of the UN World Water Development Report, Managing Water under Uncertainty and Risk. It notes that rising food demand, rapid urbanization and climate change are significantly increasing pressure on global water supplies. This complex situation requires a radical rethink of the way water is managed, concludes the Report, to be launched by UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova and the Chair of UN-Water Michel Jarraud at the World Water Forum in Marseille (France) on 12 March.

“Freshwater is not being used sustainably, according to needs and demands, states Irina Bokova in the Report’s Foreword. “Accurate information remains disparate, and management is fragmented. In this context, the future is increasingly uncertain and risks are set to deepen.”

“The challenges, risks and uncertainties blocking the road to sustainable development and the achievement of the UN Millennium Development Goals require a collective response by the whole international community,” according to Michel Jarraud. “UN-Water will bring the important messages of this UN-Water Report to the Rio+20 Summit in June 2012.”

Press release

 

Cold spell in Europe and Asia in late winter 2011/2012
Posted 12 March

european map
Anomalies of mean daily minimum temperature in the period 25 January – 16 February 2012 (1961-1990 reference)
Source: Deutscher Wetterdienst
 

After unusually mild weather in December 2011 and early January 2012 almost all over Europe, the weather situation changed abruptly in the second half of January. An incursion of cold polar air, coming from northern Russia at the south flank of an extensive high pressure area brought a sudden cooling to almost the whole Eurasian continent). During that cold spell, also some considerable snowfall occurred over various parts of the continent. In the first half of February, the cold wave started weakening first in Asia and in mid-February also in Europe.

A detailed analysis prepared by WMO’s Regional Climate Centres for Europe (Deutscher Wetterdienst) and Asia (Japan Meteorological Agency) explains how the Siberian high pressure system prevented mild marine air masses and North Atlantic storms from crossing Europe eastward. This “blocking system”, which was fully developed around 25 January, was extremely large in its extent that time. However, such a phenomenon is not unusual in a Northern hemisphere winter. A similar high pressure “blocking” situation also led to the cold winter of 2009/2010, when cold conditions started in mid December and continued over most of January and February.

Baltic countries, Belarus, northeastern Poland, Ukraine, northern Moldova, southern European Russia experienced minimum temperatures of around -30 °C, places in northern Sweden, northern Finland and northern and central Russia below -40 °C. In eastern Central Europe, minimum temperatures below -20 °C were measured in many places, in western Central Europe between -10 °C and -20 °C (e.g. Amsterdam -18.7 °C, Zurich -18.1 °C). The cold air extended even to southern Europe. Minima below -15 °C were recorded in several places around Turin in northern Italy. The Balkan Peninsula had minima mostly below -10 °C, locally below -30 °C in highlands of Romania and Turkey and down to around -24 °C in northern Greece and northern Serbia. However, most of these minimum temperatures were not new records. Local records were broken e.g. in Estonia, Bulgaria and Serbia.

In contrast, low pressure systems carried mild air across the North Atlantic northward via Iceland to the Arctic region. The temperatures in Svalbard, far north in the Arctic, reached repeatedly up to 5 °C in that time, being higher than in Milano (Italy) or in Istanbul (Turkey) In Svalbard; it was around 15° C warmer than normal.

The change in pressure pattern is well pronounced in the switch of the so-called Arctic Oscillation which reflects the difference in pressure between polar areas and mid-latitude areas. The long duration of the cold period, its relatively late onset and the extent of the cold area are exceptional, but not unique. Similar cold spells occurred several times during the past decades. In western and central Europe.

Full report

 
   

Scientists monitoring solar storm impacts
Posted 8 March

solar storm

Scientists are monitoring the impacts of a recent solar storm. Such events are likely to become more frequent and more severe in the approach to the next peak in solar activity around 2013. As a result, the World Meteorological Organization is stepping up international coordination on space weather hazards.

The U.S. National Weather Service Space Weather Prediction Center has indicated that a coronal mass ejection (CME) reached the Earth at 1045 GMT. The corona is the region around the sun (visible during a solar eclipse) where temperatures can reach more than a million degrees and X-ray radiation is emitted. Coronal mass ejections, often originating from active areas on the sun’s surface (like groupings of sunspots), release huge quantities of radiation and matter into space.

Based on the overall field strength observed so far, the predictions for periods reaching the G3 (Strong) geomagnetic storm level look justified, according to the NWS Space Weather Prediction Center. So far, the orientation of the magnetic field has been opposite of what is needed to cause the strongest geomagnetic impacts but as the event progresses, this may change. The main impacts from this event are likely to be on high-frequency communication in the polar regions, rendering high-frequency (used in aviation) unusable at the highest latitudes. There are also several confirmed reports of commercial airlines avoiding the polar routes because of the disruption to high frequency communication.

After a relatively quiet sun, solar activity is expected to peak around 2013 and this will have an impact on the environment between the sun and the earth. Solar minimum occurs in years when the number of sunspots is lowest; solar maximum occurs in the years when sunspots are most numerous, sometimes numbering several hundred on a given day. During solar maximum, activity on the Sun and the effects of space weather on the Earth are high.

The solar cycle typically lasts 11 years. But there is a much bigger exposure to space weather effects than in the past because of society’s heavy reliance on wireless communications technology and satellites.

As a result of mounting international concern about the potential risk of disruption to satellites, communication mechanisms, air travel and electric power supplies, the World Meteorological Congress in 2011 agreed to boost international coordination of space weather. WMO is working with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the International Space Environment Service (ISES), and others to bring greater international coordination to respond to requirements with standardized warnings and products.

“We are increasingly impacted by space weather events. International coordination allows information to be shared more widely, thereby leveraging national investments,” said Barbara Ryan, Director of WMO’s Satellite Division.

Information on WMO's Space Weather Activities

 
   
   

WMO Bulletin focuses on Reaching Users with Climate Services
Posted on 7 March

cover

The latest World Meteorological Organization Bulletin has the theme of " Reaching Users with Climate Services." An abridged version of the speech to the 2011 World Meteorological Congress by Her Excellency Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister of Bangladesh, addresses the issue of "Climate change - a serious challenge to human existence."

Other articles focus on managing water resources with climate information, understanding user needs for climate services in agriculture: improving availability, access and use of climate information; meteorology and the energy sector; from observations to service delivery, challenges and opportunities; and reducing disaster risk in cities.

Bulletin

 

 
   

New WMO co-sponsored report on Space and Climate Change
Posted on 7 March

cover
 

A report by the United Nations Office of Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) and the World Meteorological Organization, Space and Climate Change -- Use of Space-based Technologies in the United Nations System, is now available. In a foreword, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon wrote that "climate change threatens to have a catastrophic impact on ecosystems and the future prosperity, security and well-being of all humankind. The potential consequences extend to virtually all aspects of sustainable development – from food, energy and water security to broader economic and political stability. Global observing systems, including those from space, play an important role in helping to gauge these threats."

The report describes how United Nations organizations use the information provided by space-based technologies to monitor the Earth’s climate system and support decision-making about climate change adaptation, prediction and mitigation. It also provides an overview of the global observing systems co-sponsored by WMO and other U.N. organizations and the International Council for Science.

"United Nations organizations are making full use of space-based technologies in our shared quest to build a safer, better world for all. I commend this publication to all who desire a clear understanding of how these technologies are enhancing our ability to manage planet Earth and to address the critical challenges facing the human family," said the U.N. Secretry-General.

The report was published ahead of the 17th Session of the Conference of the Parties of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). held in Durban, South Africa, and is now available in electronic format.

An electronic version of the report can be obtained at http://www.oosa.unvienna.org/pdf/publications/WMO-1081-SCCE.pdf

A paper copy can be obtained by sending an e-mail to Ms Yingchu Chu at:
ychu[at]wmo.int

 
   
   

Climate and Economy: New networks, new alliances
“Grand Conference organized by University of Geneva 7 March 2012
Posted on 29 February

The provision of timely, accurate and relevant climate information which meets the needs of not just decision-makers but also vulnerable communities is vital to efforts to adapt to climate change. Consequently, the World Meteorological Organization and its partners within and outside the United Nations are developing the Global Framework for Climate Services to close the gaps in provision of existing information and services and ensure it reaches those who need it most.

WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud will discuss how the Global Framework on Climate Services will meet future opportunities and challenges at a “Grand Conference” organized by the University of Geneva 7 March 2012.

Mr Jarraud will join Arnold Schwarzenegger, former Governor of California and the founding chair of R20 (Regions of Climate Action) in making keynote speeches on Climate and Economy: New networks, new alliances. R20 aims to help states, provinces, regions and other subnational governments around the world develop, implement and communicate low-carbon and climate-resilient economic development projects, policies and best practices.

The conference will be opened by Connie Hedegaard, European Union Climate Change Commissioner.

WMO has made the Global Framework for Climate Services its top priority. Climate services save countless lives and livelihoods every day, but often do not reach countries and communities which are most vulnerable to climate change.

About 70 countries have little or no climate information. The international community needs to go the last mile and make a minimal commitment of US$ 75 million per year to unleash the full potential of billions of dollars already invested in observation and information systems and ensure they reach those who need them most.

The Global Framework for Climate Services will provide climate services tailor-made to user needs, with priority being given to the food security, water management, disaster risk reduction and health sectors.

More info

 
   
   

Regional Climate Outlook Forum for the Greater Horn of Africa
Posted on 21 February

  cover
   

The World Meteorological Organization is one of the sponsors of the Regional Climate Outlook Forum for the Greater Horn of Africa which will look ahead to the March-May rainfall season. It takes place 27-29 February 2012 in Kigali, Rwanda, and is organized by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development Climate Prediction and Applications Center (ICPAC).

The meeting will also focus on the role of the regional climate outlook forum in providing early warnings for drought emergencies and other climate related disasters in the Greater Horn of Africa.

The Forum will bring together national experts from all the countries in the Greater Horn of Africa, along with regional and international experts involved in seasonal climate prediction and users of climate early warning advisories from sectors such as food security and disaster risk reduction. It is taking place after the region has been ravaged by severe drought in 2010/2011 followed by excessive rains in various equatorial areas including parts of Kenya and southern Somalia. >> Full text

 
   
   

WMO Welcomes Outcome of World Radiocommunication Conference 2012
Posted on 17 February

Radio frequencies which are vital for weather forecasts, disaster warnings and climate monitoring will remain available to the meteorological community and protected from interference from other applications thanks to decisions taken by the World Radiocommunication Conference 2012 (WRC-12).

The World Meteorological Organization today welcomed the outcome of WRC-12 and said it would safeguard the use of radio frequency spectrum which are needed to observe and understand our Earth, atmosphere and oceans and to reduce the risk of weather, climate and water-related disasters.

WRC-12 reinforced the commitment of previous World Radiocommunication Conferences to the special needs of meteorological and hydrological services, despite competing pressure for scarce radio frequencies from wireless technology and other uses. >> full text

 
   
   

Feb-Mar-Apr Probability Forecast from Climate Outlook Forum for North Africa
Posted on 10 February

The second Climate Outlook Forum for North Africa held in Algiers , Algeria, 24-26 January 2012 has issued a consensus probability forecast for the precipitation and temperature for the season February, March, April, 2012 based on global and national climate models.

The main features of the global climate observed during the last few months, and likely to continue to a smaller extent into the coming Feb-Mar-Apr period, are a weak to moderate strength La Niña in the tropical Pacific Ocean, and a tendency toward the positive phase of the North Atlantic Oscillation.

The latter feature has promoted higher than average sea level pressure in the eastern subtropical Atlantic basin and western Europe, which in turn has led to drier and somewhat cooler than average conditions over major portions of the northern Africa region.

A slight tendency toward below normal precipitation, and near normal to below normal temperature, are indicated in the western portion of the north African region in the Feb-Mar-Apr Outlook, while enhanced chances for normal precipitation and temperature conditions is predicted for the central portion of the region. In the eastern one-third of the region, equal chances for below, near and above average conditions are predicted. >> Bulletin

 
   
   

WMO Issues new El Niño/La Niña Update
Posted on 10 February

WMO has issued its latest  El Niño/La Niña Update on the phenomena in the tropical Pacific which have important consequences upon weather and climate around the globe.

The Update summary says:

  • Weak to moderate La Niña conditions have prevailed since around October 2011;
  • La Niña conditions are expected to persist until March to May 2012;
  • Currently, expectations beyond May 2012 are uncertain. While neutral conditions appear likely, possibilities for development of El Niño, or even redevelopment of La Niña cannot be ruled out.

The situation in the tropical Pacific will continue to be carefully monitored. More detailed interpretations of regional climate fluctuations will be generated routinely by the climate forecasting community over the coming months and will be made available through the National Meteorological and Hydrological Services.

 
   

UN-Water new office bearers take on duties as water moves to centre of sustainable development challenge
Posted on 8 February

  Jarraud & Diphoorn
   
 
Michel Jarraud and Albert Diphoorn

World Meteorological Organization Secretary-General Mr Michel Jarraud and Mr Albert Diphoorn, UN-Habitat Urban Basic Services Branch Coordinator, take up positions as Chair and Vice-Chair respectively of UN-Water for a customary two-year term. Both were elected by consensus during UN-Water’s 15th meeting in Stockholm in August 2011. Challenges including population growth, urbanization, food security and environmental degradation mean that the United Nations (UN) system – now more than ever before – needs to elevate the role of water on the international agenda and step up efforts to preserve and manage this precious natural resource which is so fundamental to life on our planet.

UN-Water

 
   

Cold spell in Europe in late winter 2011/2012
Posted on 7 February

frozen tree

frozen

After unusually mild weather in December 2011 and early January 2012 almost all over Europe, the weather situation changed abruptly in the middle of January. An incursion of cold polar air, coming from northern Russia at the south flank of an extensive high pressure area  brought extremely low temperatures over large parts of Europe and also some considerable snowfall especially over various parts of the continent.

This Siberian high pressure system is preventing milder temperatures and maritime storms from moving from the Atlantic Ocean eastwards over Europe.  This high pressure area was very stable causing a continuous flow of cold air to Europe over many days . This  “blocking system” is extremely large in its extent but it is not an unusual phenomenon in the Northern hemisphere winter. >> full text

 
   

Cold Weather in Europe
Posted on 3 February

Nearly all of Europe, from Scandinavia down to the Mediterranean, is currently gripped by a cold snap.

The drop in temperatures began in mid January over eastern Russia and Siberia and moved through eastern and central Europe, reaching western and southern Europe late in January and the beginning of February.

The current situation is caused by the Siberian high pressure system which is preventing milder temperatures from moving from the Atlantic Ocean eastwards over Europe.The cold air coming from the north was fed with a strong moisture flux from the central Mediterranean sea.This caused heavy snow fall over parts of south eastern Europe such as the Balkans, Romania, Bulgaria and Italy as was recorded in the beginning of February.

Compared to the more significant cold winter of 2009/2010, the cold snap this year came much later. In fact in 2009/2010, cold conditions started in mid December and continued over most of January and February period.


Conversely in the current winter, December and most of January recorded above normal temperatures over Europe. It is therefore unlikely this winter will breakas many temperature records over large areas as was the case in 2009/2010. Nevertheless, it is likely that there will be some record low temperatures already recorded in some places or yet to be recorded in the coming days.

Several European countries recorded their coldest night of the winter on 2/3 February. These include Sweden, where the temperature in Kvikkjokk in the northern part of Sweden fell to -42.7 °C which is the lowest temperature in Sweden since 2001 In the capital Stockholm, it was about -14 °C.

It was also the coldest night of the winter in Poland. It was almost -20 °C, and in the coldest parts in the eastern Poland was almost -30 °C.Night time temperatures in Belgium fell to -9°C at the coast and -17°C on the coldest heights. The normal minimum temperature for this time of year is + 0.4°C.

In Germany, temperatures fell to -26.4°C in Deutschneudorf. The United Kingdom also had its coldest night of the winter. The lowest temperature was -11.3°C in Powys, Wales. The Siberian air mass reached Portugal which had its coldest night in the last 10
years.

 

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