Media centre world map
Media centre > News

News archive

June 2011


WMO highlights cooperation between oceanographers and meteorologists
(posted 22 June)

  IOC 50th anniversary logo

In a speech to the closing celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the U.N. Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, World Meteorological Organization Secretary-General Michel Jarraud praised the close cooperation between oceanographers and meteorologists.

“For millennia, the world’s oceans and seas have been essential to transportation and commerce. They are also a major component of the global climate system, and they contribute to sustain a large percentage of the Earth’s population and a substantial share of its biodiversity. Meteorological and oceanographic data and services are accordingly vital for the protection and rational exploitation of the global ocean and coasts, which are especially vulnerable to extreme events and climate change, as well as to marine pollution and overexploitation, “ he told the ceremony in Paris.

“Too many vivid memories of the loss of lives and property are associated with tsunamis, storm surges and extreme waves related to severe tropical and extra-tropical cyclones impacting upon heavily populated low-lying areas, so the prospect of climate change-enhanced impacts on highly-vulnerable areas is of special concern.”

The anniversary activities are meant to promote international awareness of, and involvement in, ocean science.

IOC website


WMO Addresses Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Safety
(posted 22 June)

The World Meteorological Organization’s Environmental Emergency Response system functioned effectively in forecasting and monitoring the spread of radioactive material in the aftermath of the earthquake, Tsunami and nuclear accident in Japan. But the crisis also highlighted the need for more effective provision and use of scientific data and improved international coordination and communication, according to a WMO presentation to the Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Safety convened by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

In an address today on “Lessons Learned in Responding to the Accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Stations: The Way Forward,” Geoff Love, Director of WMO’s Weather and Disaster Risk Reduction Department, said that national meteorological services have an important contribution to make in the response to all cross-border environmental emergencies because of their 24/7 monitoring and operational activities and their links to regional and global information systems and emergency services. >> More

Presentation by Geoff Love, Director, Weather and Disaster Risk Reduction Services

IAEA website


World Day to Combat Desertification: Forests keep drylands working
(posted on 17 June)

  tree in desert

About 2 billion people inhabit the “dryland” areas of the world which cover more than 40% of the globe and include the tropical dry forest, the Brazilian Cerrado and the Mediterranean woodlands.

However, these ecosystems are under pressure from climate change and growing populations and human activities. The clearing of vegetation in the drylands can quickly lead to land degradation and desertification.

Given that the United Nations has designated 2011 as the International Year of Forests, the U.N. Convention to combat Desertification (UNCCD) has chosen “Forests Keep drylands working” as the theme for the World Day to Combat Desertification. It says that forests may become the single most important determinant of the future sustainability of the drylands as the impacts of climate change escalate. Yet, only 18% of the drylands is forested. UNCCD is calling on inhabitants of the drylands to plant a tree in a degraded area to stem the spread of desertification.

WMO has been a partner with UNCCD over the years on various issues, especially management of drought to improve food security.

WMO’s Congress (16 May-3 June) endorsed a Global Framework on Climate Services to help improve the provision of climate information to countries and communities which need it most. The Global Framework will assist humid or dryland forest managers in accessing and understanding climate data, seasonal climate forecasts, and other climate products to improve sustainable management of forests and their ecosystems for future generations.


More information

WMO Sand and Dust Storm Warning Advisory  and Assessment System

U.N. Convention to combat Desertification


New UNEP-WMO Assessment complements urgent action needed to cut CO2 emissions under UN Climate Treaty
(posted on 14 June)


Fast action on pollutants such as black carbon, ground level ozone and methane may help limit near term global temperature rise and significantly increase the chances of keeping temperature rise below 2 degrees C —and perhaps even 1.5 degrees C— a new assessment says.

Protecting the near-term climate is central to significantly cutting the risk of “amplified global climate change” linked with rapid and extensive loss of Arctic ice on both the land and at sea.

Fast action might also reduce losses of mountain glaciers linked in part with black carbon deposits while reducing projected warming in the Arctic over the coming decades by two thirds.

The scientists behind the assessment, coordinated by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), also point to numerous public health and food security opportunities above and beyond those linked with tackling climate change.

Press release


Solar flare underlines need for internationally coordinated action on space weather hazards
(posted on 9 June)

  solar flare
  Image: NASA

Scientists are monitoring a solar flare which is expected to have a minor impact on the Earth’s magnetic field. Such flares are likely to become more frequent and more severe in the approach to the next peak in solar activity around 2013. WMO is stepping up international coordination on space weather hazards.

The sun unleashed a medium sized solar flare, a minor radiation storm and a spectacular coronal mass ejection from a sunspot 7 June, according to NASA, whose observatory missions captured images of a large cloud of particles which mushroomed up and fell back down, looking if it covered an area of almost half the solar surface.

The corona is the sun’s outer solar atmosphere, with strong magnetic fields. When these are closed (usually over sunspots), the confined solar atmosphere can suddenly violently release bubbles of gas and magnetic fields called coronal mass ejections. >> More


WMO awards scientists
(posted on 9 June)

The World Meteorological Organization has awarded scientists for outstanding contributions in the field of meteorology, climatology, hydrology and related sciences.

The scientists were selected by the WMO Executive Council during its annual June meeting.

The prizes awarded include the WMO IMO Prize, the Norbert Gerbier-MUMM International Award and the WMO Research Award for Young Scientists.

IMO prize for lifetime achievement to Professor Aksel Wiin-Nielsen
WMO’s most prestigious award, the IMO prize, originates from WMO’s predecessor, the International Meteorological Organization. The 56th IMO prize has been awarded to the late Aksel Wiin-Nielsen as a lifetime achievement award. Professor Wiin-Nielsen served as WMO Secretary-General from 1980 to 1983. He was previously co-founder and first Director of the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts, where his leadership was critical in building the Centre as a world-renowned scientific research and operational institution. He also served as Director of the Danish Meteorological Institute, Professor of Physics at the University of Copenhagen, and Professor Emeritus of the University.

Norbert Gerbier-MUMM Award for carbon-climate links
The Norbert Gerbier-MUMM International Award winners selected for 2012 are Drs C. Yi, D. Ricciuto, R. Li, J. Wolbeck, X. Xu, M. Nilsson and 145 other authors. Their paper, “Climate control of terrestrial carbon exchange across biomes and continents,” was published in Environmental Research Letters in 2010, Volume 5. The authors came from 116 academic institutes in six continents. The paper examines relationships between climate and the carbon exchange of land-based ecosystems to predict future levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide.

2011 WMO Research Award for Young Scientists
The 2011 Research Award for Young Scientists has been conferred to Mr Rudi van der Ent from the Netherlands for the paper "Origin and fate of atmospheric moisture over continents," published in Water Resources Research, Vol. 46, W09525, in 2010. The co-authors were R. van der Ent, H.H.G. Savenije, B. Schaefli, and S.C. Steele-Dunne.


Weather alerts in Haiti
(posted on 9 June)

Heavy rains and storms over the past week in Haiti have led to over 20 deaths and caused severe damage due to landslides, fallen trees and collapsed homes, particularly in the Port-au-Prince area. Several thousand people still living in tents (following the January 2010 earthquake) have been evacuated. Haiti’s National Meteorological Centre (CNM) has issued alerts since 31 May, with the support of Martinique. The country remains on orange alert for continued risk of heavy rains and floods.

The Dominican Republic has also had heavy rains leading to floods and landslides, and has issued a red alert for several provinces. Several thousand people have been evacuated.

Meteorological services in Haiti were re-established after the January 2010 earthquake with the support of WMO Members including Canada, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, France, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.



WMO highlights role of climate services at UN Climate Change Conference
(posted on 8 June)

Climate information at various time scales, and projections of future climate at regional, national and local scales, form the essential knowledge base for adaptation and disaster risk management, WMO informed a subsidiary body of the UN Climate Change Conference which is currently underway (6-17 June 2011) in Bonn, Germany.

“National Meteorological and Hydrological Services of WMO Member countries play a crucial role in this delivery mechanism,” said Mannava Sivakumar, Director of the WMO Climate Prediction Branch and Climate and Water Department, in a statement to the conference Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice.

The Global Framework for Climate Services, endorsed at the World Meteorological Congress that ended on 3 June, will serve as the basis for WMO to contribute growing convergence on vulnerability assessments, national adaption plans, policy environments, knowledge-sharing arrangements and tools for risk reduction, risk transfer and risk sharing.

WMO held a side event on 8 June on Climate Services for Adaptation. The event was organized in partnership with the WMO co-sponsored Global Climate Observing System, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization and Deutscher Wetterdienst.

WMO is also participating in side events organized by the UN Framework on Climate Change Conference and the United Nations Scientific and Cultural Organization.


For more about WMO at the UN Climate Change Conference, Bonn, June 2011

WMO statement to the Subsidiary Body on Science and Technological Advice

WMO presentation at SBSTA session on research dialogue: The Global Framework for Climate Services - Communicating Climate Change Science

Other presentations/statements


Drought conditions in Europe 2011
(posted on 8 June)

  Precipiation percentage of normals for February to May 2011

Issued by WMO Regional Association for Europe Pilot Regional Climate Centre on Climate Monitoring, Lead Centre (Deutscher Wetterdienst, DWD)

A long-lasting dry period persisted over large parts of Europe from January to May 2011. According to data of the Global Precipitation Climatology Centre (GPCC), especially the months February to May 2011 had a considerable rain deficit over large parts of Europe. The 4-month totals over this period ranged between 40 and 80% of the long-term mean 1951-2000 over large areas, in many parts of western and central Europe even below 40%; the 3-month totals March to May 2011 were even more extreme (see figures under "More"). France, Germany and southeastern UK appeared to be the most affected areas. Similar conditions occurred in 1976 and in the 1990s. >> More


WMO Executive Council meets
(posted 6 June)

  group photo

The World Meteorological Organizations newly elected Executive Council is meeting 6-8 June to discuss the implementation of the priorities of the World Meteorological Congress.

The priorities include: The Global Framework for Climate Services; enhanced contribution to disaster risk reduction; improved observation and information systems; capacity development; and more efficient meteorological services for the aviation sector.

The Council is composed of 37 directors of National Meteorological or Hydrological Services, serving in an individual capacity. They include the President and three Vice-Presidents, and the presidents of WMOs six regional associations. The remaining 27 members were elected by Congress.

New WMO President Mr David Grimes is chairing the Executive Council session. The other newly elected office holders are: Dr Antonio Divino Moura (Brazil), First Vice-President; Prof. Mieczyslaw S. Ostojski (Poland) Second Vice-President; and Mr Abdalah Mokssit (Morocco) Third Vice President (press release 918).

The Executive Council meets on an annual basis and guides WMOs work in between the quadrennial Congresses. It coordinates WMO programmes, examines the utilization of budgetary resources, considers and takes action on recommendations of regional associations and technical commissions, and takes action on matters affecting international meteorology and related activities.


World Meteorological Congress sets priorities for next four years - New tools to cope with climate change impacts top the agenda
(posted 3 June)

The World Meteorological Congress today endorsed an ambitious global initiative that will help all communities, and in particular the most vulnerable, cope with the impact of climate change, reduce the risk of natural disasters and safeguard food production, water supplies and health.

The Global Framework for Climate Services will boost the availability of climate information needed by policy-makers and people to plan ahead and to take decisions that are sustainable in a changing climate. It will be a global undertaking involving a wide array of stakeholders.

Congress decided that the Global Framework will be one of the top five priorities of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in the next four years. The others are: enhanced contribution to disaster risk reduction; improved observation and information systems; and to strengthen the capacity of developing countries to share in scientific advances and their applications; and more efficient meteorological services for the aviation sector.

Press release


WMO Plans to boost Aeronautical Meteorology Services
(posted 3 June)

Geneva, 2 June 2011 (WMO) - The World Meteorological Organization plans to boost its aeronautical meteorological activities given their importance to safe, regular and efficient air navigation.

The World Meteorological Congress today decided to make the Aeronautical Meteorology Programme a high-priority programme that should be suitably resourced to help its Members meet the increasing needs of the aviation sector.

The recent eruptions of the Eyjafjallajkull and Grmsvtn volcanoes in Iceland served as a reminder of the importance of aeronautical meteorology in predicting and projecting the spread of the volcanic ash cloud, and providing authoritative information to civil aviation authorities to help inform their decisions, said WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud.

Press release

Megacities: a new focus for weather and climate services
(posted 3 June)

The growing need for weather, climate and environmental services targeted to megacities has been highlighted as an area for attention during the 16th WMO Congress.

Seventy percent of the worlds population will be living in urban areas by 2050, said Mr Michel Bland, President of the WMO Technical Commission for Atmospheric Sciences, during a side event on 25 May about megacities. That will have a great impact on the types of services we provide to cities. What will be needed is quite different from a typical present-day forecast.

Concentrated transport, heating, industry and the densely constructed environment lead to specific weather and climate patterns, as does the geographic particularities of urban areas, which are often located in coastal areas,. Examples of local patterns include anomalous heat fluxes, small-scale turbulent flows, chemical weather and contrasting albedoes. >> More


WMO awards top prize to Japanese weather and climate research pioneer
(posted 2 June)

  Prof. Matsuno with M Jarraud and Bedritskiy
  From left to right: WMO Secretary-General, M. Jarraud, Prof. Matsuno and WMO President, A. Bedritskiy

The World Meteorological Organization presented its most prestigious award to Prof. Taroh Matsuno of Japan in a ceremony on 2 June 2011 during the WMO 16th Congress (16 May to 3 June 2011).

The IMO prize, granted annually, recognizes outstanding scientific research work in the field of meteorology. Prof. Matsuno is an eminent research scientist in atmospheric dynamics and a distinguished leader in climate research who has significantly contributed to the progress of studies on climate change.

The presentation of the 55th IMO Prize was made by WMO President Alexander Bedritskiy and WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud. The award consists of a gold medal, parchment scroll bearing the award citation and a monetary award of CHF 10 000.

"Prof. Matsuno's work represents a major contribution. We expect to derive benefits from his work for the Global Framework on Climate Services, which we are discussing now during this WMO 16th Congress, said WMO Secretary-General Jarraud.

I would like to express my sense of pride on behalf of the people of Japan, as it is the first time a Japanese has been awarded this splendid prize, said Ambassador Kenichi Suganuma, Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva. Japan attaches special importance to this prize because meteorological science serves as a basis for saving lives and property.

Prof. Matsuno delivered his lecture on The Future of Numerical Modelling of Weather and Climate in the Tropics. Many participants, particularly from developing countries, commented on how his research had influenced their work. His contributions were also recognized by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the World Climate Research Programme.

About the IMO prize

WMO Supports Africa-wide Climate Change Education Day
(posted 2 June)

In an effort to engage with young people and future professionals in a dialogue about the impacts of climate change and potential local solutions, the Hamburg University of Applied Sciences in Germany (HAW Hamburg) is partnering with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), and numerous African institutions to organize the first "African Climate Teach-in Day", 3 June 2011. The day will be devoted to lectures and lessons around the issue of climate change in Africa, to be held in universities and secondary schools across the continent.

More information


Scientists review challenges to observe greenhouse gases
(posted 1 June)

  time history of atmospheric co2
  Time history of atmospheric CO2

Accurate tracking for carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases needs to be a priority for scientists and decision-makers, said participants in a meeting on Monday 30 May to discuss greenhouse gas observations during the WMO 16th Congress.

Two studies released the same day highlighted the importance of greenhouse gas monitoring. Carbon dioxide emissions hit a record high in 2010, said the International Atomic Agency, while the US National Snow and Ice Data Centre said that melting permafrost is likely to turn the Arctic from being a carbon sink to a carbon source by around 2025.

Scientists reviewed the challenges at a side event entitled An urgent, emerging challenge for WMO: Supporting greenhouse gas management strategies with observations, modelling, and analysis. >> More

New online: Reaching users with climate services
(posted 1 June)


Reaching users with climate services is the theme of the latest issue of the WMO Bulletin, now available online.

The edition features an article calling for stronger communication about science by the New York Times Dot.Earth blog columnist, Andy Revkin, whose latest blog entry covers the same topic. Readers will also find a photo essay on global warming; relevant trends in reinsurance, health and education; and interviews on a variety of topics.

The articles explore three areas: why we need to get climate information to vulnerable communities; perspectives from the health and financial services sectors; and cases for effective outreach through online media, education campaigns, photography and volunteers.

The issue is a contribution to the discussions on the Global Framework for Climate Services, which are underway during WMO 16th Congress (16 May-3 June).

The next issue will also feature user needs from various sectors as well as outreach practices. Please contact the WMO Bulletin if you have valuable cases to share with readers.

WMO Bulletin






© World Meteorological Organization, 7bis, avenue de la Paix, Case postale No. 2300, CH-1211 Geneva 2, Switzerland - Tel.: +41(0)22 730 81 11 - Fax: +41(0)22 730 81 81 Contact us Copyright | Privacy | Scams | Disclaimer |  Guidelines | Procurement | UN System | Accessibility