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May 2011


Shanghai Expo 2010 MeteoWorld Pavilion and Multi-Hazard Early Warning System
(posted 30 May)

  side event Shanghai Expo 2010

The overwhelming success of the MeteoWorld Pavilion, which attracted more than 815 000 visitors during the Shanghai World Expo 2010, increased public awareness of the critical role of National Meteorological and Hydrological Services in urban planning, disaster risk reduction, climate change adaptation and sustainable development.

The Multi-Hazard Early Warning System developed jointly by the China Meteorological Administration and the World Meteorological Organization ensured the provision of full meteorological services during the six-month Expo. These facilitated the smooth operation of high-profile events like the opening ceremony and guaranteed the safety and well-being of hundreds of thousands visitors. >>More



Coastal forecasting for safer communities
(posted 30 May)

With more people living in crowded cities along the worlds shorelines, coastal forecasting is emerging as an essential service.

A WMO Coastal Inundation Forecasting Demonstration Project (CIFDP) is being launched in Bangladesh and the Dominican Republic, and there is demand to extend the project concept to neighboring countries with common coastal zone issues. The project focuses on identifying regional requirements, developing and transferring technology, building communications platforms and conducting training.

A side event on Coastal Inundation Matters on 27 May during the WMO 16th Congress provided the opportunity to discuss coastal forecasting challenges and shape project approaches. Participants emphasized the need to:

  • include the end user in the early phases of project planning;
  • focus first on users from sectors that already have a mature relationship with meteorological departments;
  • design integrated forecasting systems that communities can operate on their own, based on existing, available open source forecasting models for storm surges and coastal inundation;
  • include development of communications platforms, so that forecasting reaches the people who need the information most;
  • ensure that verification processes are incorporated, by enhancing relevant observing data collected through commonly agreed and qualified procedures; and
  • explore regional approaches that maximize resources, while still leaving scope for country and community-specific approaches.

User commitment is key, said Dr Don Resio, Co-Chair of the CIFDP Steering Group. National Meteorological and Hydrological Services have an important part to play. One needs to identify an agency with the right mandate computer and communications infrastructure, and the ability to be present 24/7 during an emergency, he added.

Coastal forecasting is our biggest issue, said Ms Arjumand Habib, Director of the Bangladesh Meteorological Department. If WMO can obtain international support to help people living along the coast, we will do our best to make the investment sustainable.


World Meteorological Congress elects Executive Council
(posted 26 May)

The XVI Congress of the World Meteorological Organization today elected the members of the Executive Council, which will serve for the next four years. The Council is composed of 37 directors of National Meteorological or Hydrometeorological Services, serving in an individual capacity.

The Executive Council meets annually and will hold its 2011 session 6-8 June, immediately following the quadrennial Congress. It implements decisions of the WMO Congress, coordinates the programmes, examines the utilization of budgetary resources, considers and takes action on recommendations of regional associations and technical commissions and guides their work programme.

Elected members


World Meteorological Congress elects President and Vice Presidents
(posted 25 May)

group photo presidents WMO
From left to right: Prof. Mieczyslaw S. Ostojski of Poland, Dr Antonio Divino Moura of Brazil, Dr Alexander Bedritskiy, Mr David Grimes of Canada and Mr Abdalah Mokssit of Morocco

The World Meteorological Congress today elected Mr David Grimes of Canada as President of the World Meteorological Organization for a four year term in office. Mr Grimes is the Assistant Deputy Minister, Meteorological Service of Canada, Environment Canada, and Permanent Representative of Canada to the WMO positions he has held since 2006.

Dr Antonio Divino Moura of Brazil was elected First Vice President; Prof. Mieczyslaw S. Ostojski of Poland Second Vice-President and Mr Abdalah Mokssit of Morocco Third Vice President.

The Sixteenth WMO Congress is meeting (16 May-3 June) to decide the strategic directions, priorities and budget of the Organization for the next four years.


French researchers receive 2011 Norbert Gerbier-Mumm Award for drought reanalysis
(posted 25 May)

A team of French researchers received the 2011 Norbert Gerbier-Mumm International Award for drought reanalysis research on 24 May at a ceremony during the 16th World Meteorological Congress. The award encourages cooperation between meteorology and other sciences.

This drought reanalysis tool is now being used by Météo France, and has helped quantify that the current drought is the worst since 1958, said Dr. Jean-Pierre Vidal, on behalf of the winners.

We need to promote collaboration between meteorologists and hydrologists, and therefore we are grateful for this award, Mr Vidal added.

The paper, Multi-level and multi-scale drought reanalysis over France with the Safran-Isba-Modcou hydrological suite, was published in 2010 in Volume 14 of the Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, the journal of the European Sciences Union. The authors are Drs J.-P. Vidal, E. Martin, L. Franchistguy, F. Habets, J.-M. Soubeyroux, M. Blanchard, and M. Baillon. The paper traced the evolution of drought through its full cycle, including precipitation, river flow and soil moisture, thus serving as a basis to assess the impact of climate change on drought in France.

The scientists received a cash prize, medal and certificate during the ceremony, presented by WMO President Alexander Bedritskiy and Mrs Guiard-Gerbier. Mr Michel Jarraud WMO Secretary-General, Mr Franois Jacq, Chairman and Executive Director of Météo France, and H.E. Jean-Baptiste Matti, Ambassador of the Permanent Mission of France in Geneva, also made presentations during the ceremony.

The award was instituted in 1987 in honour of Norbert Gerbier-Mumm, President of the WMO Technical Commission for Agricultural Meteorology from 1979 and 1985. The WMO Executive Council selected this years winners at its 62nd session in June 2010.

Statement by WMO Secretary-General

Biographies of award winners

About the award

Group photo
From left to right: Dr Jean-Philippe Vidal, Dr Eric Martin, Ms Michele Blanchard, WMO President Alexander Bedritskiy, Mrs Guiard-Gerbier, WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud, Ms Martine Baillon, Mr Laurent Franchistguy, Mr Jean-Michel Soubeyroux



World Meteorological Congress reappoints Mr Michel Jarraud as Secretary-General
(posted 24 May)

Michel Jarraud
Michel Jarraud

The World Meteorological Congress today reappointed Mr Michel Jarraud as World Meteorological Organization Secretary-General in the first round of voting.

Mr Jarraud has been WMO Secretary-General since 2004. He will serve until 31 December 2015.

The XVI World Meteorological Congress is currently meeting until 3 June to decide on the future direction and priorities of the Organization.

Press release



World Meteorological Congress Monitors Grímsvötn Volcano Eruption Situation
(posted 24 May)

volcano iceland
Copyright: EUMETSAT 2011

The World Meteorological Congress is being regularly updated about developments in the eruption of the Grímsvötn volcano in Iceland.

There are nine Volcanic Ash Advisory Centers (VAAC) across the world, established by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in close cooperation with WMO and the International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics (IUGG) They are operated by WMO Members and provide meteorological information in support of the International Airways Volcano Watch system.

The VAAC responsible for the area where the eruption has occurred (called the lead VAAC) issues a Volcanic Ash advisory based on observations, meteorological data and forecasts of transport and dispersion. The lead VAAC is based in the United Kingdom and is responsible for monitoring and reporting the spread of ash over the UK, Iceland and the north-eastern part of the North Atlantic Ocean.

Experts from the UK Met Office, which acts as the Lead VAAC, are providing regular briefings to Congress about the dispersion and predicted direction of the volcanic ash plume. Information can be found at

The VAACs use highly developed atmospheric models that calculate the transport of existing aerosols (such as volcanic ash) with the prevailing winds. They also predict how turbulent motions in the atmosphere help to disperse the ash cloud until it is considered safe to fly in.

This modelling and information is used to advise the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and National Air Traffic Services (NATS) where the ash is likely to be and taken into account when decisions are made about flights.

Very fine volcanic ash particles sucked into a jet engine melt at about 1,100 C, fusing onto the blades and other parts of the turbine (which operates at about 1,400 C). They can erode and destroy fan blades, eventually leading to engine stall. They can also "blind" pilots by sandblasting the windscreen requiring an instrument landing, and damage the fuselage.


METEOHYDEX 2011 opens at World Meteorological Congress
(posted 23 May)

SG opening MeteoHydex 2011

METEOHYDEX 2011, which showcases state-of-the-art meteorological and hydrological instruments and equipment, has opened at the World Meteorological Congress. The exhibition allows instrument manufacturers to interact with users, in particular the WMO Permanent Representatives of WMO's 189 Members currently attending this Congress with their national experts.

It is the ninth edition of METEOHYDEX, which was created in 1979 and has been organized by PALEXPO on behalf of the World Meteorological Organization ever since. Some 88 exhibitors are participating.

WMO Secretary-General Mr Michel Jarraud opened METEOHYDEX in the presence of WMO President Alexander Bedritskiy and other senior WMO office holders. The event runs till 25 May.



WMO Update: La Niña episode coming to an end
(posted 23 May)

The La Niña episode, which caused disastrously wet conditions in certain regions and drought in others, is coming to an end, according to the latest Update issued by the World Meteorological Organization. Development of El Niño or re-development of La Niña is not considered likely for the middle part of the year, but the outlook at this time is not clear for the second half of 2011.

Near-neutral conditions - with the ocean temperatures, tropical rainfall patterns, and atmospheric winds over the equatorial Pacific Ocean being near the long-term average - are considered the most likely scenario for mid-year 2011, it said, but cautioned that this time of year is known to be particularly marked by low forecast skill.

Press release


Climate Mosaic, an exceptional exhibit on the occasion of the 16th World Meteorological Congress
(posted 23 May)

On the occasion of the 16th World Meteorological Congress, an exhibition aimed at sensitizing public opinion about the need for integrating climate information in planning and decision-making is taking place at Geneva lake side, Esplanade du Palais Wilson, from 23 May to 28 July 2011. The exhibition entitled Climate Mosaic consists of six images of monumental size (7x5 meters each) by photographer Alban Kakulya. They are drawn from the WMO calendar 2011. The exhibition is installed by Imaginaid in partnership with the World Meteorological Organization and is fully sponsored.


JMA shares lessons from Earthquake with World Meteorological Congress
(posted 21 May)

From left to right: Geoff Love, Director, Weather and Disaster Risk Reduction Programme, Noritake Nishide, Director-General of the Forecast department, JMA
Naoyuki Hasegawa, Head, Office of International Affairs, JMA
The performance of the Japanese Meteorological Agency during and after the 11 March earthquake serves as an example to the rest of the world. The cross-cutting sequence of disasters also showed that there are many lessons that can be learnt in disaster risk management. This was the overriding conclusion of a special event on the sidelines of the World Meteorological Congress.

The Japan Meteorological Agency gave a briefing on its responses to the earthquake, including the continuation of operational services, the recovery of the observation networks, multi-hazard risk reduction and the special services needed to meet the requirements in the damaged areas. It is hoped that the experiences of the emergency responses of JMA will be shared with, and applied to, the operations of, many other National Meteorological Services. >> More


Iberoamerican NMHS Programme of Cooperation transfers database management system to WMO
(posted 19 May)

From left to right: Avinash Tyagi, Ricardo García Herrera and Felipe Adrián Vázquez Gálvez

The Programme of Cooperation for the Iberoamerican NMHSs has formally transferred the Meteorology, Climatology and Hydrology database management system to the WMO.

Under the cooperation project PROMMA (Modernization of the Water Resources Management in Mexico), a water and climate database management system suited to the needs of the Mexican National Water Commission was developed in Spanish. At the end of the project, Mexico made it available to the Programme of Cooperation for the Iberoamerican NMHSs, which in turn, thanks to a Trust Fund established by Spain in WMO, added a meteorological component and adapted it to the needs of a more general audience.

This is a development model based on local capacity. It was designed taking into account of specific needs as a region. We hope to be able to share this experience with others and we are sure it will be as successful for you as for us, said Mr. A Vázquez Gálvez, Permanent Representative of Mexico to WMO at an event during the World Meteorological Congress.

WMOs Climate and Water Department has now translated this open-source, freely available software to English and is planning to translate it in French in the near future so that NMHSs in need of such a system can benefit.

Its a tool which we consider to be very basic, very important to reduce inequalities between the various meteorological services of our community, said Mr R. García Herrera, Permanent Representative of Spain to WMO.


Space weather hazards a growing threat
(posted 18 May)

  solar graphic
Solar flare created HF radio communication outages over Africa on 8 March 2011

Satellite communications, air travel and electric power disruptions are occurring due to solar flares and other space weather hazards, experts told a side event today on Global Preparedness for Space Weather Hazards at the World Meteorological Congress. Vulnerability is growing as more countries adopt wireless technologies and as the next peak in solar activity approaches, which is expected in 2013.

Disruptions affect humanitarian operations, agriculture and mining and many other sectors, said participants.

Earlier today, Kathryn Sullivan, US Assistant Secretary for Environmental Observation and Prediction and Deputy Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, highlighted solar storms along with tsunamis and climate change as major challenges. Severe space weather events are an emerging concern, due to their potential to affect the worlds technology-based infrastructure, which weve all become more dependent upon, she said. Without a coordinated international plan of action, the next extreme solar storm could well be a global disaster in its economic and social impacts," she told Congress. >> More

Note: The next related side event, Developing a Space-based Architecture for Climate Monitoring, will take place on Wednesday 18 May from 13h30-15h00 in Salle 5.


High-level segment at Congress voices support for future priorities
(posted 17 May)

A proposed blueprint to equip countries with the scientific knowledge they need to manage climate risks won overwhelming support at a two-day high-level segment which ended today at the World Meteorological Congress.

Heads of government and ministers from all around the world voiced strong support for the proposed Global Framework for Climate Services (GFCS) which is intended to make climate information available, accessible and relevant, especially to those who need it most in developing countries. They also discussed other WMO major priority areas including capacity building, disaster risk reduction, strengthened information and observation systems, and aeronautical meteorology.

Press release



High-level Segment discusses proposed global framework on climate services
(posted 16 May)

  swiss alps

Climate services save countless lives and livelihoods every day, but often do not reach countries and communities which are most vulnerable to climate change. 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 and spread the benefits around the world, the World Meteorological Congress heard today.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Bangladesh Prime Minister H.E. Sheikh Hasina, and Ministers who addressed a High-level segment of WMO’s quadrennial meeting were united in their calls for Congress to endorse the Global Framework for Climate Services (GFCS) during its three-week session which will set WMO priorities and budget. >> More


16th World Meteorological Congress opens
(posted 16 May)

WMO President Alexander Bedritskiy and Secretary-General Michel Jarraud opened WMOs XVI Congress today. More than 600 delegates, including Heads of States and Governments, Ministers, senior government officials, heads of National Meteorological and Hydrological Services, and representatives of WMO partner organizations will attend the three week meeting which will determine WMOs future direction.

The science that is the foundation of your work must continue to drive our response to climate change, said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in a message to Congress. Greenhouse gas emissions are accelerating. Climate change is altering the geopolitical landscape and threatens economies around the world.

Ban said the proposed Global Framework for Climate Services, one of the main agenda items at Congress, would help assist the poorest and most vulnerable countries adapt to the inevitable impacts.

In a video message, Swiss President Micheline Calmy-Rey said Switzerland would support the new Framework which would promote international cooperation and make it possible for the poorest countries to benefit from modern climate services.

UN Secretary-General message

Swiss President Micheline Calmy-Rey, video message


World Meteorological Congress to set future direction, priorities and budget
(posted 13 May)

A proposed Global Framework for Climate Services designed to help countries especially the most vulnerable cope with climate variability and climate change is one of the priorities which will be discussed at the Sixteenth World Meteorological Congress which is held every four years to decide the Organizations future directions.

Other key discussion items include: strengthening the WMOs disaster risk reduction program in the context of increased likelihood and impact of extreme weather, climate and water-related hazards and events in a warming world with a growing population; implementing integrated and improved observation and information systems to maximize the returns on investment on surface and space infrastructure in recent years; reinforcing the aeronautical meteorology programme in view of its importance to air traffic and the need for quality assurance of these services; and capacity building programmes in developing countries to help them fully participate in WMO activities and benefit from them.

Press release


WMO at Fourth UN Conference on Least Developed Countries
(posted 12 May)

During the last decades, an unprecedented number of extreme events, such as floods and droughts, contributed significantly to loss of life and property and set back economic development in many Least Developed Countries (LDCs), especially in Africa. Extreme hydrometeorological events have accounted for about 90 % of all natural disasters and they are increasing.

Natural hazards and climate change are recognized as mounting challenges to the sustainable development of many Least Developed Countries (LDCs), particularly for those especially dependent on rain-fed agriculture, fresh water and the exploitation of natural resources.

Natural hazards cannot be avoided, appropriate capacity building can contribute to significantly mitigate the death and destruction tolls through proactive adaptation measures, according to WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud. However, while weather and climate sciences have indeed made outstanding progress during the last decades, most LDCs cannot yet benefit from these advances for lack of the necessary capacity, he said.

In a speech delivered to the Fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries in Istanbul, Turkey, WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud outlined the weather and climate-related challenges facing LDCs as well as WMO programmes designed to help them. WMO also participated in a panel debate with the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change on Addressing Vulnerability to Climate Change in LDCs.

WMO established in 2003 a special Programme for the LDCs to strengthen the capabilities of their National Meteorological and Hydrological Services to provide relevant and timely weather, water and climate information and services.

Statement by Mr Jarraud


Geneva tram promotes WMO
(posted 11 May)


A tram is circulating in Geneva that promotes the work of WMO during the 16th WMO Meteorological Congress (16 May to 3 June). Financed by the Government of Switzerland, the tram promotes the WMO contribution to addressing climate change in the areas of water management, disaster risk reduction, agriculture and food security.

The tram is circulating on the lines 12, 13, 14, 15, 16 and 17 from 2 May to 31 July 2011, and is part of an initiative by the Geneva public transport system to promote sustainable development efforts.


Risk reduction seminar focus on strong outreach for climate information
(posted 11 May)

Whether dealing with slow-onset drought or sudden coastal floods, improving community preparedness measures and dissemination of early warnings in an effective manner are essential, noted a side event organized yesterday by WMO at the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction (Geneva, 9-13 May).

Drought: Managing hidden risks

The side event on Integrated Drought Risk Management featured case studies on droughts in the Horn of Africa and the Navajo reservation in Colorado, USA. The slow-onset nature of drought makes it difficult to measure hidden risk. People in drought-prone areas face growing extreme climatic risks, with limited economic options; drought spikes can, in some cases, influence GDP up to 50%. Globally, drought has been increasing for the last 25 years, according to the 2007 IPCC Fourth Assessment Report. Meanwhile, water available per capita on a regional basis is declining, and population is increasing, noted the Global Water Partnership. Drought is the main cause for 50% of emergency food distribution, according to the World Food Programme.

Local communities can prepare safety nets to get them through the worst periods of drought, such as by preparing wells in advance, or by planting drought-resistant fodder for livestock. But getting climate information to the farming and pastoral communities is a major challenge, requiring investments in dialogue between national meteorological and agricultural services, as well as with communities. The WMO roving seminars for farmers and the WMO Climate Outlook Forums were among the best practices cited to communicate climate information effectively. The complexity of communicating seasonal forecasts in easily understandable language to the user communities was also underlined. The quality of climate information is important in communicating probability; moreover, seasonal forecasts are a moving target due to climate change, affecting adaptation decisions at national and local levels.

WMO organized the event with the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

For more information on this event, and updates on other WMO activities at the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction, see


Potential of Renewable Energy Outlined in Report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
(posted on 9 May)


Close to 80 percent of the worlds energy supply could be met by renewables by mid-century if backed by the right enabling public policies a new report shows.

The findings, from over 120 researchers working with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), also indicate that the rising penetration of renewable energies could lead to cumulative greenhouse gas savings equivalent to 220 to 560 Gigatonnes of carbon dioxide (GtC02eq) between 2010 and 2050.

IPCC Press release



Drought conditions in Europe 2011
(posted 5 May)

  drought map
  Precipitation percentage of normals for February to April 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 persists over large parts of Europe since January 2011. According to data of the Global Precipitation Climatology Centre (GPCC), especially the months February to April 2011 had a considerable rain deficit over large parts of Europe. The 3-month totals over this period ranged between 40 and 80% of the long-term mean 1951-2000 over large areas (see figure below), in many parts of central Europe even below 40%.

The United Kingdom had extremely dry conditions in March and April especially in its southeastern parts and experienced its driest March since 1953. The other parts of western and central Europe all had a dry February, March and April. 2011 was up to now one of the driest 10 years in nearly whole Switzerland since 1864.  April 2011 was one of the 10 driest April months in Germany since 1881, in continuation of similarly dry April months in 2007, 2009 and 2010. Also the preceding winter 2010/11 was very dry at least in western Europe, causing a very low soil moisture during March and April.>> More details



WMO and partners pilot "Mobile Weather Alert" for Fishermen on Lake Victoria
(posted on 4 May)

The Uganda Department of Meteorology, Ericsson, MTN, National Lake Rescue Institute and the World Meteorological Organization are piloting an SMS service called “Mobile Weather Alert” which uses mobile technology to provide forecasts of severe weatherand improve safety for fishermen on Lake Victoria.

A two-day training workshop in Kampala from 4th to 5th May will train community leaders so they understand what the weather alerts mean.These community leaders will in turn will each recruit and train other fishermen on Ssese Island, Lake Victoria to use the service for a 3 month trial period.

More than 5000 people lose their lives on Lake Victoria each year. Most of them drown as a result of high winds and waves associated with convective storms on the lake.The aim of the Mobile Weather Alert project is to reduce the casualty toll. The Lake supports nearly 200,000 fishermen, with a fishing fleet of more than 70,000 boats and so is vital to the local economy.

The main launch of the Mobile Weather Alertproject will take place in July.







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