Coral reefs, referred to as the ‘tropical rainforests of the ocean’ are facing unprecedented threats because of climate change, including damage from increasingly severe tropical cyclones, bleaching events and ocean acidification. About 20 percent of the original area of coral reefs has been lost, with a further 25 percent threatened in the next century. Concerted international action is needed to ensure their long-term survival, according to a new report entitled “Climate, Carbon and Coral Reefs”.
U.N. marks first World Statistics Day
World Statistics Day, celebrated for the first time on 20 October 2010 worldwide, highlighted the vital importance of statistics to respond to present and future challenges and to measure progress.
“Statistics are a vital tool for economic and social development, including our efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. For development to succeed, we need data collection and statistical analysis of poverty levels, access to education and the incidence of disease,” stated Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
At a conference in Geneva, WMO representatives explained how WMO coordinates data collection for weather and climate analysis and forecasting; tracks long-term global temperature changes and weather and climate extremes worldwide; monitors atmospheric composition, including greenhouse gases and ozone, and develops relevant information services for sectors such as agriculture, transport and tourism. They highlighted the efforts of the WMO and its partners in ensuring the development and use of high standard global datasets for climate assessment.
Geneva – which has the world’s highest concentration of international organizations - hosted the conference to provide an interface between statistical practitioners and policy makers, academia and civil society.
The latest version of METEOTERM, the World Meteorological Organization’s terminology database, is now available free online.
With nearly 42 500 entries, METEOTERM is the world’s largest multilingual weather and climate terminology database. English is the source language, with translations available for each term in up to six languages: English, Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian and Spanish.
The database includes the International Meteorological Vocabulary, the International Glossary of Hydrology, and related scientific terms from WMO documents. It is continuously updated by WMO language services.
Originally developed as a reference for translators and interpreters, positive feedback from national weather services, international organizations and the general public led WMO to upgrade the database and extend its access.
Moderate to strong La Niña conditions are now well established in the equatorial Pacific Ocean, and are likely to continue at least until the first quarter of next year, according to WMO's new El Niño/La Niña Update.
"Almost all forecast models predict continuation and possible further strengthening of this La Niña episode for the next 4-6 months or more, taking the event well into the first quarter of 2011," says the Update.
The current La Niña developed quickly in June and July 2010, following the dissipation of the 2009/2010 El Niño in April. Since August the event has been moderate to strong.
WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud has highlighted the need to improve observation systems for climate change adaptation at a conference organized by the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD).
Mr Jarraud said the International Symposium "Benefiting from Earth Observation – Bridging the Data Gap for Adaptation to Climate Change in the Hindu Kush-Himalayan Region" in Kathmandu, Nepal, provided the region with a key opportunity to advance in sustainable development and international cooperation.
“Although some changes are unavoidable, it is not too late to prevent them from becoming an even more serious threat to our common future,” Mr Jarraud said in a video message to the opening session.
Known as the "water tower" of Asia, the Hindu Kush-Himalayan region exhibits the largest concentration of snow and glaciers outside the polar regions and it contributes the headwaters of the 10 largest Asian river basins.
In its Summary for Policymakers, the WMO co-sponsored Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said that glacier melt in the Himalayas is projected to increase flooding and rock avalanches from destabilized slopes, and to significantly affect freshwater resources within decades, Mr Jarraud recalled.
Difficulties in accessing some parts of the region mean that remote observations, in particular space-based observations, are vital in predicting and assessing natural hazards, such as the floods afflicting Pakistan. On-site observations are also imperative, highlighting the importance of strengthening national Meteorological and Hydrological Services, Mr. Jarraud said.
In 2002, WMO and ICIMOD subscribed a Memorandum of Understanding to increase cooperation in weather, climate and water, including environmental and disaster risk reduction, research and capacity building for National Meteorological and Hydrological Services.
For information about the symposium, see geoportal.icimod.org/symposium2010/
Meteorologists in South America pledged to improve forecasting and warning capabilities, strengthen observations and telecommunications networks, establish regional climate centres and implement disaster risk management strategies.
The decisions were taken at a week-long meeting of the World Meteorological Organization’s South American Regional Association in Bogota, Colombia. Delegates from 13 South American countries agreed on the need for coordination as well as for more accurate climate products to better understand and cope with climate variability and climate change.
“The economic crisis has been a serious constraint but many critical issues like climate change persist and adaptation to its impacts remains key, so we can no longer wait for the crisis to conclude before reaffirming the need to support National Meteorological and Hydrological Services as investments in sustainable development and the protection of lives and property,” WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud told the meeting.