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September 2011

 
 

International Conference on Flood Management includes special session on
Mega-Disasters
Posted 27 September

  flood
   
 
The tsunami's wave crashed over a street in Miyako in northeastern Japan
©Mainichi Shimbun
   

Flood-related disasters this year in Australia, Colombia, Indonesia, Japan, Sri Lanka and the United States of America – to name but a few – have yet again highlighted that all nations are susceptible to the damaging effects of major storms and flood events. Population growth, urban development and environmental degradation in coastal areas, combined with the impacts of climate change, are expected to increase the risks.

But, in addition to death and destruction, floods can also promote economic development. Societies in many parts of the world consequently rely heavily on agriculture, fisheries and other activities in rivers and flood-prone delta areas.

"Floods: From Risk to Opportunity" is the theme of the Fifth International Conference on Flood Management in Tokyo, Japan, 27-29 September. This reflects the growing understanding of how to make use of the opportunities provided by floods and flooding, and collectively deal with the risks as part of an all-embracing integrated flood management package.

The International Conference on Flood Management is organized by the International Centre for Water Hazard and Risk Management (ICHARM) under the auspices of UNESCO. ICHARM was established within the Public Works Research Institute (PWRI) in Tsukuba city. WMO is one of the co-sponsors.

The conference also includes a high-level International Forum on Mega-disasters - infrequent but highly destructive intensive disasters. These include, for example, the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, Hurricane Katrina in the United States in 2005; the 2010 earthquake in Haiti which reportedly killed 222 517 people; the 2010 floods in Pakistan which affected an estimated 20 million people and – most recently – the earthquake and tsunami off the East coast of Japan which killed more than 20 000 people and triggered a nuclear emergency. >> Full story

WMO statement at the opening of the 5th International Conference on Flood Management, by M. Jarraud, Secretary-General of WMO, (Tokyo, 27 September 2011)

High Panel Discussion: Safeguarding and recovering from mega-disasters
Building global solidarity to safeguard nations and the people
, by M. Jarraud, Secretary-General of WMO, (Tokyo, 27 September 2011)

 

 

Regional Climate Outlook Forum for Central Africa
Posted 20 September

  map

The Regional Climate Outlook Forum for Central Africa has issued its outlook for the October-December seasonal rains, which are influenced by sea surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans.

The regional climate outlook, based on expert consensus, indicates that the coastal zones of Central Africa, from Cameroon to the Democratic Republic of Congo and including the islands of Bioko and São Tomé et Principe are likely to receive above-normal rainfall. Normal rainfall is anticipated for the majority of the continental zone from southern Chad to the southern Democratic Republic of Congo.

The Forum, held in Douala, Cameroon, from 19 to 21 September 2011, was convened by the African Centre of Meteorological Applications for Development (ACMAD), with the support of the UN Economic Commission for Africa and the World Meteorological Organization, and was attended by experts from the National Meteorological and Hydrological Services of countries in Central Africa as well as regional and global experts.

Full text (in French)

African centre of Meteorological Applications for Development

 

Preserve the ozone layer, protect the global climate system
Posted 16 September

  cover
   
  Antarctic Ozone Bulletin

This year’s International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer is meant to serve as a rallying call to accelerate the phase-out of chemicals which destroy the Earth’s fragile shield and which are also powerful greenhouse gases.

“HCFC phase-out: a unique opportunity” is the theme for the celebration, marking the anniversary of the signature of an agreement known as the Montreal Protocol. Many ozone-destroying chemicals such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), once present in products such as refrigerators and spray cans, have been phased out under the Montreal Protocol. However, demand for replacement substances including hydrochlorofluorcarbons (HCFCs) has increased, prompting an agreement in 2007 to accelerate the phase-out of HCFCs, which are commonly used in air conditioning

In its Antarctic Ozone Bulletin published today (16 September), WMO reported that the ozone hole increased rapidly during the first two weeks of September from less than 10 million km2 to approximately 24 million km2. This means that the 2011 ozone hole is about average in size in comparison to the ozone holes of the last decade. It is already significantly larger than in 2010, but smaller than in 2006, when there was a record large ozone hole.

Press release

Antarctic Ozone Bulletin

 

Climate Change linked to flooding in Pakistan's Sindh Province
Posted 13 September

Pakistan’s Meteorological Department issued two weather warnings 12 Sept. It said the latest meteorological conditions indicate that the strong monsoon weather system now lies over southeast Sindh and adjoining areas of Rajasthan (India). It said more widespread heavy to very heavy rains are predicted in Lower Sindh during next three days; Heavy spells would cause more flooding in already inundated areas.

Dr. Qamar uz Zaman Chaudhry, Pakistan’s Permanent Representative to WMO and Advisor, Climate Affairs, to the Government of Pakistan, said in a statement:. “Sometimes it is difficult to relate individual extreme weather events to a climate change. But if we look at the frequency and the trend of the extreme weather events impacting Pakistan during the last two decades, then it is easy to find its linkage with climate change.”

He said the rains in Sindh are the highest ever recorded monsoon rains during a four week period. Sindh this year received 270% and 730 % above normal monsoon rains respectively in August and September.  Before the start of these rains in the second week of August, Sindh was under severe drought conditions and it had not received any rainfall during the last 12 months.

Dr Qamar said that the rainfall was predicted well in advance by PMD and the disaster management agencies were also well prepared. But the scale of this natural calamity combined with the topography of the area having very poor natural drainage and other factors further complicated the scale of flooding.

Over the past year, WMO has been working with PMD on an Integrated Flood Management plan. As a result of these continued efforts, Pakistan has installed a Flash Flood Guidance System to help provide warnings about the imminence of potential flash-flooding. The development of such a system was the result of a WMO Expert Mission that visited Pakistan last November.

WMO in cooperation with partners continues to assist the PMD in the rehabilitation of the meteorological and hydrological network for improved flood forecasting. >>More details.

 

Greater Horn of Africa Climate Outlook Forum Considers September-December Rainfall
Posted 7 September

Geneva/Nairobi, 6 September 2011 (WMO) - The Greater Horn of Africa Climate Outlook for the forthcoming season (September through December 2011) indicates a possible return to normal/above-normal rainfall conditions in famine-hit southern Somalia, but a risk of below-normal rainfall remains over northern Somalia and adjoining regions.

September to December constitutes an important rainfall season - after the March-May rains - over southern Somalia and other equatorial parts of the Greater Horn of Africa (Kenya, Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda and northern Tanzania). Rainfall in northern Somalia during this period is typically lower than in southern Somalia.

Over parts of the region, given that September-December rainfall is a relatively small proportion of its annual total (see figures below), there may not yet be much easing of the drought situation in these areas where drought conditions have prevailed for the past several months.

Press release

 

 

WMO Issues new El Niño/La Niña Update
Neutral Conditions or Weak La Niña most likely scenarios for rest of 2011
Posted 1 September

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has issued its latest Update on El Niño/La Niña, the phenomena in the tropical Pacific which have a significant impact upon weather and climate around the globe.

The continuation of near neutral conditions - with the ocean temperatures, tropical rainfall patterns, and atmospheric winds over the equatorial Pacific Ocean near the long-term average – or the re-emergence of La Niña conditions are the most likely scenarios for the rest of 2011, according model forecasts and expert interpretation used by WMO.

If a La Niña event does occur, current indications are that it would be considerably weaker than the moderate to strong 2010-2011 episode, which ended in May 2011 and was linked to disastrously wet conditions in parts of Australia, Indonesia, Southeast Asia, and portions of northern South America (e.g. Colombia), and drought in parts of the Horn of Africa, central southwest Asia, southeastern South America and the southern United States of America.

Development of an El Niño is considered very unlikely, the Update said.

Press release

 
 

 

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