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Press Release No. 779

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Greater use of Earth Observations makes steady progress

Geneva, 8 May 2007 (WMO) – Greater use of earth observations to significantly improve weather, climate and water services and help increase protection of life and property around the world has been making steady progress delegates heard at the Fifteenth Congress of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

Work on the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS) – an integrated international network of weather stations on land and sea, satellites, atmospheric balloons, ocean buoys and other observing devices – is being carried out in many countries.

WMO-hosted intergovernmental Group on Earth Observations (GEO), combines and matches existing and new hardware and software to provide global observations with the aim of supplying weather-, climate- and water-related data and information at no cost.

“Through WMO, critical observing capabilities are integrated to improve forecasts and protect life and property. Much of GEOSS is being realized by what WMO has put into place.”

“GEOSS is based on the systems and people already at work, and assists in synthesizing so we can address even greater needs,” said Vice-Admiral Conrad C. Lautenbacher Jr during his Congress presentation: Results Delivered to Society through Earth Observations.

Important recently introduced elements of GEOSS include the Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning System which has seen the deployment of the first Deep-ocean Assessment and Reporting of Tsunami (DART) buoy station in the Indian Ocean; added Global Telecommunications System (GTS) components and tide gauge stations as well as Radio and Internet (RANET) community information centres capable of transmitting critical warning information to rural and remote areas.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center operations were expanded to cover the Indian Ocean until the new system is in place. Training and workshops have also been held.

In other regions, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recently shifted its GOES-10 satellite to a new position to provide continuous coverage for the benefit of countries in South and Central America, coverage that was interrupted in the past by hurricanes or other severe weather events in the USA.

Brazil and Argentina are now receiving and processing data from GOES-10, archiving and making it available for other users throughout the region, contributing to fire detection in the Amazon rainforest and flood warnings and forecasts.

New and innovative components are being integrated into GEOSS including:

  • Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) platforms which can remain aloft for many hours and operate in areas that would normally be dangerous for manned flights.
  • Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs) used to systematically map the seafloor, documenting the physical environment and ecosystem characteristics in ever increasing detail.
  • Tags on loggerhead sea turtles carrying specialized sensors out into the ocean.

The GEONETCast programme, supported by WMO and its Members, has been making available large volumes of valuable data from incompatible databases around the world; regional versions of GEONETCast are now being developed or are already in operation in Africa, the Americas and Europe.

In the health sector experts recognize a clear relationship between rainfall and malaria, where outbreaks of the disease peak towards the end of the rainy season. The Niger Ministry of Health and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are using Earth observation products to fight malaria and save lives from one of the world’s major killers.

The WMO-cosponsored Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) also relies on earth observations including many of the studies used in the recent Fourth Assessment Report and there is a great deal of hope that the new NOAA tool known as CarbonTracker will help improve our understanding of how carbon uptake and release from land and oceans responds to a changing climate.

WMO plays a key role in facilitating and coordinating all these efforts and the organization’s World Weather Watch provides a critical component for GEOSS by enabling countries to exchange data important to forecasts and warnings.

GEOSS is comprised of the Global Observing System (GOS), including over 10 000 surface stations around the world, the Global Telecommunications System (GTS), and Global Data Processing and Forecasting System.

GOS has provided continuous and reliable global observations for use by WMO Members since 1963.

 

WMO is the United Nations’ authoritative voice on weather, climate and water
For more information please contact:
Ms Carine Richard-Van Maele, Chief, Communications and Public Affairs, WMO.
Tel: +41 (0)22 730 83 15.
Mr Mark Oliver, Press Officer, Communications and Public Affairs Office, World Meteorological Organization. Tel: +41 (0)22 730 84 17.

 

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