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Press Release No. 880

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WMO MARKS 60 YEARS IN SERVICE OF HUMAN SECURITY

GENEVA, 23 March 2010 – “WMO - 60 Years of service for your safety and well-being” is the theme of the World Meteorological Day (WMD) being celebrated today by the National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs) in 189 Member States and Territories.

“Our growing ability to predict the weather and climate saved millions of lives,” said WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud. “In the coming decades, WMO’s observations, forecasts and services will be a critical tool in ensuring food security, adapting to climate change, and contribute to sustainable development.”

Around the clock, WMO facilitates provision and exchange of near-real-time standardized information from 189 National Meteorological and Hydrological Services and 35 Regional Specialized Meteorological Centres across the globe. Data is collected by about 10 000 land stations, 3 000 aircraft, 1 000 upper-air stations, more than 1 000 ships, 16 operational meteorological and environmental satellites and about 50 research satellites. The WMO Integrated Global Observing System connects these observational networks using the WMO Information System for data exchange, management and processing.

As natural hazards pose serious threats to human security, WMO has worked on operational early warning systems and effective preparedness measures, which have contributed to drastically reduce loss of lives. Surface and groundwater monitoring and quality controls have enabled WMO to issue authoritative warnings of dwindling water supplies, especially in view of mounting population pressure and water pollution, while integrated water resources management proposed by WMO is showing the way to optimize the exploitation of limited freshwater resources.

According to figures from the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters, between 1980 to 2007, on a global scale, 7558 weather-, water- and climate-related hazards accounted for 90% of the total number of disasters, 72% of the total casualties (1.3 million people), and 78% of total economic loss (12 trillion USD).

Major contributions to society evolved from marked improvement in weather forecasting, which in 1950 allowed only for 24 to 36- hour predictions of comparable quality to what we have today for seven-day forecasts. This would not have been possible without the international coordinating role played by WMO in observations, research, analysis and modeling, which also led to the development of longer-range predictions, now extending several seasons ahead.

Sixty years ago, WMO was founded to facilitate international cooperation in the field of weather, climate, water and related sciences. WMD commemorates the entry into force in 1950 of the WMO Convention creating an inter-governmental organization, as a successor to the non-governmental International Meteorological Organization (IMO) established in 1873. In 1951, WMO became a Specialized Agency of the United Nations.

Major achievements in the past decades have been timely alerts issued with respect to the thinning of the protective stratospheric ozone layer and to the potential consequences of the anthropogenic climate change. The momentum generated set in motion processes that resulted in the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer and its Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer (1987); the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and its Kyoto Protocol (1997) that sets targets for reduction of emissions of greenhouse gases; and the setting up in 1988 of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in partnership with UNEP. WMO jointly with the International Council for Science (ICSU) launched the 1957-1958 International Geophysical Year and the International Polar Year 2007-2008, which is still producing exceptional scientific results.

Through successive World Climate Conferences, WMO has moved from observations and research to better understand the climate challenges to providing specific sector-related services to help decision-makers. The World Climate Conference-3, in 2009, decided to establish a Global Framework for Climate Services for providing sector-specific climate services tailored to national, regional and global needs. Work on developing that Framework has started already and a report is expected by early 2011.

The Message by WMO Secretary-General M. Jarraud, a booklet on the theme of “60 years for your safety and well-being” and the programme of the World Meteorological Day ceremony at WMO Headquarters are available on-line, at http://www.wmo.int/wmd/index_en.html

Invitation for journalists

You are cordially invited to the ceremony that will be held on the occasion of World Meteorological Day 2010, at WMO Headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, on Tuesday, 23 March, from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Guest Speaker, Dr Osvaldo F. Canziani, former Co-Chair, Working Group 2 of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), will give a presentation entitled “The World Meteorological Organization in a Changing World”. As a Special Guest, Professor Walter R. Stahel, Vice-Secretary General, International Association for the Study of Insurance Economics will speak about the prevention of extreme weather impact. The ceremony will be followed by the opening of an art exhibition of paintings by Rémi Benyamin, inspired by satellite imagery.

You are also cordially invited to a reception that WMO is hosting on this occasion, from 5.00 to 6.00 p.m. in the Attic Restaurant.

Journalists not accredited to the United Nations, who wish to participate in the ceremony, are requested to contact Gaëlle Sévenier, WMO Press Officer.

 

 

WMO is the United Nations System’s 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 8315, Mobile: +41 794 064730; E-mail:  cpa@wmo.int

Ms Gaëlle Sévenier, Press Officer, Communications and Public Affairs, Tel. +41 (0) 22 730 8417, Fax: +41 (0) 22 730 8027, E-mail: gsevenier@wmo.int

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