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Climate Applications and Services

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Programmes > World Climate Programme > Climate applications and services

Implementing the Global Framework for Climate Services at Regional and National Scales

Climate change is one of the greatest challenges to human society in contemporary times. Statistics show that the last decades have already seen a sharp rise in economic, social and environmental damages due to climate and weather-related natural hazards – and scientists expect the frequency and intensity of such extreme to rise due to climate change. However, the extent of damages are, in part, a testimony to our lack of understanding and inability to prepare and adapt to climate change. From global to local levels, public and private sector institutions are seeking the tools and the knowledge for climate risk management. Decision-makers at all levels are asking how they can better manage climate-related risks and opportunities. Demand for useful climate-related knowledge and information is increasing. Thus, existing climate knowledge and tools need to be improved and made available around the world. The goal of this project is to enhance resilience in social, economic and environmental systems to climate variability and change by developing effective and sustainable regional and national climate services. Through this project, climate information will be available where it is most useful. It will connect communities so that they can discuss challenges and learn from the experiences and good practices of others. It will provide governments and decision-makers with client-focused information to enhance management of both climate opportunities and risk in order to raise awareness of climate variability and change and to promote preparedness to ongoing or foreseen climate anomalies and the negative consequences they might cause. The challenge with regard to the provision of adequate climate information and its appropriate use is twofold:

  1. Developing and enhancing systems for production and delivery of useable climate information, spanning global to local scales, on various timescales.
  2. Ensuring an effective uptake of the information by decision-makers in different sectors. The overall purpose of the project is to increase national capacities to understand, anticipate, prepare for and cope with the negative impacts of natural hazards and to increase resilience to climate variability and change.

The project implements five key outcomes:

  1. Develop Capacities for Climate Services in the Caribbean, and the South Western Pacific Ocean Region and the South West Indian Ocean
  2. Establish Climate Services for the Arctic Polar Region
  3. Develop Capacities for Climate Services in the South Asia and the Third Pole Region
  4. Free Access to a Cutting-edge Knowledge Base on Drought Management

This project is funded by Environment and Climate Change Canada.

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Developing Capacities for Climate Services in the Caribbean, and the South Western Pacific Ocean Region and the South West Indian Ocean

The Pacific, Caribbean and South West Indian Ocean Small Island Developing States (SIDS) are susceptible to many hydro-meteorological and other hazards, namely tropical storms and hurricanes, thunderstorms or lightning, coastal storm surges, floods, flash floods, coastal flooding, river flooding, tsunamis, drought, strong winds, heat waves, and dust or haze. These hazards have the potential to cause coastal erosion, landslides, mudslides, epidemics, and the movement and spread of toxic substances and volcanic material. The phenomenon of global climate change features prominently in the discussion on disaster risk management in the Pacific, Caribbean and South West Indian Ocean. Climate change increases disaster risks in two ways. First, climate change will likely increase the frequency and severity of weather and climate hazards. Second, climate change will simultaneously increase communities’ vulnerability to natural hazards due to the combined effects of ecosystem degradation, reduced availability of water for ecosystems and agriculture, and changes in peoples’ livelihoods.

Currently, most SIDS have little or no climate services. Existing services are often focused on weather and aviation services but not on climate. The potential benefits from climate services, however, are very substantial.

This project provides training to the national hydro-meteorological services of the SIDS and other regional institutions with the aim to understand the needs, design, implementation, operation, maintenance and communication of climate services. Particular focus is on vulnerable coastal communities, agriculture, water, and health sectors. The training delivers the knowledge and tools that national organizations need to implement relevant and sustainable climate services that fit the needs of users in the respective country.

Assessing strategies for adaptation require a sound understanding of the current and historic climate system and its impacts on socio-economic sectors such as agriculture, energy, water resource management, transport, infrastructure development and tourism. A key component of the project therefore addresses the task of maintaining and enhancing historical climate data records through so-called data rescue efforts.

These activities strengthen the partnership between national hydro-meteorological services and other communities. It is the national organizations that will continue to provide climate and weather services for users on national and community levels. These partnerships are the critical building block to ensure sustainability of the project’s outcomes.

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Establishing Climate Services for the Arctic Polar Region

The cryosphere – frozen precipitation, snow cover, sea ice, lake and river ice, glaciers, ice caps, ice sheets, permafrost and seasonally frozen ground – is a critically important component of the Arctic Climate System. Global climate, water and weather as well as other environmental areas are also highly influenced by the cryosphere. It is a major indicator of global climate change and plays a fundamental role in Earth’s climate system. The WMO Global Cryosphere Watch (GCW), initiated in 2011, provides authoritative information on present, future and past states of the world’s snow and ice resources.

The cryosphere is the key to providing climate services in the Arctic region where climate prediction skills are currently severely limited and require substantial additional research. Existing climate products and services – sea-ice monitoring, satellite observations of ice extent and specialized predictions – have to be operationalized and brought to proper application. A cohesive and integrated effort to observe, monitor, assess and predict the state of the cryosphere is needed. And this effort has to be underpinned by coherent and coordinated research and product development. The Global Cryosphere Watch must gain an understanding of users’ needs for climate information in the Arctic Region in order to address them. Activities will also have to be coordinated at regional, national and local levels to cover the requirements of northern communities and indigenous peoples.

Through this project, WMO facilitates effective interactions between experts on climate modelling from the circumpolar regions, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment (ACIA), and providers of land, satellite and marine observations, climate services, climate risk management, user communities and other stakeholders with the goal to promote research and capacity development towards effective climate services for the polar region.

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Developing Capacities for Climate Services in the South Asia and the Third Pole Region

This Project focuses on instigating and coordinating an international climatological data and service exchange between National Meteorological and Hydrological Services, national organizations and other stakeholders on regional and national levels through Regional Climate Outlook Forums (RCOFs) and the establishment of Regional Climate Centres (RCCs). It targets South Asia and the so-called Third Pole Region – the world’s highest mountains, including the Himalayas and the Tibetan Plateau Region.

South Asia is particularly prone to disasters caused by weather and climate related natural hazards. Droughts and flooding occur on a regular basis throughout the region. Overall, disasters in South Asia are caused mainly by recurrent meteorological-, hydrological- and climate-related events such as tropical cyclones and storm surges, floods and landslides, forest fires, and droughts. The consequences of such environmental events, especially on South Asia’s poor, include:

  • decreases in water supply and quality in many arid and semi-arid regions
  • increased risk of floods and droughts in many regions
  • challenges in water resource management in mountain habitats
  • decreases in the reliability of hydropower and biomass production
  • increased incidence of infectious and waterborne diseases such as malaria, dengue, and cholera
  • increases in related damages and deaths from environmental extremes
  • decreases in agricultural productivity
  • adverse impacts on fisheries
  • adverse effects on many ecological systems.

Seasonal and interannual climate variability in South Asia is widely known to be predominantly influenced by the El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) phenomenon. Many of the region's major economic sectors – important contributors to the gross domestic product (GDP) – are highly sensitive to weather, water and climate hazards. Agriculture, fisheries and forestry, water resource management, energy, tourism, and urban planning, particularly for megacities, number among these. The greater relative predictability of ENSO impacts on South Asia regional climate patterns, recent advances in seasonal prediction science and seasonal climate forecasting tools have the potential to provide reliable early warnings of extremes that could support decision-making in these economic sectors.

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Free Access to a Cutting-edge Knowledge Base on Drought Management

This Project aims to build climate resilience in order to reduce associated socio-economic losses and, thereby, alleviate poverty in drought-affected regions. The Project falls under the scope of the Integrated Drought Management Programme (IDMP), jointly managed by the WMO and the Global Water Partnership. IDMP cuts across sectors, disciplines and institutional jurisdictions. It is responsive to specific regional and national needs and requirements and support stakeholders at all levels by providing policy and management guidance and by sharing scientific information, knowledge and best practices for drought management.

The Project contributes to the high-level objectives of the Integrated Drought Management Programme, namely the coordination of existing drought-related efforts in various organizations and agencies, with regard to:

  • Developing better scientific understanding and inputs for drought management;
  • Promoting drought risk assessment, monitoring, prediction and early warning;
  • Providing policy and planning for drought preparedness and mitigation across sectors; and
  • Reducing drought risks while improving response to risks.

The overarching approach centres on four key principles:

  • Shifting the focus from reactive (crisis management) to proactive measures through drought mitigation, vulnerability reduction and preparedness;
  • Integrating vertical planning and decision-making processes at regional, national and community levels into a multi-stakeholder approach including key sectors, especially agriculture and energy;
  • Promoting the evolution of the drought knowledge base and establishing a mechanism for sharing knowledge and providing services to stakeholders across sectors at all levels; and
  • Capacity-building of various stakeholders at different levels.

While the scope is global, this project prioritizes the promulgation of drought management policies in various regions of the world and will provide a platform with consolidated expert advice on drought management. In target countries, it will tailor policies, advice and knowledge to their requirements.

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