August 2009

Recent events

Sustaining Soil Productivity in Response to Global Climate Change / International Symposium on Climate Change and Adaptation Options in Agriculture / International Workshop on Communicating Weather and Climate Products and Services for Sustainable Agriculture / Second Experts’ Symposium on Multi-Hazard Early Warning Systems / WMO RA IV Hurricane Committee

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Sustaining Soil Productivity in Response to Global Climate Change
University of Wisconsin in Madison, USA, 28 June- 1 July 2009

WMO co-sponsored the Workshop on Sustaining Soil Productivity in Response to Global Climate Change—Science, Policy and Ethics which was organized by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).  Twenty five experts from around the world participated in the workshop which addressed environmental issues relating to natural resource stewardship and strategies to evaluate the inevitable compromises made when balancing human and natural resources, emerging technologies, the environment and social issues.  

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International Symposium on Climate Change and Adaptation Options in Agriculture
Vienna, Austria, 22-24 June 2009

The workshop was sponsored by WMO, Adaptation of agriculture in European regions at environmental risk under Climate Change (ADAGIO) project, EU COST ACTION 734 “Impact of Climate Change and Variability on European Agriculture”, the Central and Eastern Europe Climate Change Impacts and Vulnerability Assessment” (CECILIA) project and hosted by the University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences in Vienna.  Over 60 participants attended the International Symposium from many European countries and organizations.

The symposium was held in conjunction with the meeting of the WMO Commission for Agricultural Meteorology RA VI (Europe) Working Group on Agricultural Meteorology.  The Working Group finalized plans to submit their report to the upcoming RA VI session in Brussels in September 2009.

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International Workshop on Communicating Weather and Climate Products and Services for Sustainable Agriculture
Toowoomba, Australia 18-20 May 2009

The goal of the workshop was to improve the long-term sustainability of farming and agriculture through improving practical weather and climate information output for farmers worldwide.

The Workshop was organized jointly by WMO, the University of Southern Queensland, and the South Australian Research and Development Institute. Other sponsors were the Asia-Pacific Network for Global Change Research (APN), the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, the Australian Managing for Climate Variability Research and Development Program and the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The Workshop brought together more than 80 scientists mainly from Asia and the Pacific, and representatives of the agricultural sector, both from the academic world and the farming community.

Senator Russell Trood, Queensland Senator to the Australian Senate gave the opening address of the workshop. Ms Bobbie Brazil, Chancellor of the University of Southern Queensland, and Peter Taylor, Mayor of Toowoomba, welcomed the participants.

The workshop adopted a set of recommendations aimed at enhancing interaction between National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs) and the farming community. Among the recommendations was the identification of a focal point by farmer associations and industry organizations, to interact with weather and climate service providers for product development and dissemination of agrometeorological information.

During a farmers’ round table session at the workshop, local farmers were asked if free and accurate weather and climate forecasts were more important than free seed and fertiliser. “You can always buy seed and fertiliser, but you can’t buy the right sort of climate you need for your farming operation”, one farmer said.

Other recommendations aim at improving weather and climate information for farmers, for example by integrating climate projections into agrometeorological products, and by enhancing knowledge sharing between countries.

This workshop was held in conjunction with the meetings of Expert Teams of the WMO Commission for Agricultural Meteorology.

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Second Experts’ Symposium on Multi-Hazard Early Warning Systems (MHEWS–II) with focus on Institutional Coordination and Collaboration of National Meteorological and Hydrological Services
Météo-France, Toulouse, France, 5-7 May 2009

MHEWS II brought together nearly 70 experts from National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs), and Disaster Risk Management Agencies of 14 countries, as well representatives from international and regional agencies, including the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. This expert meeting:

  • Reviewed and synthesized lessons learned from documented “good practices” in early warning systems (EWS), focusing on specific roles of NMHSs and how they can best support disaster risk management agencies and other stakeholders within the EWS operational framework;
  • Collected and reviewed expert input for inclusion into the draft guidelines on “Capacity development in MHEWS with focus on institutional Coordination, Cooperation and NMHSs”, which have been drafted based on the synthesis of good practices in EWS;
  • Provided recommendations to improve coordination and collaboration among agencies responsible for different aspects of early warning systems for hydrometeorological and climate-related hazards.

During this meeting, the experts reviewed and discussed lessons learned from the four documented good practices from Shanghai/China, France, Cuba and Bangladesh as well as 10 other early warning systems presented by national experts from Canada, Costa Rica, Croatia, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mozambique, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the USA.

The documented good practices, together with the guidelines, will be published and used in current and future development projects as training materials and as a reference document on the role of NMHSs in EWS, with a focus on institutional coordination and cooperation. In 2009, training carried out through the WMO Regional Training Centre in Nanjing, China, in June, and a workshop targeted at South-East European countries in October, as part of a European Union-funded project for disaster risk reduction capacity building in this region, will be based on these materials.

Furthermore, the experts recommended that additional good practices in EWS be documented in detail, with a multi-agency approach that would address institutional cooperation as well as a concept of operations. These cases should then be synthesized for lessons learned to develop the next volume of the guidelines focused on the concept of operations among agencies engaged in EWS.

See feature article in this issue “Strengthening multi-hazard early warning systems’ capacities to save lives”

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WMO RA IV Hurricane Committee

Hurricane experts gathered for the 31st session of the WMO RA IV Hurricane Committee in Nassau, Bahamas, 20-24 April 2009, to review the 2008 hurricane season and discuss the work plan for mitigating hurricane disasters in 2009 and beyond.

The Hurricane Committee is an expert working group under WMO Regional Association IV (North and Central America and the Caribbean). It is composed of experts designated by the National Meteorological and Hydrological Services in this Region. One of the major objectives of the Committee is to ensure, through national and regionally coordinated early warning systems, that the risks of disasters, in particular loss of life, caused by tropical cyclones in the Region are reduced to a minimum.

Every year before the hurricane season starts, the Committee organizes an annual session to discuss and summarize experience and practices in hurricane forecasting and warnings during the previous hurricane season, to update its Operational Plan for better coordination and cooperation, and to improve its Technical Plan to satisfy future requirements for operational hurricane forecasting and warning services in the region.

At its 31st session, the Committee decided to make improvements in the advisories issued by the WMO Regional Specialized Meteorological Center (RSMC) in Miami and to retire three hurricane names in the north Atlantic, i.e. Gustav, Ike and Paloma, and one in the eastern North Pacific, Alma.  In 2008, those hurricanes in the Atlantic region caused tens of billions of dollars of economic loss, and a reported death toll of some 750, mostly in Haiti.

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Hurricane Gustav at 1605 UTC August 30, 2008
(Image courtesy of NASA).

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