December 2008

Recent events

Thirteenth Session of the Commission for Hydrology / Fourth WMO International Workshop on Monsoons (IWM-IV) / Training Seminar on the Management of Meteorological Training Institutions / Advancing climate projections through comparing model capabilities / International Scientific Conference on Water Resources Management in Extreme Conditions / Commission for Basic System (CBS) Open Programme Area Group (OPAG) on Integrated Observing Systems’ Implementation and Coordination Team / Research on atmospheric chemistry and composition top on the agenda

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Commission for Hydrology—13th session (CHy-XIII)
Geneva, 4-12 November 2008

The session was attended by 117 delegates from 52 countries representing National Meteorological and Hydrological Services, together with representatives of 14 international organizations. Several items from the agenda were released for pre-session discussion, which attracted some additional 78 participants who provided valuable input to session discussions.

The Commission unanimously re-elected Bruce Stewart (Australia) president and Julius Wellens-Mensah (Ghana) vice-president for the next intersessional period and decided that its programme of work for 2009-2012 would focus on the following four theme areas:

  1. Quality Management Framework–Hydrology (QMF-Hydrology)
  2. Water resources assessment
  3. Hydrological forecasting and prediction
  4. Water, climate and risk management
men   CHy-XIII re-elected Bruce Stewart (Australia) president and Julius Wellens-Mensah (Ghana) vice-president.

The Commission re-established its open panels of CHy experts (OPACHEs). It urged Members to nominate additional experts to OPACHEs and to facilitate the voluntary contribution of all members to activities of the Commission. It considered the issue of volunteerism in the work of the Commission. It was stressed that voluntary contributions from experts form the mainstay of its success and encouraged Members to facilitate their participation in the activities of CHy. The Commission expressed its gratitude to the experts who had provided their valuable inputs in completing various activities during the intersessional period.

It also appointed members to its Advisory Working Group (AWG) as follows: J. Balonishnikova (Russian Federation), Z. Liu (China), G. Van Langenhove (Namibia), A. Calver (United Kingdom), H. Lins (USA), Z. Buzás (Hungary) and A. Cardoso Neto (Brazil).

The Commission took several important decisions as presented below.

It adopted a Quality Management Framework-Hydrology providing an overall strategy, advice, guidance and tools for National Hydrological Services (NHSs) to attain efficiency, quality and effectiveness in their functioning and included the relevant activities required to be undertaken in its work programme.

With the adoption of a QMF-Hydrology, the Commission decided that the publications brought out as technical guidance for members should undergo a comprehensive peer review process before they were recommended for adoption as tools for the Quality Management System of the NHSs. Therefore, the Commission adopted an updated peer review process for these publications.

In view of the WMO QMF, CHy considered it necessary to review the classification of publications, which was made primarily on the basis of funding, and made recommendations to the Executive Council accordingly.

Recognizing that there were uncertainties associated with the hydrological processes and the impossibility to completely eliminate these uncertainties in relation to both data and products, the Commission requested its AWG to follow through on the evaluation of uncertainty analysis frameworks and compilation of papers which provide information on the limitations/uncertainties associated with products, such as hydrological forecasts.

It endorsed a project targeted at the assessment of the performance of flow measurement equipment, which would encourage and solicit testing by contributing NHSs of new instrumentation and methodologies.

It decided to supplement the Strategy and Action Plan on the Flood Forecasting Initiative with a detailed activity plan that will assist Members in establishing flood forecasting systems and to explore the possibility of establishing an Inter-Commission Task Team comprising of representatives of CHy, the Commission for Basic Systems, the Commission for Climatology (CCl) and the Commission for Instruments and Methods of Observation for the implementation of the Flood Forecasting Initiative.

The Commission also decided to assist in the setting up of a HelpDesk for Integrated Flood Management for the benefit of Members in the areas of policy and strategy and capacity building in support thereof.

The Commission expressed the need for developing seasonal-to-annual hydrological predictions for monitoring droughts and establishing best practice guidelines for drought monitoring. It noted that the Commission for Agricultural Meteorology (CAgM), which is charged with the activities of drought management and prediction, had established a group on drought management. The Commission saw merit in closely collaborating with CAgM and CCl to work towards developing tools and best practices guidance for hydrological drought monitoring and prediction.

The Commission decided that it should actively participate in the development of the WMO initiative to encourage the provision and dissemination of climate and hydrological information in support of hydrology and climate research, adaptation to climate change and climate variability and in providing feedback from the water community.

It noted that WMO should continue collaboration and cooperation with potential stakeholders and donors to develop new HYCOS projects and support the existing ones in order to contribute to the improvement of water resources assessment, hydrological forecasting, adaptation to climate variability and change, and water resources management capabilities in various river basins.

The Commission decided that the revised WMO Strategy on Education and Training in Hydrology and Water Resources should guide the activities of the Organization in those fields for the period 2009-2012 and asked the AWG to develop, by December 2009, a course of action, with timelines, for the proposed changes to the Hydrological Operational Multipurpose System (HOMS), taking into consideration the alternative approaches to the future of HOMS proposed by the session. It requested the AWG to prepare a position paper on distance and blended learning techniques applied to Hydrology and Water Resources that would draw on the experience gained thus far in the Hydrology and Water Resources Programme to propose a future course of action in this area.

The Commission urged Members to make special efforts to complete the information required in the Hydrological Information Referral Service (INFOHYDRO), as only the comparison of a reasonably wide spectrum of responses covering NHSs from all WMO Regions and at different levels of development would contribute to a correct assessment of the status of hydrological networks around the world. This, in turn, would help the Commission and the secretariat draw a strategy and advocacy for strengthening the hydrological networks.

The Commission considered the request of the Executive Council Working Group on the WMO Integrated Global Observing System and the WMO Information System to undertake the pilot project “Initiation of a global network addressing a Global Climate Observing System requirement”. It decided to identify a package of approaches to address this requirement, and directed the AWG to develop components of such a package. This package would include a clear articulation of scientific questions and purposes and explore other approaches such as geostatistical ones to provide relevant data and information to address these scientific questions and purposes. The Commission stressed that data and information resulting from this package or activities should be shared with all the interested parties.

It decided to take advantage of the WMO Information System (WIS) for the information flows and associated metadata under the Flash Flood Guidance System and to develop a WIS Pilot Project with the Pacific-HYCOS project and/or any other HYCOS projects.

participants chy   Participants in the 13th session of the Commission for Hydrology

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Fourth WMO International Workshop on Monsoons (IWM-IV)
Beijing, China, 20 to 25 October 2008

Hosted by the China Meteorological Administration (CMA), organized by the WMO/World Weather Research Programme Monsoon Panel and chaired by C.P. Chang (Naval Postgraduate School, USA), the Workshop brought together more than 140 monsoon experts from 33 WMO Members. The theme was research for the reduction of disaster risks through improved forecasts of high-impact weather. The programme was designed in such a way as to engage the participants in discussions on recent advances and current issues covering all time scales (mesoscale, synoptic, intraseasonal, climate) that are relevant to the forecast of high-impact weather such as torrential rainfall and tropical cyclones in the world’s monsoon regions, and as a means to transfer new science and technology to National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs) in these regions. Keynote speakers included Taroh Matsuno (Frontier Research Centre, Japan), Richard Johnson (Colorado State University, USA), Ngar-Cheung Lau (NOAA/Princeton University, USA), Sulochna Gadgil (India Institute of Science) and Ding Yihui (Beijing Climate Center).

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The six-day workshop was held jointly with the second Pan-World Climate Research Programme Monsoon Workshop, the WMO Training Workshop on Operational Monsoon Research and Forecast Issues, the fifth Asian Monsoon Year International Workshop, the first meeting of the WMO Monsoon Panel, the ninth Climate Variability and Predictability Asian-Australian Monsoon Panel Meeting and the commemoration of the 80th anniversary of China’s Institute of Atmospheric Physics.

A total of 63 invited and contributed oral discussion papers and 77 posters were presented during the week. Both the discussion forum on international collaboration on research and forecast of high-impact weather in the monsoon regions and the training workshop sessions were enthusiastically attended by both researchers and NMHS forecasters. The in-depth exchange and substantive discussion resulted in a number of recommendations for operational forecasters, the research community, and WMO. Some of the principal recommendations emanating from the Workshop were: establishment of a radar data virtual date centre in Japan and a tropical and monsoon field programme data centre in the USA; the India Meteorological Department to initiate consultations with NMHSs in the Bay of Bengal region on applications research; organization of a workshop on heavy rainfall research and forecasting/nowcasting in tropical monsoon regions; discussion of possible proposals for a numerical weather prediction demonstration project and a tropical convection research centre in the equatorial region; and organization of training workshopsfor forecasters in the monsoon regions.

 

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Training Seminar on the Management of Meteorological Training Institutions
Langen, Germany 20 to 24 October 2008

The 59th session of the WMO Executive Council approved the holding in 2008 of a Training Seminar on the Management of Meteorological Training Institutions under the WMO Education and Training Programme. At the kind invitation of the Permanent Representative of Germany with WMO, the Seminar was held at the Deutscher Wetterdienst Training Centre in Langen, Germany, from 20 to 24 October 2008. Fifteen participants from 14 countries hosting WMO RTCs attended.

The objective of the Seminar was to seek active, positive approaches on how to deal with the wide range of education and training issues currently facing WMO Regional Training Centres (RTCs) and national meteorological or hydrological training centres and to increase the collaboration and coordination between the various partners in the Education and Training Programme (RTCs, the WMO Education and Training Office and other WMO WMO secretariat entities, training centres of National Meteorological and Hydrological Services).

The 16th Meeting of the Coordinating Committee for the Standing Committee of Heads of Training Institutions (Co-Com of SCHOTI) was held in parallel with the Seminar. Some joint sessions were organized with Co-Com and found very useful by both the Co-Com members and the Seminar participants

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World Climate Research Programme Working Group on Coupled Modelling—12th session
Paris, France, 22-24 September

The World Climate Research Programme’s Working Group on Coupled Modelling (WGCM) held this historic meeting to which representatives from 20 of the global coupled climate modelling centres from around the world were invited to help advance the next climate model intercomparison project (CMIP5).

group photo   WGCM members and invited guests at the 12th session of WGCM held in Paris, France on 22-24 September 2008

CMIP5, proposed and developed by the WGCM community in conjunction with the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme’s Analysis, Integration and Modelling of the Earth System (AIMES) project, will provide the framework for climate change modelling research for the next five years. Results from these experiments will provide the basis for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fifth Assessment Report (AR5), which is scheduled for publication in 2013. CMIP5 is building on the great successes of CMIP3, which provided simulations of past climate and projections of future climate, both assessed by the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report (AR4).

The great challenge of the new set of climate models examined in CMIP5 is to resolve regional climate changes, particularly in the next few decades, to which human societies will have to adapt and to quantify the magnitudes of the feedbacks in the climate system, such as in the carbon cycle. As the international climate modelling community takes on ever-increasing challenges in modelling climate variability and change, WGCM has built tangible linkages through shared activities and direct communication with many other research and assessment communities, including the IPCC Working Groups, to formulate and coordinate the new mitigation scenarios based on evolving atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations.

 

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International Scientific Conference on Water Resources Management in Extreme Conditions
Bucharest, Romania, 22-24 September 2008

The International Scientific Conference on Water Resources Management in Extreme Conditions was organized by the Romanian Institute of Hydrology and Water Management (INHGA) and was attended by representatives of international organizations, academia, National Meteorological and Hydrological Services and the private sector (consultancy firms and equipment manufacturers).

The Conference provided a forum to present and compare different experiences and methodologies in water-management activities, ranging from the production of forecasts to the development and implementation of adaptation measures. In particular, it offered the opportunity to gauge the gap still existing between the theoretical elaboration of new paradigms for addressing water-management issues and the difficulties faced by National Hydrological Services in implementing them in real-world conditions and to discuss possible ways to bridge this gap.

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Commission for Basic System (CBS) Open Programme Area Group (OPAG) on Integrated Observing Systems’ Implementation and Coordination Team—fifth session (ICT-IOS-5)
Geneva, Switzerland, 15-18 September 2008

The ICT-IOS studied in detail the WIGOS Development and Implementation Plan (WDIP) and the WMO Integrated Observing Sytems (WIGOS) Concept of Operations, which had both been adopted by the 50th session of the Executive Council. The ICT-IOS discussed various issues regarding its role in the implementation of WIGOS, and identified many issues that need to be resolved. It also agreed that CBS should play the leading role in WIGOS development and implementation. The ICT-IOS expressed satisfaction with the progress of the five pilot projects that had been initiated as part of WDIP.

The ICT-IOS reviewed both the surface-based and space-based components of the Global Observing System (GOS) and noted that there were still some issues regarding the implementation and operation of surface stations in some parts of the world.

The ICT-IOS was advised that the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS) Reference Upper Air Network (GRUAN), a specialized network building on the GCOS Upper Air Network, was being developed. It was recommended that GRUAN be established as a WIGOS Pilot Project.

Functional specifications for automatic weather stations and a list of the basic set of variables to be reported by a standard automatic weather station for multiple users had been reviewed and updated, based on comments received from the other technical commissions and were now ready for endorsement by CBS.

The meeting reviewed the status of the Implementation Plan for the Evolution of the Global Observing System (EGOS-IP) in conjunction with the Vision for the GOS in 2025. Many comments received from the ICT-IOS expert teams and other collaborators, had been incorporated into the current version of the Vision for the GOS in 2025, and the ICT-IOS requested that a new version of EGOS-IP be prepared that would incorporate the information included in the Vision. The ICT-IOS approved the Vision for the GOS in 2025 for submission to CBS for endorsement.

The new Virtual Laboratory Training Strategy for satellite data utilization for the next five years was adopted by ICT-IOS.

The ICT-IOS reviewed issues relating to the Manual on the Global Observing System (WMO-No. 544) and Guide on the Global Observing System (WMO-No. 488) and agreed that revisions to both may be needed following the approval of the WIGOS concept by Sixteenth World Meteorological Congress in 2011. Various scenarios for implementation of the redesigned Volume A were also discussed and it was suggested that a major Regional Specialized Meteorological Centre may be prepared to host Volume A free-of-charge on behalf of WMO.

The main deliverables of the ICT-IOS expert teams were recast into a number of recommendations that will be submitted to the 14th session of CBS for consideration. These also include revisions of the terms of reference of the ICT-IOS itself, its expert teams and rapporteurs. In addition, the future work plans for all the expert teams were adopted for submission to CBS.

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Stratospheric Processes and their Role in Climate (SPARC)—Fourth General Assembly
Bologna, Italy, 31 August-5 September 2008

The World Climate Research Programme’s project on Stratospheric Processes and their Role in Climate (SPARC) Fourth General Assembly addressed the latest scientific achievements in stratospheric research. The stratosphere is the atmospheric layer above the troposphere extending from about 10 to 50 km altitude. Themes discussed at the SPARC assembly included stratosphere-troposphere dynamical coupling; interactions of the upper troposphere and lower stratosphere in extra-tropical regions; detection and attribution of changes in the stratosphere; processes in the tropical tropopause layer; and chemistry-climate change linkages.

The local host of the conference, the Euro-Mediterranean Centre for Climate Change, offered excellent conference facilities and warm hospitality to the 345 attendees. Support by 18 national and international sponsors made the participation possible of many scientists young and senior, both young and senior, from over 30 developing and developed countries. Susan Solomon, Co-Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Working Group I for the Fourth Assessment Report (AR4), followed the entire meeting with great interest. She acknowledged SPARC accomplishments in developing stratospheric research over the past decade and noted the significant progress achieved in understanding the circulation in, and composition of, the stratosphere. SPARC research provided the foundation for the 2002 and 2006 WMO-UNEP Ozone Assessments. Nevertheless, many of the key uncertainties identified in IPCC AR4 relate to stratospheric processes. Ms Solomon stated that SPARC-coordinated research was more relevant now than ever.

 

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