February 2009

WMO activities

World Cllimate Conference-3 / Weather and climate information to combat disease / Weather and environmental data from the skies / Nowcasting service focuses on high-impact weather / Improving agrometeorological services in Bangladesh / Marine climatology / Agriculture: adapting to the impacts of climate change / Weather and climate seminars for farmers in West Africa / World Meteorological Day 2009


World Climate Conference-3

World Climate Conference-3, Geneva, 31 August-4 September 2009

WMO will hold, with partner organizations, World Climate Conference-3 at the Geneva International Conference Centre from 31 August to 4 September 2009, under the overall theme “Climate prediction and informa­tion for decision-making”.

The major expected outcome of the Conference is an international framework facilitating efforts to reduce the risks and realize the benefits associated with current and future climate conditions by incorporating climate prediction and information services into decision-making.

An overarching objective is to improve climate services for societal benefits.


Other targeted outcomes are improved climate-prediction and information capabilities based on state-of-the-art climate science, improved human-resource capabilities and their integration into development policies.

The outcomes will feed into the process leading up to the 15th session of the Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Copenhagen, Denmark, in December 2009 and help advance global action on adaptation.

Future actions based on these outcomes will take account of the diverse abilities and capacities worldwide in climate-prediction and information services, as well as data and human-resource needs that will serve humanity better if nations, regions and climate-related sectors work together and strengthen linkages among the scientific and user communities.

The Conference will meet the interests of policy-makers in the public and private sectors and socio-economic sectors, such as agriculture and food security, forestry, water, health, urban and rural settlements, infrastructure, tourism, trade and transport.

Institutions involved in climate-risk management and adaptation to climate variability and change will also benefit, as well as associated initiatives such as improving observations and climate prediction.

For more information, see the Conference Website on the WMO homepage:


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Weather and climate information to combat disease

A new thrust of WMO’s public weather services activities aims to assist developing countries through “learning by doing”, and maximizing their existing capabilities and to make potential end-users aware of the range of both available and potential new products and services and the likely benefits.

A small group of neighbouring countries and mentoring agents is selected to assist the staff of the relevant National Meteorological Services (NMSs) in improving their communication with users in a defined range of sectors and to develop and deliver an improved range of products and services which would enhance the socio-economic benefits provided.

The three most disabling diseases in Madagascar are malaria, Rift Valley Fever and plague. The very young are the most vulnerable.

A pilot project of two to three years tests the concept before the methodology is widely applied. In the process, the programme draws on the expertise available through NMS expert teams and the Secretariat.

The impact of expert knowledge through improved public weather services could be evaluated in a systematic manner. The process of issue identification, action, feedback and reflection will continue into new learning cycles after the pilot project, enhancing the capabilities of participating countries to meet future development challenges.

The mentoring agents through their own actions in a familiar environment should facilitate the learning cycles. Emerging solutions for key issues will be more relevant and hence more effective.

A workshop held in Madagascar in October 2008 was the starting point for a partnership between the NMS of Madagascar and the Ministry of Health and Family Planning in the use by the health sector of weather and climate information and services. The overall objective is to enhance the capability of the NMS to respond to the needs of the health sector.

The health sector can use climate information effectively in early warning systems. Seasonal forecasts of temperature and rainfall are useful indicators of the likely occurrence of disease and can be used to implement a programme of heightened surveillance, while real-time information about temperature and rainfall can be used to initiate interventions and support the early detection of disease outbreaks.

Madagascar was chosen for two reasons: the NMS has an operational forecast office which produces an adequate suite of products and services and has demonstrated a level of commitment, both in terms of infrastructure and support from the management, to engage in this activity; and the Meteorological and Health Services have started a dialogue and shown a willingness to cooperate. WMO will encourage even greater synergy between the two sectors.

The workshop brought together participants from the NMS and health sector from all parts of the country, as well as experts from the World Health Organization, the International Research Institute for Climate and Society and the NMSs of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger. The main outcome was the establishment of a national Working Group on Weather, Climate and Health.

The Minister of Public Works and Meteorology and the Minister of Health and Family Planning signed a Protocol of Partnership to collaborate on implementing the WMO “Learning through doing” project towards attaining the United Nations Millennium Development Goals and the goals of Madagascar’s Five-year Action Plan.

Public Weather Services Programme

World Climate Applications and Services Programme


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Weather and environmental data from the skies

Some 3 000 aircraft around the world stream critical weather and climate information to users on the ground. This large fleet of aircraft participates in the Aircraft Meteorological Data Relay (AMDAR), an international programme that coordinates the collection of meteorological and environmental data worldwide. The data collected support the services and products of National Meteorological Services (NMSs) in weather forecasting, climate prediction and disaster early warnings, among others.

AMDAR employs local aircraft to measure and automatically transmit meteorological and environmental observations as they fly. On board, modern sensors, computers and communications systems collect, process, format and transmit these data to ground stations via satellite or radio links. They are then relayed to WMO’s global network of NMSs and other authorized users.

The system captures weather observations for areas that often lack ground-based meteorological systems, capitalizing on the fact that commercial airlines operate over large areas of the world.



AMDAR data also provide vital information over ocean areas normally devoid of meteorological observations. They provide high-resolution information that help define critical atmospheric phenomena that are not well resolved by other systems.

The number of aircraft equipped for AMDAR has increased 10-fold since the programme’s inception in 1998. Global coverage of wind and temperature observation has significantly improved in a cross- section of the atmosphere up to 10km, an important region for operational forecasting.

In recent years, coverage has expanded over Africa and East Asia. The AMDAR Panel and WMO are working with NMSs and local airlines to develop more national AMDAR programmes. They are seeking to expand coverage in a number of data-sparse regions, including Siberia, the Caribbean, South America, the Middle East, Central and South-East Asia, South-West Pacific and Africa.

In recognition of its importance and value as a reliable source of high-quality upper-air data, AMDAR is being integrated into WMO’s World Weather Watch Global Observing System. AMDAR will also play an important role in the WMO Integrated Observing Systems (WIGOS).

Aeronautical Meteorology Programme


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Nowcasting service focuses on high-impact weather

Host to World EXPO 2010, Shanghai is the largest city in China in terms of population (more than 20 million). It is one of the largest metropolitan areas and fastest growing cities in the world. Its geographical location makes it vulnerable to flooding and typhoons.

The World EXPO 2010 Nowcast Services Demonstration Project is the WMO public weather services component of the Shanghai Multi-hazard Early Warning System.


Nowcasting is a description of current weather and a short-period forecast (0-2 hours).


The goals of the project are to demonstrate, using the opportunity afforded by the World EXPO 2010 in the context of multi-hazard early warning services, how nowcasting applications can enhance short-range forecasts of high-impact weather and precipitation, and to promote the understanding or enhance the capability, as appropriate, of NMSs in nowcasting services.

In particular, it will enhance the capacity of the Shanghai Meteorological Bureau to address the problem of urban flooding; provide improved heavy precipitation warnings; evaluate the contribution of quantitative precipitation estimation/quantitative precipitation forecasting techniques to overall effectiveness in the risk- assessment process; and present the information to decision-makers and the public in an effective fashion.


The international fair Expo 2010 will be held in Shanghai, China, from 1 May to 31 October 2010 on the theme “Better city—better life”. Urbanization in China will be a particular focus.

The project will demonstrate the introduction, optimal implementation and training in use (technology transfer) of advanced nowcasting systems in operational forecasting and in the generation of enhanced products and services. It will also evaluate the impact of the implementation of operationally focused nowcasting on the quality of high-impact weather and precipitation forecasts on forecasters and on end-users of a local meteorological service.

The implementation of nowcasting services will be promoted in the Shanghai region initially and ultimately for the benefit of all WMO Members, especially those in East Asia.

Public Weather Services Programme

World Climate Applications and Services Programme

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Improving agrometeorological services in Bangladesh

A WMO expert mission to Bangladesh was undertaken in December 2008 to review and improve the agrometeorological services provided to the farming community by the Bangladesh Meteorological Department (BMD). 

BMD staff replied to a detailed questionnaire sent ahead of the visit and a one-day workshop was organized, which was attended by over 70participants from government ministries and stakeholder organizations. At a session on target-oriented project planning, participants were given a number of questions, which were analysed. Several recommendations to strengthen linkages with the user community and obtain their constant feedback were approved. 


The recommendations were grouped into six major categories: organizational issues; agrometeorological observation system; agrometeorological data management; weather forecasts and agrometeorological products; agrometeorological advisory services; information communication; human resource development and capacity building; policy issues and miscellaneous.  They will be submitted for consideration by the Ministry of Defence for the improvement of agrometeorological services in Bangladesh.

WMO Agricultural Meteorology Programme

WMO and food security


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Marine climatology

Marine climatology is increas­ingly recognized as vital to improving our characterization and under­standing of climate change. The numerical models that we rely on to predict changes to our climate must be able to model the evolution of past climate, so research to develop long-term and accurate historical datasets has never been more important.

The Third Workshop on Advances in Marine Climatology (CLIMAR-III) was held in Gdynia, Poland, in May 2008. It built on outcomes from two previous CLIMAR workshops and from two workshops in the alternating and closely related Advances in the Use of Historical Marine Climate Data (MARCDAT) series.

In addition to wide-ranging presentations and discussions on the latest scientific and technical developments, the CLIMAR workshops have formed the mechanism for updating the publication Advances in the Applications of Marine Climatology, a widely cited and dynamic extension of the WMO Guide to the Applications of Marine Climatology (WMO-No.781), which allows a rapid and wide dissemination of the latest information and techniques relevant to marine climatology.



CLIMAR-III brought together the community of scientists who strive to produce climate-quality datasets of surface meteorology, air-sea interaction and the subsurface ocean. The fields of interest covered applications of marine climatology, climatological data archival and retrieval, and climate research, including modelling.

CLIMAR-III recommended that NMHSs engage actively in the recovery of historical marine data and metadata and ensure adequate coordination across data disciplines (e.g. oceanographic and marine

data rescue). It emphasized the continuing importance of Voluntary Observing Ship scheme data, which include irreplaceable manual observations.

Article in December issue of MeteoWorld

WMO Marine Meteorology and Oceanography Programme (MMOP)

Joint WMO-IOC Commission for Oceanography and Marine Meteorology (JCOMM)

MMOP data management


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Agriculture: adapting to the impacts of climate change

World population is growing, the global climate is changing and local food supplies are facing more risks. The WMO/UNEP Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warns of increases in the frequency and intensity of floods, droughts, heatwaves and other natural hazards that directly impact agriculture and fisheries. Higher global temperatures will also put crops and fish stocks at increased risk of disease and pests. These same climate pressures also threaten the health and viability of forests and other vulnerable ecosystems and land resources. 

The main determinants of agricultural production, however, are still the seasonal weather variations. Many adaptation measures can be taken by the agricultural sector to cope with these changes.

Local, national and international food providers must collaborate with climate experts to develop sustainable strategies. To that end, WMO, the US Department of Agriculture and the US Southeast Climate Consortium organized the Workshop on Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation to Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries at the National and Regional Levels (Orlando, Florida, USA, November 2008).

More than 60 land-use and food-security experts came together to address the needs and requirements for such adaptation tools. The objective was to develop recommendations for producing and using weather and climate information to implement adaptation strategies at the national and regional levels.  The recommendations focused on specific topics such as climate and agricultural research, refinements in climate forecasting, capacity building, agricultural operations, farming communities and farmer adaptation strategies.

WMO Agricultural Meteorology Programme

WMO and food security


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Weather and climate seminars for farmers in West Africa

The ongoing series of roving seminars has made substantial progress in West Africa. Funded by the State Meteorological Agency of Spain (AEMET) and coordinated by WMO, they strive to secure the self-reliance of rural farmers in West Africa by informing them about effective weather and climate risk management and the sustainable use of natural resources for agricultural production.

A coordination and training meeting was held in Bamako, Mali, in September 2008. It brought together representatives from Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, WMO and AEMET to discuss the organization of the seminars in each country and to provide on-hands experience.


Farmers in Mali learned how to measure rainfall with a simple plastic raingauge and how to use the observations
for planting purposes.

Staff of the National Meteorological Service (NMS) of Mali have had much experience in holding these seminars over the years through a number of WMO projects and they took the lead in providing lectures to the focal points from the other four countries.

They also led a two-day seminar with 40 farmers from the Koulikoro region (50 km east of Bamako). General information was provided to the farmers on weather forecasting and local climate and agriculture issues.

One farmer from each of 20 neighbouring villages was selected to take rainfall observations. These provide guidance during the start of the rainy season on when to plant and which variety of the crop to plant (long or short season).  Rainfall observations taken during the whole year can also be sent to the NMS to augment the climatic records.

Roving seminars were held in Mali during September and October. In Mauritania, more than 100 farmers attended an extended five-day roving seminar in mid- September.  Roving seminars were also held in December 2008 and January 2009 in Burkina Faso, Senegal and Niger.

WMO Agricultural Meteorology Programme

WMO and food security


World Meteorological Day 2009

Weather, climate and the air we breathe

See article in this issue.

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