February 2008

Highlights of international cooperation in 2007

A milestone in 2007 was the release of the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), founded and sponsored jointly by WMO and the United Nations Environment Programme since 1988. The evidence for human-caused global warming is now unequivocal. Major advances in climate modelling and the collection and analysis of data now give scientists “very high confidence” (at least a 9 out of 10 chance of being correct) in their understanding of how human activities are causing the world to warm.

The WMO/UNEP Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was awarded the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize jointly with Mr Albert Gore for "efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change”. The award ceremony was held in Oslo, Norway, on 10 December (see item in WMO activities).

The re-activation/restoration of meteorological stations in the Pacific in 2007 came at a critical time for many islands of the region, where weather-related disasters have increased dramatically and rising sea-level related to climate change is a serious threat. (See article “Capacity building in the South-West Pacific”.)

The second deep-ocean assessment and reporting of tsunamis buoys in the Indian Ocean was launched on 19 September 2007 off Padang in West Sumatra, Indonesia. The tsunameter station includes a pressure gauge set on the ocean floor to monitor sea-level changes and communications equipment to send data via satellite to global networks. The first tsunameter is being managed by Indonesia.

On 19 August, the Shanghai Meteorological Bureau, part of the China Meteorological Administration, implemented the Typhoon Tracking Project by successfully predicting where Typhoon Sepat would make landfall. The information generated is highly significant for future scientific research into typhoons, forecasts and early warnings, and to provide more reliable services for protection against weather-related events.

The establishment of an international data centre on lakes and reservoirs in St Petersburg as a member of the family of global data centres will close one of the most critical gaps in surface water observations. Data and information obtained from this Centre will be indispensable for water-resources management and regional and global water cycle studies. Likewise, in many regions, information on water volume changes in lakes is a critical indicator of regional climate change.

WMO and the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification established the Drought Management Centre for South-Eastern Europe. Hosted by Slovenia, it will serve as an operational centre for the eleven founding countries (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Greece, Hungary, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Slovenia and Turkey) for drought preparedness, monitoring and management.

Fifteenth World Meteorological Congress (7-25 May 2007) adopted the WMO Strategic Plan and four-year WMO budget; changed the WMO Convention to embrace the social and economic role of WMO; decided that World Climate Conference-3 would be convened in 2009 (see also the front page of this issue of MeteoWorld), and provided directives for the implementation of the Programmes of the Organization. (See Summary of outcomes of Fifteenth World Meteorological Congress in the June 2007 edition of MeteoWorld.)

International Polar Year (IPY) 2007-2008, an initiative of WMO and the International Council for Science (ICSU), was launched on 1 March 2007 with thousands of individuals from over 60 countries carrying out 220 research and outreach projects. Its aims: to advance our understanding of the globe—particularly its polar regions, to educate and involve the public; and to help train the next generation of engineers, scientists and leaders.

World Meteorological Day, 23 March, saw the launch of a new Website, http://www.meteoalarm.eu, providing an easy-to-understand snapshot of where severe and potentially dangerous weather might occur in Europe over the following 48 hours.

A WMO International Conference "Secure and sustainable living: social and economic benefits of weather, climate and water services" held in March in Madrid, Spain, unanimously adopted an Action Plan with concrete steps for a major enhancement of weather, climate and water services over the next five years. Some 500 participants from 115 countries attended the Conference.line

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