News in brief
The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), held in Brazil from 20–22 June, recognized climate change as one of the biggest threats to sustainable development and made important decisions on key issues on the road to sustainable development. The Outcome Declaration specifically acknowledged the importance of appropriate scientific information to support decision-making.
Rio+20 confirmed that water is at the core of sustainable development and underlined its critical importance in the three dimensions – environment, economic, sociopolitical – of sustainable development. The Outcome Declaration reaffirms that universal access to safe drinking water and sanitation is a fundamental human right. It has also highlighted the need to deal with waste water.
Disaster risk reduction, a priority area for WMO, is also recognized as an important contribution on the road to sustainable development in the Outcome Declaration. Participants acknowledged that though the loss of human lives from natural hazards had decreased significantly over the last 50 years – thanks in particular to increasingly accurate early warnings issued by the National Meteorological and Hydrological Services under the umbrella of WMO – much more would have to be done, especially as the frequency and intensity of such extreme events are likely to increase as a result of climate change.
WMO organized two side-events at Rio+20, one on the Global Framework for Climate Services, the other a High-Level Meeting on National Drought Policies. WMO representatives also participated in several side-events organized by partner agencies in the United Nations system. The Secretary-General, as chair of UN Water, chaired and participated in several events on the occasion of the UN Water Day. He was also a guest speaker at the launch ceremony for a Tripartite Cooperation Agreement between Africa, Brazil and France at the IOC of UNESCO side-event “Know our Ocean, Protect our Marine Treasures, Empower Ocean Citizens”.
The Fourth Session of the Joint WMO-IOC of UNESCO* Technical Commission for Oceanography and Marine Meteorology (JCOMM‑4) attracted some 140 participants from 47 Member States and Territories as well as 4 international organizations to Yeosu, Korea, from 28–31 May. The Republic of Korea hosted the event to coincide with “The Living Ocean and Coast” World Exposition being held in Yeosu.
A Scientific and Technical Workshop held on 24 and 25 May preceded the Session, which ran from 28 to 31 May. A number of substantial achievements against the agreed work plan had been achieved in the two and half years since the previous Session. The most notable include:
The future priority challenges identified at JCOMM-4 include:
JCOMM-4 elected Mr Johan Stander (South Africa) and Dr Nadia Pinardi (Italy) as co-presidents for meteorology and oceanography, respectively.
* The Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO is the United Nations body for ocean science, ocean observatories, ocean data and information exchange, and ocean services such as Tsunami warning systems.
The 4th World Climate Research Programme (WCRP) International Conference on Reanalysis, held 7–11 May in the United States of America, provided an opportunity for the global community to review progress on observations and modelling and to identify challenges and opportunities associated with reanalysis in the future. The conference attracted about 250 participants – including 24 students and 55 early career scientists – from 26 countries and provided an excellent opportunity for sponsors and scientists from all over the world to discuss the recent and future developments in production, evaluation and use of reanalysis products.
The multi-disciplinary conference program promoted dialogue between the various centres that produce and/or use reanalysis products. It covered most aspects of atmosphere, ocean, land and ice reanalysis as well as developing field of Earth Systems data assimilation and reanalysis. It also included a comprehensive review of various user applications and in-depth discussions of data assimilation and the statistical techniques to merge models and observations into reanalysis.
A common thread was the steady and quantifiable progress made in recent years. Many participants emphasized international coordination as essential for sharing knowledge and best practices in data generation, production and use. Initial work in using reanalysis products in climate services related studies is also encouraging, and would deserve dedicated attention from the development centres and funding agencies. The younger generation of scientists expressed a need for additional guidance and support to continue their work and pursue careers in reanalysis.
The WCRP final conference report will include the highlights, challenges and opportunities, and the way forward based on inputs from the participants.
Implementation of the Severe Weather Forecasting Demonstration Project (the Project) in various regions of the world has emphasized the need for country-specific implementation plans for National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs) that have insufficient forecasting and service delivery capacities and/or have limited staff. Such plans should be developed with the full participation of each country as they should provide clarity and specifications to enable the NHMS to participate effectively and benefit fully from the Project. They should take into account the actual organizational structure and capacity as well as actual meteorological conditions. This approach is being used for the first time in Rwanda, thus a mission to the Rwanda Meteorological Agency (RMA) from 23–25 April identified the actions needed to achieve the full potential of the project.
The RMA and the mission participants agreed that the priority should be placed on training forecasters in the tropical systems that cause convective activities in the region as well as in the interpretation of satellites images and Numerical Weather Prediction products. The additional types of forecasting services that should be added to existing ones in order to serve users better were also identified and discussed.
The mission also addressed how to establish and strengthen Public Weather Services (PWS)capacity within RMA. This involved identifying the actual staff members who would be entrusted with PWS duties, including writing warning messages and communicating them to Disaster Management and Civil Protection Authorities as well as the media in a manner that would engage them. Discussion also addressed the monitoring and evaluation of such services. A draft “Rwanda Meteorological Agency (RWA) Warning Services Action Plan”, defining strategies and corresponding actions, will result from full implementation in a wider array of services for more users, delivered in a way that better meets their needs. This improvement in delivery of services should translate into lives saved and an improvement in livelihoods in Rwanda. The Mission report is available here.
World Weather Watch to Celebrate 50 Years
Established in 1963, the World Weather Watch – the core of the WMO Programmes – will celebrate its 50 anniversary in 2013. To mark the event, the Executive Council, at its recent meeting, has decided that the World Meteorological Day theme for 2013 will be “Watching the Weather to protect Life and Property”. The theme for 2014 is “Weather, Climate and Water, Engaging Youths”.
Demand for skilled professionals in the area of meteorology and climatology is on the increase, especially in the developing countries that are more prone to hydrometeorological hazards. More emphasis is also being placed on professional development for women in the meteorological and climatological field so that they can be properly represented and fully integrated into weather and climate related decision-making. In view of the above, the Ewha Womans University (EWU), one of the most prestigious universities in Korea, signed a Memorandum of Understanding with WMO in May to promote female education in meteorology and climatology.
EWU, the first-ever educational institution for Korean women, was established in 1886 when an American Methodist missionary began a class with just one student. Over the years, EWU has produced some of the most prominent, influential and historic women leaders in Korea, including Korea’s first female medical doctor, first woman to get a doctoral degree and first female Prime Minister. Such success comes from EWU’s longstanding educational tradition that focuses on recognizing the individual and building the esteem of each woman. This is highlighted by the EWU’s unconventional use “Womans” in its name.
EWU started training women in meteorology in the 1970s. Its Department of Atmospheric Science and Engineering (DASE), created at the beginning of 2012, will welcome a first group of Master of Science (M.Sc.) in Meteorology students in September. The program will be run in close collaboration with two EWU research centres: the Severe Storm Prediction Centre (SSRC) and the Centre for Climate/Environment Change Prediction Research (CCCPR). The research centres conduct government-funded projects, focusing on extreme weather events and climate change, and develop advanced techniques for predicting weather and climate change and their environmental consequences. The centres provide ample research opportunities for students.
As of March 2013, EWU and WMO will jointly support the studies of two female fellows from developing countries for the two-year Master of Science (M.Sc.) in Meteorology program. The first call for applications will be issued in the summer of 2012. Strong female candidates, endorsed by Permanent Representative, are encouraged to apply.
The Qatar Aeronautical College – a new WMO Regional Training Centre (RTC) – hosted an inaugural Workshop on Aeronautical Meteorology for Forecasters from 15–19 April. The workshop aimed to:
Lectures, delivered by WMO and ICAO Secretariat experts, as well as Qatari and Turkish RTCs, notes and relevant links to further training resources on the WMO website were provided to the 21 participants from 10 countries of the region.
The Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) started operating the latest generation of the HITACHI supercomputer system, HITACHI SR16000/M1, on 5 June. The new system is about 30 times faster than its predecessor and can make more than 800 trillion floating-point calculations per second. With it JMA aims to improve meteorological information for disaster risk reduction and aviation services. The new system will run more sophisticated atmospheric and oceanic models and result in greater accuracy and precision in very short-range to long-range forecasting.
The Local Forecast Model (LFM), with a horizontal resolution of 2 km, is expected to be operational by summer. It is currently being tested over the east of Japan at three-hour intervals, making nine-hour forecasts. The increased resolution will permit the model to generate more accurate wind, temperature and precipitation predictions relative to the local topography. LFM will provide timely, fine-grid forecast services in support of aeronautical operations, especially in the vicinity of Tokyo International (Haneda) Airport. And, after its first year of operation, it will be modified to cover the entire country and to run hourly, generating far more sophisticated meteorological forecasts to further support disaster risk reduction and safer flights.
The JMA also plans to improve the resolution of its numerical weather prediction models in a year’s time:
Contact: MeteoWorld Editor - WMO ©2008 Geneva, Switzerland