June 2008

In the news

Hurricane names / New Chinese meteorological satellite / WMO at World Exposition 2010 in Shanghai / WMO World Weather Information Service wins Stockholm Challenge Award 2008 / WMO and food security


Hurricane names retired

The WMO Hurricane Committee has retired the names of Dean, Felix and Noel, which were three of the most devastating storms of the 2007 Atlantic hurricane season. Almost 200 people died after Dean and Noel struck the Caribbean and Bahamas; 130 people died in Nicaragua and Honduras with Felix.

The names will be replaced in 2013 with Dorian, Fernand and Nestor.

Since tropical storms were first given names in 1953, 70 have been retired.

This season’s names are: Arthur, Bertha, Christobal, Dolly, Edouard, Fay, Gustav, Hanna, Ike, Josephine, Kyle, Laura, Marco, Nana, Omar, Paloma, Rene, Sally, Teddy, Vicky and Wilfred.

The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center has announced that projected climate conditions point to a near- or above-normal hurricane season in the Atlantic Basin this year. The Atlantic hurricane season begins officially on 1 June.

WMO Tropical Cyclone Programme

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New Chinese meteorological satellite

China has successfully launched the first of its new generation of polar-orbiting meteorological satellites, Fengyun-3A.

Fengyun-3A was launched on 27 May 2008 from Taiyuan satellite launch centre in Shanxi Province of China. The payload of this new generation spacecraft is comprised of a complex suite of instruments including visible and infrared imagers, infrared and microwave sounders, a microwave imager, an ultra-violet spectroradiometer and a space environment monitor. These instruments are designed to provide three-dimensional quantitative data in support of numerical weather prediction and environment monitoring.

The infrared and microwave sounders will provide all-weather observation of the vertical distribution of atmospheric temperature and humidity. Visible and infrared imagery is used to characterize the cloud coverage and measure land and sea-surface temperature. With the measurement of ocean colour, which is an important variable in the global carbon cycle, of total ozone and of the Earth radiation budget, Fengyun-3A will also make a significant contribution to climate and environment monitoring. The space environment monitor detects charged particles in solar wind that can affect the status of the spacecraft.

Fengyun-3A will now undergo a testing and commissioning phase and is expected to become fully operational after four to six months in orbit. Fengyun-3A will operate on a sun-synchronous orbit, inclined at 82 degrees above the equatorial plane, at an altitude of about 836 km. China will continue to fulfil its commitment to provide the direct read-out service of the Fengun-3A satellite to all WMO Members.

Once operational, Fengyun-3A will be part of the constellation of polar-orbiting sun-synchronous satellites that currently includes the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Polar Operational Environmental Satellite satellites and the Metop-A satellite of the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT) and a Russian Federation METEOR series satellite to be launched by the end of 2008.

China is also contributing to geostationary observation through the Fengyun-2 satellite series. The polar-orbiting satellites, together with the geostationary satellites, constitute a core component of the WMO Global Observing System. The goal of the Global Observing System is to meet the observation needs of all WMO programmes dealing with weather, climate, water and disaster prevention and mitigation, as well as WMO-supported initiatives such as the World Climate Research Programme, the Global Climate Observing System, the Global Ocean Observing System, and the Global Terrestrial Observing System. It is a major component of the Global Earth Observation System of Systems.

WMO Space Programme

Français Russian

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WMO at World Exposition 2010 in Shanghai

On 9 May 2008, Mr Xu Xiaofeng, Deputy Administrator of the China Meteorological Administration, signed the contract, on behalf of WMO, on WMO’s participation in the World Exposition 2010 to be held in Shanghai, with Mr Hong Hao, Deputy Secretary-General of Shanghai municipal government (see photo).


The theme of the World Expo is “Better city, better life” and the theme of the WMO pavilion— Meteoland—is “Safety and well-being”.

Meteoland will present the various applications of the Shanghai Multi-Hazard Early Warning System Demonstration Project being carried out within the framework of WMO. It will show visitors the concept of a prototype station in an urban meteorological observation network for disaster prevention, preparedness and mitigation.

Meteoland will occupy a floorage of 2 000 square metres, and its design will be environmentally friendly. The pavilion will be built with “a respiration skin”, endeavouring to make it “a naturalized man-made facility”, apart from the use of recyclable materials such as steel and glass. Other factors to be taken into account are orientation of the building, natural ventilation, day-lighting, minimum use of air conditioning and electrical lights, efficient energy supply, less energy consumption systems and facilities, energy-recovery technologies, higher energy efficiency, and exploitation of renewable energy.The demonstration facilities will operate on a routine basis during the World Expo, providing timely, refined and specific weather forecasts and meteorological services. Meteoland will also present “Global climate change and the responsibilities of cities”, which will enable visitors to better understand the impacts and hazards of global climate change on cities and their inhabitants. The aim of the meteorological pavilion is to advocate a healthy style of city life, calling for individual actions for energy saving and reducing greenhouse gases.


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WMO World Weather Information Service wins Stockholm Challenge Award 2008

The WMO World Weather Information Service (WWIS) Website has won the Stockholm Challenge Award 2008 in the Environment category.


The award recognizes the role of the WWIS, which is operated by the Hong Kong (China) Observatory on behalf of WMO, in enabling developing countries to participate in the international exchange of weather data with easily accessible information technology, citing strong vision, global objectives and robust sustainability.

The Stockholm Challenge is an international competition to promote the use of information and communication technology applications to help counteract social and economic disadvantage.

Coordinator of the WWIS Website, D.M. Tam, with the trophy, and E. Mardle, Leader of the Judging Panel


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WMO and food security

From the perspective of world food security, it is important to recognize that food security involves climate, not only as a natural hazard but also as a natural resource. Climate is a renewable resource, but is variable in time and space. For proper and efficient use of the other two natural resources (soil and plant/animal genetic material) for sustainable agriculture, knowledge of the role of climate is an essential precondition.

Climate can be regarded as the driving variable for sustainable production of plant, animal and soil resources. WMO Members contribute to this activity by providing accurate weather and climate observations, anaylses and forecasts that are used by the agricultural community to increase crop and livestock yields, plan their planting and harvest time and reduce pests and diseases.

In view of the importance of climate and food security, a new container has been created on the WMO homepage entitled WMO and food security.

man with rice  

Moreover, in response to the current worldwide food emergency, the Secretary-General of WMO has established a Task Team on Food Security.

The Team will address long-term solutions for food security, in particular with respect to increasing food production in the context of climate variability and change, through climate outlook forums, workshops and other means. It will develop an action plan and a communication strategy to raise awareness about WMO’s contributions to this global challenge.

Photo: UNCDF    


See also WMO activities in this issue.

WMO Agricultural Meteorology Programme

Socio-economic benefits

Least Developed Countries

UN Task Force on the Global Food Crisis

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced in Bern, Switzerland, on 29 April that he would lead a high-powered task force to coordinate the efforts of the United Nations system in addressing the global crisis arising from the surge in food prices. The Task Force on the Global Food Crisis will bring together the heads of UN agencies, funds and programmes and the Bretton Woods institutions, as well as experts within the UN and leading authorities from the international community.

The announcement came after a two-day meeting of the Chief Executive Board, chaired by the Secretary-General which brings together 27 heads of UN agencies funds and programmes, including the Secretary-General of WMO.

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