News in brief
World Meteorological Congress sets priorities for next four years / WMO’s new Executive Council / WIGOS – Our planet’s future hub for weather, climate and water observations / CBS experts meet on Global Observing Systems / WMO at Fourth UN Conference on Least Developed Countries / WMO at Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction / New Polar activities / WMO awards scientists / Executive Council selects award winners / Fukushima, lessons learned
The World Meteorological Congress endorsed an ambitious global initiative that will help all communities, especially the most vulnerable, to cope with the impact of climate change, reduce natural disaster risks, and safeguard food production, water supplies and health.
The Global Framework for Climate Services will boost the availability of climate information needed by policy-makers and people to plan ahead and to take decisions that are sustainable in a changing climate. It will be a global undertaking involving a wide array of stakeholders.
The Congress decided on five priorities for WMO in the next four years:
“We need to make sure the links of our international cooperation are mutually strong, so that the results of our activities will be even greater,” explained President Dr Alexander Bedritskiy.
The Congress approved a regular budget of 276 000 000 Swiss francs for the 2012–2015 financial period and voluntary resource estimates of 175 000 000 Swiss francs.
An extraordinary session of the World Meteorological Congress will be held in 2012, with relevant stakeholders, including UN bodies, to review terms of reference and of procedure rules of the Intergovernmental Board and to adopt a draft implementation plan for the Global Framework for Climate Services.
WMO Congress elected Mr David Grimes (Canada) as President to succeed Alexander Bedritskiy, who was awarded the title of President Emeritus. It selected Dr Antonio Divino Moura (Brazil) as First Vice-President, Prof Mieczyslaw S. Ostojski (Poland) as Second Vice-President, and Mr Abdalah Mokssit (Morocco) as Third Vice President. It re-appointed Mr Michel Jarraud as Secretary-General.
“As leaders of National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs), we recognize the critical role WMO plays for humanity in the area of weather, climate and water in facilitating cooperation across borders and oceans, in building scientific leadership and in instilling a passion for excellence,” said Mr Grimes.
To capitalize on advances in research, numerical modelling, observing capabilities, and computer and communication technologies a new, integrated approach is needed to upgrade the WMO observing system.
The WMO Integrated Global Observing System will focus on a framework for observing systems that leads to better governance, improved management, integration and optimization of present observing systems. The aim is to lay the groundwork to make it operational by 2016.
WIGOS is an all-encompassing approach that will foster orderly evolution of the present set of systems into an integrated, comprehensive and coordinated system. WIGOS will satisfy, cost-effectively and sustainably, the evolving observing requirements of WMO Members, and enhance coordination with systems operated by partners.
Together with the WMO Information System (WIS), WIGOS will be the basis for accurate, reliable and timely weather, climate, water and related environmental observations and products by all Members and WMO Programmes, which will lead to improved service delivery.
A firm commitment of Members is key to WIGOS implementation. At its simplest, WIGOS is about implementing best practice in making and sharing observations; coordination and collaboration for efficiency and effectiveness; and delivering observations that meet user needs.
The Commission for Basic Systems Expert Team on the Evolution of Global Observing Systems met in Geneva from 14 to 17 June 2011 to make progress on the development of a new Implementation Plan responding to the Vision of the Global Observing System for 2025 and WIGOS needs.
The team reviewed the latest observational data requirements of WMO Application Areas and discussed how identified gaps could be turned into recommendations to Members. The team also discussed how Global Cryosphere Watch and Global Framework for Climate Services requirements can be considered in this regard.
The new Implementation Plan will be submitted to the 15th session of the Commission for Basic Systems, which meets in 2012. The new implementation plan will provide Members with a blueprint for action, including clear, focused guidelines and recommended actions regarding the evolution of observing systems in a cost-effective and integrated way.
WMO outlined its support for least developed countries as they experience the impacts of an increasingly changing climate at the Fourth United Nations Conference on Least Developed Countries (LDCs), which took place in Istanbul, Turkey from 9 to 13 May 2011.
Extreme hydrometeorological events account for about 90 per cent of all natural disasters. During the last decades, an unprecedented number of extreme events, including floods and droughts, have set back development in the world’s poorest nations.
WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud outlined the weather and climate-related challenges facing LDCs. While weather and climate services have made outstanding progress during the last decades, most LDCs do not have the capacity to benefit from these advances, he told the conference.
WMO also participated in a panel debate with the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change on Addressing Vulnerability to Climate Change in LDCs.
WMO established in 2003 a special Programme for the LDCs to strengthen the capabilities of their National Meteorological and Hydrological Services to provide relevant and timely weather, water and climate information and services.
WMO contributed significantly to the Third Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction (8-13 May, Geneva, Switzerland). Organized by the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Risk Reduction (UN-ISDR) under the theme “Invest Today for a Safer Tomorrow: Increase investments in local action,” the forum gathered over 2600 high-level officials and experts.
WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud chaired the Plenary on Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Reduction. Senior management participated in high-level roundtables including “Strengthening preparedness for nuclear emergencies,” “Preparedness” and “Launch of the Global Assessment Report 2011.” WMO also organized a climate feature event on “Operational climate services for managing socio-economic risks linked to the changing climate,” with contributions from many UN agencies.
WMO led the organization of well-attended sessions on drought risk management, coastal risk management, climate services for managing socio-economic risks and the link between climate services and catastrophe risk and capital markets.
A major outcome of the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction was the inclusion of the Global Framework for Climate Services. The Chair’s summary identified as a critical step “the availability of tailored science-based climate-related information through the Global Framework for Climate Services to support informed investment and planning at all levels.”
The Polar regions, including the ‘Third Pole’ (Himalayan and Tibetan Plateau) have an important impact on weather, water and climate worldwide. The cryosphere spans all latitudes in approximately 100 countries. It provides highly useful climate change indicators, yet is one of the Earth’s most under-sampled domains.
Congress agreed to set up an observational framework for Polar Regions, including an Antarctic Observing Network, as well as to develop a Global Integrated Polar Prediction System, to provide information on timescales from hours to centuries.
Noting the unparalleled demand for authoritative information on the the world’s snow and ice resources, Congress agreed to develop the Global Cryosphere Watch (GCW) in collaboration with international partners.
Building on the momentum of the International Polar Year 2007-2008, Congress agreed to work with other organizations to prepare a concept document for an International Polar Decade focused on delivering better scientific information for policy-makers.
WMO presented the 55th IMO prize, its most prestigious award, to Prof. Taroh Matsuno of Japan in a ceremony during the WMO Congress, for excellence in research in atmospheric dynamics, as well as climate research leadership which has significantly contributed to progress in climate change research. The IMO prize, granted annually, recognizes outstanding scientific research work in meteorology.
A team of French researchers received the 2011 Norbert Gerbier-MUMM International Award for drought reanalysis research at a ceremony during Congress. The reanalysis tool, now used by Météo-France, helped quantify that the drought in western Europe is the worst since 1958. The award encourages cooperation between meteorology and other sciences.
The 56th IMO prize has been awarded to the late Prof. Aksel Wiin-Nielsen as a lifetime achievement award, who served as WMO Secretary-General from 1980 to 1983. He co-founded and became the first Director of the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts.
The 2012 Norbert Gerbier-MUMM Award recognizes research on carbon-climate links. The winners are Drs C. Yi, D. Ricciuto, R. Li, J. Wolbeck, X. Xu, M. Nilsson and 145 other authors, coming from 116 academic institutes in six continents. Their paper examines relationships between climate and the carbon exchange of land-based ecosystems to predict future levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide.
2011 WMO Research Award for Young Scientists has been conferred to Mr Rudi van der Ent from the Netherlands for research on atmospheric moisture over continents. Co-authors of the research paper were R. van der Ent, H.H.G. Savenije, B. Schaefli and S.C. Steele-Dunne.
WMO activated its Environmental Emergency Response mechanism on 11 March 2011 to provide meteorological information to authorities on the likely evolution of radioactive elements accidentally released from the Fukushima Daiichi power plant. Operating on a 24/7 basis, WMO’s Regional Specialized Meteorological Centres in Asia (Beijing, China, Tokyo, Japan, and Obninsk, Russian Federation) issued forecast charts of nuclear material dispersion from Fukushima (using an arbitrary source) until no longer required. Other Regional Specialized Meteorological Centres prepared charts for comparison and validation.
WMO also arranged with the ZAMG, Meteorological Service of Austria, to provide meteorological support to the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna and for MétéoSwiss, the Meteorological Service of Switzerland, to support the World Health Organization in Geneva.
Geoff Love, Director of the WMO Weather and Disaster Risk Reduction Department, shared these lessons in June at the IAEA Ministerial Conference:
The Environmental Emergency Response mechanism worked well. Dispersion charts provided decision makers with scientifically sound estimates of nuclear material dispersion in the atmosphere. This said, it is time to review products and procedures, based on experiences during this event and new developments in the science and technologies for these products.
Users of dispersion charts found the arbitrary concentration scale to be problematic. Adequate monitoring systems should be located around each nuclear power plant so that the source term is known accurately and quickly (so that an arbitrary scale is not needed), and there should be more coordination between the nuclear power industry and international agencies responsible for exchanging and using this information.
Standard procedures urgently need to be updated for assess hydrological and meteorological hazards, including climate change, for existing and proposed nuclear power stations.
Contact: MeteoWorld Editor - WMO ©2008 Geneva, Switzerland