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WMO highlights cooperation between oceanographers and meteorologists / WMO Addresses Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Safety / New UNEP-WMO Assessment complements urgent action needed to cut CO2 emissions under UN Climate Treaty / Solar flare underlines need for internationally coordinated action on space weather hazards / Risk reduction seminar focus on strong outreach for climate information / Drought conditions in Europe 2011 / WMO and partners pilot "Mobile Weather Alert" for Fishermen on Lake Victoria
In a speech to the closing celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the U.N. Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, World Meteorological Organization Secretary-General Michel Jarraud praised the close cooperation between oceanographers and meteorologists.
“For millennia, the world’s oceans and seas have been essential to transportation and commerce. They are also a major component of the global climate system, and they contribute to sustain a large percentage of the Earth’s population and a substantial share of its biodiversity. Meteorological and oceanographic data and services are accordingly vital for the protection and rational exploitation of the global ocean and coasts, which are especially vulnerable to extreme events and climate change, as well as to marine pollution and overexploitation, “ he told the ceremony in Paris.
“Too many vivid memories of the loss of lives and property are associated with tsunamis, storm surges and extreme waves related to severe tropical and extra-tropical cyclones impacting upon heavily populated low-lying areas, so the prospect of climate change-enhanced impacts on highly-vulnerable areas is of special concern.”
The anniversary activities are meant to promote international awareness of, and involvement in, ocean science.
The World Meteorological Organization’s Environmental Emergency Response system functioned effectively in forecasting and monitoring the spread of radioactive material in the aftermath of the earthquake, Tsunami and nuclear accident in Japan. But the crisis also highlighted the need for more effective provision and use of scientific data and improved international coordination and communication, according to a WMO presentation to the Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Safety convened by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
In an address today on “Lessons Learned in Responding to the Accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Stations: The Way Forward,” Geoff Love, Director of WMO’s Weather and Disaster Risk Reduction Department, said that national meteorological services have an important contribution to make in the response to all cross-border environmental emergencies because of their 24/7 monitoring and operational activities and their links to regional and global information systems and emergency services.
Fast action on pollutants such as black carbon, ground level ozone and methane may help limit near term global temperature rise and significantly increase the chances of keeping temperature rise below 2 degrees C —and perhaps even 1.5 degrees C— a new assessment says.
Protecting the near-term climate is central to significantly cutting the risk of “amplified global climate change” linked with rapid and extensive loss of Arctic ice on both the land and at sea.
The scientists behind the assessment, coordinated by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), also point to numerous public health and food security opportunities above and beyond those linked with tackling climate change.
Scientists are monitoring a solar flare which is expected to have a minor impact on the Earth’s magnetic field. Such flares are likely to become more frequent and more severe in the approach to the next peak in solar activity around 2013. WMO is stepping up international coordination on space weather hazards.
The corona is the sun’s outer solar atmosphere, with strong magnetic fields. When these are closed (usually over sunspots), the confined solar atmosphere can suddenly violently release bubbles of gas and magnetic fields called coronal mass ejections.
Whether dealing with slow-onset drought or sudden coastal floods, improving community preparedness measures and dissemination of early warnings in an effective manner are essential, noted a side event organized yesterday by WMO at the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction (Geneva, 9-13 May).
The side event on Integrated Drought Risk Management featured case studies on droughts in the Horn of Africa and the Navajo reservation in Colorado, USA. The slow-onset nature of drought makes it difficult to measure hidden risk. People in drought-prone areas face growing extreme climatic risks, with limited economic options; drought spikes can, in some cases, influence GDP up to 50%. Globally, drought has been increasing for the last 25 years, according to the 2007 IPCC Fourth Assessment Report. Meanwhile, water available per capita on a regional basis is declining, and population is increasing, noted the Global Water Partnership. Drought is the main cause for 50% of emergency food distribution, according to the World Food Programme.
Local communities can prepare safety nets to get them through the worst periods of drought, such as by preparing wells in advance, or by planting drought-resistant fodder for livestock. But getting climate information to the farming and pastoral communities is a major challenge, requiring investments in dialogue between national meteorological and agricultural services, as well as with communities. The WMO roving seminars for farmers and the WMO Climate Outlook Forums were among the best practices cited to communicate climate information effectively. The complexity of communicating seasonal forecasts in easily understandable language to the user communities was also underlined. The quality of climate information is important in communicating probability; moreover, seasonal forecasts are a moving target due to climate change, affecting adaptation decisions at national and local levels.
WMO organized the event with the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
For more information on this event, and updates on other WMO activities at the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction, see
Drought conditions in Europe 2011
A long-lasting dry period persisted over large parts of Europe from January to May 2011. According to data of the Global Precipitation Climatology Centre (GPCC), especially the months February to May 2011 had a considerable rain deficit over large parts of Europe. The 4-month totals over this period ranged between 40 and 80% of the long-term mean 1951-2000 over large areas, in many parts of western and central Europe even below 40%; the 3-month totals March to May 2011 were even more extreme (see figures under "More"). France, Germany and southeastern UK appeared to be the most affected areas. Similar conditions occurred in 1976 and in the 1990s.
The Uganda Department of Meteorology, Ericsson, MTN, National Lake Rescue Institute and the World Meteorological Organization are piloting an SMS service called “Mobile Weather Alert” which uses mobile technology to provide forecasts of severe weatherand improve safety for fishermen on Lake Victoria.
A two-day training workshop in Kampala from 4th to 5th May will train community leaders so they understand what the weather alerts mean.These community leaders will in turn will each recruit and train other fishermen on Ssese Island, Lake Victoria to use the service for a 3 month trial period.
More than 5 000 people lose their lives on Lake Victoria each year. Most of them drown as a result of high winds and waves associated with convective storms on the lake.The aim of the Mobile Weather Alert project is to reduce the casualty toll. The Lake supports nearly 200 000 fishermen, with a fishing fleet of more than 70 000 boats and so is vital to the local economy.
Contact: MeteoWorld Editor - WMO ©2008 Geneva, Switzerland