In the news
International Conference on Flood Management includes special session on Mega-Disasters / Regional Climate Outlook Forum for Central Africa / Preserve the ozone layer, protect the global climate system / Climate Change linked to flooding in Pakistan's Sindh Province / Greater Horn of Africa Climate Outlook Forum Considers September-December Rainfall / WMO Issues new El Niño/La Niña Update Neutral Conditions or Weak La Niña most likely scenarios for rest of 2011 / Southern Africa Regional Climate Outlook Forum considers rainy season / Pakistan strengthens flood forecasting services / UN-Water elects new office holders as water moves to centre of sustainable development challenge / Successful first test of tsunami warning system in North East Atlantic, Mediterranean and connected seas / WMO/UNCCD - Ten million people at risk as East Africa faces worst drought in 60 years
"Floods: From Risk to Opportunity" is the theme of the Fifth International Conference on Flood Management in Tokyo, Japan, 27-29 September. This reflects the growing understanding of how to make use of the opportunities provided by floods and flooding, and collectively deal with the risks as part of an all-embracing integrated flood management package.
The International Conference on Flood Management is organized by the International Centre for Water Hazard and Risk Management (ICHARM) under the auspices of UNESCO. ICHARM was established within the Public Works Research Institute (PWRI) in Tsukuba city. WMO is one of the co-sponsors.
The conference also includes a high-level International Forum on Mega-disasters - infrequent but highly destructive intensive disasters.
WMO statement at the opening of the 5th International Conference on Flood Management, by M. Jarraud, Secretary-General of WMO, (Tokyo, 27 September 2011)
High Panel Discussion: Safeguarding and recovering from mega-disasters Building global solidarity to safeguard nations and the people, by M. Jarraud, Secretary-General of WMO, (Tokyo, 27 September 2011)
The Regional Climate Outlook Forum for Central Africa has issued its outlook for the October-December seasonal rains, which are influenced by sea surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans.
The Forum, held in Douala, Cameroon, from 19 to 21 September 2011, was convened by the African Centre of Meteorological Applications for Development (ACMAD), with the support of the UN Economic Commission for Africa and the World Meteorological Organization, and was attended by experts from the National Meteorological and Hydrological Services of countries in Central Africa as well as regional and global experts.
Full text (in French)
This year’s International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer (16 September) is meant to serve as a rallying call to accelerate the phase-out of chemicals which destroy the Earth’s fragile shield and which are also powerful greenhouse gases.
“HCFC phase-out: a unique opportunity” is the theme for the celebration, marking the anniversary of the signature of an agreement known as the Montreal Protocol. Many ozone-destroying chemicals such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), once present in products such as refrigerators and spray cans, have been phased out under the Montreal Protocol. However, demand for replacement substances including hydrochlorofluorcarbons (HCFCs) has increased, prompting an agreement in 2007 to accelerate the phase-out of HCFCs, which are commonly used in air conditioning In its Antarctic Ozone Bulletin published today (16 September), WMO reported that the ozone hole increased rapidly during the first two weeks of September from less than 10 million km2 to approximately 24 million km2. This means that the 2011 ozone hole is about average in size in comparison to the ozone holes of the last decade. It is already significantly larger than in 2010, but smaller than in 2006, when there was a record large ozone hole.
Pakistan’s Meteorological Department issued two weather warnings 12 Sept. It said the latest meteorological conditions indicate that the strong monsoon weather system now lies over southeast Sindh and adjoining areas of Rajasthan (India). It said more widespread heavy to very heavy rains are predicted in Lower Sindh during next three days; Heavy spells would cause more flooding in already inundated areas.
Dr. Qamar uz Zaman Chaudhry, Pakistan’s Permanent Representative to WMO and Advisor, Climate Affairs, to the Government of Pakistan, said in a statement:. “Sometimes it is difficult to relate individual extreme weather events to a climate change. But if we look at the frequency and the trend of the extreme weather events impacting Pakistan during the last two decades, then it is easy to find its linkage with climate change.”
He said the rains in Sindh are the highest ever recorded monsoon rains during a four week period. Sindh this year received 270% and 730 % above normal monsoon rains respectively in August and September. Before the start of these rains in the second week of August, Sindh was under severe drought conditions and it had not received any rainfall during the last 12 months.
Over the past year, WMO has been working with PMD on an Integrated Flood Management plan. As a result of these continued efforts, Pakistan has installed a Flash Flood Guidance System to help provide warnings about the imminence of potential flash-flooding. The development of such a system was the result of a WMO Expert Mission that visited Pakistan last November.
WMO in cooperation with partners continues to assist the PMD in the rehabilitation of the meteorological and hydrological network for improved flood forecasting.
Geneva/Nairobi, 6 September 2011 (WMO) - The Greater Horn of Africa Climate Outlook for the forthcoming season (September through December 2011) indicates a possible return to normal/above-normal rainfall conditions in famine-hit southern Somalia, but a risk of below-normal rainfall remains over northern Somalia and adjoining regions.
September to December constitutes an important rainfall season - after the March-May rains - over southern Somalia and other equatorial parts of the Greater Horn of Africa (Kenya, Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda and northern Tanzania). Rainfall in northern Somalia during this period is typically lower than in southern Somalia.
Over parts of the region, given that September-December rainfall is a relatively small proportion of its annual total (see figures below), there may not yet be much easing of the drought situation in these areas where drought conditions have prevailed for the past several months.
The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has issued its latest Update on El Niño/La Niña, the phenomena in the tropical Pacific which have a significant impact upon weather and climate around the globe.
The continuation of near neutral conditions - with the ocean temperatures, tropical rainfall patterns, and atmospheric winds over the equatorial Pacific Ocean near the long-term average – or the re-emergence of La Niña conditions are the most likely scenarios for the rest of 2011, according model forecasts and expert interpretation used by WMO.
If a La Niña event does occur, current indications are that it would be considerably weaker than the moderate to strong 2010-2011 episode, which ended in May 2011 and was linked to disastrously wet conditions in parts of Australia, Indonesia, Southeast Asia, and portions of northern South America (e.g. Colombia), and drought in parts of the Horn of Africa, central southwest Asia, southeastern South America and the southern United States of America.
The Fifteenth Southern African Regional Climate Outlook Forum, which is supported by WMO, was held in Windhoek, Namibia, 29-30 August 2011 to consider the expected rainfall for the period October 2011 to March 2012, the main rainfall season in the region. The season is divided into two periods: October-November-December 2011 and January-February-March 2012.
During the period October-November-December, 2011, the bulk of continental SADC has greater likelihood of normal to below-normal rainfall. During the same period, there is a narrow belt of normal to above-normal rainfall, stretching from northern Angola, through southern DRC, northern Zambia, northern Malawi, southern Tanzania into northern Mozambique and also across most of Madagascar and Mauritius. At the same time, northern Tanzania and southern Madagascar are expected to have above-normal to normal rainfall.
Over the past year, WMO has been working with the Pakistan Meteorological Department on an Integrated Flood Management plan. The cooperation is meant to avert a flood disaster of the magnitude it hit the country in 2010, affecting an estimated 20 million people, causing nearly 2 000 fatalities, damaging nearly 2 million homes and general infrastructure, including meteorological and hydrological networks.
As a result of these continued efforts, Pakistan has installed a Flash Flood Guidance System to help provide warnings about the imminence of potential flash-flooding. The development of such a system was the result of a WMO Expert Mission that visited Pakistan last November.
“The monsoon rains have caused flooding, displacement and death again this year in Pakistan, although nothing like on the scale of 2010. Strengthening the flood forecasting system including the establishment of the Flash Flood Guidance System will help Pakistan’s disaster prevention and flood management capacity,” said WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud
In an advisory 30 August, the Pakistan Meteorological Department said that a well marked monsoon low lies over Indian Gujarat and adjoining areas of southeast Sindh. Widespread rain/thundershowers with isolated heavy falls are expected in Sindh including Karachi and Eastern parts of Balochistan during next 4-5 days. Heavy to very heavy rainfall is expected at number of places in Sindh during next 36 hours. Heavy rains may cause urban flooding in major cities with severe flooding in lower Sindh, and flash flooding in parts of Balochistan during the period.
World Meteorological Organization Secretary-General Mr Michel Jarraud and Mr Bert Diphoorn, Director of Human Settlements Financing Division at UN-Habitat, were elected by consensus as chair and vice chair respectively of UN-Water. With the customary two-year term approaching, the election took place in Stockholm during UN-Water’s 15th meeting.
The communication network of the Tsunami Early Warning and Mitigation System for the North-eastern Atlantic, the Mediterranean and connected seas (NEAMTWS) was tested successfully for the first time on 10 August, marking a leap forward for the system which was initiated under the aegis of UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) in 2005.
The test involved the Tsunami Warning Focal Points of 31 countries in the region. They received a test message at 10.36 UTC via electronic mail, fax and the WMO's Global Telecommunications System from the Kandilli Observatory and Earthquake Research Institute (KOERI, Turkey). Early results show the messages were well received within a few minutes of being sent.
Geneva/Bonn, 1 August 2011 - The latest famine in Somalia has put a spotlight on the urgent need to develop national and regional drought policies, according to the World Meteorological Organization and the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, which are jointly leading the international action to address the growing impact of droughts.
Contact: MeteoWorld Editor - WMO ©2008 Geneva, Switzerland