December 2013

Commission for Atmospheric Sciences focuses on the future challenges

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The 16th session of the WMO Commission for Atmospheric Sciences (CAS), hosted by the Turkish State Meteorological Service from 20–26 November , elected Øystein Hov (Norway) as President and Jae-Cheol Nam (Republic of Korea) as Vice-President and concluded with a series of decisions designed to maximize opportunities from scientific advances in forecasting and prediction.

CAS issued recommendations with a ten-year time horizon, concerning:

  • High impact weather and its socio-economic effects - CAS agreed that accelerated and focused research spearheaded by the World Weather Research Programme is required to further improve the prediction of high-impact events at a wide range of scales. The HIWeather project, an initiative encouraged by CAS, will pay special attention to the hydrological consequences of extreme weather and to the resilience of the urban environment.

  • Water: improved disaster risk reduction and resource management - CAS stressed the need for more water-specific emphasis in activities and projects, as well as greater coordination with the Commission for Hydrology, and more communication between providers and users of weather and water information, particularly in the context of disaster risk reduction.

  • Integrated Greenhouse Gas Information System - CAS requested Members to undertake the necessary steps to develop higher-density observations based on the Global Atmosphere Watch network and to improve the modelling tools in order to progress towards an Integrated Greenhouse Gas Information System.

  • Aerosols: Impacts on air quality, weather and climate – The monitoring and modelling of aerosols is a significant challenge – many stations needed to measure a wide variety of variables. The Commission stressed the need to plan for an integrated global aerosols observation system.

  • Urbanization: Research and services for megacities - More than half the world’s population is living in urban areas, and this proportion will increase, as will the vulnerability to extreme events. Capabilities for the provision of environmental information for urban planning and sustainable development of cities should be established. Cross-cutting coordination is required between the wide variety of agencies that provide services to those impacted by weather and climate. CAS recommended that the need for more collaborative activities on megacities and large urban areas should be brought before WMO Executive Council and Congress.

  • Evolving Technologies – CAS requested the World Weather Research Programme and Global Atmosphere Watch to pay special attention to non-conventional observations and how these could be used through sophisticated data assimilation techniques as input to ultra high-resolution models and the verification of predictions. CAS further emphasized the need to formulate a solid science-based opinion to guide the growing interest in geo-engineering.
    The outcomes of the session will inform WMO decisions on investment in research and development to maximize scientific advances, which can be transitioned into services for society though the Global Framework for Climate Services and the day-to-day operations of National Meteorological and Hydrological Services. They will also underpin the emerging partnerships between different scientific communities such as hydrologists, weather and climate scientists, health managers, urban and energy planners. A two-day technical conference, Responding to Environmental Stressors of the 21st Century, preceded CAS.

The outcomes of the session will inform WMO decisions on investment in research and development to maximize scientific advances, which can be transitioned into services for society though the Global Framework for Climate Services and the day-to-day operations of National Meteorological and Hydrological Services. They will also underpin the emerging partnerships between different scientific communities such as hydrologists, weather and climate scientists, health managers, urban and energy planners. A two-day technical conference, Responding to Environmental Stressors of the 21st Century, preceded CAS.


Deon Terblanche, Director, Atmospheric Research and Environment Branch, WMO, CAS President Oystein Hov, Norway, outgoing CAS President Michel Béland, Canada, and CAS Vice-President Jae-Cheol Nam, Republic of Korea

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