Climate / Climate research / Marine
safety and environment / Natural
disasters / Weather research / Weather observations / Satellite meteorology / Public
outlooks are becoming more and more accurate and are
therefore increasing in usefulness for users, who are
showing ever more willingness to participate in climate
outlook discussions and use the information in support of
preparedness for natural disasters and socio-economic
activities. Recently, for the Greater Horn of
Africa, the state of the current El Niño event was
climate models’ output assessed and rainfall outlooks
a review of the limitations and prospects of seasonal-to-interannual climate forecasting methodologies and systems
was made and experience and forecasting products were
advances have been made during the past five years in
seasonal climate prediction and its applications to
decision-making in agriculture. This remains an area of
particular importance, especially in developing countries.
a consensus product from amongst the multiple available
individual predictions stimulates the development of climate
capacity in the National Meteorological and Hydrological
Services of the Asian region. Decisions
and activities are generated that mitigate adverse impacts
of climate and help communities adapt to climate
Climate Outlook Forums
information, see http://www.wmo.int/pages/prog/wcp/wcasp/wcasp_home_en.html
change in the Alps
climate change projections show that warmer temperatures are
expected to coexist with somewhat increased winter
precipitation and a significant reduction in winter snow
A recent study
has indicated that the amount of snow at certain European
ski resorts might diminish. It is projected that, by 2030,
20-70% of Swiss glaciers may disappear, continuing the
tendency that can be traced back to the end of the so-called
“Little Ice Age”.
constitutes environmental degradation, a problem for water
managers and also for skiers. Increased melting of alpine
permafrost makes many areas vulnerable to landslides and
reduces stability of cableways, lift masts and other
information, see: http://www.geo.unizh.ch/wgms/
quality climate data
under the aegis of WMO and its partners provide invaluable
input to international environmental conventions such as the
United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
respect, requirements have recently been identified for data
and associated climate products, which take into account
existing global, regional and national plans, programmes and
initiatives. These include those of the Group on Earth
Observations, implementation priorities and
resource requirements, as well as indicators for measuring
issues related to observing the global climate are the
improvement of satellite and in situ networks for
atmospheric, oceanic and terrestrial observations; the
generation of integrated global climate analysis products;
the increased participation of least-developed countries and
Small Island Developing States; better access to
high-quality global data; and strengthening
national and international infrastructure.
Island Developing States will benefit from improved quality
information, see: http://earthobservations.org/
the importance of weather and climate
Tourism is one of the
largest economic activities and one of the fastest growing
in the world today. Tourists’ expenditure can account for
as much as 95 per cent of the Gross National Product of
Small Island Developing States. Tourism is also a
significant employer in many countries.
Weather and climate
information and accurate predictions of extreme climatic
events developed by WMO’s National Meteorological and
Hydrological Services are of increasing significance.
Governments and the private sector need to recognize the
importance of managing and using weather and climate
information and incorporate that information in tourism
policies, development and planning.
An effective coordination
between WMO and its partners is essential for further
research, awareness raising and capacity building, as well
as for the development and application of adaptation and
mitigation measures in the tourism sector.
WMO has had a working agreement with the World Tourism
Organization (WTO). In December 2003, the WTO became a
specialized agency of the United Nations. In November 2004,
the WTO convened a meeting of UN agencies (including FAO,
ICAO, ILO, UNCTAD, UNEP, UNESCO, UNESCWA, WHO and WMO) to
enhance coordination and effectiveness of the
tourism-related activities in each of these areas of
interest, particularly with a view to achieving the
Millennium Development Goals and implementing the
Johannesburg Plan of Action. An interagency coordination
mechanism for tourism was established.
be the focus of the 27th edition of the World Climate News,
and WTO contributed the lead article. In addition, WMO
participated in the fourth World Snow and Mountain Tourism
Congress in Andorra, 14 -16 April 2005, during which
participants considered the many changes affecting ‘winter’
tourism, including changing climate. Furthermore, the WCP
works with partners through the European Union COST actions
on matters related to thermal stress, wellness, recreation
and sustainable tourism.
importance of climate to most aspects of tourism, ranging
from the traveller’s choices of where to visit, to
long-range planning at international levels, the WMO World
Climate Programme (WCP) and the Commission for Climatology
are considering establishment of an Expert Team an climate
and tourism, at the fourteenth session of the CCl (November
2005, Beijing, China).
in a name?
El Niño and La Niña events are perturbations in the ocean-atmosphere
system related to unusual warming of the equatorial Pacific
Ocean and associated changes in the trade winds. This
phenomenom is known as El Niño-Southern Oscillation
ENSO events have
different impacts in different parts of the world. They can
be responsible for flooding and droughts and the changing
behaviour of fish stocks. They have also been linked to
coral bleaching and outbreaks of tropical diseases such as
Scientists, decision-makers, the media and the public in
different countries often refer to El Niño and La Niña,
but each may have a different understanding of the terms and
what constitutes an “event”.
initiated a project to compile the various definitions in
use around the world. This reference and ongoing research
into instruments and modelling
will support global coordination of ENSO activities and
improved monitoring and prediction.
See: http://www.wmo.int/pages/prog/wcp/wcasp/wcasp_home_en.html and
oceans in a carbon “rich” world
carbon uptake from the atmosphere with higher carbon dioxide
is expected to produce excess of carbonic acid in the ocean
upper layer. Increasing acidification may affect marine
life, especially corals and hard-shelled organisms. The
consequences of this process are difficult to project
because the physiology of phytoplankton, ecological
interactions and biogeochemical cycling have too many
of the promising approaches to learn more about the complex
reaction of the ocean to carbon impact are laboratory
“microcosm” experiments, in which the existing plankton
communities are exposed to carbon rich air and are left to
results reveal marked changes in several types of plankton
communities and demonstrate the need for corresponding
quantitative representation of marine biological feedbacks
in climate models.
more information, see http://www.uea.ac.uk/env/solas/
Climate data from ice
The “cryosphere”, i.e. snow cover,
solid precipitation, sea, lake and river ice, glaciers, ice
caps, ice sheets and frozen ground, including permafrost, is
an integral part of the climate system.
WMO, supports studies to assess and
quantify the impacts of climate variability on the
cryosphere and related feedbacks and work is ongoing to
develop cryospheric indicators of global climate change.
The project addresses the contribution
of glaciers, ice caps and ice sheets to mean sea-level
change, projections of sea-ice cover in the Arctic Ocean and
cold climate processes and their impact on the global
energy, water and carbon cycle.
Cryospheric studies will form an
important input to the International Polar Year 2007/2008.
The cryosphere exists at all latitudes. There is an
urgent need to collect ice cores from high-altitude,
low-latitude glaciers in order to collect the climate
signals they contain.
For more information,
safety and environment
and offshore disasters
services and risk assessments are being enhanced so as to
improve preparedness and mitigation measures in the case of
natural disasters occurring in offshore and coastal zones.
offshore disasters are the result of extreme wind and waves
and certain coastal areas are prone to storm surges,
tsunamis, river flooding and environmental degradation. WMO
has been contributing to mitigation measures with regard to
storm surges and the proposed early warning systems for
tsunamis striking coastal lowlands in the Indian Ocean and
other vulnerable areas.
Populations and the environment by the
warnings and disaster-risk assessments for oceans and coasts
are modernized and enhanced, more attention is also paid to
the quality of life and environment in coastal areas.
Worldwide, there is a comprehensive population migration
from the interior to the coast; megacities develop where
once were beaches and the consequent impacts on
environmental quality and safety is huge. WMO assists National Meteorological and Hydrological Services to
take appropriate preparedness and mitigation actions.
Safety at sea
coordinates and enables warning services for the protection
of life and property endangered by wind, weather, sea ice
and sea states. A system of services has been established in
collaboration with the International Maritime Organization,
which builds on a comprehensive set of ocean observation
programmes, numerical models and a variety of warning
information, see: http://weather.gmdss.org/
and storm surge early warning and response system in the
In view of the
increased concern for security in the face of tsunamis,
cyclones and other natural hazards, there is a need to
coordinate national, regional and international efforts for
establishing an integrated early warning system for areas at
risk. WMO will assist countries concerned by assessing the
needs for enhancing the capabilities of their National
Meteorological and Hydrological Services to issue warnings.
In cooperation with the
Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO, a multi-hazard early warning
system for the Indian Ocean (for tsunami and storm surge) is
being developed. It is planned to use and build on the
existing infrastructure for data collection and
transmission, such as WMO’s Global Telecommunication
For more information,
WMO’s THORPEX will provide the research underpinning WMO’s multi-hazard approach to natural disaster prevention.
THORPEX aims to accelerate improvements in the accuracy of one-day to two-week forecasts of high-impact weather and to demonstrate the socio-economic value of forecast products.
THORPEX will benefit society by: extending the range of skilful weather forecasts to time-scales of value (up to 14 days) and developing accurate and timely weather warnings in a form that can be readily used by decision-makers; and by assessing the impact of weather forecasts and associated outcomes on the development of strategies to minimize the impact of natural hazards.
The datasets generated by THORPEX regional campaigns are currently being analysed and will be freely available for research purposes
For more information, see: http://www.wmo.int/thorpex/
A THORPEX kit is available from WMO (printed material and CD-ROM) containing:
• THORPEX: a Global Atmospheric Research Programme (WMO-No. 978)
• International Science Plan
• International Implementation Plan
• International Core Steering Committee for THORPEX (final report)
See also: http://www.wmo.int/e-catalog/
No country is spared the effects of extreme or severe weather. THORPEX will help demonstrate the capabilities of global observations and weather prediction, especially for developing and least developed countries.
and human health
pollutants in the air in the form of gases (e.g. ozone) and
particles (aerosols) can have serious impacts on human
health. They are generated mostly in urban areas by
industry, power plants and by motor vehicle emissions. They
can also affect health and the natural environment at places
research into urban meteorology both locally and farther
afield and seeks to enhance the capabilities of National
Meteorological Services in providing good air quality
services for use by a variety of sectors: human health,
transport, event planning and leisure activities.
are a means of expanding activities to tackle air-quality
issues. One such project is currently under way to provide
guidance for the 2008 Olympics to be held in Beijing, China.
More and more
cities now see the importance of providing 1-3 day
outlooks of pollution levels of dust, smoke, and smog. These
forecasts are distributed widely via newspapers, radio, TV,
Websites and mobile telephone text messaging.
the gathering of up to date information on new methods for
forecasting air quality (chemical weather forecasting) and
helps identify areas for future research. Guidelines and
training in chemical weather forecasting are also provided.
information, see: http://www.wmo.int/pages/prog/arep/gaw/gaw_home_en.html
from land and space
plan has been developed to optimize implementation of the
space- and surface-based subsystems of WMO’s Global
Observing System as they evolve over the next 10 years.
the space-based component, the rigorous calibration of
sensors aboard operational and research-and-development
satellites is recommended in order to ensure accurate
readings and therefore improve the accuracy and timeliness
of forecasts. The wind-profiling and global precipitation
measurement missions were singled out as being particularly
important in this respect.
regard to the surface-based observing subsystem,
requirements were identified for more complete and timely
data distribution, and improved data coding for transmission
purposes. Areas requiring increased or enhanced coverage
were the oceans, the upper-air, especially over data-sparse
areas; the moisture content of the upper troposphere and
lower stratosphere. It was recommended that ground-based
geographical positioning systems, radars, and wind profilers
be included in the observing system. Proposals were also
made concerning the operational use of targeted
more information, see: http://www.wmo.int/pages/prog/www/OSY/GOS.html and http://earthobservations.org/
in satellite meteorology
Staff of 12
National Meteorological and Hydrological Services in North,
Central and South America have completed an intensive course
in Costa Rica in the utilization of satellite data for a
wide range of meteorological applications.
Thanks to a
donation of electronic notebooks by Colorado State
University’s NOAA Cooperative Institute for Research in
the Atmosphere, these Services now have the latest training
tools and the ability to access satellite data rapidly. The
notebooks contain all the training materials, application
software and data presented during the course and allow the
trainers to train others upon their return home.
streams of satellite system data will be available at the
end of the decade. Lectures covered the new analysis
techniques and tools in order to prepare the participants
and so improve overall satellite system utilization and
training centre in Costa Rica has pioneered a virtual
laboratory for education and training in the use of
satellite information for meteorological applications. WMO
has capitalized on this and other centres to “train the
trainers” and maximize the use of satellite data, products
and services. Linked together through the Internet and a
virtual resource library, the virtual laboratory provides
WMO Members with the possibility of continuous education and
information, see http://www.wmo.int/pages/prog/sat/index_en.html
weather Websites become operational
Two Websites on worldwide official weather forecasts and warnings,
the World Weather Information Service (http://www.worldweather.org) and the Severe Weather Information Centre (http://severe.worldweather.org),
developed and operated by the Hong Kong Observatory,
China, on behalf of WMO, started formal operation on
World Meteorological Day, 23 March 2005, after a trial period of more
than two years.