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Third International Verification Workshop Emphasizing Training Aspects(Reading, United Kingdom, 29 January to 2 February 2007)

This five-day workshop was hosted by the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Working Group on Numerical Experimentation*/World Weather Research Programme (WWRP)** Joint Working Group on Verification and was co-sponsored by WWRP, European Cooperation in the Field of Scientific and Technical Research (COST), European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecast (ECMWF) and the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP). This workshop is in line with WMO’s efforts to standardize the practice of verification and was found to be particularly useful at this time with the continued development of open-source verification packages such as the “R” package.

The third of a series, the workshop this year attracted a large number of researchers with a total of 131 participants from 32 National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs), three international organizations, 13 government agencies, 11 universities and three private weather service providers.

The workshop was divided into three components: tutorial session, poster session and a programme of talks on new developments in verification methodologies. The tutorial session provided a pedagogical introduction and review of verification techniques for both deterministic and probabilistic (including ensemble) forecasts with hands-on laboratory sessions, whereby participants used methodologies on real case-studies. For the two-day laboratory sessions, the 32 participants brought their own datasets and verification problems, of which six were chosen.

The second part of the workshop included keynote presentations focussing on new verification techniques and issues related to the practice of forecast verification, as well as contributed presentations on verification methodologies applied to a variety of forecasts (including forecasts of phenomena outside of atmospheric sciences, such as economics). Subjects covered verification of ensemble/probability forecasts, extreme events, forecast value and user issues.

There were 29 verification projects accepted for the poster session which, was held in the ECMWF Exhibit Hall. Each presenter first made a concise presentation describing his/her projects and was on hand during the two-hour poster session later to answer questions and discuss informally the contents of the display.

Shortly before the closing ceremony, a brief discussion session was conducted which provided the organizers valuable insight for improving future workshops.

* The Working Group on Numerical Experimentation (WGNE) was jointly established by the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP) and the WMO Commission for Atmospheric Sciences (CAS).

** The World Weather Research Programme is a programme of WMO’s Atmospheric Research and Environment Programme.

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Regional Association I (RA I )(Africa)—14th session
(Ouagadoudou, Burkina Faso, 14-23 February 2007)

Forty-eight RA I Member countries took part in this session, as well as two WMO Member countries outside the Region and 11 regional and international organizations. The opening ceremony was chaired by G.N. Ouedraogo, Minister of Transport, in the presence of M. Jarraud, Secretary-General of WMO; M.S. Mitha, president of RA I; and A A. Diallo, Permanent Representative of Burkina Faso with WMO.

The Association first examined the current status of implementation of regional aspects of WMO’s technical programmes, particularly the World Weather Watch (WWW), Climate Programme Coordination and Support Activities and the Atmospheric Research and Environment Programme. It then considered specific matters of concern to the Region, such as how to enhance regional cooperation to improve services provided by National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs) throughout the Region and optimize the use of available resources.

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The discussions covered a range of topics dealing essentially with the role that Meteorological Services could play in helping to meet the world’s major challenges and those of Africa in particular: poverty reduction, climate change, natural disaster prevention and mitigation, etc. In this connection, it highlighted the considerable efforts that WMO and the NMHSs of the Region had to make for the impact of their activities on the achievement of the various objectives to be tangibly felt. The session thus decided to prepare a Strategic Plan for the Development of National Meteorological and Hydrological Services in Africa.

The Association stressed the dynamic role that the NMHSs should play in advising governments on the influence of meteorological and climatological matters on development strategies. It reaffirmed the unreserved commitment of both WMO and the NMHSs to seek ways and means of attaining the Millennium Development Goals, particularly 1 and 7, which concern the Region directly.

As regards natural disaster prevention and mitigation, it stressed that natural disaster reduction was of prime importance for socio-economic activities and environmental protection in the Region and therefore felt it necessary to establish a coordinated framework to support this work at regional level.

The Association welcomed WMO’s efforts in support of the NMHSs of the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and affirmed that WMO and the NMHSs should mobilize the additional resources needed to implement the WMO Programme for the Least Developed Countries.

The Education and Training Programme was discussed at length and its importance and priority status for the Region were reaffirmed.

The Association welcomed the active role played by WMO’s Regional Office for Africa and the two Subregional Offices as coordinating bodies and the efforts made to maintain close contact with the regional bodies.

The Association elected Messrs M. L. Bah (Guinea) and A. Makarau (Zimbabwe) as president and vice-president, respectively, of Regional Association I.

The session was preceded by a Regional Seminar on African Meteorological Services, Media and Development.

 

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WMO International Conference on Secure and
Sustainable Living: Social and Economic Benefits
of Weather, Climate and Water

(Madrid, Spain, 19-22 March 2007)

The Conference was attended by some 450 participants from 115 countries and consisted of an opening ceremony presided over by HM Queen Sofía, seven plenary sessions and seven main focus events.  The opening ceremony was addressed by the Secretary General and President of WMO, the Ibero-American Secretariat and the Minister of Environment of Spain.  It included the launch by the WMO Secretary-General of the WMO book Elements for Life, which includes many case-studies and examples of weather, climate and water services in support of poverty alleviation, disaster mitigation, climate change assessment, pollution abatement, water resources, energy and health management and protection of the environment.

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HM Queen Sofía of Spain makes an address at the opening ceremony of the Madrid International Conference.

The purpose of the Conference was to contribute to secure and sustainable living for all peoples of the world by evaluating and demonstrating, and thence ultimately enhancing, the social and economic benefits of weather, climate and water services.  It sought to assemble authoritative feedback from the users of these services in order to:

  • Inform governments and stakeholders in general of the immense societal benefits that flow from their investment in the global meteorological and hydrological infrastructure which supports the provision of meteorological and related services at the national level in every country;
  • Foster increased awareness in the contemporary user, and potential user, communities, of the availability and value of the full range of existing, new and improved services;
  • Initiate and promote new approaches, in the research, education and applications communities, to evaluation of the social and economic benefits of meteorological and related services;
  • Provide the basis for greatly strengthened national and international partnerships in the provision of meteorological, hydrological and related services; and
  • Guide the priorities of the National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs) for infrastructure investment, service provision and service delivery.

Weather, climate, water and related phenomena impact every member of society and every sector of the economy. Meteorological and hydrological events profoundly affect the patterns of human settlement, the routine of daily life, the health of national economies and the quality of the natural environment. The most important meteorological, hydrological and related influences on society are:

  • Natural hazards and natural disasters (wildfires, storms, floods, droughts, hurricanes, blizzards, etc.)
  • Weather (temperature, humidity, rainfall, wind, etc)
  • Climate (both short-term variability and long-term change)
  • Air quality (smoke, chemicals, urban pollution, dust, etc)
  • Water (flood and drought, quality and quantity) and
  • Oceans (temperature, salinity, waves, currents, tsunamis, etc).

No social or economic sector is immune from the impacts of weather, climate and water events. Virtually all sectors are strongly weather- and climate-sensitive on some or all time-scales and in almost every part of the world.  The six major socio-economic sectoral groups examined at the Conference were:

  • Agriculture, water resources and the natural environment
  • Human health
  • Tourism and human welfare
  • Energy, transport and communication
  • Urban settlement and sustainable development
  • Economics and financial services.

Even with the current levels of service provision and the sophisticated disaster management arrangements that have been put in place in many countries, the global costs of weather-, climate- and water-related disasters may exceed 100 000 deaths and a billions of dollars of damage in a single year.  Without the existing meteorological and related information and warning services, there is no doubt that these costs would be vastly greater.

The Conference reiterated that, among other things, the role of NMHSs is to provide the information and services, which enable governments and other stakeholders to minimize the costs of natural disasters, protect and strengthen the weather-, climate- and water-sensitive sectors of the economy and contribute to the health, welfare and quality of life of their citizens.  This role, among other things, is carried out through operation of the national meteorological and hydrological observation and data-processing infrastructure.  NMHSs, in partnership in many countries with academic and private sector service providers, produce a wide range of information and advisory services including:

  • Historical climate data and products
  • Current information (weather, climate, air quality, stream flow etc)
  • Weather, climate, air quality, river and ocean forecasts
  • Warning services (for all forms of meteorological, hydrological and oceanographic hazards)
  • Projections and scenarios of future human-induced climate change
  • Scientific advice and investigations.

The communication of this information to operators and custodians of diverse weather-, climate- and water-sensitive sectors enables them, through increasingly sophisticated decision methods and models, to take more informed decisions and deliver greatly improved outcomes over those that would be achievable without access to the information or use of the services.

The Conference reviewed a range of sector-specific decision-making techniques and case-studies of increased use of weather, climate and water information and services leading to improved decisions and improved outcomes in the six key socio-economic sectoral groupings. Having evaluated a range of methodologies for assessing the value of, and benefits from, the use of the services, the Conference concluded that more work is required to further develop these socio-economic techniques and methods.

See also feature "Socio-economic benefits of weather, climate and water services" in this issue and Elements for Life in Recently issued.

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Expert Meeting on Gender Mainstreaming

(Geneva, 26-29 March 2007)


WMO is committed to promoting equal opportunities for women and men in meteorology and operational hydrology. It has, in recent years, conducted two global surveys on gender issues and organized two major conferences and one expert meeting, geared towards developing mechanisms to implement gender mainstreaming at all levels in WMO.

The surveys served to clarify the extent of gender inequality in WMO and also illuminate all components of the Organization with regard to the gender question. Results from the global surveys demonstrated that gender inequality in WMO is real. For example, it was discovered that more than 90 per cent of NMHSs have low rates of employment of women in their workforce. The surveys also showed that, women remain under-represented in WMO activities and in WMO constituent bodies. Furthermore, women were found to be much more likely to serve in a support category than in one of policy- or decision-making responsibility.

women conference



The two events that WMO organized were the First Meeting on the Participation of Women in Meteorology and Hydrology (Bangkok, December 1997) and the Second WMO Conference on Women in Meteorology and Hydrology (Geneva, 24-27 April 2003). The first meeting gave NMHSs, the WMO Secretariat and women themselves, detailed recommendations on encouraging women to choose meteorology or hydrology as a career; increasing participation of women meteorologists and hydrologists in the programmes of constituent bodies of WMO; and the creation of equal opportunities for women to attain senior positions in the fields of atmospheric and geophysical sciences.

The second event was a major conference that involved a wide representation of Member countries and organizations, and brought together a rich convergence of knowledge and experiences from across the globe. The Conference reviewed progress since the WMO Bangkok meeting; the actual situation of women in meteorology and hydrology at the time; and developed benchmarks to measure future progress.

In March 2007, WMO organized the Expert Meeting on Gender Mainstreaming in Geneva. The main objective of the meeting was to draft WMO policy on gender mainstreaming for approval by Congress. The meeting also drafted an outline of an implementation plan for the draft policy.

The draft policy seeks to promote, encourage and facilitate gender equality across WMO and to establish a mechanism by which progress can be measured. It proposes four key result areas to underpin gender mainstreaming in NMHSs and the WMO Secretariat as well. These are the areas of governance, service delivery, employment and monitoring and evaluation.

The draft has also proposed the adoption of the definition relating to gender mainstreaming adopted by the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). It defines gender mainstreaming as “the process of assessing the implications for women and men of any planned action, including legislation, policies or programmes, in all areas and at all levels. It is a strategy for making women's as well as men's concerns and experiences an integral dimension of the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies and programmes in all political, economic and societal spheres so that women and men benefit equally and inequality is not perpetuated. The ultimate goal is to achieve gender equality”.

The Expert Meeting was attended by 43 participants, the majority of whom had been designated as gender focal points by NMHSs, regional associations or technical commissions. The meeting also benefited from the advice provided by the gender mainstreaming experts from the International Labour Organization, the World Intellectual Property Organization, the International Organization for Migration and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

It is hoped that these efforts will culminate in the evolution of WMO into a world Organization that will enable women and men to render services to mankind, in an environment where gender diversity will no longer be an issue but instead, will serve to contribute to the safety and well-being of people throughout the world and to the economic benefit of all nations.

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International Workshop on Tropical Cyclone Disaster Reduction
(Guangzhou Meteorological Training Centre, Guangzhou, China,
26 to 31 March 2007)

This research-oriented international training workshop provided training and experience on new knowledge gained from recent advances on tropical cyclone research and how best to apply these to operational prediction activities in order to enhance the accuracy and usefulness of tropical cyclone forecasts and warnings. It also enabled participants to be aware of the issues associated with disaster mitigation, such as factors contributing to human and economic losses, conveying forecasting and warning information to stakeholders, users and the general public, evaluating the effectiveness of warning systems, mitigation strategies and community capacity-building for disaster reduction. The abstracts of the nine lectures were printed in a booklet and distributed to all the participants before the workshop.

computer

A discussion forum was organized for the lecturers and participants to answer questions such as: how can we effectively harness the full potential of research to enhance the accuracy and lead time of tropical cyclone forecasts and warnings and what are the focused activities in tropical cyclone research that can provide added value and build capacity to address the needs of the national tropical cyclone warning centres? The main outcome of the discussion forum was a list of recommendations which will be submitted to the committees of the five tropical cyclone regional bodies.

Of the 60 participants at the workshop, 45 were operational forecasters from the five tropical cyclone regional bodies while the workshop lecturers are leading experts in the field of tropical cyclone research and forecasting which included Russell Elsberry, Peter Black, Lianshou Chen, and Charles Guard.

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