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Making weather information more effective
Weather information contributes to the safety and welfare of the public and affords many socio-economic advantages. The remarkable advances in the accuracy of weather forecasting made in recent years has provided National Meteorological Services (NMSs) with the basis for delivering more effective public weather services.
WMO encourages NMSs to implement public education and outreach programmes which aim to strengthen links between the providers and users of weather products and services (e.g. those in the farming, fishing, energy, transport and construction sectors) so that optimal use can be made of them.
Extreme weather events, including tropical cyclones, floods, droughts, cold spells and heat waves, can cause enormous destruction and loss of life. On longer time-scales, climate change, ozone depletion, dwindling freshwater resources and increased pollution affect the global environment. Educating the public, specialized users and policy-makers to understand these issues and develop strategies to deal with them is a task of primary importance.
When NMSs undertake these activities with partners such as educational authorities, emergency management agencies and the media, the weather forecasts and warnings can be used to maximum effect. In this way, the public comes to appreciate the level of service that may be expected of an NMS. The NMS understands what products the users need, which ones it needs to develop further and what new ones need to be produced.
Public awareness and outreach programmes are aimed at users, the general public and those involved in economic activities. They may also be aimed at schools and academic institutions with the aim of developing an awareness of the environment amongst students and educators, with particular emphasis on understanding the physical processes associated with weather, climate and water.
Journalists and editorial staff working with the mass media also benefit from such programmes, as do those involved in managing, mitigating and handling hazards, as well as high-level policy- and decision-makers.
There is a close correlation between media coverage and humanitarian response. It has been shown
Climate change adaptation in developing countries
The assessment of climate change is crucial in helping identify its impacts and in developing adaptation policies, strategies and plans. Climate extreme indices constitute a practical tool for summarizing climate variability and changes at global, regional and national level. They offer the possibility of application in various sectors particularly in agriculture, water resources, health and energy. Developing countries face many challenges as they are in great need of assistance in contributing and exploiting climate data.
WMO addresses these challenges through a project on the implementation of modern climate data management systems which provides National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs) a complete technological information package. This includes training in data management and related information technology and the provision of technical support, including a high-performance computer laptop and the necessary software set to implement a robust climate data management infrastructure.
Since 2005, more than 68 NMHSs have benefited under this project and are using the new climate data management systems. An online training portal has been developed which allows trainees to access updates and system maintenance information.
WMO has provided a new version of its capacity-building workshops. The aim is to help NMHSs of developing countries be full partners in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Work Programme on climate change (called the Nairobi work programme). An adjustment of the package has been introduced to include hands-on training on climate extremes and climate change indices.
Climate concerns in Europe
Impacts of climate change and variability on European agriculture
WMO contributes to studies of the evaluation of possible impacts of climate change and variability on agriculture and the assessment of critical thresholds and hazards for agricultural activity and environmental resources.
Work includes the evaluation of current trends in agroclimatic indices and simulation model outputs describing agricultural impacts and hazard levels; the development and assessment of future regional and local scenarios of agroclimatic conditions; risk assessment and foreseen impacts on agriculture.
Based on the findings, specific recommendations and suggestions, such as for warning systems, will be elaborated and proposed.
See also Agricultural Meteorology Programme
Drought can lead not only to human, plant and animal stress but also to wildfires, which destroy crops,
Record use of global warming simulations
On 28 February 2007, the thousandth climate expert registered to use the world’s most complete collection of global warming data from climate models. The data include both simulations of the past climate and projections of the future climate. The archive was initiated by the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP) scientists working on coupled climate modelling in response to a request from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to consolidate predictions made for the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report.
WCRP’s Coupled Model Intercomparison Project is the largest undertaking of its kind to date. The data comprise nearly 900 separate sub-projects on such diverse topics as African monsoon variability, drought in Australia, hydrology in the Mekong River, Pacific island climate-change detection, Arctic contribution to sea-level rise, and anthropogenic impact on Antarctic oceanography.
The database contains 23state-of-the-art climate simulation models developed at 19 research institutions worldwide.
Recent measurements show that Arctic sea-ice masses last year nearly matched lows recorded in 2005 and that, for the first time, re-freezing was delayed until late autumn.
Unexpected breakage and movement of large pieces of Arctic coastal ice have also been reported, as well as significant warming of ocean surface waters entering the Arctic from the North Atlantic.
See Launch of International Polar Year (IPY) 2007-2008 and the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report on the front page of this issue of MeteoWorld.
The latest analysis of data from the WMO-Global Atmosphere Watch (GAW) Global Greenhouse Gas Monitoring Network shows that the globally averaged mixing ratios of carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide reached new highs in 2005 with carbon dioxide at 379.1 parts per million (ppm) and nitrous oxide at 319.2 parts per billion (ppb). The mixing ratio of methane remains unchanged at 1 783 ppb. These values are higher than those in pre-industrial times by 35.4%, 18.2% and 154.7%, respectively. Atmospheric growth rates in 2005 of these gases are consistent with recent years. The Annual Greenhouse Gas Index recently introduced by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows that, from 1990 to 2005, atmospheric radiative forcing by all long-lived greenhouse gases increased by 21.5%.
Some species, such as hydrochlorofluorocarbons, which are strong infrared absorbers, are low in abundance but are increasing at rapid rates. Ozone in the troposphere does not have a long lifetime, but has an atmospheric greenhouse effect that is comparable to that of chlorofluorocarbons. Although tropospheric ozone is important for the atmospheric greenhouse effect, it is difficult to estimate the global distribution and trend because of its uneven geographic distribution.
The Global Atmosphere Watch programme promotes systematic and reliable observations of the global atmospheric environment, including measurements of carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and other atmospheric gases. The measurement data are reported by participating countries and archived and distributed by the World Data Centre for Greenhouse Gases at the Japan Meteorological Agency.
The present network of GAW global stations consists of 22 stations. The stations are usually situated in remote locations, representative of large geographic areas, have very low (background) levels of pollutants, and continuously measure a broad range of atmospheric parameters over decades. It is important to note that global station sites must be entirely free of the effects of local and regional pollution sources for substantial periods throughout the year. Data are typically applied to global issues such as climate change and stratospheric ozone depletion.
Cape Grim (Australia) baseline air pollution station
Sand- and duststorm warning systems
The Sahara and Gobi/Taklimakan Deserts are the world’s most important sources of airborne sand and dust aerosol that affect both climate and weather through direct or indirect interaction with the atmospheric processes. The atmospheric life cycle of sand and dust aerosol is characterized by strong daily, seasonal and inter-annual variations.
Large amounts of dust and sand are uplifted and transported from deserts as sand- and duststorms. For areas adjacent to deserts, this process is a serious natural hazard, causing significant negative impacts on air quality and health, transport and agriculture.
WMO has decided to establish an early warning system to monitor sand- and duststorms.The proposed system will promote research on operational forecasts for these phenomena. Canada, China and Spain have been designated as centres to coordinate regional forecasting activities.
China has taken the lead within the framework of WMO to enhance the provision of aviation weather services in Asia, with a special emphasis on Least Developed Countries (LDCs). An online Asian Aeronautical Meteorology Service is expected to become operational shortly.
See In the news
WMO and the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) have agreed terms of reference allowing the GLOBE Program (Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment) and WMO to collaborate on common goals. These include increasing international environmental awareness, developing scientific understanding of the global environment and supporting improved achievement in science and mathematics education around the world.
Through the GLOBE Program, NASA and WMO will also work together to enhance general public understanding of weather, water and issues such as climate change. Initial plans for collaboration include involving National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs) in the implementation of regional GLOBE Program activities such as teacher training events and working with schools that lack access to computer technology.
Such activities will expand opportunities for NASA, the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, GLOBE and WMO to introduce scientific, computer and communication technologies in classrooms all over the world. In addition, WMO will encourage NMHSs and Regional Meteorological Centres to increase the number of scientists working with GLOBE teachers and students. Another noteworthy objective is the promotion of student scientific research to better understand the Earth as a system.
The GLOBE Program is a worldwide hands-on, primary and secondary school-based education and science program and has reached over one million students in more than 19 000 schools and trained some 37 000 teachers.
See aslo: www.wmo.int/pages/prog/etr/index_en.html
The WMO Office for West Asia was inaugurated in Manama, Bahrain, on 12 March by the Secretary-General of WMO, Michel Jarraud.
The inauguration ceremony was attended by HE Mr Abdul Rahman Mohamed Al Gaoud, Undersecretary for Civil Aviation; Mr Abdul Majeed Isa, Permanent Representative of Bahrain with WMO and president of WMO Regional Association II (Asia); and Mr Sayed Aqa, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Bahrain, as well as representatives of universities and higher education institutions, government agencies and stakeholders and representatives of other UN agencies in Bahrain.
Mr Jaser Rabadi is the WMO Representative for West Asia.The contact details of the office are:
Bahrain UN House, P.O. Box 26814, Manama, Bahrain
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