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The WMO Executive Council held its 58th session in Geneva from 20 to 30 June, under the chairmanship of the President, A. Bedritskiy.
It agreed on ways of further advancing global observing systems and research on weather, climate and water issues, and of enhancing applications thereof for societal needs. Significant steps were taken for the use of WMO’s scientific and technical expertise in disaster risk reduction and mitigation.
Important steps were taken for improving the quality and delivery of products and services provided by National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs) in areas such as early warning systems, hazard analysis and mapping, and educational and public outreach programmes. The overall aim of these policies is to increase the impact of WMO’s scientific and technical expertise in disaster risk reduction decision-making. In this respect, WMO is playing an active role in establishing partnerships with technical agencies to improve capacities for detecting, monitoring and forecasting weather-, water- and climate-related hazards through interdisciplinary projects and initiatives. In addition, WMO seeks to increase collaboration with organizations involved in emergency preparedness and response, development and financing to pursue more effective integration of scientific information in disaster risk reduction and management. It is thus launching new activities and initiatives for capacity development in the prevention and mitigation of weather-, water- and climate-related natural disasters for the network of NMHSs and their stakeholders, particularly in developing and least developed countries.
WMO capacity-building activities, through training and technology transfer, are also being strengthened in climate applications and services. In order to enhance the development of user-focused products and services, such activities are undertaken in collaboration with other relevant organizations.
Strengthening and integrating observing systems
The Executive Council decided to further the process leading towards an enhanced integration between WMO observing systems.
It emphasized the important contribution that the WMO Global Telecommunication System (GTS) plays in supporting multi-hazard early warning systems.
It recognized the vital importance of the linkage between the tsunami early warning system and the existing tropical cyclone and storm surge early warning system in the Indian Ocean region to maximize the benefits of a multi-hazard early warning system in saving life and property in coastal areas.
Significant progress has been made in strengthening developing country capacities in the field of instruments and methods of observation. In this context, the Executive Council also stressed the key work WMO carries out in fostering standardization and compatibility of instruments and methods of observation of meteorological and related geophysical and other environmental variables.
It also emphasized the importance of the Global Space-based Inter-Calibration System that is intended to ensure comparability of satellite measurements provided through different instruments and satellite programmes and to tie these measurements to absolute references.
The Executive Council welcomed the active role WMO is playing in the Global Earth Observation System of Systems. It encouraged WMO Members to become Members of the Group on Earth Observations (GEO) and adopted a resolution by which all essential data would be made available through the interoperable interface to the entire GEO community. (see WMO Press Release No. 721).
Improving climate knowledge
The Executive Council underlined the importance of the conference Living with Climate Variability and Change: Understanding the Uncertainties and Managing the Risks that will be held in Espoo, Finland, from 17 to 21 July 2006. The conference is being organized by WMO and is also co-sponsored by the Finnish Meteorological Institute and the International Research Institute for Climate and Society. Its objective is to review opportunities and constraints in integrating climate risks and uncertainties into the mainstreams of decision-making where sensitivity to climate variability and change is but one of many factors to consider. It will draw on the experiences of public and private organizations worldwide that have been engaged in managing risks, including those of climatic origin.
The Executive Council supported the leading role of WMO in maintaining and strengthening global networks for the essential climate variables (greenhouse gases, ozone and aerosols), as well as in establishing a global atmospheric carbon dioxide and methane monitoring network. It welcomed the WMO Bulletin on Atmospheric Greenhouse Gases, the first issue of which was launched in March (see WMO Press Release No. 744).
Preparations for the International Polar Year are well advanced
The Executive Council welcomed the active role NMHSs are playing in putting forward research proposals for the study of the atmosphere, ocean, and climate and their future involvement in the implementation of the goals of the International Polar Year 2007-2008, a major international campaign initiated by the International Council for Science and WMO.
IPY is planned as an intensive burst of internationally coordinated, interdisciplinary, scientific research and observations focused on the Earth’s polar regions, including studies of the atmosphere, ocean, cryosphere—frozen water in the form of snow, permanently frozen ground (permafrost), floating ice, and glaciers—ecosystems and socio-economic conditions of the indigenous populations.
Social and economic benefits of weather, climate and water services
The Executive Council highlighted the social and economic benefits that result from the provision of meteorological, hydrological and related services and the vital contribution of NMHSs to the sustainable development of nations. An international conference Secure and Sustainable Living: the Social and Economic Benefits of Weather, Climate and Water Services to be held in Madrid, Spain, from 19 to 23 March 2007, under the patronage of the HM the Queen of Spain, will be of major importance for a better knowledge of the services available and user needs.
Three eminent scientists delivered lectures. Ms Carolina Vera (CIMA/Department of Atmospheric and Ocean Sciences, University of Buenos Aires, Argentina) spoke on “The World Climate Research Programme achievements and prospects: The Monsoon Systems of the Americas”. Mr José Achache, Group of Earth Obervation (GEO) Secretariat Director, addressed the theme of “The role of science in the implementation of GEOSS”. Mr Udo Gärtner, member of the GEO Executive Committee, addressed the Executive Council on “The role of NMHSs in GEOSS implementation”.
The Executive Council decided that World Metereological Day 2008, will be devoted to the following theme: “Observing our planet for a better future”.
The annual meeting of the Executive Council, composed of 37 elected members, is chaired by the President of WMO, Alexander Bedritskiy.
The next session of the Executive Council will be held from 28 to 30 May 2007, immediately after the quadrennial session of World Meteorological Congress (7-25 May 2007), the Organization’s highest governing body.
For information about awards conferred by the Council, see items on front page under Awards.
Over the past 2.5 years, an online Master of Science (MSc) degree programme in meteorology has been developed. The goal is to provide the staff of National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs) of developing countries with the opportunity to obtain an MSc in Operational Meteorology within a two-year period with only a minimum amount of disruption in their duties. The development of this programme has been supported by the US National Weather Service and involves the administrators and professors of the Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology, the University of Costa Rica, the Erasmus University of Rotterdam, Florida International University (FIU), and the University of the Netherlands Antilles, as well as the Cooperative Program for Operational Meteorology, Education and Training (COMET).
At the end of June 2006, a one-week Train-the-Trainers workshop was held in Miami, Florida, at FIU, under the guidance of Gerard Baars (Erasmus University), an expert in online training. The 20 professors who will initially be teaching courses for the degree programme were able to design their particular courses for online instruction. The training will continue online for another 4-5 months. A short training course on how to learn using the Internet is planned for the initial group of 15-20 students in January 2007.
At present, the curriculum covers weather analysis and forecasting, instrumentation and methods of observation, climatology, hydrometeorology, agricultural meteorology, oceanography, financial management, human resource management, environmental risk management, information management, international relations and public weather services practices. The curriculum will include both purely academic subjects and practical training.
This activity will be managed by the Online Learning Foundation for Meteorology and Hydrology (OLFMH), which was constituted in Curaçao, Netherlands Antilles, specifically for this purpose. The Foundation will have a Scientific Committee, composed of representatives of participating institutions. WMO and other interested parties will be invited to participate in meetings of the OLFMH Scientific Committee. The structure has been designed to be flexible, including possible expansion of the programme, if desired.
The degree program will cover 24 months of course work, plus an individual project. The students must devote at least 20 hours per week to instruction and course work. It is recognized that not everything can be handled online. The degree programme approach is, therefore, to create what is now known as a “cohort”, using blended learning, i.e. it will be based primarily on online instruction but will also include short-term face-to-face sessions so that students and professors may become well acquainted. At least three face-to-face sessions are planned in the 24-month period. Course material will be available either online or in hardcopy.
The entrance criterion for the MSc in Operational Meteorology is a relevant Bachelor Degree, or equivalent, with a strong mathematics and physics background. Because the entrance criteria may not be fully met, or was obtained a while ago, preparatory courses will be given online in the period before the degree programme begins. In the first instance, preparatory courses are scheduled to begin in September 2006, with the degree programme beginning in January 2007.
The first group of students is in final stages of selection within WMO Regional Association IV (North America, Central America and the Caribbean). The first group’s education will be conducted in English. For the second group, which will likely start in September 2007, it will be in Spanish. The initial cost estimate for each student for the 2-year MSc programme is US$ 30 000, including travel and training materialsIndividual NMHSs can pay the costs directly, but donors will be approached to assist where necessary. In the future, the programme will consider expanding to other WMO Regions, involving other courses, other institutions and other languages.
The main platform for conducting this training will be the Blackboard system, an online learning management system, which is paid for and maintained by Erasmus University. Students and instructors will optimally have broadband connectivity to make maximum use of the training. Blackboard is one of several platforms available for this type of interaction over the Internet. It allows flexibility for instruction, conferencing, and interaction. It is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Postal address: Irenelaan 3, Curacao, Netherlands Antilles
Symposium on Multi-Hazard Early Warning System for Integrated Disaster Risk Management (23-24 May 2006, WMO Headquarters, Geneva, Switzerland)
This Symposium brought together some 90 multidisciplinary experts from 18 agencies and organizations at national, regional and international levels to address two main goals:
The Symposium was co-sponsored by WMO, the World Bank, the United Nations Development Programme, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR).
The Symposium developed recommendations and prioritization for actions to address gaps and needs related to governance and organizational and operational aspects of early warning systems for enhanced disaster risk reduction. Actions were identified and prioritized at national level for strengthening early warning capabilities and what needs to be done at the regional and international. These recommendations will be used to stimulate partnerships and a more coordinated approach among stakeholders.
Furthermore, the outcome of the Symposium will provide guidance for next steps towards a better understanding of the concept of a “multi-hazard approach” and evaluating the viability of such an approach to early warning systems. Appropriate recommendations will also be incorporated in the ISDR's Integrated Work Programme, which will undergo extensive consultations with governments and various organisations’ networks.
See also WMO activities in this edition of MeteoWorld and http://www.wmo.int/disasters/
The eighth International Winds Workshop (IWW) was held in Beijing, China, from 24 to 28 April 2006. It was hosted by the National Satellite Meteorological Center (NSMC) of the China Meteorological Administration (CMA) and co-organized by EUMETSAT. Co-sponsors for this event were WMO, the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) and the National Environmental Satellite Data and Information Service (NESDIS) of NOAA.
The workshop was attended by some 50 people from 17 countries and organizations Seven plenary sessions focuse on topics relevant to the processing and utilization of atmospheric motion vector (AMV), as well as other satellite-based observing platforms which are producing, or are planned to produce, wind information. Working group sessions discussed three issues related to AMV topics: methods, data assimilation and characterization. The working groups considered, among others, the issues and recommendations offered by the Co-ordination Group for Meteorological Satellites (CGMS).
The next IWW will be a joint meeting focusing on the advanced TIROS Operational Vertical Sounder and precipitation workshop and is planned for 2008 in Geneva, Switzerland.
Symposium on Asian Winter Monsoon (4-7 April 2006, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
The Winter Monsoon Experiment (WMONEX) aimed at better understanding the processes responsible for monsoon variability over the East Asian- Australian region was one of the largest international field experiment during the First Global Atmospheric Research Programme (GARP) Global Experiment. It was carried out in the late 1970s with its operations center located in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Almost three decades later, more than 100 scientists from nearly 20 countries gathered in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to commemorate the Winter MONEX in an international symposium Winter MONEX: A Quarter Century and Beyond. This symposium was sponsored by WMO and the Malaysian Meteorological Department with co-sponsorship by the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Climate Center, the Pacific Science Association Meteorology and Atmospheric Sciences Committee and the University of Tokyo Center for Climate System Research. The overall organization and scientific programme was handled by an International Activity Committee chaired by Mr Chow Kok Kee, former Director-General of the Malaysian Meteorological Department and an International Science Programme Committee chaired by Prof. C.P. Chang of the Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, California, USA.
Participants in the Symposium Winter MONEX: a Quarter century and beyond
The Symposium reviewed the achievements of Winter MONEX, highlighted the current progress in East Asian Monsoon research and discussed plans for future cooperation on monsoon-related activities over the broader East Asian/Australian monsoon region. A total of 76 scientific papers were led by the opening keynote lecture by Prof. Taroh Matsuno (Japan). The papers dealt mainly with current research but with a look back to the contributions of Winter MONEX and the accomplishments since then. Some of the major outcomes of this Symposium were improved knowledge of the structure and dynamics of cold surges over the South China Sea (SCS) and their interactions with planetary-scale circulations, the structure and evolution of vortices over the southern SCS, near the coast of Borneo, the behaviour of cross-equatorial flow and the structure of convective systems. Another significant finding from Winter MONEX concerns the diurnal cycle of convection over the southern SCS and Malaysian region which has now being well documented by satellite observing systems such as the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission and has drawn the attention of the numerical modelling community to address the current poor simulation of the diurnal cycle of precipitation. Forecasting and predictability of the monsoons, annual cycle and interannual variability, long term and decadal variations of the monsoon were also discussed.
A panel discussion was held on the future cooperation on monsoon research and forecasting. Scientists from operational forecast centes and research institutions discussed ways in which international cooperation could contribute to progress towards accurate extended and seasonal forecasts and their applications. More importantly, the symposium strengthened the link between the theory and practice, bridging the gap between academia and operational centres. Another important outcome was a call to the meteorological centes of the region to organize the collection and archival of monsoon data and to cooperate in the development of improved monsoon prediction systems.
Several high-level speakers at this important conference (Bonn, Germany, 27-29 March 2006) recognized the contributions of WMO and the National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs) in the area of early warning systems. The United Nations Special Envoy for Tsunami Recovery, Former US President, W.J. Clinton, recalled that some 90 per cent of all disasters are of hydrometeorological origin and stressed the need for a multi-hazard approach. Sir David King, Chief Scientific Advisor to the Government of the United Kingdom, strongly endorsed WMO’s global network of NMHSs as a vital structure for coordinating information and technical capacities in support of national early warning systems.
A special roundtable meeting reviewed progress in regional technical developments of the tsunami early warning system in the Indian Ocean. Indian Ocean Rim countries were urged to accelerate the development of their national tsunami warning and response mechanisms within a multi-hazard approach. President Clinton and Jan Egeland, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and leader of the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction System, announced a package of advisory services offered by a consortium of seven United Nations and other international agencies, including WMO, to assist governments in the region with the coordinated development of their national tsunami warning and response plans.
A compendium of titles and abstracts of more than 100 project proposals submitted to EWC-III, including those by WMO and various NMHSs, was compiled.
more information, see http://www.wmo.int/pages/prog/drr/index_en.html
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