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The information provided through international climate monitoring activities forms the basis for enhancing the scientific understanding of climate variability and change and is an integral part of disaster prevention and mitigation, environmental protection and sustainable socio-economic development.
In recent decades, advances in observing technologies and systems have provided the scientific community with a rapidly increasing array of such datasets. These have been applied to operational climate monitoring programmes worldwide and have significantly improved capabilities for obtaining real-time global climate signals.
The increasing availability of new climate monitoring products and tools, combined with international collaboration and data-sharing, enable scientists to provide government and private- sector decision-makers with better information more rapidly than at any time before. Gaps in capabilities exist between developed and developing countries, however.
WMO experts are working to stimulate and coordinate climate monitoring activities so that all countries may have full access to the array of new monitoring products and information.
An example of these activities is the creation of a new Website (http://www.omm.urv.cat/) which facilitates the sharing of information, data and products among National Meteorological Services throughout the world. In particular, it promotes:
Climate project to help farmers in Andean countries
The International Research Centre for the El Niño Phenomenon (CIIFEN) has launched a project which will help farmers in the Andean countries make better decisions through the application of climate data and predictions. These decisions concern the crops or varieties to plant and the management of reservoir levels at times of drought or extended wet spells.
The project will develop and implement a regional climate information and data-processing system aimed at addressing farmers’ needs, assisting the decision-making process and managing agricultural risk.
Another major objective is to strengthen the capacity of the National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs) of the Andean countries to handle, manage and disseminate the outputs of this system.
A regional climate database will be created, which will be fed by a dynamic and statistical climate prediction system.
Climate hazards and risk maps for the Andean region as a whole and for each country will be generated. A climate data distribution network will be set up, comprising local stakeholders, the media, community networks and the private sector
The project was developed from conclusions and recommendations put forward at the WMO Regional Technical Meeting on Climate Information and Prediction Services (CLIPS) and Agrometeorological Applications for the Andean Countries held in Guayaquil, Ecuador, in December 2003. The NMHSs of Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela are participating.
CIIFEN was established in Guayaquil with the assistance of WMO. It aims to promote, complement and start scientific and application research projects to improve the comprehension and early warning of El Niño events and climate variability on the regional scale in order to contribute to the reduction of their social and economic impacts. It will also generate a solid base on which to promote sustainable development policies in the face of new climate scenarios.
The Andes are more than 7000 km long, 500 km wide in some parts with an average height of 4000 m. They extend over seven countries: Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela. The climate varies greatly, depending on location, altitude and proximity to the sea: the southern part is rainy and cool; the central Andes are dry; the northern Andes are typically rainy and warm. Tropical rainforests exist just miles away from snow-covered peaks. The mountains have a significant effect on the temperatures of adjacent areas.
WMO contributes to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). The CBD is currently is composed of 190 parties aiming to promote the conservation of biodiversity, the sustainable use of its components and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of genetic resources.
As well as strategies, scientific and technical issues of relevance to the implementation of the 2010 target, focusing on biodiversity and climate change and dry and sub-humid lands have recently been discussed. The new issue of liquid biofuel production has also been considered.
Weather projects in China
Beijing Olympics project
The 29th Olympic Games will be held in Beijing, China, in August 2008. Since high-impact weather events such as high temperatures and mugginess, heavy rain and thunderstorms, occur frequently during that time of year, weather will be a significant factor for the success of the Games. The China Meteorological Administration (CMA), in collaboration with WMO and its programme on weather forecasting research, is therefore conducting a forecast demonstration project (the BO8 project), based on the experience gained from a similar project carried out for the Sydney 2000 Olympics.
New technologies will be researched, such as nowcasting of high-risk weather; middle-range monitoring networks; scientific tests of rain dispersal; and the assessment of the social and economic impacts of meteorological services.
Chinese meteorologists will be able to use the products generated by the project to provide enhanced services in the nowcast (0-6 hour) range and in the short-term (6-36 hour) range. The focus will be on convective storm tracks, precipitation and severe weather events such as thunderstorms, hail, wind gusts and flash floods.
The BO8 project will not only provide an opportunity for CMA forecasters to understand available advanced weather nowcasting techniques but will also help the development of such systems in developing countries. Such capacity-building is an integral part of WMO’s mission.
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Shanghai multi-hazard early warning project
Weather forecasting skill will also be vital during World Expo 2010 in Shanghai. The Shanghai Meteorological Bureau has therefore launched two demonstration projects. One of these, within the framework of WMO’s activities in disaster risk reduction, is for an early warning system for weather-related hazards. Eighteen weather stations recording temperature, wind speed and humidity levels, will be opened on the Expo site by 2009.
For real-time statistics, see the Shanghai Multi-Hazard Early Warning System Demonstration Project.
Training in the use of buoys and buoy data
Moored and drifting buoys deployed over the world’s oceans are sources of vital data for weather forecasts and climate monitoring and research.
A course on buoy programme implementation and data management was recently held in Ostend, Belgium, for trainees who came mostly from Africa. It was organized by WMO and the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO.
To maximize the impact and benefit, practical work and assignments were given to participants at each stage. For example, a drifting buoy was deployed in Ostend harbour, and the whole range of data-processing and quality-control steps explored, leading to the eventual dissemination of data from the buoy over WMO’s Global Telecommunication System.
The course was pursued with great enthusiasm by both trainers and trainees. It is expected that this and subsequent courses will help strengthen partnerships with National Meteorological and Hydrological Services, resulting in improved resource sharing (such as deployment ship-time) and in a wider appreciation, implementation and use of buoy programmes.
Trainees have a practical lesson in buoy deployment in Ostend harbour.
Delivering weather, climate and water services
A quantum change
Experts from the health, agriculture, energy and financial sectors, National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs) and other leading institutions specialized in the delivery of weather, climate and water services, met in July to consider the socio-economic applications of such services.
The experts adopted innovative strategies for the implementation of the Madrid Action Plan, an outcome of the Madrid Conference on “Secure and Sustainable Living: Social and Economic Benefits of Weather, Climate and Water Services” held in March 2007 (see the April 2007 edition of MeteoWorld). The thrust of the strategies is a quantum change in the way weather, climate and water services will be delivered in future.
One of the strategies adopted uses a “learning through doing” approach and seeks to support, or initiate, pilot projects that will either create or increase practical interaction of NMHSs with users sectors. This comprises a paradigm shift from equipping National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs) with guidance on the different aspects of service delivery to putting into practice the recommended techniques and methodologies that are contained in such guidance. This approach will see the application of best practices in service delivery within the pilot projects, making them play the role of nuclei of excellence to inspire the development of similar service frameworks and trigger a multiplier effect in the adoption of sound service delivery practices by NMHSs.
Another strategy aims at developing an inventory of decision-making support tools and ensuring that the inventory is easily available to NMHSs and users. The first version of the inventory is already on the WMO Website
The inventory will serve as a one-stop portal for existing decision-support tools, which are bringing social and economic benefits to society within a wide range of sectors including health, agriculture, water management, engineering, transport, marine services, disaster risk reduction, energy and insurance.
The experts also decided to establish a forum comprising a wide representation from key social and economic sectors, as well as the WMO Secretariat. This will ensure sufficient convergence of expertise and effective coordinated implementation of the Madrid Action Plan.
The implementation of the strategies adopted by the forum are expected to bring WMO closer to achieving the ultimate aim of visibly guiding NMHSs in their efforts of identifying, communicating and working with users, as well as in assessing the socio-economic benefits of their services and products to the user communities.
The Madrid Action Plan calls for a quantum change in the way that weather, climate and water information and services are produced, used and communicated. This will require a strengthening of the capacities of National Meteorological and Hydrological Services and a closer dialogue among providers and users of weather, climate and water information and services.
A “learning through doing” pilot project
New means of strengthening the capabilities of countries to meet the needs of their communities through the provision of comprehensive weather, climate and water services.
The World Weather Information Service (WWIS) and Severe Weather Information Centre (SWIC) Websites (worldweather.wmo.int/ and severe.worldweather.wmo.int/) are good examples of such WMO initiatives. The WWIS Website has received continual support from Members and now operates in six languages, namely Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Portuguese and Spanish.
On 1 July 2007, 159 of WMO’s 188 Members were participating in WWIS. A total of 115 Members were providing forecasts for 1201 cities, while 159were providing climatological data for 1215 cites. For SWIC, the number of monthly page views had reached a record high of 2937823.
Now, a pilot project has been proposed which would coordinate a training and mentoring programme focusing on a small group of countries. The aim would be to assist the staff of the relevant National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs) in improving their communication with users in a defined range of sectors and to develop and deliver an improved range of products and services which would enhance the socio-economic benefits provided through the NMHSs to Members (“learning through doing”).
Public weather services are increasing in complexity and scope. Emphasis in the pilot project will be laid on applying the proven key elements of good public weather services—quality of service delivery, effective communication, user focus and user-driven verification, for the benefit of NMHSs as they serve society.
Critical hydrological observations
The establishment of an international data centre on lakes and reservoirs (HYDROLARE) as a member of the family of global data centres will close one of the most critical gaps in surface water observations. Data and information obtained from this Centre will be indispensable for water-resources management and regional and global water cycle studies. Likewise, in many regions, information on water volume changes in lakes is a critical indicator of regional climate change.
The Centre will be hosted by the State Hydrological Institute in St Petersburg, Russian Federation, and will operate under the auspices of WMO.
The technical establishment of the HYDROLARE is ongoing, and by March 2008, the prototype database system will be operational with lake and reservoir data from the Russian Federation as well as from other countries, based on a priority list of major lakes and reservoirs.
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