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Operational Oceanography and Marine Meteorology
in the 21st century
—JCOMM-II Scientific Conference
(15-17 September 2005)

Joint WMO-Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO (IOC) Technical Commission for Oceanography and Marine Meteorology—second session (JCOMM-II) (19-27 September 2005)  

WMO Commission for Climatology—14th session   


Operational Oceanography and Marine Meteorology
in the 21st century
—JCOMM-II Scientific Conference
(15-17 September 2005)

The Scientific Conference convened with JCOMM-II was conceived both to showcase some of the achievements associated with the work of the Commission and to provide recommendations and pointers for its future directions. Some 37 oral papers and 22 scientific posters were presented during the two and a half days, to around 130 participants from 30 countries. 

In a short wrap-up session at the end of the Conference, the three session chairs provided brief summary overviews of their respective sessions, focusing on lessons and messages for JCOMM. These were then compiled into a consolidated summary report, which was presented to participants in JCOMM-II in an information session, classified under three primary headings:

(a)  Celebrating success

  • More than a century of successful international collaboration;

  • Confirmation by marine observations of the dominant role of the oceans in climate variability and change;

  • Marine observations and services vital to many community sectors;

  • Established global marine observing and information systems

(b)  Common themes

  • Need to involve all participants and users in planning, development and implementation of marine systems and products;

  • The fragility of observing existing systems, both in situ and satellite;

  • The observing systems can and do serve multiple needs and applications;

  • Better integration is required of shelf and open ocean systems;

  • A much enhanced standardization of data and information formats and protocols is required, together with catalogues of data and information sources;

  • Ever-increasing use of automated observing systems, with new and multiple sensors, and exploiting a range of communication systems;

  • Products must be user oriented, with the private sector playing a key role in the production and delivery of information to end users.

(c) Messages for JCOMM

  • Develop an action plan to address priority issues: sustained funding for the observing system; homogeneous access and greater visibility for data and products; implementation of new technologies; observations in EEZs;

  • Involvement of the private sector in JCOMM planning and development;

  • Coordination and collaboration with regional systems and GOOS; Regional Alliances in JCOMM development. 

Overall, the successful Conference developed positive support for the concept, role and future development of JCOMM.


Joint WMO-Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO (IOC) Technical Commission for Oceanography and Marine Meteorology—second session (JCOMM-II) (19-27 September 2005)


Participation in the session was similar to that at JCOMM-I in Iceland: some 115 delegates from 43 Members/Member States, representatives from six international organizations. 

In addition to the Secretary-General of WMO, Mr Michel Jarraud, and the Executive Secretary of IOC, Dr Patricio Bernal, speakers at the opening ceremony included Mr Larry Murray, Deputy Minister, Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), Canada; Dr Wendy Watson-Wright, Assistant Deputy Minister for Science, DFO; and Dr Marc-Denis Everell, Assistant Deputy Minister, Meteorological Service Canada. JCOMM Outstanding Service Certificates were awarded to Mr Val Swail, Canada, and Dr Neville Smith, Australia.   



Halifax, Canada, 18 September 2005—The Secretary-General addresses
the ceremonial launching of the 1250th global drifter
on board the Tall Ship Silva.

Scientific input and external interactions 

The relationship and actions between JCOMM and both the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS) and the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS) (and the Ocean Observations Panel for Climate (OOPC)) in deep ocean physical oceanography and climate are now well established and effective, with the ocean component of the GCOS Implementation Plan (GCOS 92) having been adopted by JCOMM as the scientific basis for its operational ocean observing system. The interaction of JCOMM with the non-physical and coastal components of GOOS, however, is less clear. 

While it was generally agreed that JCOMM can, and should, take on the implementation of the major physical components of the GOOS Coastal Implementation Plan, when the requirements for these are clearly defined and established (e.g. through pilot projects), the same is not necessarily true for non-physical elements, which may be better suited to implementation through the GOOS Regional Alliances (GRAs). To help with this overall process, it was agreed to set up an ad hoc task team, comprising representatives of JCOMM, the GOOS Scientific Steering Committee and the GOOS Regional Alliances, to address both coastal GOOS implementation and the general interaction between JCOMM and the GRAs. 

Two topical issues, which engendered substantial discussion, were natural disaster reduction, specifically tsunami and other marine multi-hazard warning systems, and the Global Earth Observing System of Systems (GEOSS). While the opinion of the meeting was that JCOMM should contribute in some way to tsunami warning mechanisms, this was tempered by the need to ensure no duplication of, and full coordination with, existing projects and mechanisms now in place in IOC and WMO. At the same time, it was recognized that the existing JCOMM expertise in services (e.g. storm surges and waves), observing systems (sea-level, ocean data buoys) and warning-dissemination mechanisms (marine meteorological warning services) could best be utilized in the context of a comprehensive marine multi-hazard warning system. In a recommendation on the subject, the Commission has charged the Management Committee with developing a plan for a JCOMM contribution in this area. 

While JCOMM has already achieved some recognition within GEOSS, in the context of being an implementation mechanism specified in the GCOS Implementation Plan, the Commission felt the need to enhance this recognition, both in the international Group on Earth Observations (GEO) and at national level. GEOSS holds potential benefits for JCOMM and its programme, for resources, but more importantly in standardization, coordination and data exchange. To gain these benefits JCOMM will need to have a higher profile in the process.   


Programme areas 

The core business of JCOMM takes place within the Programme Areas, and there was a clear recognition that the work is progressing well, with broad satisfaction with past achievements and ongoing activities. Highlights were:

  • The Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) Marine Broadcast System is operating smoothly, with the new Website increasingly utilized. There are some ongoing technical issues, including, in particular the possible transmission of graphics over Inmarsat, as a part of the GMDSS services;

  • The Marine Pollution Emergency Response Support System (MPERSS) is now operational, a new standing Expert Team established, and an embryo Website in operation;

  • Outline of a guide to storm surge forecasting has been prepared. The finalization of this guide is a priority for the new intersessional period;

  • The Sea Ice Team is preparing a substantial input to the International Polar Year;

  • The surface buoy network is now essentially complete. Overall, the ocean in situ observing system is some 53% implemented, with the JCOMM plan driving to full implementation by 2010;

  • There is close ongoing interaction with pilot projects and experimental systems such as Argo, OceanSITES, Ocean Carbon, etc;

  • A successful integration of ship-based observations (VOS, ASAP and SOOP) is taking place under the new Ship Observations Team;

  • JCOMM has agreed to a re-engagement with the concept of bulk purchase of consumables for ocean observations, initially expendable bathythermographs, but with possible extensions to other types;

  • The value and further development of the JCOMM in situ Observing Platform Support Centre (JCOMMOPS) as a major technical information and support portal for in situ ocean observing systems is clearly recognized;

  • The joint WMO/IOC Project entitled South-East Asian Centre for Atmospheric and Marine Prediction (SEACAMP) is finally operational. This project has been formally accepted as an ASEAN Project by the Sub-Committee on Meteorology and Geophysics (SCMG), with primary responsibility for its further development now resting with the ASEAN Secretariat and the Meteorological Service, Singapore.

With regard to data management, although a full merger of JCOMM/Data Management (DM) and IOC/International Oceanographic Data and Information Exchange (IODE) is not yet being planned, the practical coordination and cooperation between JCOMM and IODE is now almost seamless. Similarly, interaction with WMO Information System is developing well. The Marine Climatological Summaries Scheme continues to operate well, and some progress has been made with pilot projects in ocean data management. 

A major new area of work for JCOMM in the next intersessional period, and which was the subject of considerable effort and discussion in the lead up to and during the session, relates to operational oceanographic products and services. JCOMM adopted a recommendation, which proposes a number of specific issues and topics for the Commission to work with the ocean modelling and research community, in particular the Global Oean Data Assimilation Experiment (GODAE), to help transition from pilot projects to true operational oceanography. These include standardized formats, protocols, procedures and nomenclature for the operational delivery of ocean data, products and services, as well as, more generally, the building of the business case for operational oceanography. 

JCOMM development 

The Commission approved, with some amendments, the draft JCOMM Strategy Document, and agreed strongly on the need for the preparation of an accompanying Implementation Plan. The Commission also agreed on the need for the preparation and implementation of a JCOMM Communications Plan, to provide a coherent and directed approach to communications and outreach. 

The observations programme area has already developed extensive observing system performance monitoring, with the results available through JCOMMOPS. The session agreed that JCOMM should now implement a full system-wide performance monitoring, based on the Implementation Plan, with clear objectives, milestones, timelines, performance indicators, etc. This will be valuable in a number of ways, including the full internal review of JCOMM, planned to take place prior to JCOMM-III. 

Structure and nominations 

Two new co-presidents were elected at the session. Dr Peter Dexter (Australia) is now co-president for meteorology (replacing Johannes Guddal), while Dr Jean-Louis Fellous (France) has become the co-president for oceanography (replacing Savi Narayanan). The new Programme Area Coordinators are Dr Craig Donlon (United Kingdom), Services; Mr Mike Johnston (USA), Observations; and Mr Robert Keeley (Canada), Data Management. There is no longer a separate Programme Area for Capacity Building, with this work now to be undertaken by specialist rapporteurs within each of the other Programme Areas. It is hoped that this will allow the JCOMM capacity building activities to be more directly related to the technical work areas of the Commission.

WMO Commission for Climatology—14th session

The Commission for Climatology (CCl) held its 14th session in Beijing, China, from 3 to 10 November 2005.  Mr Yadowsun Boodhoo, president of CCl, opened the session and spoke of current and emerging issues in the field of climatology, including the vast potential for climate services in key economic sectors.  Mr Michel Jarraud, Secretary-General of WMO, urged increased attention to protection of life and property, especially disaster prevention and mitigation; climate change and its impacts; provision of services for socio-economic benefit; and hydrology and water resources.  Participants came from 64 Member countries of WMO and four international organizations.  

Mr Pierre Bessemoulin (France) and Dr Wang Shourong (China) were elected president and vice-president of CCl.  Decisions of the Commission included a focus on specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound goals; a balanced new structure with four Open Area Programme Groups (OPAGs); and a focus on partnerships and collaboration with user groups in the work of the Commission. 

Climate as a resource 

In collaboration with the China Meteorological Administration (CMA), WMO organized a Technical Conference on Climate as a Resource from 1 to 2 November at the CMA headquarters in Beijing.  More than 120 participants representing National Meteorological and Hydrological Services, universities, international organizations, private sector and regional institutions from 71 countries took part in the two-day conference.  Opening the Conference, Mr Jarraud developed the concept of ‘climate as resource’ in its physical and informational aspects and called for optimal use of this resource.  Substantial effort is required in mobilizing each nation’s natural resources optimally and efficiently. In this respect, climate is one of the major resources and one to be constantly explored for meeting the growing demands of societies, in the context of achieving sustainable development. 





Renewable energy






Tourism and leisure


Water resources

The outgoing president of CCl described the major derivatives of weather and climate in the resource concept and the role of climate in various socio-economic sectors.  The presentation included informative statistical figures on climate-related impacts all over the world.  

Mr Francesco Frangialli, Secretary-General of the World Tourism Organization (WTO), spoke of the role of climate in the tourism sector. Weather and climate information and forecasting had become progressively more important. 

Lectures and panel sessions presented and discussed the opportunities, challenges and the way forward in tackling climate issues and gave scoping background on real and potential applications and services for user communities and policy-makers.  Topics discussed covered various thematic areas such as climate and sustainable development and economy, climate and water, climate and food production and climate applications and decision-making.


Global wind resources - inland

Overall (without Antarctica, Greenland)
53 000 TWh*
Western Europe         4 800 TWh 
(UK 986 TWh/a » 307% of demand)
Eastern Europe with former USSR 10 600 TWh
Rest of Asia 4 600 TWh
Latin America            5 400 TWh
North America        14 000 TWh
Australia        3 000 TWh 
Africa             10 500 TWh

*1 TWh = 1000 GWh = 106 MWh = 109 kWh

   (Source:   Dr Hartwig Dobesch, Central Institute for Meteorology and Geodynamics, Vienna, Austria)



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