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News from the South-West Pacific International river basin cooperation / Aviation weather and quality management / Coastal current, traffic and the environment / Earth observations / Presenting the weather / Indian Ocean Tsunami Early Warning System / Weather and agriculture / Adapting to climate change / Sea-level rise / Assessing the climate system

 

News from the South-West Pacific

Hydrology and water resources

Representatives of 16 countries in the South-West Pacific met recently to review the status of hydrological activities in their region. They concluded that the main shortcomings affecting their National Hydrological Services (NHSs) were the lack of standards in data collection and dissemination, the limited financial support for the maintenance and upgrading of networks, and the lack of adequately trained staff. 

They reaffirmed the importance of education and training activities and noted the seminal importance of activities to meet the special hydrological training needs of the islands of the Pacific. In this context, two training events had been organized on water-resources assessment and groundwater. It was proposed to establish a regional trust fund to contribute to the operation and maintenance of hydrological networks. 

The countries also emphasized the need to raise visibility of NHSs and public awareness of water-related issues; continue the development of the training programme; improve networks; and increase flood- and drought-forecasting capabilities.  

World Hydrological Cycle Observing System (WHYCOS)

A regional component of the WHYCOS programme is being developed for the South-West Pacific region (PACIFIC-HYCOS). It aims mainly at establishing or reinforcing human and technical capabilities in data collection and management and water-resources assessment. The project has been endorsed for implementation by eight countries and territories (Cook islands, Fiji, Nauru, New Caledonia, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu).

See:  http://www.whycos.org/

 

Improving the weather watch  

Experts met in Apia, Samoa (November/December 2005) to discuss ways of improving components of the World Weather Watch (WWW) of WMO in the South-West Pacific. These components include observing systems, data-processing and forecasting systems, public weather services and telecommunication systems. 

WWW is the backbone of rapid and near-real time exchange and dissemination of meteorological and hydrological data and information, including global and regional early warnings of natural hazards. 

It is therefore vital that the WWW is regularly upgraded and enhanced. This is done by constant monitoring to identify and remedy deficiencies.

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For more information, see:

http://www.wmo.int/pages/prog/www/index_en.html

http://www.wmo.int/pages/prog/rp/index_en.html

and  http://www.wmo.int/pages/prog/hwrp/homs/homs_en.html

 

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International river basin cooperation 

Five countries share the basin of the River Sava (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro, and Slovenia). With WMO's support, they have developed a cooperation project, aiming at improving hydrometeorological observation and flood forecasting in the basin. The project will also support the operations of the newly established Sava River Commission. 

Four multinational teams have developed proposals on four different themes: rehabilitation of the observing network; exchange of data and information; development of a rainfall-runoff model; and improvement of hydrological forecasts.

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River Sava

 

http://www.wmo.int/pages/prog/hwrp/homs/homs_en.html

 

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Aviation weather and quality management

In order to assist aviation authorities in the quality-management process, WMO has issued guidance material (the updated Guide to Practices for Meteorological Offices serving Aviation (WMO-No 732)) and organized the first seminar (Hong Kong, China, in November 2005) of a series on this subject. As well as quality management and implementation, the topics of performance measurement and customer focus were discussed and experiences shared. 

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Further guidance material to be published shortly is a document on the quality management system for the provision of meteorological service for international air navigation. This document has been developed by WMO in conjunction with the International Civil Aviation Organization. 

See:  http://www.wmo.int/web/aom/amprog/amprog.html

 

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Coastal current, traffic and the environment  

Coastlines are subjected to strong and transient currents which have an impact not only on the environment, but also on crisis and emergency management. Countries report incidents in which vessels with hazardous cargo lose engine and pose serious threats if they run aground. Coastal current monitoring has become an important component of preventive safety arrangements. 

Norway, for example, recently installed an operational system based on high-frequency radars for this purpose. It covers the entrance to two tanker approaches to crude oil terminals. The output current maps are transferred to ship masters and Vessel Traffic Services in the area. The service is public and can be seen at http://hf.met.no

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Spills of hazardous materials are a danger to  coastal environment and their wildlife.

See: http://www.wmo.int/pages/prog/amp/mmop/index_en.html

 

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Earth observations

The international Group on Earth Observations (GEO) is leading a worldwide effort to build a Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS).   

WMO provides core contributions to GEOSS through its existing unique systems such as the Global Observing System and Global Data-processing and Forecasting System, the Global Atmosphere Watch, the World Hydrological Cycle Observing System and the WMO Information System. Further contributions are made through co-sponsored systems such as the Global Climate Observing System, the Global Ocean Observing System, the Global Terrestrial Network-Hydrology and the Global Terrestrial Observing System.

GEOSS will provide comprehensive, coordinated and sustained Earth observations from thousands of instruments worldwide, transforming the data collected into vital information for society. GEOSS will yield a broad range of basic social benefits, including the reduction of loss of life and property from natural disasters; improved water-resource and energy management; and improved understanding of environmental factors significant to public health. 

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During the last decade , disasters killed 600 000 people and caused at least US$ 500 billion in damage worldwide. Although damage cannot be completely avoided, better coordination of observation systems and data will improve preparedness and thus reduce these losses and help protect other resources. 

Improved monitoring of hazards and delivery of information are critical to prevent hazards from becoming disasters. 

WMO is working with other UN bodies, such as FAO, UNESCO, WHO and UNEP, to develop coordinated mechanisms for participation in GEOSS activities. 

See: http://earthobservations.org/

 

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Presenting the weather 

TV weather for Thailand 

The Director-General of the Thai Meteorological Department (TMD) has signed an agreement with the national TV channel to provide weather forecasts to the public. 

The main objective is to alert people to weather conditions in Thailand in a timely and easily understandable fashion. The information given will be useful for the farming, fishery, transport and tourism sectors. 

The TV channel will broadcast weather forecasts and news five times a day. The programmes will include an explanation of meteorological graphics and radar and satellite images.  

Training weather presenters in Africa 

WMO held a Media Weather Presentation Training Workshop in Maputo, Mozambique, in December. Well-known weather presenters and journalists from around the world helped to coach weather presenters from the National Meteorological Services of 27 African countries. 

The workshop provided intensive training in communicating accurate weather information to the public and decision-makers. The Workshop participants received guidance in modern presentation techniques used in television, radio, newspapers and on the Internet to help them convey forecasts and warnings in a clear, targeted and effective manner. 

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  Femi Oke (CNN) was one of the coaches at a WMO training workshop on weather presenting for African countries.

See: http://www.wmo.int/pages/prog/amp/pwsp/index_en.html

and  http://www.wmo.int/pages/prog/etr/index_en.html

 

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Indian Ocean Tsunami Early Warning System 

Progress has been made in the implementation of an end-to-end Indian Ocean Tsunami Early Warning System coordinated by UNESCO's Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC). 

Operational arrangements have been implemented in WMO’s Global Telecommunication System (GTS) to ensure the distribution to Indian Ocean rim countries of interim tsunami watch information provided by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (Hawaii) and the Japan Meteorological Agency (Tokyo). The GTS is also used for the exchange of certain oceanographic observation data and alerts of emerging tsunamis to the proposed Regional Tsunami Watch Providers and national tsunami centres. 

Projects were developed for technical improvements to the GTS at National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs) of Indian Ocean rim countries. These improvements will ensure full operational support to the Indian Ocean Tsunami Early Warning System as part of coordinated and sustainable multihazard, multipurpose early warning systems. 

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The upgrades will enable NMHSs to receive and process accurate and timely bulletins and warnings within a goal of two minutes, allowing governments to respond rapidly and appropriately when a natural hazard occurs. 

WMO estimates the upgrades to the GTS at the NMHSs of Kenya, Madagascar and the United Republic of Tanzania will be operational within nine months. It is also planned to upgrade GTS links, such as that between India and Thailand. 

The operational structure of the WMO Regional Specialized Meteorological Centres is serving as a basic model. With modifications, it will be used as the operating framework for organizing the Regional Tsunami Watch Providers. Corresponding operational arrangements will be rapidly developed and implemented.

See: http://www.wmo.int/pages/prog/www/TEM/GTS/index_en.html

and  http://www.wmo.int/pages/prog/drr/index_en.html

 

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Weather and agriculture 

In collaboration with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, WMO organized a training event for 17 African countries in geographical information systems (GIS) and remote-sensing applications in agricultural meteorology (Botswana, November 2005). 

Applications presented included monitoring and assessing the impacts of drought, flood and fire on food security and forest production; agro-ecological zoning; and development of products from Meteosat Second Generation data. Other topics included spatial data analysis; development of agrometeorological products; overview of tools and their use for crop insurance applications; and good statistical practices for development and research projects. 

In view of the importance of remote sensing and GIS applications for socio-economic development, several recommendations were made for improving the capacity of National Meteorological and Hydrological Services in these fields. 

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The application of data received from geographical information and remote sensing systems (radar and satellites) can help increase crop yield and quality. WMO facilitates training in developing and using these applications.

 

See: http://www.wmo.int/pages/prog/wcp/agm/agmp_en.html

 

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Adapting to climate change 

A major concern of WMO is to enhance climate knowledge to improve adaptation to climate variability and change. A side event on this subject was organized at the first meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol in conjunction with the 11th session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (Montreal, Canada, November/ December 2005). 

It highlighted studies on socio-economic scenarios for assessments of climate variability and change impacts, vulnerability and adaptation in the context of sustainable development.

A brochure Climate Knowledge for Adaptation and Sustainable Development (WMO-No.994) was also prepared. It highlights the applications of climate information to health, safety, tourism and urban life.   

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WMO also contributes to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, in particular with regard to desertification, land degradation and climate change activities; dry and sub-humid lands and mountain and forest biodiversity. The climate and agrometeorological information provided by WMO serves as input to adaptation strategies to preserve biodiversity.

See: http://www.wmo.int/pages/prog/wcp/agm/agmp_en.html

 

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Sea-level rise 

The present and projected future rates of global sea-level rise and the associated variability range from long time-scales (decades to centuries, for example due to climate change), to short time-scales (hourly to daily, for example due to storm surges). WMO and partner organizations are supporting studies to identify the factors contributing to observed sea-level rise and variability, as well as that projected. Major sources of uncertainty will be identified and what can be done to reduce them.

The current state of the science will be assessed. Future research requirements for improving our understanding of sea-level rise and variability will be outlined. The observations that are needed both for research and for operational work will be identified.   

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See: http://www.wmo.int/pages/prog/wcp/index_en.html

and  http://wcrp.wmo.int/wcrp-index.html   

 

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Assessing the climate system 

In 2005, the WMO/UNEP Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued two special reports. One considers the effects on the climate system and the ozone layer of total emissions of ozone-depleting substances and their substitutes. It provides the scientific context required for consideration of choices among alternatives to ozone depleting substances, summarizes methodologies for assessing options, describes technical issues relating to reduction opportunities for greenhouse-gas emissions for each of the sectors involved, and addresses future availability of hydrofluorocarbons: 

 

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Safeguarding the Ozone Layer and the Global Climate System—Issues related to hydrofluorocarbons and Perfluorocarbons   

Carbon Dioxide Capture and Storage   

The second report considers carbon dioxide capture and storage as an option for stabilizing greenhouse-gas concentrations. It assesses the status of technologies in various stages of development, including capture, transportation, geological and ocean storage, mineral carbonation and industrial uses of carbon dioxide. The assessment also covers the cost, technical and economic potential for capture and storage, local health and environment risks, legal issues and the implications for emissions inventories and accounting in the context of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and of the Kyoto Protocol.

See: http://www.ipcc.ch/

 

 

 

 

 

 

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