February 2007  Downloads & Links

WMO activities


Climate research Satellite meteorology  / Polar meteorology   Climate applications /  Gender mainstreaming


Climate research

Open science conference of the Earth System Science Partnership (ESSP)

The 800 participants in the Second Open Science Conference on Global Environmental Change—Regional Challenges (Beijing, China, 9-12 November 2006) urged society at all levels and in all sectors to collaborate in the face of an environment which is changing at an increasingly faster rate. 

The organizers, ESSP, declared it would “take responsibility to mobilize knowledge for action and provide society with the scientific information to better meet present and future needs”.  

In view of the importance of the impacts on human health, the Conference launched the Global Environmental Change and Human Health Project. The Conference also initiated the Monsoon Asia Integrated Regional Study to examine the threats posed to populations and ecosystems in monsoonal Asia.  

The ESSP was created to bridge disciplinary gaps in environmental sciences by four global environmental change programmes: DIVERSITAS (an international programme of biodiversity science which links biology, ecology and social sciences); the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme; the International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change; and the World Climate Research Programme (of which WMO is a co-sponsor).  

The World Climate Research Programme convened 10 sessions addressing the achievements but also knowledge gaps and uncertainties in global climate research. Many WCRP scientists have contributed substantially to the forthcoming fourth assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, co-sponsored by WMO and the United Nations Environment Programme.  



Climate change threatens many species flora and fauna, heightening concern that tourism may decline
in many developing countries, where it is the major economic mainstay.



Satellite meteorology 

Environmental data for decision-makers by satellite

GEONETCast is a new and unique system by which environmental satellite and in situ data, products and services are transmitted free of charge or at low cost to users worldwide.    

GEONETCast will allow data about, for example, disease, drought, natural disasters, air and water quality, ocean conditions, ecosystems, to be broadcast in near-real-time, user-friendly formats. With a 24/7 data stream, GEONETCast will provide the critical information required to protect lives, accelerate sustainable development in remote regions and better manage the  planet’s natural resources.  

(credit: NOAA)

The global service will give steady access to data needed to better understand the links between the environment and important sectors such as public health: integrating environmental data with data about disease vectors, pollutants, rainfall and sea-surface temperature, for instance, can help in predicting, mitigating and even preventing a health threat before it becomes a crisis. 

The service will put a vast range of essential environmental data at the disposal of decision-makers and many others around the globe who would not otherwise have access to such information.  

GEONETCast is already available to users in Europe, Africa, North, Central and South America and will be made available in Asia. 

This important new capability is a cooperative effort led by the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT), the Group on Earth Observations, the Chinese Meteorological Administration and WMO. 



Polar meteorology

International Polar Year 2007-2008

International Polar Year (IPY) 2007-2008 begins on 1 March 2007. In order to have full and equal coverage of both the Arctic and the Antarctic, IPY will cover two full annual cycles from March 2007 to March 2009. More than 200 projects, with thousands of scientists from over 60 nations, will examine a wide range of physical, biological and social research topics. It is an unprecedented opportunity to demonstrate, follow and get involved with, cutting-edge science in real-time. 

The first International Polar Year (1882-1883) and the second (1932-1933) had a major influence on our understanding of global processes in these important areas. The last major initiative was the International Geophysical Year (IGY) in 1957-1958, in the pre-satellite era, in which 80 000 scientists from 67 countries participated. It was during this period that many of the Antarctic research stations that exist today were established. The IGY also gave rise to the formulation of the Antarctic Treaty in 1959 and its ratification in 1961. 

IPY takes place amidst abundant evidence of changes in snow and ice. At the end of 2006 it was observed that the pattern of sharply decreasing Arctic sea ice had continued. The average sea-ice extent for the entire month of September was 5.9 million km², the second lowest on record missing the 2005 record by 340 000 km². Including 2006, the September rate of sea ice decline is now approximately -8.59% per decade, or 60 421 km² per year.  

Changes in the large ice sheets will impact global sea level, affecting coastal cities and low-lying areas. Changes in snowfall and shrinkage of glaciers will influence millions of people whose daily use of water for personal consumption or for agriculture depends on snowpack and glacial sources. Thermal degradation of permafrost will mobilize vast reserves of frozen carbon, some of which, such as methane, will increase the global greenhouse effect. Changes in sea ice combined with enhanced river inputs of freshwater will lead to substantial changes in ocean circulation. Warming of polar oceans, coupled with changes in ice coverage and river runoff, will alter marine ecosystems with significant consequences for fisheries globally. 

IPY takes place amidst abundant evidence of changes in snow and ice.

Polar changes occur not on a remote planet, but in the daily living environment of more than 4 million people. Northern communities face changes in their natural environment and in their natural resources and food systems at a rapidity and magnitude beyond recent experience or traditional knowledge. They also face unique health challenges related in part to pollutants transported to polar regions, and accelerating pressures of development and commercialism. 

The IPY is expected to provide significant contributions to the assessment of climate change and its impacts. The observing networks to be established or improved during the IPY period should therefore be kept in operational mode for many years. This would be an important part of the IPY legacy. 

Through the National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs) and other institutions of its Members, WMO will be making substantial contributions to the new IPY in the areas of polar meteorology, oceanography, glaciology and hydrology, in terms of scientific research and observations.  Another essential input to the IPY will be provided through WMO's Space Programme.  Ultimately, the scientific and operational results of the IPY will be offering benefits to several WMO Programmes, by generating comprehensive datasets and authoritative scientific knowledge to ensure further development of environmental monitoring and forecasting systems, including severe weather prediction.  Moreover, it will provide valuable contributions to the assessment of climate change and its impacts, in particular if the observing networks to be established or improved during the IPY period can be kept in operational mode for many years. 

IPY is being organized by WMO and the International Council for Science. 


See also items on World Meteorological Day 2007 and IPY in this issue.    


Climate applications 

Africa and climate

Vital climate information for Africa

The African continent is highly vulnerable to climate change and most natural disasters that occur there are related to weather, climate and water. 

The Global Climate Observing System (GCOS) and its partners have launched an important new initiative for Africa with the release of the report and implementation strategy: Climate Information for Development Needs: An Action Plan for Africa (ClimDev Africa). 

Most natural disasters that occur in Africa are related to weather, climate and water.

Principally driven by agriculture, health and water resources, the 10-year programme will address climate observing needs as well as improved climate services, climate risk management and decision-making. Phase I will focus on how climate risk information can be used to help protect lives, livelihoods and property. 

The new report and strategy have been formally endorsed by the African Union Commission and the UN Economic Commission for Africa. 

WMO is the major sponsor of GCOS. 




Helping Africa adapt to climate change

During the 12th session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 12) (Nairobi, Kenya, 6-17 November 2006), a press conference was organized to emphasize Africa’s acute vulnerability to climate change. WMO made a presentation entitled “Weather and climate monitoring, data gaps and implications for global climate forecasting and Africa”.  

WMO also made a statement to COP 12 on the role of WMO and National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs) in work on impacts, vulnerability and adaptation to climate change. The statement helped improve the understanding of delegates of the role of WMO, and NMHSs in the adaptation process.  

COP 12 adopted the Nairobi Programme of Work on Impacts, Vulnerability and Adaptation to Climate Change in which the role of WMO and NMHSs in the adaptation process is officially recognized.   

WMO’s exhibition booth showcased selected publications and provided an opportunity for networking with other participating agencies and NGOs.  

See also a report of COP 12 in “Recent events” in this issue and: 



Tackling drought and desertification

Land degradation affects an estimated 250 million people and threatens one billion in more than 100, mostly developing, countries. Climate assessment is an important element in the battle against land degradation. 

Under the scenario of climate change, droughts, flash floods, duststorms, famine, migratory movements and forest fires—all linked to desertification—are likely to increase, and so will their impact on global food security. 

The UN Convention to Combat Desertification and WMO organized the International Workshop on Climate and Land Degradation, which took place in Arusha, United Republic of Tanzania (11-15 December 2006). The workshop issued a series of recommendations on how climate information can be used to combat desertification. 

Recommendations include increasing and strengthening the network of meteorological, hydrological and agrometeorological stations around the world to provide data on rainfall intensity, soil temperature and soil moisture; using land management strategies to increase the amount of rainfall used in crop production; and the development and implementation of national drought policies. 

See also a report of the Workshop in “Recent events” in this issue and:



Gender mainstreaming

Women, weather, climate and water

Woman and girls bear the greater burden of ensuring that families are provided with water for domestic purposes in most developing countries. Mainstreaming gender within the context of integrated water-resources management is therefore critical for sustainable development. 

Gender-sensitive water and sanitation infrastructure and services, and equal access, voice and participation of women and men in decision-making at all levels of water-resources management are vital.  

WMO promotes efforts in education and building awareness of the issues involved and a move towards changing the culture of decision-making.

Woman and girls bear the greater burden of ensuring that families are provided with water
 for domestic purposes in most developing countries. (Credit: WHO/P. Virot)

Following the success of the Second International Meeting on the Participation of Women in Meteorology and Hydrology in 2003, WMO is organizing an expert meeting on gender mainstreaming to be held in Geneva from 26 to 29 March 2007. The expected outcomes are a WMO policy and specific tools for use by NMHSs in their efforts in this area. 

WMO encourages the participation of women in the work of the National Meteorological and Hydrological Services and of the Secretariat. 






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