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WMO activities

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Climatic analysis and mapping for agriculture

WMO promotes the use of, and training in, technologies which analyse and map climate resources for sustainable land management, biodiversity conservation and evaluation of agricultural production systems. These technologies are useful for understanding the interactions of climate and deforestation, drought and desertification, natural disasters and extreme events.



Climatic and remotely sensed data can be used in various agroclimatic mapping applications. In this case, in the Amazon basin, satellite data are used to identify three land-surface categories: forest (red), herbaceous (non-woody) vegetation like grasses (green) and bare ground (blue). (Image: Robert Simmon, Global Land Cover Facility, University of Maryland) 

Some of the new technologies being applied are for measuring carbon dioxide fluxes; water use and crop production; cloud cover for estimating the amount of solar radiation reaching the ground; and estimating soil water properties. 

Climatic data and geographic information (e.g. elevation) or remotely sensed data can be used to produce value-added products in Geographic Information Systems. Applications include drought, frost, crop and grassland yields, crop quality, desert locust monitoring, environmental concerns and extreme weather events.

For more information, see:


Ensuring accurate measurements

Regional capacity building

Regular calibration and maintenance of meteorological instruments are essential for high-quality meteorological and hydrological data. Other requirements in this area concern the standardization of instruments, the need for international instrument comparisons and evaluations, and the training of instrument experts.To facilitate this work and thus respond to countries’ requirements, WMO has established a number of instrument centres in several regions of the world.See:

WMO assists the staff of these centres with training in basic metrology principles and techniques, calibration and the carrying out of tests and intercomparisons.

Evaluations of the centres are currently being performed under the aegis of WMO in order to identify weaknesses or deficiencies. The aim is to strengthen the services provided by the centres to their respective regions.

Ultraviolet (UV) radiation

UV radiation affects nearly all living organisms and is necessary for plant growth. Small amounts of UV are essential for the production of vitamin D in humans. Overexposure, however, may result in acute and chronic health effects on the skin, eyes and immune system and adversely affect plants.

Multiband filter radiometers (MBFRs) are one of the instruments which measure UV radiation. They are used for the determination of biologically effective UV doses and also provide data for public information and awareness (e.g. the UV Index (UVI)). In May/June 2005, the first international intercomparison of such instruments was held in Oslo, Norway. Some 40 instruments, operated by 10 countries around the world, participated in the exercise.


Ultraviolet radiation is measured by instruments such as this multiband filter radiometer (Photo: George Janson, Colorado State University, USDA)

Two major objectives of the campaign were to improve accuracy in measurements of the UVI and to establish a harmonized UVI scale among networks.

The weather conditions were highly variable when the global sky measurements were taken, which enabled the comparison of measurements in all realistic weather conditions.

A group of experts under WMO's Global Atmosphere Watch is defining guidelines for maintaining and calibrating MBFRs as well as methods for obtaining useful products. Such guidelines and intercomparisons contribute to ensuring the reliability of UV measurements globally.

Insert photo of MBFR (cosine_mbfr_compressed.jpg)

For more information, see: and




Preventing and mitigating natural disasters

Early warning systems

WMO is promoting a shift in the approach to disaster management from one of relief and rehabilitation to one of prevention.

To this end, WMO works with the National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs), including a network of 40 Regional Specialized Meteorological Centres and three World Meteorological Centres.

WMO thus has the infrastructure, on the global scale, for observing, detecting, modelling and forecasting extreme weather-, climate- and water-related events and for establishing early warning systems. The extreme events range from tropical cyclones, storm surges, floods, droughts and heatwaves to locust swarms.


Cyclone Graham

WMO’s unique Global Tropical Cyclone Early Warning System provides tropical cyclone monitoring, forecasts, advisories and bulletins to all countries in the world every day of the year.

WMO has also been developing community-preparedness strategies for effective flood and drought management.

Non-hydrometeorological disasters

WMO provides its global infrastructure and relevant technical capabilities in upport of operational early warning systems to address hazards other than those of hydrometeorological origin.

For example, WMO is contributing significantly to the development of tsunami early warning systems in the Indian Ocean and other regions at risk.

Also, through eight regional specialized centres, it supports efforts to respond to transboundary environmental emergencies caused by nuclear accidents, volcanic eruptions, chemical accidents and land fires.


Capacity building

National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs) are the official agencies for issuing warnings related to weather and climate. WMO assists NMHSs to enhance their capabilities in the effective formulation and dissemination of warnings to the competent authorities and to the public.

WMO is carrying out a comprehensive survey to assess capabilities in disaster-risk decision-making within a multi-hazard framework. These include observing capabilities presently available from satellite systems but not yet utilized in alert mechanisms, data-collection needs and satellite dissemination systems.

Subsequently, WMO will initiate a number of activities which will include establishing standard methodologies for cataloguing hydrometeorological hazards and identifying/developing/improving capabilities for mapping and risk assessment, particularly in developing and least-developed countries.

A major goal is to ensure that early warning capabilities are improved on a continuous basis and are made available to all countries, particularly those with few resources. WMO works with the user community at all levels to develop knowledge-sharing mechanisms and public education and outreach programmes implemented through the NMHSs.

Transmitting the warnings

WMO’s Global Telecommunication System (GTS) interconnects National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs) for the rapid and reliable collection and distribution of meteorological and related data, forecasts and alerts on a 24-hour basis.

The GTS is being upgraded where needed to address requirements for the exchange of information in the Indian Ocean Rim countries.

The GTS already provides for the exchange of warnings related to cyclones and severe weather in the Indian Ocean region and supports the current Pacific Tsunami Warning System in the Pacific basin.


WMO’s Global Telecommunication System

For more information, see:




Environmental data from satellites

Environmental satellite systems collect and disseminate data related to weather, the atmosphere, oceans and land. These data enable the monitoring of global environmental conditions. They are also becoming increasingly indispensable in a wide range of studies and applications.

The data collected on temperature and humidity profiles in the atmosphere, radiation measurements and precipitation can be assimilated directly into numerical weather prediction models.


They are also used for climate research, water-resources monitoring and a wide range of weather and climate applications.

WMO facilitates work in this area, including the dissemination of information, calibration, frequency protection and the development of software packages.

In partnership with satellite operators, WMO also promotes the education and training of meteorological trainers in the use of meteorological satellite data and the optimized use of satellite receiving stations.

WMO is the sole intergovernmental organization responsible for the coordination of all environmental satellites.

For more information, see:



Water-related issues are central to assessing the impact of climatic variability and change. The study of hydrological events in their climatic context is known as hydroclimatology.

A joint initiative of WMO and UNESCO provides technical expertise related to systematic worldwide assessments of variations and changes in hydrological regimes and water-resources conditions associated with climate.

It also provides guidance and support to National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs), research programmes, education and capacity building initiatives and international organizations and conventions.


The programme provides a unique global perspective of patterns and trends in hydrological and hydroclimatic variability that is distinct from, yet adds to, the understanding provided by national and regional investigations and assessments.

Current focus is on hydrological networks and data, statistical methods, differentiating climatic from human-induced impacts, and hydrological hazards and risk.

Activities support a wide and diverse client community that includes NMHSs and research and education communities.

Their aim is to provide a sound and unambiguous characterization of the response of hydrological and water resource systems to climate.

For more information, see



Polar climatology

The Greenland effect


Glacier melt in Greenland: not merely a local threat

Reports on retreating glaciers in Greenland have revealed that patches of land are being exposed for the first time in millions of years and that the rivers of ice are receding in some places by as much as 10 m per year.

The Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences has been monitoring the situation in Greenland in conjunction with WMO. Findings indicate that the total area of surface melt on the Greenland ice sheet broke all records in 2002, with extreme melting reaching up to 2 000 m asl. Satellite data show an increasing trend in the melt extent since 1979.

Immediate concerns are rising sea-level and the destruction of natural habitats. Another is that the liquid foundations have become less viscous and this could lead to sliding and unstable ice sheets.

In September 2005, the European Space Agency launched the CRYOSAT satellite to monitor changes in the thickness of the polar ice sheets and floating sea ice.

WMO and the International Council for Science have initiated the International Polar Year 2007-2008 with the aim of raising scientific and understanding as well as public awareness about the significance these areas hold for the rest of the planet. 


Public weather services

Getting the message across

Reliable and accurate weather products and services for the general public, and also for more specialized users, help to ensure the safety and protection of people and property when extreme weather phenomena occur. They also assist in the efficient and economic pursuit of business such as shipping, fishing, aviation and agriculture, as well as recreational activities and tourism.


WMO organizes training for TV weather presenters in various languages and regions—often with well-known personalities as trainers. 

If weather warnings and information are to be of use, they have to be communicated in a timely manner. The most efficient way is through the media such as radio, newspapers and especially television.

To get the message across clearly to a wide audience, a TV weather presenter not only has to have an understanding of the underlying science of meteorology, but also excellent communication and presentation skills.

WMO promotes media training for meteorologists in different languages and regions around the world, often with the participation of experienced and well-known TV weather presenters.



A milestone in ocean observations 

The Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS) forms part of a network of observing platforms (drifting and morred buoys, profiling floats, tide gauge stations, ship-based systems and satellites) that monitor and document the oceans.

The deployment of the 1 250th drifting buoy in the Atlantic Ocean off Halifax (Nova Scotia) in Canada marked the completion of the first phase of the implementation of GOOS. The drifting buoys collect data on ocean temperature, currents, wind and atmospheric pressure.

The 1250th buoy was deployed on 18 September during the second session of the WMO-IOC Joint Technical Commission for Oceanography and Marine Meteorology (JCOMM).


Deployment of the 1 250th drifting buoy (Photo courtesy JCOMMOPS)



Technical cooperation

On 2 September, the World Meteorological Organization and the Government of Mexico signed a technical cooperation agreement with the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources to promote and strengthen the country’s integrated, sustainable water-resources management. WMO Secretary-General, Mr Michel Jarraud, and Mr Cristóbal Jaime Jáquez, Director-General of Mexico’s National Water Commission, signed the agreement in Mexico City. 

A leading aim of the accord is to tackle dwindling groundwater reserves in five major regions in central and northern Mexico. Without action, pilot studies carried out since 1996 warn that these vital reserves – in areas prone to severe droughts and water shortages – could dry up within 15 years. The provision of technical assistance, training, transfer of technology and the supply of specialized materials, equipment and instruments are all under consideration. 

In August 1996, WMO and CNA signed a previous cooperation Agreement, through which during the period of 1997 to 2004, WMO provided technical assistance, transfer of technology and training, as part of the implementation of the PROMMA project (for a total of US$ 11.8 million), The PROMMA project was funded by the World Bank and the Government of Mexico and it has also been an excellent opportunity for WMO to join forces with the World Bank in assisting a Member. There has been much international recognition of the combined efforts of the World Bank and WMO in the formulation and implementation of such a large and unique project.






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