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research and environment
observations made at sea /
Education and training /
weather forecasting /
with the butterfly effect
variability and change
Millennium Development Goals
Scientific Assessment of Ozone Depletion: 2006 published by WMO and the United
Nations Environment Programme in August says that the stratospheric ozone
layer that protects life on Earth from excessive solar radiation will recover
5-15 years later than previously expected.
report says that the ozone layer over mid-latitudes (30°-60°N and S) should
recover by 2049, five years later than anticipated by the previous assessment
in 2002. Ozone over the Antarctic should recover by 2065, 15 years later than
of special conditions within the Antarctic vortex (a natural cyclone of
super-cold, super-fast winds), the Antarctic ozone hole is expected to recur
regularly for another two decades.
later projected date of recovery over mid-latitudes is primarily the result of
upward revisions in the amounts of certain chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) gases used
in refrigerators and other equipment, from which much of both types will
eventually be released. Higher estimates of future production levels of a CFC
substitute that, although much safer, still causes some depletion is another
impacts of ultraviolet radiation
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), excessive exposure to the Sun kills some 60 000 people around the world every year. Its report “Global burden of disease of solar ultraviolet radiation” is the first systematic examination of the issue. It is estimated that 48 000 deaths are caused every year by malignant melanomas and the other 12 000 by skin carcinomas.
works closely with WMO to monitor ultraviolet (UV) radiation through the
Global Solar UV Index. Developed in collaboration with the United Nations
Environment Programme and the International Commission on Non-Ionizing
Radiation Protection, the Index measures UV radiation levels at the Earth’s
surface and serves as an important vehicle to alert the public about the
dangers of overexposure to the Sun’s harmful rays.
Recovery of the Antarctic ozone layer will take place later than previously calculated due to the greater age of air in that region. This essentially means that ozone-depleting molecules take longer to reach (and also dissipate from) the stratosphere, a factor not previously taken into account.
Arctic ozone bulletin
mark the International Day for the Protection of the Ozone Layer on 16
September, WMO launched the first bulletin detailing depletion of the ozone
layer over the Arctic. The new WMO product paints a comprehensive picture of
ozone depletion in the region which—in contrast with the
Antarctic—sustains a substantial number of inhabitants.
the Antarctic also, areas of depletion in the Arctic are more mobile, shifting
erratically and exposing northern parts of the globe such as Alaska, Canada,
Greenland, northern Europe and Siberia to harmful UV-B rays. The degree of
ozone loss experienced in any one winter depends on the meteorological
Arctic ozone bulletin will provide invaluable input for the upcoming
International Polar Year 2007-2008.
also produces a regular bulletin on the state of the ozone layer over the
products and services and their dissemination
broadcast media have a particularly significant role to play in the
communication of public weather services and NMHSs need to work closely with
Surveys in developed countries have indicated the need for improved
precision and accuracy and more timely warnings of severe weather. They also
highlighted the benefits of improved seasonal forecasts, especially of
rainfall and temperature.
results are a powerful tool for assessing performance and WMO encourages NMHSs
to use them to improve their products and services. A basic verification
of temperature forecasts from WMO’s World Weather Information Service (WWIS)
Website (see the August 2006 edition of MeteoWorld)
started in January 2005. As such information could be useful, especially for
developing countries, the aim is now to expand it to all regions and
communicate individual statistics to NMHSs.
proposed actions to improve the WWIS
is the inclusion of precipitation type and amount; the progressive
introduction of more severe or abnormal weather information with emphasis on
disaster prevention and mitigation; and the publication of a user guide for
distribution to the general public and major media organizations.
improve forecast quality, a WMO Expert Team will assess a pilot project on
numerical weather prediction (NWP) city-specific forecasts by providing
appropriate techniques and software to NMHSs. Specialized training courses
will be organized for capacity building purposes.
and products from Ensemble Prediction Systems (EPS) have the potential to
change the way forecast information is provided to the user community. In view
of certain inherent risks in the interpretation of the information, education
of the user community is vital for maximum benefit and to avoid confusion. WMO
is encouraging major NWP centres having EPS capability to work with smaller
NMHSs to develop a range of products which would help them use EPS
will also be encouraged to make available material on the use of EPS.
Collaboration with other organizations will improve the communication of
probabilistic information to the user community.
Mobile communication devices utilizing GIS and GPS technology can effectively aid delivery of public weather service products. It is envisaged that the next generation of forecast workstations will be able to readily retrieve observations, nowcast and prognostic information from databases and assist in the preparation of such product and their delivery through multiple communication pathways.
Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs) play an important role in the
alleviation of poverty and the mitigation of the impacts associated with
natural disasters and a wide range of other sustainable development issues,
such as water resources, agriculture, energy (heating in cold periods, cooling
in hot periods) and health.
Essential ingredients of effective weather information products include relevance, reliability, timeliness, diversity of dissemination channels, and consistency.
in NMHSs can reduce loss of life, property and
productive capacity through the development of more timely and reliable
early warnings and delivery systems that can lead to improved mitigation
actions and preparedness planning. Improvements in water management, food
security, health and energy can also be demonstrated through proper planning
and mitigation mechanisms.
provides recommendations and guidance for assisting the NMHSs of developing
countries to assess and enhance the socio-economic and environmental benefits
of applying weather, climate and water information and products for a wide
range of user communities, including the media.
the agricultural sector, there is a clear recognition of the usefulness of
weather and climate information but, in other sectors, it is not always so
evident. The interaction of NMHSs with those sectors in a sustained and
constructive dialogue is a prerequisite for effective services and products.
Users need to be aware of NMHSs, the services they provide, and how the
information can be used to improve decision-making and reduce weather- and
climate-related risk and impacts. Their specific requirements for information
and products need to be identified.
therefore encourages NMHSs to make themselves and their products and services
more visible and user-friendly. It also promotes the establishment of
end-to-end systems, in which stakeholders participate in the development of
products and risk-based decision-support tools and receive training to fully
understand how to apply these tools in the decision-making process.
useful services and products to end users means that NMHS staff need constant
education and training. This is another focus of WMO activities.
progress has been made in recent years with regard to the implementation of
operational in situ marine observing systems in support of weather forecasts,
marine safety services, climate research and ocean modelling.
substantial decline has occurred, however, in the number of Voluntary
Observing Ships (VOS) recruited by Member countries under WMO’s VOS Scheme
in recent years. In the mid-1980s, some 7 000 ships were routinely
reporting weather observations in real-time but this number dropped to about 2 500
In accordance with the provisions of the International Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Convention, contracting governments are encouraged to collect meteorological data from selected ships which are provided with tested observing instruments. The real- time data received from observing ships are essential for the provision of weather forecast services to the mariner, including the Maritime Safety Information forecasts and warnings issued by the international NAVTEX and SafetyNET systems. Furthermore, they provide a valuable delayed-mode data source for studying the changes in climate that have become a matter of global concern in recent years.
ships are recruited by National Meteorological Services on an entirely
voluntary basis. Because the cost of the instruments and data transmissions is
almost always borne by these Services, no charges are incurred by the ship,
shipowner or ship operator.
reason the number of recruited ships has decreased in recent years is partly
because of the changing dynamics of modern ship operations, such as reduced
manning levels and sudden changes in vessel ownership, flag and trading
patterns. Competitiveness among commercial shipping companies and acts of
piracy have also complicated the problem, as VOS ships’ positions may appear
on public Websites. This makes it difficult for VOS operating countries to
maintain continuity of observations and to ensure adequate training for the
Efforts are being made by WMO and the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (UNESCO) through their Joint Technical Commission for Oceanography and Marine Meteorology to overcome these problems. Solutions being explored include increased use of automatic systems, initiating negotiations with ship builders for designing ships that would facilitate installation of meteo-rological instruments, making efforts in keeping the most reliable and stable ships within the fleet, and preventing VOS positions from appearing on public Websites.
the framework of WMO education and training activities, the Jordan
Meteorological Department has organized two intensive training events for some
30 meteorologists from the Iraq Meteorological Organization. Most of the
trainees were young graduates with little or no operational experience in
meteorology who will be operating aeronautical meteorological offices.
received theoretical and practical training in various topics with emphasis on
aviation meteorology. The training was carried out at the Meteorological
Training Centre and at the National Weather Forecasting Centre in Amman,
These events support the efforts of the Iraq Meteorological Organization to rebuild its capacity and rehabilitate its human resources through bilateral agreements and collaboration with neighbouring and other WMO Members.
Similarly, in 2005, a refresher training course for 20 Iraqi meteorological technicians and observers was organized and hosted by the WMO Regional Meteorological Training Centre in Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran Meteorological Organization.
The course covered general meteorology (atmospheric parameters, atmospheric motion, airmasses and fronts), synoptic analysis and meteorological Instruments and measurements.
Numerical weather prediction (NWP) systems have become increasingly relevant and indeed essential to the severe weather forecasting process. A growing number and variety of sophisticated outputs, currently available from NWP producing centres are of potential benefit to severe weather forecasters in many National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHS).
A severe weather forecasting demonstration project is being organized as a series of regional subprojects whose scope is to explore and test the usefulness of the NWP products currently available. The aim is to improve severe weather forecasting services in countries where sophisticated model outputs are not currently used. The principal focus is on heavy precipitation that could cause serious flooding, and strong, destructive winds.
It is planned that the first subproject will be carried out in the south-eastern region of Africa, over one year, beginning in early November 2006.
A number of global and regional NWP centres and the national centres of Botswana, Madagascar, Mozambique, South Africa, the United Republic of Tanzania and Zimbabwe will be participating. The Pretoria (South Africa) Regional Specialized Meteorological Centre will act as the single Regional Centre for collecting and synthesizing all the weather and forecast data and products. It will produce a daily severe weather forecast guidance product to be made available to all National Meteorological and Hydrological Services of the region.
weather in southern Africa where heavy rain frequently causes catastrophic
Climate variability and change affect major social, economic and environmental sectors and are significant factors in their sustainable development. Policy formulation and operational decision-making in climate-sensitive sectors can be improved by more widespread use of climate knowledge and information in managing risks and exploiting opportunities (climate-related risk management).
The WMO Conference in Espoo, Finland, in July 2006 entitled “Living with climate variability and change” reviewed opportunities and constraints in integrating climate risks and uncertainties into the mainstreams of decision-making where sensitivity to climate variability and change is but one among many factors to consider.
The experts attending the Conference considered the principles of risk assessment and management within broader institutional and policy frameworks of decision-processes in, among others, agriculture, water-resource management, disease control, power generation and disaster mitigation. The goal of the Conference was to make substantial progress in the establishment of an operable agenda for climate-related risk management and to propose an enduring process for future work.
Climate-related risk management requires multi-disciplinary collaborations and the cross-disciplinary exchange of information. Collaborative mechanisms should be developed that facilitate and improve activities for the benefit of all. These include the evaluation of current activities and better assessments of their value; the establishment of datasets; research; the development of decision-support tools; capacity-building; ongoing evaluation of outcomes; and suitable financial mechanisms.
The Conference was a WMO contribution to efforts to achieve the international development goals established under the 2000 United Nations Millennium Declaration (the UN Millennium Development Goals). (See box below.)
adopted by the Conference.
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