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Secretariat Support to Climate Services

WMO headquarters  Geneva

WMO headquarters
Geneva, Switzerland

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations. It is the UN system's authoritative voice on the state and behaviour of the Earth's atmosphere, its interaction with the oceans, the climate it produces and the resulting distribution of water resources.

WMO, with a membership of 189 Member States and Territories (as of December 2009), originated from the International Meteorological Organization (IMO), which was founded in 1873. Established in 1950, WMO became the specialized agency of the United Nations in 1951.

The WMO Secretariat has its headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. The main function of the secretariat is to provide world leadership in expertise and international cooperation in weather, climate, hydrology and water resources and related environmental issues, thereby contributing to the safety and well-being of people throughout the world and to the economic benefit of all nations.

It achieves this through several secretariat services:


The WMO facilitates worldwide cooperation in various areas including the establishment of networks of observations, addressing technical and scientific issues and advancements and the exchange and use of products and data. Many of these co-ordination aspects are addressed in expert meetings, workshops and conferences organized by the secretariat.

[Further information] about the numerous meetings and events hosted by the WMO can be found here. 

What’s in a Name?

A little known service of the WMO is the creation and maintenance of the lists of names used to identify the worlds tropical cyclones.

The only time there is a change in the list is if a storm is so deadly or costly that the future use of its name on a different storm would be inappropriate. If that occurs, then at an annual meeting by the WMO Tropical Cyclone Committees, the offending name is stricken from the list and another name is selected to replace it.

Infamous storm names such as Katrina (USA, 2005), Mitch (Honduras, 1998) and Tracy (Darwin, 1974) are examples of this.

Systems Development

The WMO Secretariat promotes the establishment and maintenance of systems for the rapid exchange of meteorological and related information.

For example:

[Further information] The WMO information System

[Further information] The Global Telecommunication System

[Further information] The Global Data Processing and Forecasting System


WMO produces guidance and recommendations and promotes the standardization of meteorological observations, data collection and management, and publication of observations and statistics, etc. WMO has published numerous guidelines to support Member activities.

Below are some example of these guidelines.

[More in depth information] Guide to Climatological Practices

[More in depth information] Guide to Global Observation System

[More in depth information] Guidelines on Climate Data Management

[More in depth information] Guide to Meteorological Instruments and Methods of Observations

[More in depth information] Evaluation and Documentation of the new Climate Data Management System(CDMSs)

Capacity Building

Through its Education and Training Programme, WMO assists the National Meteorological and Hydrological Services, especially those of developing countries, in their efforts to contribute, in the most effective manner, to the development plans of their countries and to become full partners in global collaborative efforts. This includes the development of human resources through training, provision of educational material and the award of fellowships.

[More in depth information] on the training run by WMO can be found on the Education and Training Programme website.

[Further information] on WMO Capacity building activities can be found here.


The WMO also fosters collaboration between the National Meteorological and Hydrological Services of its Members as well as other research and meteorological organizations.

[Further information] on the services of the WMO Secretariat can be found in the “World Meteorological organization at a Glance” Brochure.




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