Powering and empowering the future
Human activities are contributing to far-reaching changes in our climate.
The 13 warmest years have all occurred since 1997. Global temperatures in 2011 were higher than any previous year with a La Niña event, which has a cooling influence. The extent of Arctic sea ice in 2011 was the second lowest on record, and its volume was the lowest.
Concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have reached a new high. Between 1990 and 2010, there was a 29 per cent increase in radiative forcing – the warming effect on our climate system – from carbon dioxide and other gases. The rate of increase is accelerating. But the fact is that even if we halted greenhouse gas emissions today, they would linger in the atmosphere for decades, even centuries, disrupting the delicate balance of our living planet.
Reliable and timely weather, climate and water information provided by National Meteorological and Hydrological Services will thus increasingly be required in view of the risks of a rapidly changing climate. Investment in NMHSs is more necessary than ever so that they can meet these demands.
Our scientific understanding of weather, climate and water has made great strides in recent years. We need to strengthen this international knowledge base and also make it relevant to local needs. We need to ensure that the information reaches all socio-economic levels, from government decision makers and captains of industry to farmers and local community leaders.
We need a Global Framework for Climate Services because weather, climate and water respect no national boundaries. The Framework is not a panacea to the problems associated with climate change and variability. But it will help to equip us with the information and tools needed to cope.
Looking well beyond the 2015 target for the Millennium Development Goals, the Framework will contribute to the sustainable development aspirations of future generations in a world where population increase and economic growth will strain scarce resources to the limit.
Weather, climate and water have powered the growth of our economies and societies in the past. Weather, climate and water services will empower our economies and societies to meet the challenges of the future.
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