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WMO Operational Network

Last updated: 16 August 2018

WMO coordinates the work of the National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs) of its 191 Members which operate thea number of global systems:

  1. The WMO Global Integrated Observing System (WIGOS) enables the collection of data from satellites, hundreds of ocean buoys, thousands of aircrafts and ships and nearly 10,000 land-based stations;
  2. The WMO Global Telecommunication System (GTS) is composed of a dedicated network of surface and satellite-based telecommunication links and centres operated around the clock all year round. It interconnects all NMHSs for collection and distribution of all meteorological and related data, forecasts and alerts, including tsunami and seismic related information and warnings. More than 50,000 weather reports and several thousand charts and digital products are disseminated through the WMO GTS daily. WMO is building on its GTS to achieve an overarching WMO Information System (WIS), enabling systematic access, retrieval, and dissemination and exchange of data and information of all WMO and related international Programmes. WIS will also be able to provide critical data to other national agencies and users dealing with many sectors including disaster risk management;
  3. The WMO Global Data-Processing and Forecasting System (GDPFS) involves three World Meteorological Centres and 40 Regional Specialized Meteorological Centres, including Regional Specialized Meteorological Centres (RSMCs), Regional Climate Centres (RCCs) and Regional Drought Management Centres. They process data and routinely provide countries with analysis and meteorological forecasts, supporting early warning capacities through the NMHSs.

WMO Opperational Network

Figure 1: Internationally coordinated network of WMO involving Global Observing System, Global Telecommunication System and Global Data Processing and Forecasting System facilitating sharing of data, analysis and forecasts across 191 WMO Members through their National meteorological and Hydrological Services.

Building on this network, WMO is working with its Members to strengthen and establish new Regional Climate Centres (RCCs) and Regional Drought Management Centres (RDMCs).


Examples of WMO programmes and activities relevant to DRR

Tropical Cyclone Programme (TCP)

The Tropical Cyclone Programme (TCP) is an example of cooperation using regional capacities to support national warning systems to promote DRR strategies. Through TCP, six Regional Specialized Meteorological Centres (RSNCs, specifically the Tropical Cyclone Warning Centres (TCWCs)) are dedicated to providing tropical cyclone analysis, forecasts and alerts in support of NMHSs' operational warnings. The Programme is supported by five regional committees, involving forecasters from the NMHSs, which ensure ongoing improvements in the tropical cyclone forecasting and warning systems. This has enabled availability of tropical cyclone warning capacities to all countries at risk.

TC Centers

Figure 2: WMO network of Tropical Cyclone Specialized Centres, a model for sustained cooperation.

Emergency Response Activitie (ERA) Programme

The WMO Programme of Emergency Response Activities (ERA) established in 1986 to assist NMHSs, governments and international organizations to respond effectively to environmental emergencies with large-scale dispersion of airborne hazardous substances is another example of regional cooperation. The programme is focussed on nuclear facility accidents, but also provides for meteorological support in emergency response to the dispersion of smoke from large fires, volcanic ash, dust and sand storms and chemical releases from industrial accidents. The WMO operational network of global, regional and national meteorological centres provides the infrastructure for specialized atmospheric dispersion-modelling that play a crucial role in assessing and predicting the spread of air-and water-borne hazardous substances.

Nuclear Accidents

The Chernobyl nuclear accident (April 1986) led to strengthened international cooperation in the event of a nuclear emergency through the Joint Radiation Emergency Management Plan of the International Organizations. The plan is coordinated by the International Atomic Energy Agency in cooperation with international organizations including WMO, the World Health Organization, and the Food and Agriculture Organization. WMO maintains a system of eight Regional Specialized Meteorological Centres which provide highly specialized computer-based simulations of the atmosphere that predict the long-range movement of airborne radioactivity to support environmental emergency response, when needed. These centres, which provide complete global coverage 24 hours a day, every day, are located in Beijing (China), Obninsk (Russian Federation) Tokyo (Japan), Exeter (United Kingdom), Toulouse (France), Melbourne (Australia), Montreal (Canada) and Washington D.C. (USA). This response system was activated on 12 March 2011 in the aftermath of the earthquake in Japan.

Volcanic ash

Volcanic ash is a direct safety threat to jet transport aircraft, primarily because the melting point of ash is around 1100°C, while the operating temperatures of jet engines are around 1400°C. The ash melts in the hot section of the engines and then fuses on the turbine blades, eventually leading to engine stall. The International Civil Aviation Organization is responsible for coordinating the efforts of its member states and seven international organizations, including WMO, which comprise the International Airways Volcano Watch (IAVW). Under the IAVW, international ground-based networks, global satellite systems and in-flight air reports detect and observe volcanic eruptions and ash cloud and pass the information quickly to appropriate air traffic services units and Meteorological Watch Offices, which provide the necessary warnings to aircraft before or during flight. The warnings are based on advisory information supplied by nine Volcanic Ash Advisory Centres (VAACs) designated upon advice from WMO. The designated VAACs are located in Anchorage (USA), Buenos Aires (Chile), Darwin (Australia), London (United Kingdom), Montreal (Canada), Tokyo (Japan), Toulouse (France), Washington D. C. (USA) and Wellington (New Zealand).


Following the worst smoke and haze episodes that affected South-East Asia in autumn 1997, which impacted many socio-economic sectors including civil aviation, maritime shipping, agricultural production, tourism and the health of populations, WMO joined with the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) to set up the ASEAN Regional Specialized Meteorological Centre in Singapore. This Centre provides smoke/haze information and forecasts to NMHSs to assist in environmental emergency situations. It also displays weather and hot spots using satellite images on its website. Satellite imagery can provide information on the dryness of vegetation, location and size of major fires and smoke plumes, energy released by fires, and air pollutants in the smoke plumes.

Integrated Flood Management
The number of people living in the path of potentially devastating floods is set to double to two billion within two generations as a result of population growth, changes in land use, economic development and climate change. This has the potential to lead to the loss of more lives and livelihoods from flooding and increase the likelihood of disasters impeding development in low-income countries. However, while being threats, floods also generate opportunities. In many countries, flood waters are an essential water resource, floodplains (replenished by floodwaters) contribute significantly to agricultural production and freshwater inflows to estuaries are important to fisheries. An approach called Integrated Flood Management (IFM), which integrates land and water resources management in a river basin has thus become established over the last decade to maximize the efficient use of floodplains and minimize loss of life and so balance the risks and opportunities. For more information please go to the Associated Programme on Flood Management (APFM) website.

Integrated Drought Management
Droughts are slowly evolving hazards but are undoubtedly one of the most far-reaching of all natural disasters. From 1991 to 2000 alone, drought has been responsible for over 280,000 deaths and has cost tens of millions of US dollars in damage. Water scarce areas are more vulnerable to droughts. For example, Sub-Saharan Africa suffered its worst dry-spell of the century in 1991-1992 when drought covered a region of 6.7 million square km and affected about 110 million people. Africa and parts of western Asia appear to be particularly vulnerable to increasing water scarcity.

The responses to droughts in many parts of the world are mostly reactive in terms of crisis management and are known to be untimely, poorly coordinated and not integrated. Consequently, the economic, social and environmental impacts of droughts are increasing significantly worldwide.

The successes of the Associated Programme on Flood Management (APFM) over the last 10 years in bringing together scientists and professionals from various disciplines together to develop integrated approaches to flood management, has encouraged WMO and the Global Water Partnership to extend this experience in dealing with drought issues in an integrated manner though the proposed new Integrated Drought Management Programme (IDMP).

IDMP will contribute to the global coordination of drought-related efforts with regard to better scientific understanding for drought management; drought risk assessment, monitoring, prediction and early warning; policy and planning for drought preparedness and mitigation across sectors; drought risk reduction and response.

The intent is to support actors and partners in various sectors, disciplines, and institutions to provide better drought monitoring and prediction on a global and regional basis, and to use the information effectively in the development of short-term and long-term drought management plans and actions. The Programme will be demand-driven, tailored to specific regional and national needs and requirements.

WMO Regional Training Centres

Regional cooperation is critical to making accessible the latest hazard analysis and forecasting information to those countries with fewer resources. WMO has promoted strong regional cooperation among Members in terms of meteorological, cliamte and hydrological services. WMO facilitates information sharing and capacity building through its 30 Regional Training Centres (RTCs). Strengthening of these facilities and enhanced cooperation enables NMHSs to provide better information in support of decision-making.

The RTCs provide equipment, facilities, instruction and training to respond to the needs of each region. Through the activities of these centres, NMHSs have received extensive training, ranging from hazard monitoring to issuing of early warnings.





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