World Meteorological Congress drives for a more integrated earth systems strategy
The Sultanate represented by the Public Authority for Civil Aviation (PACA), participates in the meetings of the World Meteorological Congress from 3 to 14 June 2019. The Congress takes place every four years and decides on the strategy, policies, standards, budget and office holders of the 193-member World Meteorological Organization WMO. This year it will discuss a sweeping reform of WMO’s governance structures to address major risks and meet the challenges of a rapidly changing world. It also agrees on future strategy and tools to help countries increase resilience to extreme weather, water, climate and other environmental shocks, to strengthen scientific observations and predictions and to close the capacity gap.
The Congress will also discuss other items such strengthening the observation network which underpins all forecasts; improved weather and climate services in an era of climate change and more extreme weather; hydrological services and support of sustainable water management; integrated Earth systems science; facilitating capacity development; engagement with the private sector and data policy. There will also be a dedicated ocean dialogue, a session on scaling up development partnerships, a parallel hydrological assembly and a public-private dialogue and Meteorological Technology world expo showcasing the very latest climate, weather and hydrometeorological forecasting, measurement and analysis technologies.
Access to best information and services for all
The Congress is due to approve a new WMO strategic plan to achieve its overarching vision, expressed by WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas: “By 2030, a world where all nations, especially the most vulnerable, are more resilient to the socioeconomic impacts of extreme weather, water, climate and other environmental events. Therefore, we bother of empowering those regions to boost their sustainable development by providing the best possible services, whether over land, at sea or in the air”.
“Demands on the expertise of WMO and national meteorological and hydrological services have never been higher than before. The socioeconomic impact of weather, climate and water-related hazards is rising because of environmental degradation, urbanization and, above all, climate change,” said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas.
Climate change is altering precipitation patterns and so increasing water stress and food security challenges, Mr Taalas underlined. It is affecting the intensity and track of tropical storms. Sea level rise is accelerating and by the end of the century may be much higher than the forecast.
Only 27% of WMO Members have developed or advanced hydrometeorological services, while 26% only deliver essential or inadequate services, according to the most recent WMO survey.
The survey also showed that about 94% of WMO members have an established disaster risk reduction mechanism, but only 57% have impact-based forecasts.
WMO seeks to ensure that all countries have access to high-quality weather and climate forecasts from designated global and regional specialized centers and have multi-hazard early warning services. WMO also develops integrated urban and health services including air quality, heat waves and other stressors.
WMO coordinates the work of thousands of experts from meteorological and hydrological services, research institutions and academia. It is the international lynchpin in the daily collection of millions of observations by satellites, land-based and upper air stations, ocean buoys and ships and aircraft. These are used for daily forecasts of weather, air quality and marine, as well as long-term monitoring of the pulse of the planet.
The accuracy of forecasts has grown. However, there are significant geographic gaps in the global basic observing system. Many developing countries, especially Africa and parts of South America and Asia, have insufficient capacity.
The opportunities provided by scientific innovation are tremendous – as are the gaps in observation coverage, which puts everyone at risk. In an era of cutting-edge satellite technology and artificial intelligence, there are countries which still lack basic rain gauges.
A new generation of WMO backbone infrastructures are in front of Congress: integrated observing system (WIGOS 2040 vision), WMO information system (WIS-2.0), a new architecture for climate monitoring from space and seamless global data processing and forecasting system.
WMO promotes innovation in Earth system approach and science-to-service orientation. It has also intensified collaboration with development partners such as the World Bank and Green Climate Fund to boost targeted, well-informed and scaled-up investment in hydrometeorological services.
The Congress is expected to approve a new WMO Strategic Plan for 2030. This plane sets five long term goals and top overarching priorities, including:
• Enhancing preparedness for, and reducing losses of life and property from hydrometeorological extremes,
• Supporting climate-smart decision making to build resilience and adaptation to climate risk,
• Enhancing the socioeconomic value of weather, climate, hydrological and related environmental services
In line with the strategic plan, Congress will discuss a fundamental reform of the governance structure of WMO. The need for regular reform is being driven by increasing threats of extreme weather and climate urge action for resilience, mitigation and adaptation; growing capacity gap threatens global infrastructure and services; rapid advancements in science and technology and changing the landscape of data and service delivery urge for innovative partnerships, and other forces.
The reform aims to coordinate systems of observation and data management, to standardize observations and measurements, to provide mechanisms for engaging with partners beyond the WMO community. Further, to harmonize services for decision-making and socioeconomic benefits.
The potential benefits of the WMO reform process include:
• Earth system approach embracing meteorology, climatology, hydrology, oceanography, seismology, volcanology, air quality, greenhouse gases
• Multi-hazard and impact based seamless services covering weather, climate, water, aviation, marine, agriculture, urban, energy, health
• Wide climate perspective which coordinate observations, services, science, mitigation and adaptation
• Closer involvement of hydrological services in WMO activities and weather-water synergies
• Organized and controlled engagement of the private sector in WMO activities
• Optimal use of National Meteorological and Hydrological Services and Secretariat resources, thus providing more support for regional activities
It is worth mentioning that Oman meteorology is reinforced by several modern means including weather radars, marine radars and its monitoring stations, as well as the expansion of a number of meteorological stations established in several regions of the Sultanate. A number of meteorological stations have also been equipped with modern instruments which can sustain high wind speeds. The WMO hailed the outstanding role played by the Sultanate in dealing with extraordinary weather conditions (Tropical Cyclone Mekunu) through a letter addressed to PACA after the distinguished role played by the media in dealing with this type of climatic conditions.
Since its accession to the WMO in 1975, PACA has been striving for continued and fruitful cooperation with WMO and its regional centres in terms of exchanging information and developing its weather forecasting and monitoring systems. The cooperation also includes improving the efficiency of weather forecasts, reducing the risk of weather climate hazards and increasing investment in the field of meteorological infrastructure. Besides, PACA has initiated and implemented the unified operational manual for the National Multi-Hazard Early Warning Center (NMHEWC), which will facilitate procedures and the way of dealing with risks the Sultanate may face.