Solutions for Precise Measurement of Solar Radiation and - WMO

Solutions for Precise Measurement of Solar Radiation and - WMO

VolumE 59 (1) - JANuARY 2010

Wmo BullETIN


Vol. 59 (1) - January 2010 Feature articles | Interviews | News | Book reviews | Calendar


of service

for your safety

and well-being

Message from the


Building a legacy through

World Climate Conference-3



The Global Satellite

Observing System:

a success stroy


(Russian Federation)

850 km













Public weather services for

disaster risk reduction

The Global Atmosphere Watch: a

history of contributing to climate


7 21


over the past 60 years, Wmo and its

members have created and evolved

observing and information systems to

meet the ever-growing challenges of an

increasingly complex society.


The journal of the

World Meteorological


Volume 59 (1) - January 2010

Secretary-General M. Jarraud

Deputy Secretary-General Hong Yan

Assistant Secretary-General J. Lengoasa

The WMO Bulletin is published in 2010 in January

and July in English, French, Russian and

Spanish editions.

Editor Elena Manaenkova

Associate Editor Lisa M.P. Munoz

Editorial board

Hong Yan (Chair)

L. Munoz (Secretary)

G. Asrar (climate research)

L. Barrie (atmospheric research and


G. Love (weather and disaster risk reduction


E. Manaenkova (policy, external relations)

R. Masters (development, regional activities)

B. Ryan (satellites)

M. Sivakumar (climate)

A. Tyagi (water)

J. Wilson (education and training)

Wenjian Zhang (observing and information


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presentation of material therein do not imply the expression

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Opinions expressed in articles or in advertisements appearing

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and do not necessarily reflect those of WMO. The mention of

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does not imply that they are endorsed or recommended by

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mentioned or advertised.


In this issue .......................................................................................... 2

Message from the Secretary-General on the occasion of World

Meteorological Day 2010 ...................................................................... 4

The Global Satellite Observing System: a success story

by Tillman Mohr ........................................................................................ 7

Pioneering the collection and exchange of meteorological data

by Fred Branski ......................................................................................... 12

Working to standardize instruments and methods of observation

by John Nash, Klaus Behrens and Michel Leroy .............................................. 18

Public weather services for disaster risk reduction

by B.Y. Lee and Hilda Lam ............................................................................. 21

Building a legacy through World Climate Conference-3......................... 27

WCC-3 High-level Segment: in their own words .................................. 30

The Global Atmosphere Watch: a history of contributing to climate

monitoring by Ed Dlugokencky, John Miller and Johannes Staehelin ............... 35

The evolution of operational hydrology within WMO by Harry F. Lins .... 40

Building capacity around the world ..................................................... 46

Calendar .............................................................................................. 53

Milestones ............................................................................................ 54

The World Meteorological Organization ............................................ 56

News of WMO activities and recent events may be found in the WMO newsletter

MeteoWorld (, in the WMO

news section ( and on the Web pages

of WMO programmes. For more information, visit

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CH-1211 Geneva 2, Switzerland E-mail:

In this issue

With this year’s World Meteorological

Day, WMO celebrates “60 years

of service for your safety and wellbeing”.

This issue of the Bulletin joins

the celebration, taking a look at the

evolution of several key programmes

and focus areas at WMO over the past

six decades. These activities have

brought new levels of cooperation

to the international meteorological

community. In his customary yearly

message for World Meteorological

Day, the WMO Secretary-General

shares some thoughts about the

Organization’s contributions over

the years.

In the opening feature, Tillmann Mohr

takes readers back to the early days

of the satellite revolution. From the

first meteorological satellite in 1960

and the subsequent establishment

of the World Weather Watch to the

creation of the Global Observing

System (GOS), WMO has played a

critical role in coordinating satellites

of individual countries to give

worldwide coverage. Work in this

area traverses boundaries and brings

together countries in an unparalleled

fashion. Meteorological parameters

extracted from satellite data have

revolutionized the study of weather,

water and climate.

WMO not only coordinates observations

from space, but also from

land, air and sea. GOS coordinates

the provision of reliable meteorological

observations through around

2 | WMO Bulletin 59 (1) - January 2010

11 000 land stations, 1 300 upper-air

stations, 4 000 ships, about 1 200

drifting and 200 moored buoys, and

3 000 ARGOS profiling floats, as well

as 3 000 commercial aircraft, five

operational polar-orbiting meteorological

satellites, six geostationary

meteorological satellites, and several

environmental research and development


WMO has been a pioneer in

the collection, exchange and

standardization of data over the

years, providing the basis for climate

monitoring, weather forecasts and

warnings, and key hydrological

advisories. In this issue, Fred Branski

outlines many WMO contributions

to this field, highlighting recent

new technological needs and

developments. An important

component of this work is ensuring

that instruments and methods

of observation are standardized

worldwide. John Nash and his

co-authors explain the basis for

WMO work in this area, describing

the history of the Commission

for Instruments and Methods of


The observations and monitoring

facilitated worldwide by WMO bring

to bear essential data and information

used by public weather services.

These services include the provision

of weather forecasts, early warnings

on hazardous weathers and

work in collaboration with disas-

ter relief organizations to minimize

loss of life and property. How the

public receives such information

has changed dramatically over the

past 60 years, as B.Y. Lee and Hilda

Lam explain in their article on public

weather services. Continual

advances in weather monitoring and

prediction, along with technological

advances such as personal mobile

devices, have greatly enhanced the

ability of National Meteorological

and Hydrological Services to deliver

to their citizens timely weather information

and early warnings.

The provision of timely climate

information was a key subject

of discussion at World Climate

Conference-3 (WCC-3) in Geneva,

Switzerland from 31 August to

4 September 2009, when more than

2 000 scientific and sectoral experts,

policymakers and decision-makers

met. The Global Framework for

Climate Services, established by

high-level representatives from 160

countries during the WCC-3 Highlevel

Segment, aims to enhance

climate services for decisionmakers,

climate-sensitive sectors

and the public. Articles on WCC-

3 summarize the major outcomes

of the international meeting and

activities related to WCC-3 at the

December United Nations Climate

Change Conference in Copenhagen,

Denmark, and highlight excerpts

from several of the distinguished

Heads of State and/or Government

and high-level officials who attended


An important backbone of WMO

climate activities is the Global

Atmosphere Watch (GAW), which

as highlighted by Ed Dlugokencky

and his co-authors in this issue, continuously

monitors the atmosphere

for levels of greenhouse gases and

other atmospheric constituents that

influence the global climate. GAW provides

data for scientific assessments

and early warnings of changes in the

chemical composition and related

physical characteristics of the atmosphere

that may adversely affect the


In addition to weather and climate,

water is a key area of WMO activities.

Harry Lins explores the evolution of

hydrology activities at WMO, looking

at the critical decisions that led to the

robust programme that exists today.

As in the weather and climate arenas,

WMO hydrology efforts have greatly

expanded cross-border collaboration,

improving the collection, monitoring,

assessment and management of

water resources worldwide.

A final major area of focus for this sixtieth

anniversary issue is in the arena

of capacity building. Development of

human and technological resources,

especially in developing countries,

underpins most WMO activities. The

Development and Regional Activities

Department has greatly assisted the

National Meteorological and Hydrological

Services of WMO Members in

expanding and developing over the

years, while also working to establish

strategic partnerships across the

United Nations System and the international


A milestones section commemorates

key events in the history of WMO. This

Bulletin issue kicks off what will be a

yearlong celebration of meteorological

achievements and cooperation

within the international scientific


WMO Bulletin 59 (1) - January 2010 |

60 years of service for your

safety and well-being

Message by Michel Jarraud, Secretary-General of WMO,

on the occasion of World Meteorological Day 2010

Every year on 23 March, the World

Meteorological Organization

(WMO) and the international

meteorological community join in

celebrating World Meteorological

Day, to commemorate the coming

into force of the WMO Convention

on 23 March 1950, precisely 30 days

after the day when the thirtieth

instrument of ratification of the

Convention was deposited by

countries wishing to join the

new Organization. The text of

the Convention had previously

been approved unanimously, on

11 October 1947, by representatives

of 31 countries at a Conference of

Directors of National Meteorological

Services held in Washington, D.C.

Until then, international colla-

boration in meteorology had been

the mission of the International

Meteorological Organization (IMO),

which resulted from a process

launched at the First International

Meteorological Congress (Vienna,

September 1873) to facilitate

coordinated observations and

instrument standardization and which

was also responsible for the 1896

publishing of the first international

cloud-atlas. The IMO assumed its

form through a sequence of decisions

adopted by an ad-hoc Permanent

Committee presided by C.H.D. Buys

Ballot (Netherlands), during the period

between the Vienna Congress and the

Second International Meteorological

Congress (Rome, April 1879).

| WMO Bulletin 59 (1) - January 2010

A key outcome of the Rome Congress

was the establishing of the

International Meteorological Committee,

firstly presided by Heinrich

Wild (Russia/Switzerland), with the

responsibility to review IMO progress

periodically and to take any necessary

actions. Thus was born the

predecessor of our WMO Executive

Council. Moreover, although the

two congresses were governmental

meetings, the International Meteorological

Committee agreed that IMO

would function more efficiently, at

that time, as a non-governmental

organization. Therefore, no further

International Meteorological Congresses

were convened by IMO and

a system of Conferences of Directors

of Meteorological Services was

established instead, on a non-governmental


In addition to its key role in the

standardization of observations, IMO

made outstanding contributions to

scientific research, in particular by

organizing the first two International

Polar Years, during the periods 1882-

1883 and 1932-1933, on a scale that

exceeded the capabilities of any single


IMO and WMO in fact coexisted for a

very short period, before the final IMO

Conference of Directors gathered in

Paris from 15-17 March 1951, and, at

its closure, IMO President Sir Nelson

Johnson (UK) formally declared that

IMO ceased to exist and that WMO had

Michel Jarraud, Secretary-General

taken its place. Two days later, on 19

March 1951, the First WMO Congress

opened in Paris and at the end of the

same year, on 20 December 1951, The

United Nations General Assembly

adopted its Resolution 531(VI) and

WMO became a specialized agency

of the United Nations System.

WMO was therefore fortunate that

its founders chose to erect it upon

the solid base laid out by IMO and

through a Convention which, with

minor amendments, has succeeded

in providing all the strength and the

flexibility needed by WMO to take

appropriate initiatives and to face

the challenges it encountered over

six decades.

From the start, WMO was recognized

as the paradigm of successful

international cooperation and even the

Cold War was no impediment, since

meteorology does not distinguish

political boundaries, so cooperation

flourished during those difficult

years. Observational networks were

extended to cover practically the

entire globe and measurements were

expanded to include all traditional

and even some non-traditional

environmental parameters.

WMO was however always aware of

the risks and the 1986 WMO Technical

Document No 99 - Possible Climatic

Consequences of a Major Nuclear

War - shall remain a historic reference

for future generations. The nuclear

winter scenario has now ceased to be

a major concern but, by then, WMO

had released its 1976 authoritative

statement on the accumulation of

carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and

the potential impacts on the Earth’s

climate, which contributed to focus

attention on global warming and

climate change, clearly seen today

as a major threat to sustainable

development and even to human

survival, and which United Nations

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has

identified as “the defining challenge

of our era”.

Following the First World Climate

Conference, organized in 1979 to

consider the looming threat of climate

change and its potential impacts,

WMO and ICSU established the

World Climate Research Programme

(WCRP), subsequently also joined by

the Intergovernmental Oceanographic

Commission (IOC) of UNESCO.

WCRP has been vital for science, in

particular by providing the scientific

foundation of the assessments of

the Intergovernmental Panel on

Climate Change (IPCC), which WMO

and the United Nations Environment

Programme (UNEP) have co-sponsored

since 1988 and which at the end of

2007 received the prestigious Nobel

Peace Prize.

Moreover, as a consequence of the

Second World Climate Conference

(Geneva, November 1990), WMO

joined forces with ICSU, UNEP and

the IOC of UNESCO to establish the

Global Climate Observing System

(GCOS). In addition, the Second

World Climate Conference set in

motion the process leading to the

establishment of the United Nations

Framework Convention on Climate

Change (UNFCCC).

Another major challenge arrived in

1975 when WMO convened a group

of experts to release an authoritative

statement alerting the world on the

thinning of our protective stratospheric

ozone layer shielding us from exposure

to excessive ultraviolet radiation.

The ozone-hole issue demonstrated

the importance of long-term

measurements, without which ozone

destruction would have continued

unabated and might not have been

detected until more serious damage

was evident. The ensuing Montreal

Protocol to the Vienna Convention

has been an outstanding example of

collaboration among scientists and


As we look back over these six

decades, several developments

opened exceptional scientific and

technological possibilities for the

Organization; for example, the laun-

ching of artificial satellites and the

unprecedented possibilities which

they offered in terms of observations,

in coincidence with the thriving

development of computers and

telecommunications. These initially

individual factors soon converged

to facilitate real-time international

exchange of data and products and the

implementation of the World Weather

Watch, a key WMO programme which

became the basis for the others.

WMO sponsored research flourished.

After the Organization assumed

IMO responsibilities, it joined forces

with the International Council for

Science (ICSU) to launch the 1957-

1958 International Geophysical Year

and, more recently, the International

Polar Year 2007-2008, which is still

producing exceptional scientific

results. WMO and ICSU organized

in 1967 the Global Atmospheric

Research Programme and its famous

experiments, among which the GARP

Atlantic Tropical Experiment, the

Monsoon Experiment and the 1978-

1979 First GARP Global Experiment,

or Global Weather Experiment.

Marked improvement in weather

forecasting soon followed: whereas

in 1950 we only could hope for 24-

to 36-hour forecasts, today we have

useful seven-day predictions, an

achievement of WMO’s international

coordinating role in observations,

research, analysis and modelling, and

also led to longer-range predictions,

from a season to a year ahead. This

would not have been possible without

the free and unrestricted international

exchange of data and products, a

concept so implicitly structured in the

spirit of the WMO Convention that it had

not been formally included initially.

By the 1990s, however, the inter-

national services-delivery structure

had substantially evolved from its

form of the 1950s, and at one point this

situation developed enough for it to

become a major challenge, which was

addressed by WMO Members with

foresight and determination, within

the traditional spirit of cooperation and

satisfactorily resolved through World

Meteorological Congress Resolutions 40

(Cg-XII) and 25 (Cg-XIII).

Natural hazards pose very serious

threats to human security, so WMO

has devoted substantial efforts

to develop operational warning

systems and effective preparedness

measures, which have contributed

to a significant decrease in the

associated loss of lives. To ensure

that these benefits reach its Members,

WMO has devoted considerable

attention to the development needs

of the National Meteorological and

Hydrological Services, in particular

in the least developed countries,

to warrant that they have ready

access to advanced products and the

capacity to use them according to

their national requirements and their

global commitments, an objective driven

by WMO’s fundamental mission.

During these 60 years, the map of the

world has changed substantially, and

WMO Bulletin 59 (1) - January 2010 | 5

today WMO’s Membership comprises

189 countries and territories, following

the recent incorporation of the

Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste

on 4 December 2009. However, at

the time of joining WMO some of our

newer Members lack the experience

and the resources to establish even

the most fundamental weather

services in support of their sustainable

development, so technical cooperation

and education and training are areas

in which WMO accomplishments have

clearly made a difference.

The resolution to incorporate

hydrology within the scope of WMO

developed between the Second (1955)

and Third (1959) World Meteorological

Congresses. The latter established

the Commission for Hydrological

Meteorology, which by 1971 had

evolved into the present CHy. Thanks

to these key decisions, surface and

ground water monitoring and quality

controls have enabled WMO to issue

authoritative warnings against

dwindling water supplies, especially

in view of mounting population

pressure and water pollution, while

WMO integrated water resources

management is showing the way to

optimize the exploitation of our limited

fresh water resources.

It is today traditional to focus the

annual World Meteorological Day

celebration on a special theme and

at its sixtieth session the WMO

Executive Council decided that in

2010 this theme would be “the World

| WMO Bulletin 59 (1) - January 2010

Meteorological Organization –60 Years

of service for your safety and wellbeing”,

a specially appropriate theme

at a time when communities around

the globe are striving to achieve

the United Nations Millennium

Development Goals, in particular

concerning health, food and water

security and poverty alleviation, as

well as to improve their resilience in

the face of recurrent natural disasters

and to assist them in proactively

responding to the mounting impacts

of climate variability and change.

Several other WMO programmes and

activities have provided exceptional

examples during these six decades of

the socioeconomic benefits that can

be achieved by many sectors through

cooperation in meteorology, especially

in terms of human safety and wellbeing.

Obvious examples include

agriculture and food security, health,

transportation, tourism, construction

and energy, among others. It might

be impractical and even inequitable

to give credit to all of them in this

short message, so they are considered

far more fittingly in the 2010 World

Meteorological Day booklet “World

Meteorological Organization – 60

years of service for your safety and


The new booklet is also a renewed

effort to preserve WMO history for

future generations. I am indeed

confident that the theme of World

Meteorological Day 2010: “the

World Meteorological Organization

– 60 Years of service for your safety

and well-being” will contribute to

further engage all WMO Members

and partners, for which I wish to

congratulate them wholeheartedly.

I also would like to recall that Heads

of State and Government, Ministers

and senior government officials of

160 countries, participating from

31 August to 4 September 2009 in

the High-level Segment of World

Climate Conference-3 (WCC-3),

unanimously agreed to establish a

Global Framework for Climate Services

(GFCS) to strengthen the provision and

use of climate predictions, products

and information worldwide.

This GFCS will be crucial to support

climate change-resilient societies.

Through strengthened observations,

research and information, as well

as novel interaction mechanisms

between climate information users

and providers, the Framework will

ensure that all societal sectors

have user-friendly climate products

enabling them to better plan ahead in

the face of a changing climate.

I am convinced that through this

initiative and others that will follow,

WMO will be even more relevant in

serving humanity over decades to

come. For this capability we are all

in debt to successive generations of

meteorologists and hydrologists from

all countries. To all of them we pay

tribute on the occasion of the 2010

World Meteorological Day.

The Global Satellite Observing

System: a success story

by Tillmann Mohr*

The first launches of artificial

satellites beginning with Sputnik on

4 October 1957 by the Soviet Union

and with Explorer I by the United

States of America on 2 January

1958 heralded a new era of Earth

observation. A few years later, on

1 April 1960, the first meteorological

satellite, TIROS–1, was launched,

providing the first-ever pictures of

the distribution of clouds, images

previously undreamed of (Figure 1).

Although the spacecraft operated

only for 78 days, meteorologists

worldwide were ecstatic over the

pictures of Earth and its cloud


Thus began the satellite revolution,

which was to forever change how

people observed the planet. These

advances in computer and space

technology at the end of the 1950s

and the beginning of the 1960s

stimulated the creation of the

WMO World Weather Watch, and

ultimately the WMO Global Satellite

Observing System. The Global

Satellite Observing System has had

unparalleled success in bringing

together the countries of the world

to scientifically collaborate and

transform how meteorologists study

the planet and the atmosphere.

* Special Advisor to the Secretary-General

of WMO on Satellite Matters (since 2004);

former Director-General of EUMETSAT


Getting the initial boost

In June 1962, two outstanding

scientists, Soviet academician

V. Bugaev and American H. Wexler,

prepared a report that highlighted

the enormous potential of satellite

data for both the operational and

research meteorological community,

and they proposed a new structure,

the World Weather Watch (WWW).

Submitted by WMO to the United

Nations, the report was a response

to the Resolution 1721 (XVI) of the

General Assembly of the United

Nations of 20 December 19 61

on “International Co-operation

in the Peaceful Uses of Outer

Space”. Based on their report, the

General Assembly requested in its

Resolution 1802 (XVII) of 1962 that

the development of meteorology

and atmospheric science “be for

the benefit of all mankind”.

As a result, the WWW concept was

further elaborated and the idea of

a Global Atmospheric Research

Programme (GARP) emerged

during the following years. In

1963, the Fourth WMO Congress

approved the concept of the WWW

with its sub-systems: Global

Observing System (GOS), Global

Data Processing System and Global

Telecommunication System. And

in May 1967, the Fifth Congress

approved the WWW Plan and

Implementation Programme.

Figure 1 — TIROS-I, first weather satellite

image, 1 April 1960. The picture shows the

New England Coast of the United States of

America and Canada’s Maritime Provinces,

north of the St. Lawrence River.

Creating a spacebased


In the first plan, GOS comprised five

conventional observing components

and the meteorological satellites.

At this time, only polar-orbiting

satellites existed, and the system

needed only one or two of such

satellites. In addition the plan

under the heading “Meteorological

Satellites” made a very important

statement: “The WMO should assist

in bringing about co-ordination of the

satellite programmes of individual

WMO Bulletin 59 (1) - January 2010 |



countries (or groups of countries)”

(Figure 2).

During the following years, two

important technical developments

took place that would underscore the

international coordination to come.

On 28 February 1966, ESSA-2, which

was the first operational polar-orbiting

meteorological satellite equipped

with an operational real-time picture

transmission, the so-called APT, was

launched by the United States. It

allowed the countries of the world

to receive in real time twice a day

imagery data in their area of reception

(Figure 3). In December of the same

year, a technology demonstration

communication satellite ATS-I

flew in geostationary orbit with a

meteorological payload. This satellite

successfully confirmed the potential of

frequent satellite observations (every

30 minutes) from geostationary orbit

– an orbit 35 800 kilometres above

the equator that maintains the same

position relative to Earth. One year

later, ATS-III was launched, the first

geostationary satellite with three

channels in the visible spectrum,

which for the first time enabled colour

images (Figure 4).

These advances paved the way

for significant progress in the

development of GOS and GARP,

specifically in the planning for the

First Global GARP Experiment (FGGE).

This experiment, conducted by a wide

| WMO Bulletin 59 (1) - January 2010


(Russian Federation)

850 km











range of organizations, studied the

entire global atmosphere in detail for

a period of one year (December 1978

to November 1979). Both the upgraded

WWW Plan and Implementation

Programme for 1972 to 1975, as well as

the planning documents for the FGGE,

contained new requirements for the

satellite configuration of GOS and

the observing system of the FGGE.

Two or three polar-orbiting and four

geostationary satellites were now


In the early 1970s, the United

States launched its Synchronous

Meteorological Satellites SMS-A

and SMS-B as forerunners of its

Figure 3 — ESSA-8,

cyclone over the

North Atlantic,

composite of

two images,

29 March 1970

Figure 2 — The

WMO Global

Satellite Observing

System, 1961

Geostationary Operational Envi-

ronmental Satellites (GOES), which

were stationed at 60 West and

140 West longitudes, respectively.

At the same time the European Space

Research Organization (ESRO) —

which later became the European

Space Agency (ESA) — and Japan,

started their geostationary satellite

projects to fill the gaps over 0 degrees

and 120 East longitude in time for

the FGGE.


global satellites

When the Europeans and the Japanese

announced their separate satellite

programmes, it was realized that it

was time to coordinate the different

activities. A meeting was convened

in Washington, D.C., on 19 September

1972 with participants from ESRO,

Japan and the United States. WMO

and the Joint Planning Staff for GARP

attended as observers.

The meeting identified several areas

for coordination, in particular for

the collection of fixed and moving

platforms and for the so-called

WEFAX to transmit image data in

analogue format. In 1973, at the second

meeting, the group adopted the name

SSEC, Madison, Wisconsin, USA

Figure 4 — ATS-III, 18 November 1967

Coordination of Geostationary Meteorological

Satellites (CGMS). WMO,

representing the user community, and

the Soviet Union, when it announced

its plan to set up a geostationary

satellite project, also became members

of CGMS.

The CGMS satellite operators were

able to implement within a few years

a constellation of five geostationary

satellites in time for FGGE. The United

States provided three, one over the

Western Atlantic, another over the

Eastern Pacific and a third over the

Indian Ocean. Europe stationed

one over 0 degrees and Japan one

over 140 East longitude. This was a

tremendous achievement.

India joined CGMS in 1979 after the

decision to place an imaging radiometer

on its series of geostationary

telecommunication satellites, INSAT,

the first of which was launched in 1983.

EUMETSAT and China came on board

in 1987 and 1989, respectively.

When EUMETSAT and China

announced in the late 1980s their

intentions to fly not only geostationary

satellites but also polar-orbiting

ones, it became obvious that there

was a need to extend the coordination

to include polar-orbiting satellites.

Recommended by the WMO Executive

Council Panel of Experts on Satellites

in October 1989, CGMS agreed to

incorporate this new task and adopted

a new chapter by 31 January 1992. The

group changed the name accordingly

to Coordination Group for Meteorological

Satellites. The Panel of the

Executive Council further recommended

extending the coordination

to include the extraction of meteorological

parameters and contingency


Extracting meteorological


During the first 10 years after the

launch of TIROS-1, the images were

applied in weather forecasting

primarily by improving surface and

upper air analyses with qualitative

information on cloud texture, extent

and formation. Such qualitative work

helped to determine types of clouds,

cloud coverage and the location

of frontal systems and centres of

cyclones and tropical storms. The

first quantitative data derived were

the cloud-tracked winds from the

geostationary satellites.

Only with additional instruments,

such as the first vertical sounders

in the late 1960s, the extraction of

quantitative parameters became

possible. Now, satellite data produce

more than 100 different parameters.

They range from vertical humidity

profiles and sea-surface temperatures,

to cloud top heights, snow cover and

ozone distribution. They are today the

most significant input to numerical

weather prediction models and other

applications. Total inputs for numerical

models on a single day exceed

several million. The overwhelming

improvement in numerical weather

prediction models during the last

20 years is due to the input of satellite

data, notwithstanding advances in

theoretical meteorology and computer


CGMS has played a significant role

in the coordination of the extraction

of data. It directed, rather early, its

attention to the enhancement of the

utilization and the improvement of the

quality of satellite products. Under

its auspices, the International TIROS

Operational Vertical Sounder Study

Conference has been meeting since

1983. This group was instrumental

in developing and distributing

common software packages for

temperature and moisture profile

retrieval algorithms to be used by

the meteorological community. The

Working Group on Cloud Motion

Vectors, established in September

1991, focused their efforts on the

science, operational development

and use of atmospheric motion winds

from geostationary and, since 2004,

also from polar-orbiting imagery

data. In 2000, a Working Group on

Precipitation was added.

Making contingency


At the request of WMO to deal more

actively with the important issue

of contingency — what to do when

things go wrong — a first meeting

of the Working Group on Global

WMO Bulletin 59 (1) - January 2010 | 9

Contingency Planning was called

in October 1992 and was attended

by EUMETSAT, Japan, the United

States and WMO. Contingency

planning is vital in light of the critical

role satellites play in worldwide

observations and the high costs of

launching and maintaining them.

The working group discussed that

the only realistic way forward

was to build global contingency

planning based on regional plans

using the “help your neighbour”

philosophy. The possibility of

redeployment of satellites was ruled

out due to financial and technical


The “help your neighbour” philosophy

had been tested several times over

the years. When the data collection

service onboard METEOSAT-2 failed

in 1984, GOES-4 was moved over

the middle of the Atlantic. The next

positive demonstration took place in

1991 in response to a USA request

when the only fully operational

geostationary satellite, GOES-7,

was left to cover the United States.

METEOSAT-3 was moved to 50 West

longitude by August 1991 and from

February 1993 until May 1995, it

moved again to 75 West longitude.

As a result of this successful and very

positive experience, EUMETSAT and

the United States in July 1995 signed a

long-term agreement on the backup of

operational meteorological satellites

(Figure 5).

Three other regional contingency

activities have occurred. In the

autumn of 1992, Japan provided

support in the Pacific region for

data collection of Regional Data

Collection Platforms, and in

January 1998, EUMETSAT moved

its METEOSAT-5 over the Indian

Ocean to 63 East longitude when

the Russian geostationary satellite

GOMS-Electro N1 failed. When the

Japanese GMS-5 stopped operating,

the United States helped out with

GOES-9 from May 2003 to July

2005 over the Eastern Pacific. This

experience led to Japan and the

United States signing a long-term

10 | WMO Bulletin 59 (1) - January 2010

Figure 5 — Hurricane Andrew, METEOSAT-3, 24 August 1992

agreement in February 2005 to

guarantee continuous geostationary

satellite coverage over East Asia and

the Western Pacific.

When China and EUMETSAT established

their respective polar-orbiting

programmes in the 1990s, it became

necessary to extend the contingency

planning to polar-orbiting

satellites. Based on the then-basic

WMO requirement for two satellites

in polar orbit, one in the morning

and one in the afternoon orbit, a

constellation of four polar-orbiting

satellites was required to meet the

contingency needs. Each of the satellites

in the morning or the afternoon

orbit would be backed up by one


Since then, based on the very

positive impact of the sounding data

from more than two polar-orbiting

satellites in numerical weather

prediction models, the number

of satellites required by WMO in

polar orbit has been increased from

two to four. As a consequence,

the discussion on contingency

planning for polar-orbiting satellites

is continuing. The main issues are

backup arrangements and equator

crossing times.

Reviewing GOS and

further integration

At the end of the 1990s, the need for a

review and update of GOS, including

its space-based sub-system became

evident. In 1999, CGMS reviewed

the compliance of the space-based

component of GOS in post-2010 time

frame. It concluded that the upgraded

component should not only include

operational meteorological but also

research and other Earth observing

satellite systems.

Since 2000, the Consultative

Meetings on High-Level Policy on

Satellite Matters, involving the heads

of the operational and research and

development satellite operators

and senior officials of WMO, have

provided a forum for high-level

policy discussions. It has paved the

way for the inclusion of research

and development Earth observing

satellites into the space-based subsystem

of GOS after approval by

the fourteenth WMO Congress in

June 2003.

Since that time, the number of

satellites contributing to the system

has increased significantly. Now, a













R & D orbit





Other R & D


land use,

atmospheric chemistry

and hydrological missions






fleet of satellites provides data to

different user communities, in the

field of meteorology, oceanography

and climate (Figure 6).

WMO has placed emphasis on user

communities since the 1980s, when

it initiated the definition of user

requirements by its programmes.

The requirements subsequently

included meteorology, hydrology,

climatology, oceanography, climate

and global change-related disciplines.

The process also took into account

the requirements for education

and training. CGMS responded to

this from 1995 onward with the

establishment of a system of Regional

Meteorological Training Centres,

upgraded to centres of excellence

in satellite meteorology and evenly

distributed around the world by the

continuing support of some of its

member space agencies.

Over the years, several research

and development space agencies

have become members of CGMS


ROSCOSMOS). As early as 2001, the

METEOR 3M (Russian Federation)

850 km














FY-1/3 (China)

35 800 km







(Russian Federation)




Figure 6 — The WMO Global Satellite Observing System, 2009




Okean series





(Republic of Korea)





Intergovernmental Oceanographic

Commission of the United Nations

Educational, Scientific and Cultural

Organization joined CGMS to represent

the oceanographic community.

As a result, by 1 January 2004, WMO

established a Space Pro-gramme,

which together with the Consultative

Meetings and the CGMS, pushed

several initiatives ahead. The

Integrated Global Data Dissemination

System of WMO, based on the regional

data dissemination systems of the

operational CGMS members China

Meteorological Administration,

EUMETSAT and the United States

National Oceanic and Atmospheric

Administration, has been operational

since the end of 2006. In April 2007, the

Global Space-based Inter-Calibration

System began its operation as a

component of the space-based subsystem

of GOS and, in the same year,

the concept of a global network of

centres for Sustained Coordinated

Processing of Environmental Satellite

Data for Climate Monitoring was

approved by potential participants

and started its pilot phase in 2009.

In February 2005, the Global Earth

Observing System of Systems

(GEOSS) was approved by its

participating countries. Responsible

for the implementation is the

Intergovernmental Group on Earth

Observations. Within this system,

WMO leads or participates in the

weather, water, climate and disaster

Societal Benefit Areas of GEOSS

and is a sponsor of component

systems of GEOSS. The spacebased

sub-system of the GOS forms

a component of the Space Segment


Looking to the future

The development of GOS from a

one-satellite system in 1967 to a

constellation of a fleet of operational

and research and development

satellites is one of the most

outstanding successes of WMO

and its Members contributing to

the system. The system serves not

only the observational requirements

of weather forecasting as it did

in its first years but also a wide

range of applications meeting

the requirements of hydrology,

climatology, oceanography and

disaster prevention.

In the coming years, the emphasis will

have to move to cover also the needs

of climate change and global changerelated

disciplines. An international

space observing architecture for the

operational monitoring of climate

change will have to be established.

WMO is well suited to facilitate this

endeavour. It can be anticipated that

in a few years this architecture will be

part of the space-based sub-system

of the new WMO Integrated Global

Observing System (WIGOS), which

strives to provide a comprehensive

global observing system that

integrates diverse surface and spacebased

observations in the service of


WMO Bulletin 59 (1) - January 2010 | 11

Pioneering the collection and

exchange of meteorological data

by Fred Branski*

Over the past 60 years, WMO and

its Members have created and

evolved observing and information

systems to meet the ever-growing

challenges of an increasingly

complex society. Through the World

Weather Watch (WWW) and a new

generation of integrated observation

and information systems, WMO

Members have been able to provide

key services to decision-makers in our

society, from the individual, to public

agencies, to business enterprises.

Observations have grown from the

thousands to the billions. Some data

centres today process more than

1.7 billion observations per day. It is

a testament to WMO and its Members

that the systems for which they have

been responsible have so significantly

contributed to the understanding of

our world and its environment.

The WWW legacy

In April 1963, the Fourth World

Meteorological Congress approved

the concept of the WWW Programme

of WMO. Congress recognized the

value of an end-to-end approach even

though this concept of organization

had not yet become mainstream

in systems planning at the time.

WWW was conceived with three

main components, each having a

* NOAA; President of WMO

Commission for Basic Systems

12 | WMO Bulletin 59 (1) - January 2010

three-tiered structure of national,

regional and global focus: the Global

Observing System, the Global Data-

Processing System and the Global

Telecommunication System.

Collecting observations

In the mid-1960s, some 8 000

meteorological stations on land and

4 000 ships were making standard

surface observations throughout

the world. About one-tenth of the

land stations and a few of the ships

made upper-air observations; these

observations were complemented by

3 000 aircraft and cloud observations

from polar-orbiting satellites. WMO

Members recognized the value of

the observations for enhancing both

their own capabilities and the global

community as a whole when shared

for the common good. With WMO as

the organizational umbrella, Members

effectively coordinated the Global

Observing System (GOS) as a starting

point for understanding the weather

affecting citizens the world over.

Since the establishment of WWW,

the observing network has improved

through an increase in both the

number and performance of the

observing stations. For example,

approximately 3 000 additional

land stations have been added,

and a new network of 1 200 drifting

buoys has been established. The

space-based components of the

observing system have also been

further developed, including both

geostationary and polar-orbiting

meteorological satellites. In addition,

many automated observing systems

are now part of GOS, including

radars, wind profilers and automatic

weather stations. Also, significant

improvements were made to ship and

aircraft observing systems.

Processing data globally

Renamed the Global Data-Processing

and Forecast System (GDPFS), the

Global Data-Processing System

was initially composed of three

World Meteorological Centres and

several Regional Meteorological

Centres (RMCs) responsible for

preparing global and regional

products to be distributed to

National Meteorological Centres

(NMCs) through the Global Tele-

communication System. From year

to year, GDPFS has continuously

increased the number and the quality

of its output products.

The increasing specialization and

sophistication in the provision of

meteorological services led to the

redesignation of RMCs as Regional

Meteorological Specialized Centres

(RSMCs) with geographical or

activity specialization. These

centres today span the full realm of

hydrometeorological applications,

from regional and global numerical







modelling centres, including ensemble

prediction systems, to specialized

centres supporting aviation, tropical

cyclone warning, tsunami warning and

long-range climate prediction. GDPFS

centres provide a full range of products

as well, from observational analysis

fields generated through assimilation

systems to highly specialized regional

warnings and guidance products used

to support service delivery by National

Hydrological and Meteorological

Services (NMHSs).

Sharing the data

The Global Telecommunication System

(GTS) is a coordinated global system

of telecommunication infrastructure

(facilities and lines) and arrangements

for the rapid collection, exchange

and distribution of observations

and processed information within

the framework of WWW. GTS is

organized into three levels: the

Main Telecommunication Network

(MTN), six Regional Meteorological

Telecommunication Networks















(RMTN) and numerous National

Meteorological Telecommunication

Networks (NMTN).

MTN is the backbone of GTS,

maintaining data exchange at the

global level and interconnecting the

major Regional Telecommunication

Hubs in the six WMO Regions.

RMTNs provide for interconnectivity

within each region and often include

connections to key centres within

other regions as well. NMTNs connect

the meteorological stations or centres

to the NMCs of each Member.

GTS has steadily evolved: it started

out as dedicated communication lines

connecting one point or centre to

another over fixed circuitry. Now, it is

an amalgam of technologies, ranging

from continued use of fixed-circuit

communications to cloud-based

communication networks, allowing

any centre within the cloud to connect

to any other centre. Included today

are communication paths over the

Internet, as well as satellite-based

broadcasts and information collection.








Figure 1 — WIGOS will integrate data collection and exchange for diverse sensors and systems on land, in the oceans, in the atmosphere

and in space.

Now, centres or observing sites can

exchange their data in multiple ways

beyond the WMO-defined messageswitching

methodology, which is still

the primary mechanism on GTS. These

new methods include file transfers, email

and Web-based portals.

Through the GTS data management

arrangements, WMO and its

Members have coordinated all the

communication protocols, data

formats, timeliness requirements,

distribution requirements, backups

and monitoring needed to support a

global operational flow of information

in real time, 24 hours a day, every day,

to support the needs of NMHSs.

Rising demands – the

WMO Information System

With development in observing

systems technologies, such as radars,

satellites and aircraft-based sensors,

large volumes of data are being

WMO Bulletin 59 (1) - January 2010 | 1

measured. Moreover, improvements

in computing technology, such as

high-speed and parallel computing

facilities and very high-resolution

numerical models, are producing

vast amounts of products to support

better monitoring and prediction of

the state of weather, climate, water

and other natural resources.

Collection and exchange of massive

amounts of data have become

challenging for WMO Members, who

are also finding the need to access

information from a much wider domain.

Members are under an ever-increasing

demand to provide information and

services that support activities beyond

the traditional domains of meteorology,

hydrology, oceanography and more

recently climatology. Even within the

traditional domains, Members are now

supporting services aimed at decisionmakers

within areas such as disaster

risk reduction, climate adaptation,

advanced transportation systems,

food security and health.

GTS, although evolving and still

meeting the need for operational

or time-critical flow of information,

was not designed to meet these new

demands. It is primarily focused

inward to collect and exchange

information already within the

NMHS community and deliver that

information to other Members.

1 | WMO Bulletin 59 (1) - January 2010

In addition, the rapid uptake of Internet

technologies has led WMO Members

to use public networks for a large

proportion of data and information

traditionally communicated over

dedicated links. Concurrent with these

trends, powerful discovery, access and

retrieval functionalities are becoming

integral components of twenty-first

century data management systems.

The WMO Information System (WIS)

helps WMO Members to leverage

these developments, serving as a

global forum for utilization of and

collaboration on meteorological data,

products and services collection and

exchange between providers and

users in support of WMO and related


WIS enables the collection and sharing

of weather-, climate- and water-related

data and products. WIS leverages the

legacy data exchange arrangements

and services developed with GTS

and with the Integrated Global Data

Dissemination System (IGDDS), a

newer space-based system primarily

proving satellite products but not

limited to them. WIS also embraces

new technologies to provide many

Internet-like functions, such as data

discovery, access and retrieval.

WIS brings a standardized way to

manage metadata that is based on and

interoperable not only with Internetbased

information systems but also

with the systems that support many

of the world’s library and information

repository and retrieval systems.

These capabilities are not only opening

the domains of information within

WMO to the rest of the world but are

also allowing WMO Members to more

easily interact with non-traditional


WIS provides three fundamental types

of services for exchange of information.

First, it provides routine collection

and dissemination service for timecritical

and operation-critical data

and products. This service is based

on real-time “push” mechanisms,

including multicast and broadcast;

it is implemented essentially through

dedicated telecommunication means

providing a guaranteed quality of


Second, WIS provides timely delivery

service for data and products. This

service is based on delayed-mode

push mechanisms; it is implemented

through a combination of dedicated

telecommunication means, especially

space-based systems and public

data-communication networks such

as the Internet.

Third, WIS is making available to WMO

a Data Discovery, Access and Retrieval

(DAR) service. This service is based

on search, request and reply “pull”

mechanisms with relevant information

management functions and is largely

implemented through the Internet.

This data exchange service opens

WMO information management to the

external world, as well as provides the

ability to integrate data management

across all WMO programmes and


WIS utilizes international standards

to ensure interoperability with other

information systems, enabling

weather, climate and water information

to be discovered and exchanged

across any other system based on

those standards. Such standards and

the use of readily available hardware

WIS for climate services

The Global Framework for Climate Services (GFCS), which is being

developed following its establishment at World Climate Conference-3, will

have a high dependency on information to support basic functions and to

create and share products and services. The GFCS aims to incorporate a

diverse and wide range of communities of practice, many with their own

special information processes and needs. By adopting the same standards

as in WIS, and by taking advantage of the WIS infrastructure rather than

building new infrastructure, the GFCS could enable information flow across

otherwise largely independent contributors and users while minimizing


The use of WMO infrastructure and practices will significantly reduce

the cost of establishing or even duplicating new or other information

management infrastructure, allowing valuable resources to be targeted

towards other GFCS activities. The ongoing development and maintenance

of WIS will ensure a robust, scalable and cost-effective information

infrastructure supporting the GFCS. This will enable the GFCS to reap the

benefits of WIS, including discovery, access and retrieval, as well as core

information exchange.

significantly contribute to the longterm

sustainability, scalability and

efficiency of WIS.

Managing and

exchanging climate data

The following was adapted from

CCL Guide to Climatological

Practices, Third Edition, online

version, under WMO publication.

Data management

Climatological data are most useful if

they are edited, quality controlled and

stored in a national archive or climate

centre and made readily accessible

in easy-to-use forms. Although

technological innovations are occurring

at a rapid pace, many climatological

records held by NMHSs are still in nondigital

form. These records must be

managed along with the increasing

quantity of digital records.

A Climate Data Management System

(CDMS) is a set of tools and procedures

that allows all data relevant to

climate studies to be properly

stored and managed. The primary

goals of database management

are to maintain the integrity of the

database at all times, and to ensure

that the database contains all the

data and metadata needed to meet

the requirements for which it was

established, both now and into

the future. Database management

systems have revolutionized climate

data management by allowing

efficient storage, access, conversion

and update for many types of data,

and by enhancing security of the


A major step forward in climate

database management occurred

with the World Climate Data and

Monitoring Programme (WCDMP)

Climate Computing project in 1985.

This project led to the installation of

climate database software on personal

computers, thus providing NMHSs,

in even the smallest of countries,

with the capability to efficiently

manage their climate records. The

project also provided the foundation

for demonstrable improvements in

climate services, applications and


In the late 1990s, WCDMP initiated a

CDMS project to take advantage of

the latest technologies to meet the

varied and growing data management

needs of WMO Members. Aside from

advances in database technologies,

such as relational databases, query

languages and links with geographical

information systems, more efficient

WMO Bulletin 59 (1) - January 2010 | 15

data capture was made possible with

the increase in automatic weather

stations, electronic field books,

the Internet and other advances in


Data exchange

Exchange of data is essential for

climatology. For states that are

members of WMO, the obligation

to share data and metadata with

other Members, and the conditions

under which these may be passed

to third parties, are covered under

WMO Resolution 40 (Cg-XIII) for

meteorological data, WMO Resolution

25 (Cg-XIV) for hydrological data, and

the Intergovernmental Oceanographic

Commission Resolution XXII-6 for

oceanographic data. The Resolutions

embody the concepts of “essential”

and “additional” data, with a

specification of a minimum set of

data that should be made available

in a non-discriminatory manner and

at a charge of no more than the cost

of reproduction and delivery without

charge for the data and products

themselves. Members may decide

to declare as essential more than the

minimum set. The use of agreed-upon

international standard formats for

data exchange is critical.

1 | WMO Bulletin 59 (1) - January 2010

A main avenue for dissemination

of climate data internationally is

through coded messages sent on

GTS. In addition, WMO Members are

asked to provide data and products

that are required to sustain WMO

programmes at the global, regional,

and national levels and to assist other

Members in providing meteorological

and climatological services in their

countries. Members supplying such

additional data and products may

place conditions on their re-export.

Members of WMO volunteer subsets

of their stations to be parts of various

networks. Nomination of stations in

these networks implies an obligation

to share the data internationally.

Climate and related data are also

shared through International Council

for Science World Data Centres

(WDCs). The WDC system works to

guarantee access to solar, geophysical,

and related environmental data. WMO

is actively involved in the provision

of data to a number of these WDCs,

and there are a number of associated

centres operated directly through

WMO. Such centres exist for ozone

and ultraviolet radiation, greenhouse

gases, aerosols, aerosol optical

depth, radiation and precipitation


Exchange of digital data is simple for

many Members because of the range

of computer communications systems

available. International data exchange

agreements allow for the global

compilation of publications such as

Climatic Normals, World Weather

Records, and Monthly Climatic Data

for the World. Bilateral or multilateral

agreements are also important in

creating and exchanging long-term

datasets, such as the Global Historical

Climate Network, Comprehensive

Aerological Reference and Compre-

hensive Ocean-Atmosphere Data

Sets compiled by the United States of

America, and the Hadley Centre global

observations datasets compiled by

the United Kingdom. These datasets

are generally provided to research


Bringing integrated

management to


The WMO Integrated Global Observing

System (WIGOS) plans to bring

together existing and new WMO

observing systems into a robust,

coordinated, composite and integrated

observing system (Figure 1). In a costeffective

and sustained manner, it

will meet the evolving observational

requirements of WMO Members for

their weather, climate, water and

related environmental services and

enhance coordination of the WMO

observing systems with those of

partner organizations for the benefit

of society.

This future for WMO observing

systems will build on existing

sub-systems, both surface- and

space-based, in-situ and remote, and

will capitalize on existing, new and

emerging observing technologies

not presently incorporated or fully

exploited. WIGOS will thus better

enable WMO Members to meet

expanding national mandates and

contribute to meeting the needs of

other environment-related agencies.

In doing so, WMO Members will be

able to better respond to natural

hazards, improve environmental

monitoring, and adapt to climate

change and human-influenced

environmental impacts.

WIGOS, together with WIS, will greatly

enhance operational components

of WMO Programmes, especially

in developing and least developed

countries, and they will be robust

components of the future Global

Framework for Climate Services.

Such an integrated observing system

will be a comprehensive “system

of systems” interfaced with WMO

co-sponsored and other non-WMO

observing systems, making major

contributions to the Global Earth

Observation System of Systems

(GEOSS), and will be delivered

through enhanced involvement of

WMO Members, regions and technical

commissions. The space-based

component will rely on enhanced

collaboration through partnerships

such as the Coordination Group for

Meteorological Satellites and the

Committee on Earth Observation

Satellites. Portions of the surface and

space-based sub-systems will rely

on WMO partner organizations: the

Global Terrestrial Observing System,

the Global Ocean Observing System,

the Global Climate Observing System

and others.

Progress in technology will continue

to provide a basis for further

improvements in the reliability

and quality of observations, thus

more fully satisfying user needs.

Standardization will address best

procedures and practices, including

quality assurance, data and metadata

formats for new and emerging

technologies. Further development

of integrated surface-based remote

sensing systems will make it possible

to provide observations of key

atmospheric variables and processes

relevant to weather, water and climate

with high time resolution. Long-term

testing at instrument “test-beds” will

be used to judge instrument design,

performance, reliability, capability and

cost-effectiveness for a full integration

into WIGOS.

With improvement in seasonal-tointerannual

prediction, integration of

information from oceans and land will

become even more important. The

demands of climate modelling require

an integrated and comprehensive

environmental observing system

that can only be provided by WMO

and its partners. Development in data

assimilation techniques will allow the

observations to be fully exploited in

numerical models in an integrated

manner. Assimilation will provide the

means for data to be combined with

other data in a cohesive and scientific


It is our challenge to meet these

needs into the future. It is clear that

the foundations of observations and

information exchange, WIGOS and

WIS, are fundamental to meeting

that challenge. In recognizing the

challenge and responding to it,

WMO will continue to provide the

leadership and stewardship to meet

relevant future needs of society for

the next 60 years and beyond.


The author thanks Omar Baddour,

Pierre Kerherve, David Thomas and

Igor Zahumensky from the WMO

Secretariat for their contributions to

this article.

WMO Bulletin 59 (1) - January 2010 | 1

Working to standardize

instruments and methods

of observation

by John Nash 1 , Klaus Behrens 2 , Michel Leroy 3

Requirements for high-quality observational

data and their worldwide

compatibility were a governing

principle when the International Meteorological

Organization (IMO) was

established in 1873. Thus, it was necessary

to define technical standards,

conduct instrument intercomparisons,

testing and calibration, and implement

quality-control procedures.

These responsibilities were assigned

to the Commission for Instruments and

Methods of Observations (CIMO), one

of the first commissions established

by IMO. When IMO was replaced by

the intergovernmental WMO in 1950,

CIMO continued its mandate under

the new establishment and was designated

as the corresponding Technical

Commission for the Instruments and

Methods of Observation Programme

(IMOP). Since then, standardization

responsibilities of CIMO have significantly

expanded, to cope with the

fast development of measuring technology,

to guarantee the traceability

of measurements to the International

System of Units (SI).

Providing worldwide


The WMO Guide to Meteorological

Instruments and Methods of

1 President of CIMO, UK

2 Deutscher Wetterdienst

3 Météo France

1 | WMO Bulletin 59 (1) - January 2010

Observation (CIMO Guide) is the

most influential of WMO publications

as regards standardization of

observations. The first edition of the

CIMO Guide was published in 1954

and consisted of 12 chapters. The

fifth edition (1984) has 25 chapters,

while the latest seventh edition (2008)

has 34 chapters, covering the whole

range of instruments, systems and

techniques in regular use, from the

simplest to the most complex and


The purpose of the CIMO Guide

is to give comprehensive and upto-date

guidance on the most

effective practices for carrying out

meteorological observations and

measurements. It provides guidance

to measurements and observations of

variables related not only to weather

and climate applications but also to

environmental (ozone, atmospheric

composition) and, partially, water

(precipitation, evaporation, soil

moisture) applications.

Part I of the CIMO Guide provides

guidance for measurements of

basic meteorological variables,

such as temperature, atmospheric

pressure, humidity, surface wind,

precipitation, radiation, sunshine

duration, visibility, evaporation, soil

moisture, upper-air variables and

clouds, as well as measurement

of ozone and many atmospheric

composition parameters. Part II

provides guidance for measurements

Intercomparisons of radiosondes are vital

for quality control of upper-air data.

using automatic weather stations,

measurements and observations at

aeronautical stations, aircraft, marine,

road, urban, radar and satellite

observations, profiling techniques,

lightning detection and rocket

measurements in the stratosphere

and mesosphere. Part III is dedicated

to quality management, sampling

of variables, data reduction, testing,

calibration and intercomparisons.

Expansion of the CIMO Guide over

the last 55 years has resulted from

developments in both meteorology

and the increasing number of user

applications and services.


measurements through


The requirements for instrument

testing and intercomparisons are

still increasing with the increasing

variety of higher quality instruments

using different measuring principles

and designs produced by different

manufacturers. Verifying the performance,

accuracy and suitability

of instruments to varying environmental

and climatic conditions and

their intercomparisons is in many

cases the only way to establish their

interoperability and compatibility of

data. This verification process has

even higher importance nowadays

when low uncertainties are needed

to support climate research studies

addressing climate variability and

climate change.

Intercomparisons of


For many years, two different pyrheliometric

scales (the Angström Scale

and the Smithsonian Scale) existed

side by side. These scales govern

specifications for measuring solar

radiation using pyrheliometers.

Because homogeneous worldwide

radiation measurements were

necessary, the International Pyrheliometric

Scale (IPS-1956) was

adopted in 1956 and the first International

Pyrheliometer Comparison

took place at the Physical Meteorological

Observatory Davos in

Switzerland (PMOD) under the auspices

of CIMO in 1959. Since then,

every five years, CIMO organizes

international and/or regional pyrheliometer

comparisons at PMOD to

ensure the worldwide homogeneity

of solar radiation measurements.

PMOD has been serving as the WMO

World Radiation Centre since 1971

CIMO works to ensure worldwide homogeneity of solar radiation measurements from


and maintains the chain of absolute

standards. One of the tangible

results of these intercomparisons

is the introduction of the absolute

scale, the World Radiometric Reference

(WRR), replacing IPS-1956

and thus providing a link to the SI.

The WRR became the only world

standard for solar irradiance measurements.

In 1981, mandatory use

of the WRR was added to the WMO

Technical Regulations.

Other surface-based


WMO surface-based intercomparisons

began in 1984 with the International

Comparison of National Precipitation

Gauges with a reference pit gauge. So

far, 14 intercomparisons have been

carried out, covering precipitation,

humidity, pressure, cloud-base

height, visibility, present weather,

wind and sunshine radiation. More

recently, rainfall intensity gauges

were tested, both in laboratory

and in the field, to assess their

performance in extreme rainfall

events and to develop guidance

to manufactures in support of the

development of instruments suitable

for climate variability and climate

change studies and for disaster risk

reduction. Similar objectives were

set for WMO intercomparisons of

thermometers screens/shields and

humidity measuring instruments that

are ongoing and planned in extreme

climatic regions (desert and arctic


The need for an intercomparison

is based on user requirements and

conducted by the international

group of experts under the CIMO

auspices and in collaboration with the

Association of Hydro-Meteorological

Equipment Industry. The scale of

WMO intercomparisons, resources

and expertise needed is beyond the

capabilities of individual Members.

Conducting them collectively is costeffective

and it is the only way to

guarantee interoperability of data

from instruments made by hundreds

of manufactures using different

designs and measuring principles.

Many scientists involved in WMO

intercomparisons have received

Väisälä awards for outstanding

research or for the development and

implementation of instruments and

methods of observation.


of radiosondes

The first World Comparisons of

Radiosondes, carried out in Payerne,

WMO Bulletin 59 (1) - January 2010 | 19


Switzerland, in 1956, was followed by

extensive studies in the development

of guidance material applied to

radiosonde development, testing,

comparisons and compatibility. In the

early 1980s, CIMO studies revealed

systematic inconsistencies of upperair

data and decided to organize a

series of intercomparisons, starting

with the WMO Intercomparisons of

Radiosonde Systems in the United

Kingdom in 1984, followed by six

intercomparisons, with the latest one

in Vacoas, Mauritius, in 2005.

In the 1950s, the differences between

the measurements observed up to 50

hectopascals (hPa) from flight to flight

were large, and would be considered

unacceptable for operational networks

today. Subsequent fast technological

development and CIMO involvement

in the process resulted in the rapid

increase in the quality of upper-air


20 | WMO Bulletin 59 (1) - January 2010

Radiosonde intercomparisons

over the last decade have largely

eliminated unnecessary errors from

incorrect sensor exposure, use of the

wrong coatings on sensors and poor

use of GPS location measurements.

The best modern radiosondes are

now able to measure with high

quality almost all variables the

users of the observations require,

to pressures as low as 5 hPa for

temperature and wind. This standard

of observation is now progressing

into almost all national networks.

Worldwide compatibility of

radiosonde data established through

intercomparisons is especially

beneficial for climate monitoring

and climate studies. To maintain

high quality and worldwide data

compatibility, intercomparisons, such

as the one planned in China for 2010,

are needed whenever substantial

changes appear in the design of best

quality radiosondes.

More than a century

of progress

Since the establishment of CIMO by the

WMO predecessor more than a century

ago, the Commission has dramatically

grown, providing worldwide services

in the field of instrumentation and

measurements standards. It forms an

important backbone of WMO work in

meteorology, climate and hydrology.

As the global community continues

to increase its scientific collaboration,

work in this field will continue to

progress, enabling high-quality

observations of the atmosphere and

the environment around the world.


The authors wish to thank Miroslav

Ondráš, Chief of the WMO Observing

Systems Division, for his contribution

to this article.

Public weather services for

disaster risk reduction

by B.Y. Lee and Hilda Lam*

National Meteorological and

Hydrological Services (NMHSs) all

over the world have an essential role

to play in bringing about disaster

reduction through delivery of quality

public weather services, including

the provision of weather forecasts,

early warnings on hazardous weather,

outreach activities to enhance public

awareness of weather hazards,

interpretation and use of the weather

information, as well as collaboration

with disaster relief organizations to

minimize loss of life and property.

Although the damage statistics due

to natural disasters are still on the

rise globally, in some places, the

damaging effects of weather-related

hazards have gradually become more

or less harnessed over the years. In

Hong Kong, for example, over the

past five decades, the number of

casualties caused by tropical cyclones

has declined (Figure 1).

As WMO celebrates its sixtieth anniversary,

it is important to trace the

development of public weather

services in relation to disaster preparedness

and mitigation and to point

to what NMHSs can do in future.

Effective disaster reduction may

be attributed to strengthened infrastructures

against the elements and

continual advances in weather monitoring

and prediction, as well as the

* Hong Kong Observatory, Hong Kong,


readiness of the public to respond as

a whole to weather warnings.

Early warning systems –

science or service first?

Weather warnings a century ago were

rudimentary at best. Imagine the time

before the age of meteorological satellites,

or even before the telegraph

became a common feature onboard

ships — some weather services were

already operating, or committed to

operate, typhoon warnings. These

weather services had to be content

with the scarce or inadequate information

and observations they had

when deciding on issuing weather


Over the past 60 years as population

has grown with increasing urbanization

and economic activities have

expanded with increasing diversity,

society has had a greater demand for

weather warning services to protect

Figure 1 — The

number of people

dead or missing due

to tropical cyclones

in Hong Kong,

China, substantially

decreased from 1960

to 2008.

life and property against weather hazards.

Partly in response to this demand

and partly due to the advances in monitoring

and prediction capabilities, early

warning systems have developed and

grown over the years in variety, covering

such hazards as tropical cyclones,

high winds, heavy rain, snow, thunderstorms,

extreme temperatures,

droughts and reduced visibility.

Despite the advances, limitations in

weather forecasting remain to this

day. A case in point is the warning

of heavy rain, where accurate prediction

of rainfall for the next few hours

remains very difficult if not impossible.

Nonetheless, many NMHSs are

issuing, or committed to issue, warnings

of rainstorms.

Warning systems have grown in complexity,

with warnings often graded

in levels, each triggering different

response actions by the public. The

time scale of warnings has also evolved

from days to hours to minutes, in

accordance with synoptic-scale, down

WMO Bulletin 59 (1) - January 2010 | 21

to meso-scale or even to local-scale

phenomena (such as tornadoes).

Overall, these warnings have been

effective in disaster prevention and

reduction. However, it is apparent

that NMHSs often have to, or are

under pressure to, provide services

even before the relevant science

is established or the technology is


Time and space

Timely delivery of warnings to the

public is an essential element of

effective warning systems. Back in

the 1950s, radio and visual signal stations

were often used to communicate

weather warnings to the public. With

the advent of television in the 1960s,

radio and television have become

the preferred channels for obtaining

warning information. One limitation

of radio and television is that the

airtime is normally short, making it

necessary to disseminate simple and

direct warning messages that carry

advice on protective measures to take.

However, even today, radio and television

remain a convenient source of

warning for the public and an indispensable

dissemination channel for

the underprivileged such as the elderly

and the poor.

To fully utilize these means of communication,

NMHSs work closely with the

media to ensure that warning information

is quickly and accurately

disseminated through regular broadcasts.

Nowadays, NMHS personnel

often appear on television and radio

to provide expert briefings on impending

and potentially hazardous weather

events. In the meantime, automatic

weather answering machines have

also become more popular, allowing

the public to access the latest information

on the phone. These various

means are very effective in rousing

public attention and in disaster preparedness

and prevention.

The advent of personal computers

in the 1980s and that of the Internet

22 | WMO Bulletin 59 (1) - January 2010

Figure 2 — The

number of page visits

to the Hong Kong

Observatory Website

has significantly risen

since 1997, while the

number of calls to

the Dial-a-weather

telephone recording

system has remained


in the 1990s offered unprecedented

opportunities for fast delivery of

voluminous information, enhancing

the effectiveness of early warning

systems. They have enabled people

to access weather information

in both audio and pictorial form

with easy-to-understand and highly

interactive graphics. Many NMHSs

now operate Websites for fast and

almost immediate promulgation of

weather forecasts and warnings. Millions

of Internet users can now learn

of the latest status of warnings in

a matter of minutes. For example,

the number of visitors to the Hong

Kong Observatory Website has steadily

increased over the past decade,

while the number of dial-in callers to

an automated recording system has

remained steady (Figure 2).

In addition to a “pull”, the Internet

also allows an information “push”

to the user. It also makes individual

alerting and customization possible.

A case in point is the provision

of lightning location information on

the Hong Kong Observatory Website.

Here, a user may pick a location

of interest and choose up to three

alert range circles for receiving distinct

audio and/or visual alarms when

lightning occurs within a particular

alert range (Figure 3). Coupled

with geographic information, userspecific

alerts thus provide fast and

very relevant information, which is

Figure 3 — A


lightning alert user

interface provides

three levels of

alert in Hong Kong,

as shown by the

concentric rings.

conducive to prompt and effective

response actions.

The Internet thus enables the provision

of a variety of weather information

and data to individual users. This is

especially helpful for sophisticated

users who are well versed with computers

and have a good understanding

of the weather and of how the information

can be used in risk evaluation

and in decision-making. A recent

development arises from the increasing

popularity of Wi-Fi in city areas,

which makes it possible for people

using a portable device to receive

automatically the latest site-specific

information, for example temperature

and weather from the closest weather

station (Figure 4).

Mobile technology, especially in the

past decade, has proven to be a very

effective means for timely delivery of

weather warnings and information to

people on the move. Such devices

are particularly suited for warning

of rapidly developing hazards such

as thunderstorms and flash floods.

Short message service (SMS) can be

pushed to users anytime anywhere

to prompt them to take appropriate

precautions. The high rate of use of

mobile phones in some places, such

as south China, has made it possible

for the weather service to issue localized

warnings to users geographically

located within a particular telecommunications

cell. This way, mobile

phones become a valuable tool for fast

and effective warning delivery.

Caring for the

young and old

In the past few decades, NMHSs have

come to realize that in order for warning

systems to be effective, it is not

sufficient to just sharpen forecasting

skills and enhance technical capabilities.

They must also work with

people and stakeholders to raise their

awareness of weather hazards, and

to ensure their understanding of the

meaning of warnings and the appro-

Figure 4 — In recent years, weather has gone Wi-Fi, making timely meteorological

information widely available.

priate response actions to take. Thus,

NMHSs find themselves investing

an increasing amount of time and

resources in reaching out to the public.

These activities take the form

of public talks and lectures, exhibition

and campaigns, publications of

pamphlets and publicity videos, writing

articles for the print media, and

organizing open days, school talks

and joint events with non-governmental


In delivering their warning services,

NMHSs must take account of

the underprivileged, including the

elderly and the young. For instance,

warnings on extreme temperatures,

namely very hot and cold weather,

have been set up by an increasing

number of NMHSs in recent years.

These warnings cater to the sick and

elderly who are particularly vulnerable

to extreme weather, sometimes

necessitating the activation of social

welfare personnel and opening of

shelters by municipal authorities.

Weather education is especially effective

for the young. Places in Europe,

North America and Asia have started

establishing networks of so-called

community weather stations, most

commonly in schools. Relatively

inexpensive and easily connected to

the Internet, information from these

stations greatly facilitates young people’s

appreciation of the weather and

their awareness of climate and climate

change (Figure 5).

As young people are attracted to

electronic media, NMHSs can exploit

popular utility Websites to their advantage.

A weather programme or a

weather briefing on such Websites

as YouTube finds audience among

young people (Figure 6). NMHSs can

take advantage of the same channel

to promote science education by carrying

clear and succinct expositions

on such subjects as severe weather

phenomena and climate change.

Role in emergency

response system

In the past few decades, NMHSs have

learned, often through bitter experience,

that despite good forecasts

and warnings, great damage and

heavy losses could still be inflicted

on the community if the emergency

response system failed to function

properly. Thus over the years,

NMHSs, as the triggering agencies

in emergency response, often have

taken on a major or leading role in

the development of contingency planning

for natural disaster reduction.

WMO Bulletin 59 (1) - January 2010 | 2

NMHSs provide data in the planning

stage, participate in exercises and

drills in preparation stage, interact

actively with stakeholders during the

execution stage and improve upon relevant

procedures in the review stage.

Close cooperation between the NMHSs

and security, civil defence, emergency

relief, search and rescue agencies is

essential in these endeavours.

2 | WMO Bulletin 59 (1) - January 2010

Figure 5 — This

Webpage of a community

weather station network

shows the temperature


Public engagement

Users of weather services often comprise

a wide spectrum of people and

sectors. It is thus important that regular

communication is established

with various weather-sensitive sectors,

including education, transport,

logistics, engineering and tourism.

Liaison groups established by NMHSs

with the aviation and marine communities

have become increasingly


Figure 6 — Weather briefings on YouTube can help to attract young audiences (http://

One form of liaison with the public

sector involves the establishment of

voluntary groups. With proper training,

volunteers can advise on proposed

new services by the NMHSs, provide

guided tours, create simple instructions

on weather observation and

educate on weather phenomena.

Public opinion surveys are effective

and indispensable tools whereby

NMHSs can gauge their own performance

in the mind of the public

and identify improvement areas especially

in severe weather warnings.

This way, NMHSs are able to better

understand public needs and adjust

their services appropriately to make

them more relevant to users.

In the dialogue with the public, NMHSs

can also share with users the limitations

of weather forecasting in order

to manage user expectations. This

helps build and maintain a trusting

relationship with the public and contributes

to the overall effectiveness

of their service.

International cooperation

WMO has played an important role

in the development of public weather

service for mitigating the effects of

weather hazards. Under its framework,

weather observations are regularly

exchanged among NMHSs, and model

prognoses from advance numerical

weather prediction (NWP) centres,

which form the backbone of public

weather services, are freely available

to NMHSs. WMO has promoted

capacity building to help Members

strengthen their public weather services

for disaster reduction through

sharing of best practices, publication

of guidelines, expert missions,

transfer of knowledge and technology,

and organization of workshops,

seminars and projects.

As least developed countries generally

lack the necessary computing

facilities for processing NWP output,

they have been unable to make use of

the NWP guidance in their operational

Future role of your local TV weather presenter

It was a dark and stormy night, 25 August 1873.

Residents of the rugged island of Cape Breton, Canada,

secured their doors and shutters against the rising wind.

Few people that night expected anything more than a

late-summer gale. But as the night wore on, it became

obvious that this was no usual storm. After gathering

strength for a week in the mid-Atlantic, a hurricane had

formed and was tearing up the coast of the United States

of America. Overnight, it smashed headlong into Cape

Breton’s eastern shore.

By mid-afternoon the next day, the “Great Nova Scotian

Cyclone” had laid waste to a large swath of Cape Breton.

Newspapers were filled with accounts of death and

destruction. The storm’s final toll: almost 1 000 people

dead, some 1 200 ships sunk or smashed, hundreds of

homes destroyed.

Tragically, meteorologists in Toronto, Ontario, knew a

day in advance that the hurricane could make landfall

close to Cape Breton, but no alarm was ever raised

because telegraph lines to the closest major city of

Halifax, Nova Scotia, were down.

It would take many more disasters such as this before

weather services around the world realized the value

and importance of mass dissemination of timely and

accurate weather forecasts. Eventually, the world of

television weather reporting was born — chalkboards,

blackboards, white boards, magnetic boards and green


The average television weather report has evolved

to use some of the most hi-tech graphics seen on the

small screen. But despite all the advances, the one part

of the report that has remained the same is the role

of the television weather presenter. Whether covered

in chalk dust as in the early days, or standing in front

of a SGI graphic in a three-dimensional chroma-key

studio, the role of the weather presenter has been to

deliver scientific, sometimes convoluted information,

sometimes even life saving information, to the masses

in a way that was trusted and easily digestible.

As time has worn on, more and more meteorologists

have found themselves removed from the forecast

bench and dropped in front of the camera. But the

end result is still the same — dependable, likeable,

knowledgeable and informative people disseminating

information that the general public could trust.

In modern day, the role of the television weather

presenter or broadcast meteorologist has grown to

include delivering one of the most disturbing messages

of our time: that we must start to care for and clean up

our planet or we will continue to see changing weather

patterns that may threaten our very existence.

Delivering the “climate variability and change” message

is fraught with difficulty. The politics alone at times

seem insurmountable. But there is the odd ray of hope

on the horizon: the overall consensus of the general

public in the last decade has become one of slow and

begrudging understanding, and organizations such as

WMO are now starting to use the vast communication

framework created by these adept television weather

communicators to help deliver the message.

In August 2009, for the first time, television weather

presenters, broadcast meteorologists and environmental

journalists from around the world were invited to fully

take part in a massive climate conference, World Climate

Conference-3. At this Conference, it was recognized that

indeed television weather presenters were essentially

part of a global framework of expert providers of the

climate variability message, and that strengthening

WMO ties with this group would ensure that the very best

scientific and climate information was disseminated.

The Conference Statement from the summary of the

Expert Segment (

en.php) contains some very important notes that reflect

on the future work of television weather presenters:

“.. that the most urgent need is for much closer

partnerships between providers and users of climate


that “Climate services information systems take

advantage of enhanced existing national and international

climate service arrangements in the delivery of products

and information”;

and that “...[we] focus on building linkages and integrating

information, at all levels, between the providers and

users of climate services.”

Let’s all hope your local television weather presenter

can rise to the occasion.

Claire Martin

Senior Meteorologist, CBC News

Vancouver, British Columbia (Canada)

WMO Bulletin 59 (1) - January 2010 | 25

Figure 7 — Volunteer groups, such as “The Friends of the Observatory” in Hong Kong,

can help to provide valuable outreach services.

forecast. Hence, WMO has taken

effort to enable such Members to

benefit from the advances in NWP. A

case in point is the pilot project on the

city-specific forecast in the Regional

Association II, which comprises Asia.

In this project, NWP centres in the

region generate city-specific forecasts

of surface parameters and make

them available to participating Members

through the Internet on a daily

basis. Such processed forecast information

is particularly useful to least

developed countries as they can be

readily applied to their forecast operations.

Another example involves the

conduct of a forecast demonstration

project in Africa (Regional Association

I) recently, whereby participating

Members were able to acquire experience

and knowledge in nowcasting,

resulting in improved services.

Weather warnings and information

are becoming increasingly indispensable

for the global community and

mobile public. They allow travellers

to better plan their trips and protect

themselves against weather hazards

Official warnings and information on

2 | WMO Bulletin 59 (1) - January 2010

tropical cyclones over the world are

now accessible in one single Website

— the Severe Weather Information

Centre (SWIC) Webpage, which is

operated by the Hong Kong Observatory

on behalf of WMO (http://severe. Apart from

tropical cyclones, the Website also

covers other severe weather types

such as heavy rain/snow and thunderstorms.

A trial is in progress on the

SWIC platform to allow a registered

individual to be alerted whenever

severe warning warnings are issued

by a participating official weather

service for its country/region.

Building a stronger future

The development of public weather

services has played an important role

in the mitigation of natural disasters

over the past 60 years and will continue

to be so in the years to come.

Oftentimes, NMHSs have to face a

demand for service even before the

relevant science and technology are

established. The needs of society

help drive the development of public

weather service, with the support of

advances in science and technology.

This is especially true as society grows

and becomes more sophisticated.

NMHSs, however, should not lose

sight of the need to serve the underprivileged,

including the elderly and

the poor. It is the same for the issue

of climate change, where the underprivileged

is most affected. Public

engagement is thus indispensable

on the part of NMHSs. They should

assist least developed countries to

the extent possible so that they can

benefit from advances in science and

technology, whose adoption is vital

for the provision of quality weather

service for strengthening resilience

against hazardous weather.

With climate change, it is likely that

extreme weather events, such as

heavy rain, severe droughts and

extremely hot weather with greater

intensity, will affect more people

in the future. This trend poses

a challenge for the skilful forecast

of extreme weather events and for

more comprehensive warning and

emergency response systems to

mitigate the damaging effects of

extreme weather events. On the very

short-range front, improvement in

nowcasting skills and application

of communication technology will

result in more effective warnings with

longer lead time for fast-developing

severe events such as thunderstorms

and gust fronts.

Public education will be essential

in reminding people to beware of

weather hazards, to understand the

weather warnings and to take responsive

actions in a timely manner.

Indeed, public weather services will

continue to play the very important

role of protecting life and property

and mitigating the effects of natural


Building a legacy

through World Climate


Following the legacy of the first

and the second World Climate Conferences

that laid the foundation

for building climate research and

observational activities to understand

the nature of the climate

challenges and to initiate an international

policy dialogue, World

Climate Conference-3 (WCC-3) made

a leap to put climate science in the

service of society. The focus on

“climate prediction and information

for decision-making” enabled the

Conference to identify critical components

of a Global Framework for

Climate Services.

Thirty years prior in 1979, the First

World Climate Conference influenced

the establishment of a number of

important international scientific

initiatives, notably the World Climate

Programme, including the World

Climate Research Programme, and

the Intergovernmental Panel on

Climate Change. Over a decade

later in 1990, the Second World

Climate Conference called for the

establishment of the Global Climate

Observing System and provided

momentum to international efforts

that resulted in the establishment

of the United Nations Framework

Convention on Climate Change

(UNFCCC) in 1992, under which the

15th Conference of Parties and the

31st session of the Subsidiary Body

for Scientific and Technological

Advice took place in Copenhagen

this past December.

Meeting a pressing need

Held in Geneva, Switzerland, from

31 August to 4 September 2009 and

organized by WMO with partners,

WCC-3 recognized the progress

that has been made over the past

30 years towards the development,

implementation, operation and

application of climate services in

support of a range of societal needs

in major socio-economic sectors.

It also recognized that the present

arrangements for provision of climate

services fall far short of meeting

the identified needs, especially in

developing countries.

People around the world are facing

multifaceted challenges of climate

variability and climate change,

challenges that require wise and

well-informed decision-making

at every level, from households

and communities to countries and


Evidence of climate impacts is

widespread, with global warming

affecting food and water security,

transport and infrastructure, tourism,

public health and the environment.

Climate risks are also increasing in

terms of the frequency and intensity

of natural hazards. Decision-makers

in all sectors are increasingly

concerned by the adverse impacts

of climate variability and change, but

are not sufficiently equipped to make

effective use of climate information

to manage current and future climate


Notwithstanding the great scientific

progress made over the past 30 years,

present capabilities to provide effective

climate information and prediction

services fall far short of meeting present

and future needs and of delivering the

full potential benefits. The objective of

WCC-3 was therefore to support the

establishment of climate services at

various levels that are now being sought

by all countries and in virtually every

sector of society for the management

of climate-related risks and to support

adaptation to climate change, especially

in developing countries most vulnerable

to climate change.

Producing outcomes

for the future

WCC-3 was the result of a collaborative

effort of the entire United Nations

System and other partners. WCC-3

provided the opportunity to jointly

consider an appropriate global

framework for climate services over

the coming decades that would help

ensure that every country and every

climate-sensitive sector of society is

well equipped to access and apply the

climate prediction and information


Heads of State and Government, along

with Ministers, national representatives

WMO Bulletin 59 (1) - January 2010 | 2

The Global Framework at COP-15

The Global Framework for Climate Service was a major focus of WMO

activities at the fifteenth Conference of Parties (COP 15) to the UNFCCC,

held from 7 to 18 December 2009 in Copenhagen, Denmark. WMO activities

at COP 15 follow on decades of work in coordinating the contributions of

National Meteorological and Hydrological Services to assist Parties to the

UNFCCC in fulfilling their obligations under the Convention.

A side event on 9 December in Copenhagen emphasized the essential

components of climate observation, monitoring and prediction in

understanding current and future climate variability and change.

Representatives from WMO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and

Cultural Organization, the WCC-3 International Organizing Committee, the

United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the UK

Meteorological Office and the International Telecommunications Union,

as well as government representatives, discussed these components in

the context of the Global Framework for Climate Services.

At another side event on 14 December about the United Nations System’s

efforts to advance work on adaptation to climate change, the WMO

Secretary-General Michel Jarraud presented the Global Framework for

Climate Services. Similarly, Mr Jarraud participated in a 16 December highlevel

event about the United Nations System delivering as one on climate.

While the results from WCC-3 provided key inputs to COP 15, the Global

Framework goes beyond Copenhagen, seeking to find practical solutions

that will address the inevitable impacts of climate variability and change

and enhance use of climate services to inform economic and social

activities worldwide.

On 15 December 2010, the WMO Secretary-General participated in a high-level

ministerial event on information and knowledge for climate change adaptation,

organized by UNEP and chaired by the President of Maldives.

and other invited dignitaries from 160

countries, based on the findings of the

Expert Segment of the Conference,

unanimously adopted a Conference

Declaration, deciding to establish

2 | WMO Bulletin 59 (1) - January 2010

a Global Framework for Climate

Services to strengthen the production,

availability, delivery and application

of science-based climate prediction

and services.

The Framework will have four

major components, along with

capacity building: observation and

monitoring; research, and modelling

and prediction; a Climate Services

Information System; and a User

Interface Programme. The first two

components are well established but

are in need of strengthening. The latter

two components together constitute

a World Climate Service System. The

User Interface Programme, which

presents a relatively new concept,

will develop ways to bridge the gap

between the climate information being

developed by climate scientists and

service providers and the practical

information needs of users.

Some 2 000 experts from 167 countries

and 59 international organizations

attended the Conference. The challenges

facing the climate service

providers and user communities in key

sectors were reviewed by the experts

at WCC-3, who saw an urgent need

for much closer partnerships between

these groups. The experts also considered

the needs and capabilities

for, and socio-economic benefits of,

applying climate information in key

climate-sensitive sectors.

The WCC-3 Expert Segment saw the

need for major new and strengthened

research efforts to increase the timerange

and skill of climate prediction;

to improve the observational basis

for climate prediction and services;

and to improve the availability of

climate data. Recommendations of

the experts were formulated into a

Conference Statement.

Overall, the Conference noted that

there is vast, as yet largely untapped,

potential to improve and enhance the

quality and utility of climate services

for the benefit of all countries and

all sectors of society. Both provider

and user community representatives

agreed that the proposed Global

Framework for Climate Services

should enable better management

of the risks of climate variability and

change and adaptation to climate

change at all levels.

Parallel working sessions at WCC-3 on such topics as climate and human health developed recommendations from scientists, sector

experts, decision-makers and others on priorities for climate services.

The Global Framework will build

on and strengthen existing local,

national, regional and global

networks of climate observation,

monitoring, research, modelling

and service programmes. It aims to

achieve its goal through the enhanced

role and involvement of national

meteorological services and regional/

global centres, as well as greater

participation of other stakeholders and

centres of excellence across relevant

socio-economic sectors, particularly

those in developing countries, least

developed countries and small island

developing states.

The Framework requires extensive

collaboration among governments,

intergovernmental and nongovernmental

organizations, civil

society and the private sector, as

well as universities and research

institutions around the world. It also

requires outreach to communities in

all socio-economic sectors benefiting

from the application of climate data

and information in planning, policy

and practice.

Implementing and operating the

Framework will require continuation

and enhancement of the broad

collaboration and partnerships,

centred around these entities. The

support of the entire United Nations

System and broad international

communities will be critical in building

the Global Framework for Climate


The High-level Declaration adopted

at WCC-3 calls for the establishment

of a taskforce of high-level, inde-

pendent advisers to be appointed by the

WMO Secretary-General. The taskforce

will convene wide consultations with

governments, partner organizations and

relevant stakeholders. WMO will set up

a secretariat to support the taskforce

in its work. That taskforce will prepare

a report that recommends next steps

for developing and implementing the

Global Framework. The report will

then be submitted to WMO Members,

for consideration at the World

Meteorological Congress in May 2011.

WMO Bulletin 59 (1) - January 2010 | 29

WCC-3 High-level

Segment: in their own


During the High-level Segment of

WCC-3, from 3 to 4 September 2009,

high-level policy-makers from 160

countries agreed to establish a Global

Framework for Climate Services

to “strengthen production, availability,

delivery and application of

science-based climate prediction and


The policy-makers included the Heads

of State/Government of Ethiopia,

Monaco, Mozambique, Slovenia

and Tajikistan, the Vice-Presidents

of Comoros and the United Republic

of Tanzania, the Premier of Niue, the

Prime Ministers of Bangladesh and

Cook Islands, the Vice Premier of

0 | WMO Bulletin 59 (1) - January 2010

China, more than 80 Ministers and

other senior government officials.

The following are some excerpts from

some of their high-level (written)


Laying the foundation…

“Exactly four years ago, heavy rainfall

in Switzerland led to flooding and

landslides. Several people were killed.

We need precise information, such as

short-term weather forecasts or hazard

maps, to have the time to act in future.

This could also prevent deaths and

reduce the extent of the damage.

Currently, various regions of Africa

and Asia are enduring serious

storms, flooding and drought. In

many places, the humanitarian situation

is a major concern. Many people

have fallen victim to the extreme

weather; many others are in danger.

We need urgent advance climate

forecasts and efficient early warning


The consequences of climate change

pose huge challenges for our economy.

Long-term investments must

be made. We need forecasts on the

state of our environment in the coming

decades. And these forecasts have

to be highly detailed.

Heads of State and Government with the United Nations Secretary-General, the WMO Secretary-General, the WMO President, the

Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and other high-level representatives to the WCC-3 High-level Segment

(3-4 September 2009)

Extreme weather events and changing

climate conditions affect us all.

Often they result in humanitarian

disasters and widespread damage.

Preventive measures may avert the

most serious consequences. Our conference

has the aim of preventing the

disasters that I have just mentioned

and providing authorities with the

tools they require — weather forecasts,

hazard maps, early warning

systems and long-term environmental

prognoses. …

We all want our societies to be able

to withstand the consequences of

climate change in the long term; all

those involved will have to be able to

react in good time to extreme events;

scientists and experts will have to

provide the information that makes

this possible. At this conference, you

will lay the foundations for a better

future thanks to better climate


H.E. Mr. Hans-Rudolf Merz,

President of the Swiss


In support of the

Global Framework for

Climate Services…

“Climate change and variability are

global phenomena which affect us

all in different forms. …

We predict that in Mozambique and in

Africa, due to the potential increase in

the frequency and magnitude of natural

disasters and sea-level rise, that

seawater intrusion and flooding can

become a reality and, in our case, the

city of Beira, which is below sea level,

runs the risk of being submerged. We

also predict that: health standards

could deteriorate; our people could

work harder for less agrarian results;

the ecosystems could be significantly

impoverished; competing for such

resources as fertile land could destabilize

nations and resources like water

could spark inter-state conflicts.

We are addressing some of these

risks, trying to turn them into opportunities

for development. For example,

our peasants have taken up the challenge

and are building sturdier and

spacious houses with homemade

bricks on higher ground. The more

fertile river valleys remain the food

production areas with major contribution

into our Green Revolution meant

to increase food security and self-reliance

in some crops. …

At a macro-policy level, we have

moved from ad hoc adaptation measures

to a National Adaptation Plan of

Action on Climate Change. The priorities

identified in the Plan include the

strengthening of the monitoring and

early warning systems and the mainstreaming

of climate changes into

water resources management. …

The heatwaves and the floods

developed countries experience

demonstrate that no single country

is immune to these phenomena.

More importantly, the very fact that

climate change and variability interfere

with the Millennium Development

Goals should urge us all to act today

because tomorrow may be too late.

In this regard, while expressing our

full support to the Global Framework

for Climate Services, we would like to

reiterate the appeal to our development

partners to fulfil all their relevant

international commitments”.

H.E. Mr Armando Emílio Guebuza,

President of Mozambique and

co-chair of the High-level Segment

“We have started to feel the country’s

vulnerability to the adverse impacts

of climate variabilities and to the

resulting disasters, such as floods,

landslides and droughts. Gradually,

the awareness of the need for serious

change has started to set in.

Now, we find ourselves in a double

bind: that of environmental challenges

and the other resulting from the economic

recession. Quite paradoxically,

the current recession underscores —

much more clearly than the preceding

period of high growth rates ever did

— the seriousness of the need for a

more sustainable pattern of development.

The shortcomings of the past

are perhaps better understood and the

readiness for a real change is growing.

The alarm bells are heard better

than before.

So, where do we go from here? Clearly

there are national priorities, such as

the much-needed development of

railway systems, that will have to be

given high attention. We have to bring

together all the efforts and consolidate

the relevant policies in areas of

energy, traffic, industrial development,

urban and space planning and

the system of taxation with a view

to formulating a coherent and viable

strategy of change. Taken together, all

these tasks constitute a heavy agenda

for the Government.

I believe we shall succeed. And I am

convince that the international mechanism

such as the Global Framework

for Climate Services will help.”

H.E. Mr Danilo Türk, President of

the Republic of Slovenia

“Our task for the years to come has

been clearly identified. We must

develop the practical tools that will help

us reduce the pace of global warming

and adapt to its consequences.

As we embark upon this task, the

World Meteorological Organization’s

contribution will prove essential, as it

always has, ever since the organization

was first set up. With its unique

combination of scientific research

and public policy development, WMO

is indeed an irreplaceable forum for

knowledge-acquisition and decisionmaking.

Now we have entered the age of

action, the age where time is of the

essence and where we have within

reach all that is required to develop an

appropriate response. We will be supported

by the major progress made

WMO Bulletin 59 (1) - January 2010 | 1

over previous ages. But there will

be no shunning a number of tough

decisions, no avoiding some rude

awakenings. Let us bear in mind that

we will have to radically change the

way we live, produce, consume, in

developed countries and emerging

economies alike. …

The Principality of Monaco has

already strongly committed to do its

part, both on its own territory and

through cooperative action. Furthermore,

my Foundation, which inter

alia focuses on climate and energy,

supports concrete projects aimed to

sensitize and intervene, in particular

in energy efficiency and the promotion

of renewables. This is however

only a beginning; much more will be


This Geneva Conference is therefore

an important step… The goals

it has set itself – with respect to scientific

prediction, risk management

and adaptation to climate variability

– are for that matter clearly

focused on efficient decision-making


H.S.H. Prince Albert II,

Head of State of Monaco

“Bangladesh is among the countries

severely affected by climate change,

and estimates indicate that 20 million

Bangladeshis would require

relocation due to climate change

impacts by 2050. A metre rise of

sea level would inundate a third

of Bangladesh. This would result

in mass migration northwards,

imposing increasing pressure on

land and resource, and loss of livelihood

of about 40 million people. The

International Strategy for Disaster

Reduction has ranked Bangladesh

as the most vulnerable country to

floods, third most to tsunami and

sixth most to cyclones, in terms of

human exposure.

At present, Bangladesh is experiencing

erratic patterns of flooding

and droughts. These have become

2 | WMO Bulletin 59 (1) - January 2010

a threat to ensuring food security

through sustained agricultural production.

Cyclones hit the coastal

region regularly, causing tragic loss

of innumerable lives and immense

material damage. Besides, Bangladesh

also faces riverbank erosion,

landslides, soil degradation and deforestation.

An alarming phenomenon is

salinity intrusion in the coastal areas

threatening Sundarbans, the world’s

largest mangrove forest — a habitat

of rich biodiversity and a UNESCO

World Heritage Site. These formidable

challenges need to be addressed

with the help of in the international

community. …

The Declaration here would pave the

way for a new World Climate Services

System [a part of the Global

Framework for Climate Services]. The

success of the System would largely

depend on international support and

cooperation, in enhancing the technological

and service delivery capacity

of meteorological organizations of

developing countries, especially the

LDCs. …

Devising collective strategies based

on informed decisions can disprove

the dire prognosis about our future.

We must not fail in delivering on the

historic responsibility that we owe to

our posterity.”

H.E. Ms Sheikh Hasina,

Prime Minister of Bangladesh

“Never before have the issues of climate

and climate change received so

much concern and attention from all

governments, been so much cared

and worried about by people around

the world and been so much focused

on and thought about by various international

organizations. The issue of

climate change calls for common and

active responses from the international

community, as it concerns the

well-being of all people and the global

sustainable development.

Therefore, it is both necessary and

important to convene at this partic-

ular time the WCC-3 on the theme

of “climate prediction and information

for decision-making”. It will have

significant and long-lasting implications

on in-depth understanding of

climate and climate change by the

international community, and bring

about positive and effective impetus

to application of more tailored climate

services in national economic

and social development.

Since the Second World Climate

Conference in 1990, relevant international

organizations have launched

a series of programmes and actions

in the field of climate science. Substantive

achievements were made

in building up the global observing

systems, improving the accuracy of

climate prediction and delivering climate

information for policy-makers. …

The Chinese Government appreciates

the WMO and relevant international

organizations for their tireless efforts

and fruitful work. …

Atmosphere recognizes no borders,

and international cooperation transcends

boundaries. Preparedness for

and reduction of meteorological disasters,

adaptation to and mitigation of

climate change, exploration and utilization

of climate resources are not only

major issues of concern for China but

also for the whole world. It is imperative

for all countries to strengthen

cooperation in wider range, greater

depth and broader areas. Together

with the international community,

the Chinese Government will take

practical and feasible measures and

actions, conduct close cooperation

and promote the climate services in

multiple aspects so as to provide better

climate services for the benefit of

mankind, ad to make new contributions

to the sustainable development

of the human society.”

H.E. Mr Hui Liangyu, Vice Premier

of the People’s Republic of China

“Since no nation, no people can control

the weather and climate, the only

sensible way to deal with the threat is

From left to right: John Zillman, Kofi Annan, Michel Jarraud, Hans-Rudolf Merz, Alexander Bedritsky, Gro Harlem Brundtland, Sergei

Ordzhonikidze and Buruhani Nyenzi at the WCC-3 Opening Ceremony

to promote preparedness in the management

of the various weather and

climate outcomes. Several discussions

have been taking place under

the aegis of the United Nations Framework

Convention on Climate Change.

However, it is crystal clear that no matter

what agreements are reached in the

short- and long-terms, adaptation to

the various weather and climate conditions

is a necessity and a right for

all the citizens of the world, especially

for those who are least responsible for

creating climate change. …

In view of the grave threat that the climate

poses to our past, current and

future development endeavours, my

Government is fully in support of the

proposed Global Framework for Climate


In lending my support to the Framework,

I wish to remind the audience of

the prevailing capacity gaps between

countries and peoples. As a result,

least developed countries like The

Gambia would certainly require special

support to enhance capacity in

the implementation of the proposed

Framework in order to have the desired

impact on our communities. To this

effect, I want to emphasize the need

for training of professional in weather

and climate, as well as the training of

the various weather/climate information

user groups.

... I would like to reiterate that addressing

climate change and variability

within the context of adaptation and

mitigation is a sine qua non for sustainable

development. In this regard,

my Government will continue to place

high on its development agenda climate

and development challenges. By

the same token, we urge all partners

to fulfil their commitments to the climate

challenge. Together, we can make

this planet a safer place for mankind

and generations yet unborn.”

H.E. Mr Antouman Saho, Minister

of Fisheries, Water Resources and

National Assembly Matters for The

Gambia, read on behalf of H.E. Mr

Yahya Jammeh,

President of The Gambia

“…the time has come to review the

outputs that climate observation and

prediction services have so far provided

to various players in our States, and

especially the way these are used and

implemented. This review will help the

global scientific community determine

what gaps may exist between research

efforts and the translation of scientific

data into action to foster the socio-economic

development of our States and

the well-being of our societies.

With the considerable, and mainly

negative, impact generated by

climate variability and change on the

survival conditions of our societies, it

is important that climate information

be made more accessible to different

socio-professional categories in

our countries through closer links

between meteorological observation

and prediction services. Currently,

in developing countries such as

mine, Togo, climate observation and

prediction services often work with

equipment that is no longer up to the

challenges of our time: quantitatively

very limited, it further suffers from a

lack of technical and financial resources

necessary for maintenance and the

broad dissemination of information.

In order better to attenuate the negative

effects of climate change and

foster adaptation, our governments

WMO Bulletin 59 (1) - January 2010 |

and our societies acutely need the

outputs of observation and prediction

services. These will help better determine

our policies and strategies and

consequently, improve their implementation

in fields as major as food,

health, water, disaster prevention,

energy, tourism and transportation,

to mention but a few.”

H.E. Mr Faure Gnassingbé,

President of Togo

“The need for aggressive action on

climate change is abundantly clear from

the impacts of warming that we have

already seen. … Documented changes

in the United States include increases

in continental-average temperatures,

rising sea levels in many coastal

locations, an increased frequency of

heavy rainfall events, longer growing

seasons, earlier snowmelt, and altered

river flow volumes. Water is a pervasive

issue in every region of the United

States, but the nature of the impact

varies. Drought is a serious problem,

especially in the West and Southeast;

floods and water quality problems are

| WMO Bulletin 59 (1) - January 2010

expected to increase in most regions.

In parallel to these climate changes,

the ocean is becoming more acidic as

it absorbs much of the excess carbon

dioxide from the atmosphere. …

Today, user demands for climate

information are increasing rapidly.

Decision-makers at all levels of government,

business leaders, civil

society and individual citizens are

asking how they can best prepare their

communities, businesses or lives for

the impacts of climate change. In particular,

users need climate information

and assessments at the scale that is

relevant to their concerns. Scientists

are increasingly able to provide the

“right scale” information. …

The concept of ‘climate services’ is

an idea that has been gestating for

some time.

But, today marks the day that ‘climate

services’ was born.

Even though the term is still foreign to

many, I predict that it will become part

of our lexicon, as ‘weather services’

is today. Just as we depend on all

types of weather services now, we

eagerly await the creation of a range

of science-based climate forecasts

and other services.

Inspired and empowered by the successes

of the two previous World

Climate Conferences, recognizing

the reality and urgency of addressing

climate change, understanding

the imperative of grounding decisions

in the best available science,

and appreciating that users and providers

of climate services must work

together, this World Climate Conference

is creating a new legacy.

Improving development and delivery

of climate services offers untold

economic, environmental, human

health, and national security benefits.

For these reasons, the Obama

Administration strongly supports the

establishment of a Global Framework

for Climate Services as an outcome

of this Conference.”

Ms Jane Lubchenco, Head of the

US Delegation to WCC-3

The Global Atmosphere

Watch: a history of contributing

to climate monitoring

by Ed Dlugokencky 1 , John Miller 2 and Johannes Staehelin 3

Monitoring of trace atmospheric

constituents was originally driven

by scientific curiosity. It was not long,

however, before questions were raised

over the connection between observed

increases in certain trace chemicals

and human activities, and what the

consequences would be for humanity

if it should continue unabated. Over

the past 60 years, WMO has provided a

substantial contribution in converting

scientifically driven events into regular


WMO formally embarked on a

programme of atmospheric chemistry

and meteorological aspects of air

pollution during the 1950s. Collecting

adequate information on the chemical

composition of the atmosphere

and on the consequences of the

anthropogenic impact on a global

scale is possible only if all the relevant

measurements are expressed in the

same units or on the same scale; the

measurements performed by different

countries and at different sites must

be comparable.

The first step towards international

coordination of chemical measurements

was made by WMO during

the 1957 International Geophysical

1 NOAA; Chair of the WMO/GAW Greenhouse

Gas Scientific Advisory Group


3 ETH-Zurich; Chair of the WMO/GAW Ozone

Scientific Advisory Group

The global observations must be sustained into

the future to monitor the effectiveness of policies

implemented to mitigate climate change.

Year. WMO took a responsibility for

development of Standard Operating

Procedures for uniform ozone observations

and established the Global

Ozone Observing System (GO 3 OS). It

developed a coordinated Dobson and

later Brewer spectrophotometer network

to measure total atmospheric

ozone. The system also includes

ozonesonde observations and intercomparisons,

preparation of the

WMO Antarctic Ozone Bulletins, the

quadrennial WMO/UNEP Scientific

Assessment of Ozone Depletion and

support of the WMO World Ozone

and UV Data Centre in Canada.

In the late 1960s, the Background

Air Pollution Monitoring Network

(BAPMoN) was established. It focused

on precipitation chemistry, aerosol

and carbon dioxide measurements,

included regional and background

stations, and had a WMO World Data

Centre established in the United

States of America.

During the 1970s, three important

atmospheric issues were addressed:

(1) the threat of chlorofluorocarbons

(CFCs) to the ozone layer; (2)

acidification of lakes and forests in

large parts of North America and

Europe, caused principally by the

conversion of sulphur dioxide into

sulphuric acid in the atmosphere

and; (3) potential global warming

caused by the build-up of greenhouse

gases in the atmosphere. Each of

these issues is now the subject of

international treaties or conventions.

The initial development of these

agreements and the subsequent

assessments of the mitigation

measures they contain relied heavily

on information derived from the WMO

atmospheric composition monitoring


In 1989, the two observing networks

BAPMoN and GO 3 OS were consolidated

into the current WMO

Global Atmosphere Watch (GAW)


The GAW monitoring programme

includes a coordinated global

network of observing stations

along with supporting facilities and

expert groups. Currently, the GAW

programme coordinates activities and

data from 26 global stations (Figure 1),

410 fully operational regional stations

and 81 fully operational contributing

WMO Bulletin 59 (1) - January 2010 | 5

Trinidad d Head

Mauna M Loaa

Samoa m

stations (

Two of the regional sites were

upgraded to global stations in 2009

(Cape Verde and Trinidad Head).

The GAW programme provides data

for scientific assessments and for early

warnings of changes in the chemical

composition and related physical

characteristics of the atmosphere

that may have adverse effects on the

environment. Monitoring has focused

on greenhouse gases and aerosols for

possible climate change, ozone and

ultraviolet radiation for both climate

and biological concerns, and certain

reactive gases and the chemistry of

precipitation for a multitude of roles

in pollution chemistry.

Establishing essential

climate variables

Mace Head H


ng ch h

Iza Izaña ña

Cape C Verdee

Ushuaia a a

Arembepe r

As highlighted by the Intergovernmental

Panel on Climate Change

(IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report,

observations have confirmed that

warming of the climate system is

unequivocal. The global observations

must be sustained into the future to

monitor the effectiveness of policies

implemented to mitigate climate


The WMO/GAW office and leaders of

its Scientific Advisory Groups have

been actively involved in supporting

| WMO Bulletin 59 (1) - January 2010

Assekre s m -


m ra t

Cape Point P

South th Pole le

the United Nations Framework

Convention on Climate Change

(UNFCCC) through contributions

to the Strategic Implementation

Plan of the Second Report on the

Adequacy of the Global Observing

Systems for Climate by the Global

Climate Observing Strategy. The

document officially recognizes

essential climate variables (ECVs) that

need to be systematically measured

globally in order to address major

issues. In the area of atmospheric

composition these variables are

carbon dioxide, methane and other

long-lived greenhouse gases, ozone

and aerosols, supported by their

precursors (nitrous oxide, sulphur

dioxide, formaldehyde and carbon

monoxide, in particular).

Most of the ECVs connected with

atmospheric chemical composition

are observed in the framework

of the GAW programme. Every

variable requires a robust supporting

infrastructure to establish a global

observing system, including the

following components:


hen h n g/ Zugg

Mt. Mtt. Ken Kenya Keenya a

Neumayer N y

Figure 1 — Global GAW stations (as of November 2009)

Mt. Waliguan gu

Bukit Koto Tabang b

Amsterdam m m Island

Mi M rishima is

Cape pe Grim

Danum Valley a


Central Calibration Laboratory

(CCL) which keeps a Primary

Standard and a scale;

World Calibration Centre (WCC),

which ensures the quality of

the measurements linking in

situ observations to a primary


Infrastructure/observational network

with global coverage;

A world data archive/analysis

centre, where quality-controlled

data are stored, analyzed and


Oversight Scientific Advisory

Groups and Expert Teams for all

aspects of the network.

Together, these components help to

ensure the global measurement of

important atmospheric constituents

that affect the climate.

Monitoring ozone

Projections of a changing climate

have added a new dimension to

the issue of the stratospheric ozone

layer and its recovery. New data

and models show the interconnections

between these two global

environmental concerns. Projected

cooling in the stratosphere (upper

atmosphere, between about 10

and 50 kilometres high) will slow

down ozone recovery in the polar

regions. On the other hand, ozonedepleting

chemicals and ozone itself

provide a positive forcing of the climate.

Therefore, the reduction of

ozone-depleting substances not only

helped the ozone layer but also lessened

climate forcing.

Routine measurements of column

ozone from ground-based UV

spectrophotometers are performed

under the guidance of the WMO

GAW programme. Weather balloons

carry instruments from the surface

of the Earth to 30 to 35 kilometres

altitude to measure the vertical

distribution of ozone (Figure 2).

Currently, the WMO/GAW Global

Ozone Monitoring Network consists

of 132 stations measuring total ozone

with a combination of Dobson and

Brewer spectrophotometers and 63

stations measuring profile ozone

with ozonesondes. The ozonesonde

sites are run by WMO/GAW, NASA/

Southern Hemisphere Additional

Figure 2 — Launch of an ozonesonde at the GAW station in Ushuaia, Argentina.

These observations, which are carried out by the Servicio Nacional de Meteorología

of Argentina and are supported by the Spanish Meteorological Agency and Instituto

Nacional de Técnica Aeroespacial, represent an important contribution to the monitoring

of the Antarctic ozone hole.

Ozone Sondes and the Network

for the Detection of Atmospheric

Composition Change.

The ozone monitoring network has

an established system of quality

control including CCLs — at the

United States National Oceanic

and Atmospheric Administration

(NOAA) for Dobson instruments and

in Environment Canada for Brewer

instruments — WCCs (supported

by respective CCLs) and Regional

Calibration Centres in Argentina,

Australia, Czech Republic, Germany,

Japan, Russia, South Africa, Spain

and the United States.

The Spanish Meteorological Institute

hosts the Regional Brewer Calibration

Centre for Europe (RBCC-E), officially

nominated by WMO in November

2003. It consists of a triad of Brewer

spectrophotometers. Together with

the Brewer triad maintained at

Environment Canada (Toronto), this

constitutes an international Brewer

calibration system with quality

assurance procedures similar to

those of the Dobson network. In

addition to serving the 50 Brewer

spectrophotometers in Europe,

RBCC-E also takes care of stations

in North Africa (Casablanca and

Cairo). The first two GAW regional

Brewer intercomparisons for Europe

were arranged by RBCC-E in Spain in

September 2005 and 2007, and the

most recent campaigns took place

in September 2009.

A Dobson intercomparison involving

instruments from Argentina, Brazil,

Cuba, Mexico, Peru and Uruguay

was conducted in Buenos Aires in

December 2006. A new intercompa-

rison is planned for 2010 or 2011. An

intercomparison of African Dobson

instruments was carried out in Irene,

South Africa, in October 2009.

A recent comparison between satellite

column ozone data and ground-based

measurements indicated a need to

recalculate some long-term total

ozone series. In order to provide support

to homogenize such series, a

data re-evaluation workshop for the

station data managers was recommended

by the Seventh Meeting of

the Ozone Research Managers of the

Parties to the Vienna Convention and

is scheduled for 2010.


greenhouse gases

Understanding the global budget of

the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere

and predicting its evolution

under future climate scenarios is

one of the biggest challenges facing

science today. One of the challenges

is to distinguish between natural

and anthropogenic sources, which

requires accurate global measurements.

Resolving the uncertainty in

the natural sinks of the carbon cycle is

also essential for climate predictions

due to the feedbacks between climate

change and the carbon reservoirs.

As reported in the November 2009

Greenhouse Gas Bulletin, published

by WMO/GAW, the globally averaged

mixing ratios of carbon dioxide,

methane and nitrous oxide reached

new highs in 2008 with carbon dioxide

at 385.2 ppm (the number of molecules

of the gas per million molecules of

dry air), methane at 1797 ppb (parts

per billion) and nitrous oxide at 321.8

ppb (Figure 3). These numbers were

higher than those in pre-industrial

times (before 1750) by 38 per cent, 157

per cent and 19 per cent, respectively.

These data were obtained on the basis

of the greenhouse gas observations

in the GAW programme.

WMO coordinates the activities of

the greenhouse gas observational

network contributed by the partner

national monitoring organizations,

and includes a CCL that maintains

primary standards for carbon dioxide,

methane and nitrous oxide, as

well as the WMO World Reference

Scale for greenhouse gases recognized

by the International Bureau of

Weights and Measures. It includes

World and Regional Calibration Centres

maintained by WMO partners,

WMO Bulletin 59 (1) - January 2010 |

Figure 3 — The globally averaged mixing ratios of carbon dioxide and methane reached new highs in 2008, the highest levels recorded

since preindustrial times.

performs station audits, develops

standard operating procedures and

measurement guidelines and manages

a rolling review process for the

data quality objectives and measurement

requirements through

biennial WMO/International Atomic

Energy Agency (IAEA) Expert Workshops.

NOAA/Earth System Research

Laboratory operates a GAW contri-

buting network and is a major partner

in the comprehensive network, and

hosts the WMO primary standards for

carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous

oxide. Many other GAW participants

(including Australia, Canada, France,

Japan and Switzerland) contribute to

the comprehensive network, following

GAW measurement guidelines

and data quality objectives. Quality

controlled measurement data are submitted,

archived and disseminated

by the World Data Centre for Greenhouses

Gases hosted by the Japan

Meteorological Agency.

A rolling review process of the data

quality objectives is performed through

the biennial meetings of experts cosponsored

by WMO and IAEA. The

first meeting of this expert group was

held in 1975 at Scripps Institution of

Oceanography and was co-sponsored

by WMO. It was a milestone in

leadership of global greenhouse gas

monitoring by NOAA.

In October 2005, the steering

committee of the Global Climate

Observing System (GCOS), which is

co-sponsored by WMO, approved the

GCOS-GAW Agreement establishing

| WMO Bulletin 59 (1) - January 2010

the “WMO-GAW Global Atmospheric

CO 2 & CH 4 Monitoring Network” as

a comprehensive network of GCOS;

ozone is a GCOS variable as well.

The GAW global network for surface

based carbon dioxide observations

includes 180 stations (Figure 4). Obtaining

global distributions and trends of

a particular variable with sufficient

resolution to provide quantitative estimates

of regional sources and sinks

of greenhouse gases requires not only

surface-based stations but also aircraft

and satellite observations.

Other in situ measurements will provide

the observational resources to

undertake regional analyses. Measurements

of the isotopic composition

of carbon dioxide and methane can

help to distinguish between various

emission sources and thus improve

our understanding of the budgets of

these gases. These measurements

are already carried out by a number

of observatories in the GAW network.

Moreover, development of new and

more accurate measurement techniques,

such as cavity ring-down laser

spectroscopy, needs consideration of

the carbon dioxide and methane isotopic

composition in the process of


Several projects and networks contribute

to provide a three-dimensional

picture of the greenhouse gases distribution.

In particular, Japanese

scientists are using Japan Airlines,

and European researchers are working

within the framework of the CARIBIC

project (

The need for satellite data validation

and data across the globe led to the

development of the Total Carbon

Column Observing Network (TCCON)

of upward looking Fourier Transform

Spectrometers (http://www.tccon. TCCON measurements,

once calibrated, can help validate

satellite measurements from the

SCIAMACHY instrument and those

on the GOSAT and the future OCO2

satellites. TCCON, which collaborates

closely with NDACC, was established

in 2004 and became a GAW contributing

network in 2009.

In addition to the main greenhouse

gases, several other potent greenhouse

gases are emitted in the atmosphere

through human activity. Halocarbons

are currently one of the contributors

to the global radiative forcing playing

a role comparable to that of nitrous

oxide. Some halocarbons (CFCs and

most halons) are decreasing slowly

as a result of emission reductions

under the Montreal Protocol on

Substances that Deplete the Ozone

Layer, whereas others (HCFCs and

HFCs) are increasing rapidly.

Understanding aerosols

Atmospheric aerosols play an

important role for climate change.

Aerosols influence the atmospheric

energy budget both directly and

indirectly. Directly, aerosols change

Ground-based Aircraft Ship GHG Comparison Sites

Figure 4 — Current configuration of the comprehensive GAW network for carbon dioxide


the scattering and absorption of

radiation and subsequently influence

the planetary albedo (how Earth

reflects radiation) and the climate

system. Indirectly, an increase in

anthropogenic aerosol concentration

increases the available cloud con-

densation nuclei. This process is

believed to change the cloud droplet

number concentration for a constant

cloud liquid water content, and the

resulting increase in cloud albedo

influences Earth’s radiation budget.

A number of networks contribute to

the aerosol measurements in the GAW

programme. They are the Aerosols

Robotic System, the GAW Aerosol

Lidar Observations Network and the

Background Solar Radiation Network

sites. Several regional networks of

measurements directly related to

aerosol properties are in place for

addressing air quality and acidification

issues, as well as for supporting

satellite calibration and validation.

GAW participants endeavour to

provide precise, accurate and

timely observations of the aerosol

parameters, including optical depth,

mass concentration and major

chemical components in two size

fractions, as well as light scattering

and absorption.

The establishment of a WCC for the

long list of aerosol parameters is an

important task in ensuring high quality

of the data. It was therefore decided

to distribute this task between two

different institutions. The Institute

for Tropospheric Research in Leipzig

has agreed to host the WCC for the

physical parameters. A host for the

WCC for the chemical parameters still

must be located.

Satellite measurements beginning with

those from the Advanced Very High

Resolution Radiometer provide longterm

information on aerosol optical

depth, and recent dedicated aerosol

research missions are providing not

only more accurate measurements of

optical depth but also data on aerosol

size, type and vertical profile.

Supporting measurement

of precursors for

aerosols and ozone

Changes in the composition of the

lower atmosphere, the troposphere,

impact air quality as well as climate

change. Tropospheric ozone and

aerosols are both radiatively active

and air pollutants. Other trace gases,

such as nitrogen oxides, sulphur

dioxide and formaldehyde, have a

negligible direct radiative effect but

are precursors for tropospheric ozone

and secondary aerosols (those that are

formed in the atmosphere). Methane

is a precursor for tropospheric ozone

and stratospheric water vapour, as well

as a greenhouse gas. Observations

of precursors are needed for an

emission-based view on the radiative

forcing (due to both anthropogenic

and natural sources) by tropospheric

ozone and secondary aerosols.

Global observations of the precursors

are also performed within the GAW

programme (in the group of reactive

gases). Some of the networks are

quite mature and have all necessary

elements (for example for carbon

monoxide), while others are in the

stage of establishment. In 2006, a

network was established for volatile

organic compounds, which serve as

precursors for tropospheric ozone. A

GAW workshop took place in October

2009 at Hohenpeissenberg to establish

a network for global observations of

various nitrogen oxides.

A continuing legacy

WMO has a long history of working on

atmospheric issues that has continued

through the GAW programme. The

programme is evolving, filling the

gaps in the measurement parameters,

building new central facilities and

increasing the number of observations.

This progress is due to the dedication

and contributions of many scientists

all over the world, some of whom are

no longer with us, but from whose

efforts we all continue to benefit.


The authors wish to express their thanks

to Oksana Tarasova and Geir Braathen,

both with the WMO Secretariat, for

their contributions and work on this

article. For more information, visit:

WMO Bulletin 59 (1) - January 2010 | 9

The evolution of operational

hydrology within WMO


by Harry F. Lins*

The role of hydrology within WMO

has evolved significantly since enactment

of the WMO Convention in 1950.

From an implicit function under the

label “other geophysical observations

related to meteorology” in the

Convention and the establishment of

the Commission for Hydrological Meteorology

in 1959, to the transformative

resolutions of Congress VI in 1971 that

defined “operational hydrology” and

ultimately the establishment of the

Department of Hydrology and Water

Resources within the Secretariat,

operational hydrology has evolved

to be a core part of the WMO mission

and the technical practices of

National Meteorological and Hydrological

Services (NMHSs).

Seeking its level

Hydrology and water resources are

currently explicit and increasingly

important components of WMO

activities. Notably, however, when the

WMO Convention entered into force

on 23 March 1950, hydrology was

only tacitly recognized as part of the

organization. This changed quickly

during WMO’s first decade, however,

as there was growing awareness of

the need for international cooperation

in hydrology in the areas of water

* Hydrologist, US Geological Survey,

Reston, Virginia (USA); Member,

WMO CHy Advisory Working Group.


0 | WMO Bulletin 59 (1) - January 2010

resources assessment, development,

and management. As described in

the October 1956 issue of the WMO

Bulletin, the Organization had been

encouraged by the United Nations

and some of its specialized agencies

to assume certain responsibilities

in the field of hydrology, especially

with regard to the collection of data.

The WMO Secretary-General had

been requested to carry out specific

steps to:

Make appropriate arrangements

for ensuring the collection, analysis

and dissemination of information

on current development of water

projects, research programmes

and related activities;

Initiate, in cooperation with the

competent specialized agencies

and with the governments

concerned, a preliminary inquiry

on existing hydrological services,

plans for their extension and

conditions for the execution of

these plans; and

Constitute a panel of worldrenowned

experts for reviewing

the administrative, economic and

social implications of integrated

river basin development and for

advising on the proper action,

including the convening of an

international conference to be

taken in order to ensure a worldwide

exchange of experience and

data in related domains.

All is flux; nothing stays



At an inter-agency meeting in Geneva

in July 1956, it had been recommended

that WMO draft a questionnaire in

consultation with the International

Association for Scientific Hydrology,

which would take into account the

information received as a result of

an earlier inquiry by WMO on the

relations between NMHSs.

Another subject discussed at the

inter-agency meeting was the

need to prepare a comprehensive

international terminology, or glossary,

covering the various sciences related

to water resources development.

Realizing of course the difficulty of

getting the various groups involved to

coalesce around a unified document,

the group agreed that the most urgent

matter was to ensure coordination

among the different bodies engaged

in preparing glossaries.

The inter-agency meeting was

followed by the first session of the

WMO Panel on Water Resources

Development. One proposal made

by the Panel was that WMO should

ultimately assume responsibilities

in the field of hydrology similar

Collecting hydrological data

All countries rely on freshwater to serve their societal needs. To that

end, effective management of water resources requires a thorough

understanding of the resource’s availability and variability over time and

space. Real- or near-real-time hydrological data, as well as the careful

preservation of historic records, are therefore essential to ensure such


The WMO World Hydrological Cycle Observing System (WHYCOS),

launched in 1993, helps fill the gap in availability of freshwater resource

data and information for countries worldwide. It builds capacity for water

resources assessment at the national, river basin, regional and global

levels, while at the same time promoting international cooperation in

the collection, analysis and exchange of water-related information,

including boosting use of modern technologies. So far, several regional

components have been launched, in the Mediterranean, Southern Africa,

Western and Central Africa (including the basins of the Niger and Volta

rivers), Southeast Asia (the Mekong river basin), and the small islands of

the Pacific and the Caribbean, while a number of new projects are being

planned (for example, the basins of Senegal and Congo) together with the

extension of the existing ones.

The individual components, conforming to commonly shared standards

outlined in the WHYCOS Guidelines, are shaped to better respond to the

specific needs of the region or basin in which they are implemented. In

most of the cases, when important internationally shared water bodies are

involved, one of the major objectives of the project is the establishment

of a network of state-of-the art hydrological stations linked in real time

to a regional database. This has been the case of the projects in the

Mediterranean, Southern Africa and the basins of the Niger, Volta and


The establishment of these observing networks is of particular value in

those areas of the world that have undergone severe data degradation in

the past decades as a result of shrinking state and international support.

Hydrology data can help support existing or new developments in the water

sector, as will be the case for the planned Senegal and Congo WHYCOS

components. So far more than 200 stations have been rehabilitated or

established in the framework of the various components.

WHYCOS also importantly works on the rescue, collection and organization

of precious and irreplaceable historical data series, which hold unique

value for tracing across decades the evolution and variability of water

flows and therefore contribute to a better understanding of climate.

These data, which all too often are poorly preserved on fragile media, are

recovered into newer and better performing databases easily accessible

to the users, as it has been the case, for instance, for the WHYCOS data of

Western African rivers.

to its responsibilities in the field

of meteorology at the time. The

Panel understood that this would

necessitate some changes in the

WMO Convention and recommended

that in the meantime, attention should

be concentrated on those aspects of

hydrology most closely related to


The long-term programme that

was envisaged included the preparation

of technical regulations and

guides on international practices in

hydrology, the development of international

standards for hydrological

observations and networks, the routine

exchange of hydrological data,

forecasts and yearbooks, the preparation

of technical notes on various

aspects of hydrology, and the organization

of international symposia and


To execute these new responsibilities

successfully, WMO needed full-time

specialists in the Secretariat working

on the programme in hydrology.

The Secretary-General assigned at

least two highly qualified persons

to the Secretariat from countries

having large staffs dealing with

hydrometeorological problems.

The Organization quickly embraced this

challenge and began making appropriate

changes in its technical and scientific

structure, as well as in its programme.

The most significant early change was

the establishment of the Commission

for Hydrological Meteorology (CHM)

in 1959. Its terms of reference

included: the study and formulation

of meteorological requirements for

hydrology, especially with regard to

the rapid exchange and arrangement

of data; the design and promotion

of networks for the measurement

and study of those parameters in

the hydrological cycle that involve

meteorological consideration; and the

development, improvement, promotion

and international standardization of

methods, procedures and techniques

for 1) the application of meteorology

to hydrology (as in, for example, riverstage

and flood forecasting), and 2) the

WMO Bulletin 59 (1) - January 2010 | 1

provision of meteorological services to

international hydrology.

At its first session in 1961, CHM

established working groups on

hydrological forecasting, hydrological

network design, publication and

exchange of data, terminology,

instruments and methods of observ-

ations, and hydrological design, as

well as one for the preparation of the

Guide on Hydrological Meteorology.

In the ensuing years, considerable

practical guidance material was

prepared for the standardization of

hydrological instruments and methods

of observation, including technical

regulations in operational hydrology,

network planning, data processing,

analysis for design purposes and

hydrological forecasting.

WMO also began providing worldwide

technical advice and assistance in

national and regional hydrological

and hydrometeorological projects

for the expansion and improvement

of networks and conducting basic

surveys. At the Commission’s second

session, in 1964, a subtle but enduring

change occurred: the Commission’s

abbreviation changed from CHM to

CHy, although its name remained the


The era of operational


By the late 1960s, the stage was

set for hydrology to emerge from

its focused organizational role as a

component of meteorology to the

broader complementary discipline

within WMO that it is today. That

transformation took shape during

the Commission’s third session in

1967. CHy-III occurred early in the

International Hydrological Decade

(1965-1974), a period when considerable

attention was focused on the

hydrological sciences and their role

in water resources management.

During the session, many delegates

expressed concerns and doubts about

2 | WMO Bulletin 59 (1) - January 2010

WMO responsibilities in hydrology.

The Commission agreed that, considering

the Organization’s experience

and structure, it would be appropriate

for it to assume responsibility

for international cooperation with

respect to the collection, transmission

and publication of hydrological

data, and for the operational aspects

associated with the land phase of the

hydrological cycle.

Accordingly, the Commission recommended

that the name of CHy

be changed to Commission for

Hydrology and that its terms of reference

be changed to clearly reflect its

responsibilities and to establish correct

terminology. It suggested that the

Commission’s new terms of reference

reflect primary responsibility for:

Operational aspects of the collection,

transmission, processing

and publication of hydrological

data related to the land phase of

the hydrological cycle, including

precipitation, snow cover, water

level of lakes and streams, streamflow

and storage, evaporation and

evapotransipiration, soil moisture

and groundwater (only as it

relates to surface water), water

temperature, sediment discharge,

river and lake ice, and chemical

quality of water;

Research, development, improvement

and promotion of methods,

procedures and techniques for the

design of networks, standardization

of instruments, and methods of

observations, as well as hydrological

forecasting, and meteorological

and hydrological data for the design

of projects; and

Rendering assistance to governments

in planning and organizing

hydrological services, training

personnel in the collection and

analysis of hydrological data, and

in procuring suitable equipment.

In response to the recommendations

made at CHy-III, the Executive Council

XXI called for a technical conference

on hydrological and meteorological

services in the autumn of 1970 “to

consider the ways in which the World

Weather Watch can be planned and

developed so as to be of maximum

benefit to Hydrological Services

of Members, particularly in the

field of hydrological forecasting.”

The conference was the first time

hydrologists representing National

Hydrological Services (NHSs) met

under the auspices of WMO. The

participants stressed the need to have

the operational aspects of hydrology,

which are closely associated with

those of meteorology, coordinated

Hydrologic technicians measure the amount of water from a flooded river.

USGS, photo by Rachel Pawlitz

internationally by WMO. They also

made specific reference to these

WMO responsibilities as “operational


The most significant outcome of the

conference was a proposal to the

Congress regarding the procedural

and institutional changes needed

to strengthen WMO efforts in operational

hydrology, and to facilitate

increased representation of the views

of NHSs in its policymaking bodies.

Other important outcomes of the conference

included the finalization of

a draft of the WMO Technical Regulations

in Operation Hydrology. In a

strong display of unity, the Conference

overwhelmingly recommended

the adoption of its proposals by the

Sixth Congress.

All the elements were now in place

for hydrology to assume a new and

more prominent role within WMO,

and Congress acted decisively in

1972 to make it so. Its most significant

action was to define “operational

hydrology”. This definition included:

measurements of basic hydrological

elements from networks of meteorological

and hydrological stations

— collection, transmission, processing,

storage, retrieval and publication

of basic hydrological data; hydrological

forecasting; and development and

improvement of relevant methods,

procedures and techniques in network

design, specification of instruments,

standardization of instruments and

methods of observation, data transmission

and processing, supply of

meteorological and hydrological data

for design purposes, and hydrological


Congress also officially changed the

name of the former Commission for

Hydrological Meteorology to Commission

for Hydrology, and approved

the revised terms of reference recommended

by CHy-III. Congress

specifically noted in so doing the

expressed needs of Members for internationally

recognized standards and

practices in operational hydrology, and

the Organization’s unique capabilities

Integrated flood management

Floods affect almost all sectors of societal activities and services.

Especially in the developing world, floods can influence socio-economic

development, impacting everything from poverty to food security. Land

and water managers, together with emergency planners, policymakers

and the private sector, have to change course from traditional flood

management towards a fully integrated approach to managing floods.

Traditionally, flood control practices have been reactive and ad hoc. They

have relied on controlling floods through structural measures that often

disturb the ecological balance of an area and shift flood risks. The WMO

Associated Programme on Flood Management (APFM), a joint WMO-

Global Water Partnership project, promotes integrated flood management

that draws of multidisciplinary expertise to develop a range of flood

solution multiple stakeholders.

This joint programme was an important consequence of the change in

the terms of reference of the Commission for Hydrology, approved by the

World Congress in 1999, and the consequential broadening of the scope

of WMO involvement in water issues. Thanks to the work of the APFM,

integrated flood management is now widely recognized and adopted by

several countries worldwide.

A key goal is to maximize the net benefits from floodplains for agriculture

and development, while reducing the negative impacts of floods if deemed

appropriate from an integrated point of view. For example, in Kenya, flood

management for the Lake Victoria Basin must simultaneously address the

problems of the poor flood-plain dwellers and the future development

of agriculturally fertile land that is prone to frequent flooding. This

requires that each sector of the economy take a role in the ways floods are

managed, jointly with all national ministries, agencies and the affected

provinces and communities. To that end, the Government of Kenya has

been working towards a National Flood Management Strategy through a

WMO pilot project. A similar project has been undertaken for Zambia’s

Kafue Basin.

A recent APFM project is the HelpDesk For Integrated Flood Management,

which was launched in June 2009 to provide demand-driven guidance to

all countries working on integrated flood management policy, strategy

and development. The HelpDesk, at http://www.floodmanagement.

info, provides the central access point for a range of services, tools and

learning materials. A virtual discussion forum allows flood management

practitioners to exchange views and experiences, and to access tools

from a flood management reference centre.

WMO Bulletin 59 (1) - January 2010 |

in promoting international cooperation

in this field. It further adopted

the WMO Technical Regulations in

Operational Hydrology (Volume III),

which, in addition to standardizing

instruments and methods of observation,

aimed to facilitate the creation

and improvement of hydrological

networks, cooperation within international

river basins, uniformity in

the exchange of hydrological data

and assistance in the establishment

and expansion of NHSs, particularly in

developing countries. Finally, and very

importantly, Congress restructured

the WMO Secretariat by establishing

the Department of Hydrology and

Water Resources, which reported

directly to the office of the Secretary-

General of WMO.

These actions had broad implications

beyond the immediate role of

hydrology within the Organization.

Its decisions conformed to the recommendation

of the International

Conference on the Practical and Scientific

Results of the International

Hydrology Decade and on international

cooperation in hydrology,

whereby international governmental

and non-governmental organizations

were asked to continue their activities

in the field of hydrology and

in problems concerning the human

environment. It further opened the

door to collaboration in the short and

long-term programmes and projects

in hydrology, water resources and

related environmental issues of

other United Nations bodies and

agencies, as well as other international

organizations. Notably, the

decisions implemented by the Sixth

Congress provided a fundamentally

solid structure for WMO hydrological

activities that has endured for

nearly 40 years.

Into the twenty-first

century — the era of water

During the ensuing two decades,

the availability and sustainability of

clean fresh water began to emerge

| WMO Bulletin 59 (1) - January 2010

WMO WHYCOS projects are under way in the Mekong Delta in Southeast Asia.

as an increasingly prominent global

concern. In 1992, WMO organized the

International Conference on Water

and the Environment in Dublin,

Ireland, which was a preparatory

session to the Earth Summit in

Rio de Janeiro that same year. The

outcome of the Dublin conference

was a set of principles or statements

specifying how water issues should

be viewed and addressed. They

included: freshwater is a finite and

vulnerable resource, essential to

sustain life, development and the

environment; water development

and management should be based on

a participatory approach, involving

users, planners and policymakers

at all levels; and water has an

economic value in all its competing

uses and should be recognized as

an economic good.

These principles formed the basis

of an action plan for helping countries

address a broad array of water

resources problems, and have significantly

influenced the course of

international efforts to ensure water

security ever since. The actions

associated with the World Water

Forums, World Water Assessment

Programme and even the Millennium

Development Goals (goal 7 is

to ensure environmental sustainability),

among others, drew heavily on

the concepts articulated in the Dublin

Statement on Water and Sustainable


Recognizing the importance of its

own capabilities, as well as those of

its Members to assist in these efforts,

the Congress revised the CHy terms

of reference at its thirteenth session

in 1999. The new terms of reference

expanded the focus of CHy activities

from technical regulations, standardization

of observing methods and

instruments and data exchange, to

a broader consideration of hydrology

and water resources problems

wherein socio-economic development

and environmental protection

gained increased significance. New

emphasis was placed on the international

exchange of experience and

technology, the international dissemination

of hydrological information,

forecasts and warnings, and on raising

the public awareness of the social,

economic and environmental significance

of water.

Perhaps the most visible indicator of

just how far hydrology has evolved

as a component of the Organization

came with the decision made

Thomas Schoch, under license of

USGS, photo by Don Becker

Flood monitoring is an important function of operational hydrology.

by the Fourteenth Congress in 2003

to adopt the WMO slogan “Weather,

climate and water” for use on all

official documentation, correspondence

and publications. It was clear

and unequivocal recognition that

water was not simply a subset of

the Organization’s weather and climate

functions but, rather, a full and

equivalent responsibility.

As WMO enters its seventh decade of

service to the international community,

the visibility and strength of, and need

for, its hydrology and water resources

capabilities continue to grow. Significantly,

the maturity of its operational

hydrology program has positioned

WMO to contribute uniquely and meaningfully

to the critical problems of water

security and sustainability.

As noted by the Secretary-General

in his address opening the

thirteenth session of CHy in 2008:

“While integrated water resources

management has practically gained

world acceptance, actions and decisions

by some countries seem to

indicate that management may

not be possible unless the respective

planners and decision-makers

can be made more aware of their

actual water resources, expressed

in time and space, in quantity and

quality, and in terms of their variability

. . . In addition, water-related

natural hazards will require continued

monitoring, forecasting and

warning, in order for countries to

develop the necessary resilience

and to mitigate the adverse impacts

of extreme hydro-meteorological

events . . . In this context, it will be

of fundamental importance for the

WMO Commission for Hydrology to

continue providing the necessary

technical assistance to the NHSs of

WMO Members, especially in developing

countries, by focusing future

CHy activities on those areas where

WMO contributions may be most


WMO Bulletin 59 (1) - January 2010 | 5

Building capacity

around Title the world

Over the past 60 years, WMO has

assisted the National Meteorological

and Hydrological Services (NMHSs) of

its Members with capacity building in a

number of critical areas to foster their

growth and development. NMHSs are

extremely reliant and mutually dependent

on exchange of data to provide

weather, climate and water services

to various socio-economic sectors in

their countries. Over the years, WMO

has worked to keep abreast of developments

at regional and national levels,

to regularly engage with various partners,

to respond to countries’ needs

and, at the same time, to work with

NMHSs to support socio-economic

sectors that are of key priority.

Activities have specifically focused

on education and training for human

resources capacity, institutional development

and technological cooperation,

and regional advocacy. Two additional

recent areas of focus have been supporting

least developed countries

and small island developing states,

as well as establishing strategic partnerships

through resource mobilization.

All of these activities are coordinated

by a single unit within WMO, the

Development and Regional Activities

(DRA) Department.

Educating and

training for growth

Education and training lie at the heart

of development efforts; without human

| WMO Bulletin 59 (1) - January 2010

resources development, most development

interventions would be

ineffective. WMO activities in this area

aim to help participants to increase

their knowledge, skills and understanding

and to develop the capabilities and

competencies needed to bring about

the desired developmental change.

Unlike physical and financial capital,

which can be developed or shared with

relatively short time delays, human

capital cannot be immediately generated

to meet emerging needs. Its

generation requires education and

training, which is a long process. For

the least developed and developing

countries, determining how to build

and retain human capital is a critical

issue. The problem is exacerbated by

the unavoidable mobility of human

capital between least developed and

developing countries and those in

the developed world — the so-called

brain drain and the knowledge divide

between countries.

Over the past several decades, WMO

has been pioneering the development

of human resources of the NMHSs of

its Members through training, provision

of educational material and

awarding of fellowships. It assists

NMHSs, especially those in developing

countries, in their efforts to attain

the optimum level of staffing in order

to contribute to national development

and to become full partners in global

collaborative efforts. Over the

next decade, WMO will place greater

emphasis on education and training

activities and issues that will continue

to help to bridge the gap and to

build local capacities in science and


Human resources

development in

Iberoamerican countries

The Conference of Directors of

Iberoamerican NMHSs was established

in 2003 to help strengthen

the institutional capacity of NMHSs,

enhance the education and training

of personnel, and improve the operational

and managerial capacities.

In recent years, it has demonstrated

that, through horizontal cooperation,

NMHSs are able to optimize

resources, share experiences and

integrate meteorological and hydrological

development across two WMO

Regions, III (South America) and IV

(North America, South America and

the Caribbean).

The Programme of Cooperation for

Iberoamerican NMHSs is discussed

every year by the Conference of

Directors, which approves an annual

work plan. This plan is supported

through a Trust Fund created in the

WMO Secretariat by the Spanish

State Meteorological Agency with

an annual contribution of about

1.1 million Euros.

From 2006 to 2009, the annual work

plans have featured a range of human

esources requirements. One such

activity has been the formulation of

investment projects and development

plans, which include an education and

training component for 13 NMHSs

(Bolivia, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican

Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador,

Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua,

Panama, Paraguay and Uruguay). Some

of these projects have already received

national and international support for

their implementation.

Several training courses have also

contributed to the Programme,

including: two training courses on

climate change scenarios (Colombia

and Venezuela); six courses on satellite

meteorology (Bolivia, Colombia

and Guatemala); six training courses

on maintenance of automatic weather

stations (Argentina, Colombia,

Ecuador, Panama, Peru and Uruguay);

a course on disaster risk management

(Venezuela); three courses on

numerical weather models (Bolivia,

Colombia and Guatemala); a training

session on flash floods management

(Peru); and two training courses on

climate time series given by the

International Center for Research on

El Niño–CIIFEN (Ecuador). E-learning

training courses on management of

NMHSs have also taken place in collaboration

with the World Bank-funded

Center for Training on Management.

Other support activities have

included installation and training

of EUMETCast Reception stations

for 19 Iberoamerican NMHSs, and

the development of case studies on

socio-economic benefits of weather,

climate and water information and

services for the NMHSs of Chile, Peru

and Panama.

Institutional and


development for growth

Oftentimes, WMO capacity building

will focus on building centres of

excellence, training or technology that

A group of Iberoamerican meteorologists receive training on automatic weather stations

and other instruments at the NMHS of Panama.

bolster the capabilities of NMHSs to

respond to the needs of their countries.

In many cases, these institutional

development efforts connect NMHSs

in a region, allowing them to better

share data and capitalize on human

and technological resources. For

example, Regional Climate Outlook

Forums (RCOFs) work to bolster

infrastructure and skills at NMHSs to

promote the use of advances climate

forecasting systems and exchange of

research and operational resources

for provision of reliable climate


Seasonal forecasting emerged as an

operational science in the 1990s, and

countries from the developing world

in particular still have very limited

capacity in providing climate outlooks.

Consequently over the past

several years, RCOFs capacity building

initiatives have focused on developing

technological infrastructure, as

well as training events, for climate


RCOFSs are but one example of such

institution and technological developments.

The following examples from

several parts of the world illustrate

the range of such activities.

Expansions in India

The Indian Meteorological Department

(IMD) has undertaken a major drive

for modernization and extension, with

the cooperation and assistance of

WMO. Meteorological services are

a high priority in the country, which

supports a population of more than 1

billion and the world’s largest agricultural

community across 127 different

agroclimatic zones.

In 1943, India established a Regional

Training Centre for training in operational

meteorology, agrometeorology,

instrumentation and hydrology.

Some 40 years later in 1986, it was

designated as a WMO Regional

Meteorological Training Centre (RTC)

for Regional Association II (Asia). The

RTC is well equipped with modern

teaching aids, experienced faculty,

a good library and laboratories,

and it includes lodging and boarding

facilities. To date, the RTC has

trained more than 15 000 meteorologists,

especially from Asian and

African countries.

One recent advancement has been

the designation of IMD, New Delhi

as a WMO Regional Specialized

WMO Bulletin 59 (1) - January 2010 |


African ministers to meet on weather,

climate and water in Nairobi

For the first time ever, African Ministers responsible for meteorology will

meet to address ways of strengthening weather, climate and water information

for decision-making. This first ministerial Conference, organized

by WMO in partnership with the African Union, will be held in Nairobi,

hosted by the Government of Kenya, from 12 to 16 April 2010.

African NMHSs have an important role to play in evaluating and

monitoring climate change. Their early warnings are essential to help

prevent natural disasters. The Conference will be addressing the role

and contribution of the NMHSs to efforts by African Governments for

developing initiatives to mitigate, and adapt to, the negative impacts

of weather and climate.

The African continent is especially vulnerable to climate change. Already,

the number and magnitude of natural hazards are increasing in the

face of a warming climate. All sectors in Africa are affected, from agriculture,

water, health and food security, to forestry, transport, tourism

and energy.

Famine is primarily the result of drought that leads to consistent food

shortages. Millions of African people suffer hunger with relentless

regularity. Famine and climate change increase drastically the

population’s vulnerability to diseases, poverty and other hardships.

Likewise, catastrophic floods can devastate agricultural lands: in 2000,

Mozambique was hit by the worst floods experienced in 150 years, with

the Limpopo River basin submerged in water for up to three months.

In the light of this event, Mozambique is now proactively using

meteorological information to manage flood risks. Likewise, other

countries, such as Mali and Malawi, are using meteorological information

for agricultural management.

Meteorological Centre for tropical

cyclones. The Centre is responsible

for issuing tropical weather outlooks

and tropical cyclone advisories to

WMO and United Nations Economic

and Social Commission for Asia and

the Pacific countries in the region.

The recent cyclone Nargis, which hit

Myanmar in April 2008, was accurately

tracked with timely warnings,

thus saving valuable like and property

in the area. Accurate warning

for tropical storm Aila, which struck

Bangladesh and the Indian coast in

May 2009, also enabled timely action

that saved lives.

| WMO Bulletin 59 (1) - January 2010

Climate community

building in Africa

In 1987, the African Centre of

Meteorological Application for

Development (ACMAD) was created

by the United Nations Economic

Commission for Africa and WMO.

Since 1992, it has worked with NMHSs

and other stakeholders at regional,

sub-regional and national levels in

the provision of weather and climate

information and prediction products,

as well as early warnings, research and

development, and regional capacity


With strong collaboration and support

from WMO and partners, ACMAD has

helped to improve the critical mass of

meteorologists and climate scientists

within NMHSs and in the user communities

in Africa. More than 500 members

of NMHSs and collaborative partners

in different domains have been trained

in forecasting tools and have been

provided methodologies, computing

and communications equipment, and

related software.

Drought monitoring in

Eastern and Southern Africa

In 1989, WMO established a Drought

Monitoring Centre (DMC) in Nairobi,

Kenya, with a subcentre located in

Harare, Zimbabwe, in support of 24

eastern and southern African countries.

The centres were established

under a project funded by the United

Nations Development Programme

(UNDP). The Harare centre was recently

relocated to Gaborone, Botswana. The

main objective of establishing the two

centres was to enhance the capacity

of the member countries in the two

sub-regions of Africa to respond to

the devastating droughts, floods

and other weather-related disasters

that negatively influence their socioeconomic


In an effort to increase ownership

of capacity building initiatives and

to ensure their sustainability, the

Nairobi DMC became a specialized

institution of the Intergovernmental

Authority on Development (IGAD)

and was renamed the IGAD Climate

Prediction and Applications Centre.

Over the years, these initiatives have

made considerable contributions to

the development and application of

climate information and products in

support of the various climate-sensitive

socio-economic sectors.

Specific activities have included,

among others, development of

capacity of regional climate experts

and meteorological tools for seasonal

climate prediction and climate modelling,

establishment of a network of climate





















Number of death and missing by each Cyclone in Bangladesh

0 10,000 20,000




300 350


143 300


155 300

114 283



31 0









Legend: Maximum Intensity of Cyclone (km/hour)

< 100 100 - 150 150 - 200 200 <

journalist in the Greater Horn of Africa,

and development of prototypes for

some downscaled climate information

to meet requirements of specific

sectors, such as agriculture and food

security, livestock, water resources,

energy and health.

Technological advances

in Bangladesh

In 1973, two years after the Bangladesh

Meteorological Department (BMD)

was established, Bangladesh became

a member of WMO and subsequently

a member of ESCAP. Through the

auspices of WMO financial and

technical support, the existing surface

observatories were gradually upgraded

and a new one added to its existing

network, 35 total stations now.

Also under the same support, several

facilities were set up: a Meteorological

Training Institute with a library; a




Completion of the Project for

Replacement of Weather Surveillance

Radars (Mar. 1988)


Completion of the Project for Microwave

Link for Meteorology

(Mar. 1994)

Completion of the Project for

Strengthening of Weather Warning

Services Related to Natural Disaster

(Mar. 1999)

Completion of the Project for the

Improvement Completion of of the Meteorological Project for Radar the

Improvement System at Cox's of Bazar Meteorological and Khepupara Radar

System at Cox's Bazar and Khepupara

(Phase 1 for Cox's Bazar) (Feb. 2007)

(Phase 2 for Khepupara) (Feb. 2008)

Completion of the Project for the

Establishment of the Meteorological

Radar System at Moulvibazar

(Mar. 2009)

Six projects indicated above financed by the Japan’s Grant Aid.

In Bangladesh, cyclone forecasting and warnings have reduced loss of lives from the

natural disasters. The six projects described are financed by Japanese Grant Aid.

Climate Division with computing

facility for data archival; an Agrometeorological

Division with 12

agro-meteorological observatories,

including two pilot observatories; and

an automatic weather station at the

International Airport for aviation.

In 2007, the Global Telecommunication

System link was upgraded from

the speed of 2.4 to 64 kilobits per

second with WMO financial and

technical assistance. Along with

these infrastructure developments,

BMD, with government funding,

launched a project on the introduction

of numerical weather prediction

techniques, to be completed in three


Over the past 30 years, through the

support of WMO, Japanese Grant

Aid and the local UNDP, BMD has

achieved an excellent and timely contribution

to disaster management

and capacity enhancement. BMD has

made a significant improvement in

cyclone forecasting and warning,

as well as in the timely prediction

of other severe weather phenomena,

thereby contributing directly to

reduction in losses.

Regional and national

advocacy for growth

WMO recognizes that capacity

building efforts require that national

governments and regional organizations

understand the benefits of investment

in NMHSs. WMO promotes the

inclusion of NMHSs in national and

regional development plans, and offers

advice to governments concerning

the value of weather, climate and

water information — provided by

the meteorological services — to the

health, safety and economic well-being

of their citizens.

The sharing of best practices, sectoral

case study examples and the need

for international sharing of data and

standards by all countries are also a

part of this advocacy. The following

examples illustrate some national and

regional success stories from around

the world.

Chinese meteorological


Sixty years ago, China had about 200

meteorological staff and 101 poorly

equipped weather stations. Since

then, China’s meteorological services

have witnessed significant achievements.

Now, the meteorological

services cover a full range of socioeconomic

sectors, extending to

almost all households, and providing

important support in disaster prevention

and mitigation, in response

to climate change, in environmental

protection and for national socio-economic


Weather modification in China

is of special attention and has

WMO Bulletin 59 (1) - January 2010 | 9

A new generation doppler weather radar in Xiamen, China, is part of the expanding role

of weather services in China.

expanded from drought relief to

various other applications, including

water resources management,

improvement of ecological and environmental

conditions, forest and wild

fire control, emergency response to

air pollution, experimental rainfall

reduction for major open-air public

events and fog-depletion operation

over airports.

Weather forecasting and climate prediction

skills have steadily improved,

and an operationally technical system

has been established using

numerical weather prediction-based

products through a human-computer

interactive platform with multiple

application-oriented techniques and

methodologies. Regional rainstorm

and typhoon track forecasts have been

substantively improved, as have the

accuracy of 24- and 48-hour weather

forecasts. The composite meteorological

observation system is being

gradually improved — all in coordination

with WMO.

The China Meteorological Administration

(CMA) has benefited from

legislation related to meteorology

and weather modification. With WMO

support, it has conducted extensive

50 | WMO Bulletin 59 (1) - January 2010

bilateral cooperation and exchanges

with 140 countries and territories in

the field of meteorological science

and technology. CMA has also provided

more than 70 countries with

multifaceted assistance, including

meteorological instruments and

equipment. The efforts in boosting

code of conduct and ethics, as well as

organizational culture, have enabled

rapid development.

Disaster-risk reduction

in Hispaniola

The Caribbean island of Hispaniola,

shared by Dominican Republic and

Haiti, is highly vulnerable to natural

hazards. Lying in the path of tropical

cyclones, both countries are often

affected by atmospheric phenomena

that cause loss of lives and severe

socio-economic damage.

For example, in September 1998,

Hurricane Georges traversed and

devastated the island of Hispaniola,

leading to 282 deaths, 595 injured

people and 156 missing people in the

Dominican Republic, including more

than US$ 1.5 billion of loses in public

infrastructure. In Haiti, Georges led

to at least 400 fatalities and damages

to property to the tune of worth more

than US$ 200 million. Thousands

of farm animals were either killed

or lost, and the agricultural sector

suffered extreme damage in both


After the disaster, an evaluation in

the Dominican Republic concluded

that the warnings and recommendations

transmitted by the National

Meteorological Office were not adequately

taken into account by the

Dominican agency for civil protection.

Furthermore, coordination failures

were identified in the institutional

chain. Consequently, the National

Meteorological Office demanded

the reinforcement of its role in the

prevention and mitigation of hydrometeorological


Since then, with the support of WMO,

fatalities due to such natural hazards

have been dramatically reduced. In

2008, four tropical cyclones struck

the island (Fay, Gustav, Hanna and

Ike). The Dominican Emergency

Operations Centre reported 13

deaths total (five during Fay and eight

with Gustav). In this context, the

Dominican Republic got a positive

response after implementing the

new strategy of a National Early

Warning Programme, with a joint

effort by the Dominican National

Meteorological Office (ONAMET),

the Dominican agency for civil

protection and the Dominican

Institute for Telecommunications,

with support from national media.

As is the case with several other

similar initiatives that have born success

worldwide, WMO has in the

past decade been assisting ONAMET

to sustain and build this capacity

through various international

programmes and projects in cooperation

with funding and development

agencies. Such efforts continue to

make tangible contributions towards

the enhancement of early warning

systems and improvement of meteorological

forecasts and operational


Sustained meteorological

development in Pakistan

Established in 1947, the Pakistan

Meteorological Department (PMD) has

increasingly responded to growing

national and international challenges

in the areas of weather, climate and

water. Cooperation with WMO and

development partners has helped

to ensure sustained development of

meteorological services at both the

national and international levels.

In 1950s, PMD was given the responsibility

of seismic and geomagnetic

monitoring. PMD established

the Institute of Meteorology and

Geophysics (IMG) at Karachi for training

meteorological personnel and,

at the same time, strengthened its

network of meteorological observatories.

Since 2006, IMG has been

affiliated with University of Karachi

for granting post-graduate diplomas

in meteorology and has also

been offering fully funded training

courses to the selected nominees/

participants from NMHSs of neighbouring

countries through the WMO

Volunteer Contribution Programme

since 2007.

After devastating floods in 1973, the

government decided to establish a

modern flood forecasting system in

Pakistan. PMD, with the financial and

technical assistance from WMO, established

a specialized National Flood

Forecasting Bureau (NFFB) at Lahore.

In the 1990s, NFFB was upgraded into

Flooded Forecasting Division, now

supported by a network of sophisticated

radar stations established with

an Asian Development Bank loan and

Japanese grant-in-assistance.

During the 1980s, with the financial

and technical assistance by WMO,

PMD established a specialized

National Agro-Meteorological Centre

at Islamabad with three Regional Agro-

Meteorological Centres. A specialized

Climate Data Processing Centre was

also established with assistance from

WMO. For human resource development

and capacity building, WMO

Several visits and maintenance sessions for automatic weather stations were organized

during a training course in El Salvador, within the Programme of Cooperation for

Iberoamerican NMHSs.

provided a number of fellowships for

long-term and short-term training in

meteorology and hydrology.

During the past decade, PMD has

implemented many development

projects and has established various

specialized units and centres.

The development budget of PMD has

increased fourfold during the second

half of the decade. With continued

cooperation with WMO and its partners,

there is no doubt that NMHSs

such as PMD will continue to meet

national and international development


Focus on developing


The WMO Programme for the Least

Developed Countries was established

by the Fourteenth World

Meteorological Congress in May 2003

in order to contribute to the implementation

of the Brussels Programme of

Action for the decade 2001 to 2010,

which was adopted by the Third

United Nations Conference on the

Least Developed Countries. The

WMO Programme was established

to enhance and strengthen the capac-

ities NMHSs to contribute effectively,

and in a timely manner, to the sustainable

development of the respective


A special WMO Trust Fund for NMHSs

of least developed countries has been

established. Various advocacy and

capacity building activities have been

carried out at United Nations headquarters

level, at regional levels and

at the country level to mainstream

the contributions of WMO and the

NMHSs to the socio-economic development

process of least developed

countries. An example of this recent

work, specific to small island developing

states, is the project Preparedness

to Climate Variability and Global

Change in Small Island Developing

States of the Caribbean Region


In the spirit of collaboration, the

Finnish Government and WMO

launched the SIDS-Caribbean project

in 2000, to cover Anguilla, Antigua

and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados,

Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic,

Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica,

Montserrat, Netherlands Antilles

and Aruba, Saint Kitts and Nevis,

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines,

Saint Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago, and

Turks and Caicos Islands. Based at

WMO Bulletin 59 (1) - January 2010 | 51


Building resilience in the developing

economies of south-eastern Europe

WMO is working with the World Bank, the United Nations International

Strategy for Disaster Reduction and international partners on the South

Eastern Europe Disaster Risk Management Initiative (SEEDRMI). In line

with the Hyogo Framework, the project aims to reduce the vulnerability of

south-eastern European countries to the risks of natural disasters.

This initiative focuses on building the foundation for regional and

country-specific investment priorities in the area of early warning,

disaster risk reduction and financing. SEEDRMI incorporates three focus

areas: hydrometeorological forecasting, data sharing and early warning;

coordination of disaster mitigation, preparedness and response; and

financing of disaster losses, reconstruction and recovery and disaster risk

transfer (disaster insurance).

Investments have been secured from the World Bank, European

Commission and other bilateral donors, such as Finland and the United

States of America, to commence the establishment of modern, sustainable

and more coordinated weather forecasting in south-eastern Europe.

the campus of the Caribbean Institute

of Meteorology and Hydrology in

Barbados, the project was aimed at

developing better meteorological and

climate knowledge and improving

the scientific capabilities for better

planning for sustainable development

in the region.

Completed in 2005, the SIDS-

Caribbean project contributed to

the reinforcement of the NMHSs

in the region and made it possible

to improve the telecommunication

systems of the participating countries.

The project, among others,

produced a number of beneficial societal

effects. As a primary vehicle for

gender mainstreaming in meteorology

and hydrology in the region, the

project has provided support under

the training and awareness-building

component for Caribbean participants

in the Conference on Women

in Meteorology and Hydrology. The

project demonstrated the importance

52 | WMO Bulletin 59 (1) - January 2010

of cooperation among Caribbean institutions

and meteorological personnel

for development, capacity building

and prevention and mitigation of frequent

natural hazards.

Investing for the future

One of the most important ways to

ensure that NMHSs deliver critical

products in an effective and sustainable

way to the end-user is by

ensuring the availability of necessary

infrastructure and human and

financial resources for the long term.

While realizing that WMO cannot of

itself ensure adequate maintenance

of resources for NMHSs, experience in

the past 60 years has revealed that the

Organization can do much to augment

various national- and internationallevel


Looking to the future, education and

training is a critical area of focus

for technical matters, as well as

planning, management, communication

and public affairs, and other

administrative and support functions.

Priority needs to be given to

those human resource development

issues that affect the capacity of

NMHSs to have influence within their

governments and societies. WMO

will continue to work with partners

in support of human resource development

in the fields of meteorology

and hydrology worldwide.

Through its Resource Mobilization

Office and Regional Offices, the DRA

Department will continue to focus on

the establishment of strategic partnerships

with key organizations,

development banks, foundations,

national aid agencies and private

sector entities to support development

activities. Increased focus in

this area in the past two years has

already yielded positive results.

WMO has established new or

enhanced partnerships with the

World Bank, various Directorates of

the European Commission, United

Nations System Partners — in parti-

cular, the United Nations International

Strategy for Disaster Reduction, Food

and Agriculture Organization, World

Food Programme and UNDP — the

Rockefeller Foundation and regional

economic groupings, as well as WMO

Members and the corporate sector for

delivery of regional-scale development

projects. Resource mobilization

efforts have also been supporting the

NMHSs themselves to work to enhance

the level of support and funding provided

both in-country and through

external mechanisms, especially

for developing countries and post-

conflict countries.


Thanks to the NMHSs that contributed

their stories and experiences

to this article.


Date Title Place

11–12 January Intergovernmental Meeting for the High-level Taskforce on the Global Framework for

Climate Services

Geneva, Switzerland

12–15 January Second Meeting of the GESAMP Working Group 38 (co-sponsored) London, UK

20–22 January Third GEOSS Monitoring and Evaluation Working Group Geneva, Switzerland

25–29 January Twenty-second session of the GEWEX Scientific Steering Group New Delhi, India

1–4 February Workshop on Severe Weather Forecasting Demonstration Project Development for

Southeast Asia

Hanoi, Vietnam

1–5 February West Africa NMHSs Directors Meeting and Workshop on Resource Mobilization Banjul, Gambia

1–6 February Conference “Ice and Cimate Change: A View from the South” and sixth session of the

CliC Scientific Steering Group

Valdivia, Chile

1–12 February Training on Operational Tropical Cyclone Forecasting (co-sponsored) New Delhi, India

2–5 February Fourth Meeting of the CBS Expert Team on WIS GISCs and DCPCs Geneva, Switzerland

3–5 February Stakeholders Consultation Meeting for Regional Climate Framework for the Grater

Horn of Africa

Nairobi, Kenya

3–10 February Commission for Aeronautical Meteorology—fourteenth session Hong-Kong, China

8–12 February Eleventh Meeting of the WMO Scientific Advisory Group on UV and Meeting of the UV

Instrument Working Group (co-sponsored)

Bangkok, Thailand

8–12 February JCOMM—Expert Team on Marine Climatology (co-sponsored) Melbourne, Australia

15–19 February WMO / ESCAP Panel on Tropical Cyclones—thirty-seventh session Phuket, Thailand

19–24 February Commission for Climatology—fifteenth session (CCl-XV) Antalya, Turkey

22–26 February CBS Steering Group for the Severe Weather Forecasting Demonstration Project Geneva, Switzerland

22–26 February Inter-Commission Coordination Group on the WMO Information System Seoul, Republic of


22–26 February 10th International Winds Workshop (IWWG-10) (co-sponsored) Tokyo, Japan

1–4 March 10th session of the RA III Working Group on Hydrology and Water Resources Santiago, Chile

1–5 March JCOMM Expert Team on Sea Ice—fourth session St. Petersburg, Russian


2–4 March 2nd GRUAN Implementation-Coordination Meeting to discuss next steps in the

operation of the Global Climate Observing System Reference Upper Air Network

Payerne, Switzerland

8–12 March RA IV Hurricane Committee—thirty-second session Hamilton, Bermuda

22–24 March Meeting of the Expert Team on WMO Weather Modification Research Abu Dhabi, UAE

12–16 April Meeting of the Commission for Basic Systems/OPAG on Public Weather Services

Expert Team on Services and Products Imp.

Hong-Kong, China

12–16 April WMO Conference of African Ministers responsible for Meteorology in Africa Nairobi, Kenya

19–23 April CHy Advisory Working Group—second session Brisbane, Australia

30 April–6 May Fifteenth Session of Regional Association V (South-West Pacific) Jodhpur, India

8–18 June Executive Council—sixty-second session (EC-LXII) Geneva, Switzerland

WMO Bulletin 59 (1) - January 2010 | 5


1853: First International Meteorological Conference


1873: WMO predecessor, the International

Meteorological Organization (IMO) established

1947: WMO Convention agreed unanimously by

Conference of Directors

1950: WMO Convention entered into force on 23 March

1951: WMO became a specialized agency of the United


1957: Global Ozone Observing System set up

1957/1958: Participation in the International Geophysical Year

1963: World Weather Watch launched

5 | WMO Bulletin 59 (1) - January 2010

1971: Tropical Cyclone project established (upgraded to

Tropical Cyclone Programme in 1980)

1972: Operational Hydrology Programme established

1976: WMO issues first international assessment of the

state of global ozone

1977: Integrated Global Ocean Services System

established jointly by WMO and the

Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of


1978/1979: Global Weather Experiment and Monsoon

Experiments under the Global Atmospheric

Research Programme

1979: First World Climate Conference, which led to the

establishment of the Intergovernmental Panel

on Climate Change (IPCC), the World Climate

Programme and the World Climate Research


1992: The Global Climate Observing System established

1993: World Hydrological Cycle Observing System


1995: Climate Information and Prediction Services

established; Second IPCC Assessment Report


2000: WMO celebrates 50 years of service

2001: Third IPCC Assessment Report released

1980: World Climate Research Programme established

1985: Vienna Convention on the Protection of the Ozone


1987: Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the

Ozone Layer

1988: WMO/UNEP Intergovernmental Panel on Climate

Change established

1989: Global Atmosphere Watch established

1990: Second World Climate Conference, which

initiated the Global Climate Observing System;

the International Decade for Natural Disaster

Reduction; First IPCC Assessment Report released

1991: WMO/UNEP convened first meeting of the

Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee of the

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate


2003: Natural Disaster Prevention and Mitigation

Programme, Space Programme and Programme

for the Least Developed Countries launched

2005: Group on Earth Observations Secretariat

established at WMO headquarters

2007: Fourth IPCC Assessment Report released; IPCC is

awarded the Nobel Peace Prize

2009: World Climate Conference-3

2010: WMO celebrates 60 years of service for your safety

and well-being

WMO Bulletin 59 (1) - January 2010 | 55

The World Meteorological


WMO is a specialized agency of the

United Nations. Its purposes are:

To facilitate worldwide cooperation

in the establishment of networks of

stations for the making of meteorological

observations as well as

hydrological and other geophysical

observations related to meteorology,

and to promote the establishment

and maintenance of centres

charged with the provision of meteorological

and related services;

To promote the establishment and

maintenance of systems for the

rapid exchange of meteorological

and related information;

To promote standardization of

meteorological and related observations

and to ensure the uniform

publication of observations and


To further the application of meteorology

to aviation, shipping, water

problems, agriculture and other

human activities;

To promote activities in operational

hydrology and to further

close cooperation between

Meteorological and Hydrological


To encourage research and training

in meteorology and, as appropriate,

in related fields, and to assist

in coordinating the international

aspects of such research and


The World Meteorological


is the supreme body of the

Organization. It brings together delegates

of all Members once every four

years to determine general policies for

the fulfilment of the purposes of the


The Executive Council

is composed of 37 directors of National

Meteorological or Hydrometeorological

5 | WMO Bulletin 59 (1) - January 2010

Services serving in an individual capacity;

it meets once a year to supervise the

programmes approved by Congress.

The six regional associations

are each composed of Members whose

task it is to coordinate meteorological,

hydrological and related activities

within their respective Regions.

The eight technical commissions

are composed of experts designated by

Members and are responsible for studying

meteorological and hydrological

operational systems, applications and


Executive Council


A.I. Bedritsky (Russian Federation)

First Vice-President

A.M. Noorian (Islamic Republic of Iran)

Second Vice-President

T.W. Sutherland (British Caribbean


Third Vice-President

A.D. Moura (Brazil)

Ex officio members of the Executive

Council (presidents of regional


Africa (Region I)

M.L. Bah (Guinea)

Asia (Region II)

V. Chub (Uzbekistan)

South America (Region III)

R.J. Viñas García (Venezuela)

North America, Central America and

the Caribbean (Region IV)

A.W. Rolle (Bahamas)

South-West Pacific (Region V)

A. Ngari (Cook Islands)

Europe (Region VI)

I. Čačič (Croatia)

Elected members of the Executive Council

M.A. Abbas (Egypt)

A.C. Anuforom (Nigeria)*

on 31 December 2009

G.P. Ayers (Australia)*

O.M.L. Bechir (Mauritania)

Y. Boodhoo (Mauritius)

S.A. Bukhari (Saudi Arabia)

F. Cadarso González (Spain)

M. Capaldo (Italy)

B.-S. Chun (Republic of Korea)*

H.H. Ciappesoni (Argentina)

W. Gamarra Molina (Peru)

D. Grimes (Canada)

S.W.B. Harijono (Ms) (Indonesia)

J.L Hayes (USA)*

J. Hirst (United Kingdom)*

F. Jacq (France)*

W. Kusch (Germany)

L. Makuleni (Ms) (South Africa)

J.R. Mukabana (Kenya)

M. Ostojski (Poland)

K. Sakurai (Japan)*

P. Taalas (Finland)*

A. Tyagi (India)*

F. Uirab (Namibia)

K.S. Yap (Malaysia)

G. Zheng (China)

* acting

Presidents of technical


Aeronautical Meteorology

C. McLeod

Agricultural Meteorology

J. Salinger

Atmospheric Sciences

M. Béland

Basic Systems

F.R. Branski


P. Bessemoulin


B. Stewart

Instruments and Methods of


J. Nash

Oceanography and Marine


P. Dexter and A.V. Frolov

Solutions for Precise Measurement of

Solar Radiation and Atmospheric Properties

Kipp & Zonen’s passion for precision has led to the development of a large range

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The Netherlands � United States of America � France � Singapore

World Meteorological Organization

7bis, avenue de la Paix - Case postale 2300 - CH-1211 Geneva 2 - Switzerland

Tel.: +41 (0) 22 730 81 11 - Fax: +41 (0) 22 730 81 81

E-mail: - Website:

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