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Environmental Stressors Expected to Worsen as Climate Changes and Urban Population Grows

WMO19 November 2013: A technical conference on the theme 'Responding to the Environmental Stressors of the 21st Century' focused on challenges posed by rising greenhouse gases, extreme weather events, pressures on the water cycle, pollution and an increasing urban-based global population. The conclusions of the meeting, which took place in Antalya, Turkey, from 18-19 November, will feed into the Commission of Atmospheric Sciences (CAS) meeting, which is convening from 20-26 November.

The outcomes of both sessions will: inform World Meteorological Organization (WMO) decisions on investment in research and development to maximize scientific advances, which can be transitioned into accessible services which benefit society; and guide WMO activities in strengthening partnerships among scientists, such as hydrologists, weather and climate scientists, health managers, and urban and energy planners.

During the conference, WMO Deputy Secretary-General Jerry Lengoasa said that Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines is indicative of environmental stresses that will continue to characterize the early part of the 21st century, and worsen as the century progresses. He said the devastation and high human toll inflicted by the typhoon highlighted the need for more integrated disaster risk reduction and improved communication of multi-hazard warnings in vulnerable coastal zones.

Environmental stressors due to climate change are compounded by population growth. By 2050, the urban population is expected to increase from 3.6 to 6.2 billion, or 66 percent of the world's population, with growing numbers living in megacities, which necessitates closer interaction between the water management, health and meteorological communities.

Themes at the technical conference included: high-impact weather and its socioeconomic effects in the context of global change; modeling and predicting the water cycle for improved disaster risk reduction and resource management; impacts of aerosols on air quality, weather and climate; research and services for megacities and large urban complexes; and evolving technologies, including geoengineering. [WMO Press Release] [Conference Webpage] [CAS Website]