WMO Executive Council Addresses Climate Services, Extreme Weather

WMO3 July 2014: The Executive Council of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) convened its annual meeting to focus on, inter alia, providing better weather and climate services to protect urban-based global populations challenged by climate change, extreme weather events, pollution, pressure on water supplies and food insecurity.

The Council, which met from 18-27 June 2014, in Geneva, Switzerland, considered progress made in implementing the Global Framework for Climate Services (GFCS), inlcuding developing and delivering services for agriculture and food security, water, health and disaster risk reduction (DRR) in its first two years of implementation; expanding climate services to other priority areas in six years; and ensuring access to improved climate services throughout the world and across all climate-sensitive sectors after ten years.

During the Council meeting, WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud discussed increasing evidence of a direct link between climate change and extreme events, noting that Typhoon Haiyan showed the devastating impacts of the combined effect of more intense storms and accelerating sea level rise. He stressed the need to: improve early warning systems; strengthen meteorological and hydrological services around the world; and enhance international cooperation and investment in weather and climate services to build resilience, promote sustainable development and deal with climate change impacts.

During the meeting, the WMO Executive Council: agreed on measures to strengthen the delivery and quality of weather, water and climate services critical to public safety, economic efficiency and environmental sustainability; and focused on building the capacity of National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs), including for modern infrastructure and adequately trained human resources. Jarraud stressed that governments must invest in these services in order to provide weather information and related services “24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year,” noting that their forecasts will be vital to manage the impacts of El Niño on agricultural production, food security, health and water management.

The Executive Council expressed concern regarding the deterioration of ocean observing systems, and discussed how to accelerate progress towards the WMO Integrated Global Observing System (WIGOS), which is expected to become operational by 2016. WMO members are also working to: implement multi-hazard impact-based early warning systems; and improve forecasts and understanding of high-impact meteorological, hydrological and environmental events. The Council also decided to establish a new research project called HIWeather, which will will focus on urban floods, wildfires, localized extreme winds, disruptive winter weather, and urban heat/air quality issues.

The 37-member Executive Council meets annually to monitor implementation of WMO Congress decisions, discuss progress in WMO priority programmes, and act on recommendations of regional associations and technical commissions. This year's decisions will inform the quadrennial World Meteorological Congress in May-June 2015. [WMO Press Release, 27 June 2014] [Executive Council Website] [WMO Press Release, 3 July 2014]