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WMO South West Pacific Meeting Addresses Strengthened Weather and Climate Services

WMO8 May 2014: During the World Meteorological Organization's (WMO) Regional Association for the South West Pacific session, meteorologists discussed how to strengthen weather and climate services in a region that is particularly vulnerable to heatwaves, drought, tropical cyclones and flash floods, as well as rising sea levels caused by climate change. 

Opening the session, which took place in Jakarta, Indonesia, from 2-8 May 2014, WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud highlighted that many parts of the region had been hit hard by extreme weather and related events in the past few months, including flash floods in the Solomon Islands and tropical cyclone Ian in Tonga. He noted that Australia experienced its hottest year on record in2013, with temperatures reaching 49.6°C in some places, while New Zealand had its warmest winter and third warmest year on record. He also recalled the devastating impacts of Typhoons Haiyan and Usagi on the Philippines.

Jarraud indicated that to address the challenges of weather and climate extremes, WMO would continue working to strengthen the human resources and institutional capacity of National Meteorological and Hydrological Services and disaster management organizations in the region. As examples, he pointed to the Severe Weather Forecasting Demonstration Project, which aims to build resilience in Southeast Asia and the southern Pacific, and Coastal Inundation Forecasting Demonstration Projects in Fiji and Indonesia. Following Typhoon Haiyan, WMO carried out a fact-finding and needs assessment mission, which identified user requirements for strengthened meteorological and hydrological services.

WMO reports that it is paying special attention to the challenges faced by small island developing States (SIDS), and is helping to leverage partnerships with bilateral and multilateral donors to strengthen meteorological services in several Pacific Islands and accelerate implementation of the Global Framework for Climate Services (GFCS). The South West Pacific Regional Association, which currently has 23 members, meets every four years to discuss challenges and priorities. [WMO Press Release]