World Meteorological Congress calls for international cooperation in meteorology, climatology, operational hydrology

The WMO Congress will specifically focus on key priorities including water, a comprehensive new data exchange policy and a reinforced, better-funded global observing system

By Kiran Pandey
Published: Wednesday 13 October 2021
Swiss Federal Councillor Alain Berset opening the WMO Congress. Photo: WMO / Twitter

Weather, climate and the water cycle are oblivious to national borders and so global cooperation in the domains of meteorology, climatology and operational hydrology is crucial, said Swiss Federal Councillor and Head of the Federal Department of Home Affairs (FDHA) Alain Berset.

In 2021, both the developed and developing world witnessed record-breaking extreme weather events, he noted.

In his opening address at the World Meteorological Congress in Geneva October 12, 2021, he underlined the significance of the role played by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) to deal with global challenges related to climate change and extreme events.

The 10-day special virtual session from October 11-22 is being hosted by WMO to strengthen policies for addressing the growth in the demand for weather, climate, water, atmospheric and ocean services.

This is necessary in view of rapid climate, environmental and demographic changes, and the increasing frequency and impact of extreme weather, said WMO in its statement.

Alain Berset said:

The ongoing refinement of weather, water and climaterelated data and improved risk management mean that we are now better able to cope with the impact of extreme events such as those we experienced this summer.

Weather4UN, a pilot project led by MeteoSwiss and supported by the Swiss Federal Council, aims to improve the coordination of meteorological data production and transmission within the United Nations system and for humanitarian organisations around the world.

As a result of this initiative, early action can be taken and people will be better protected from extreme weather events.

In the last five decades (1970-2019), the number of disasters increased five times, stated WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas.

These have been attributed to climate change, more extreme weather and improved reporting, he added.

Water-related hazards top the list of disasters in terms of both the human and economic toll over the past 50 years, according to Atlas of Mortality and Economic Losses from Weather, Climate and Water Extremes (1970–2019) released by the WMO September 2021.

Global impact

Germany experienced an unusually wet summer in 2021, according to a review of the season published by the German Weather Service August 2021.

India experienced the second-wettest September in 27 years in 2021. June (the onset month) and September experienced higher-than-normal rainfall this year.

But many countries, particularly in the developing regions of the Global South, are not prepared to handle the surge in water-related extremes, reminded WMO in its report on the State of Climate Services, 2021 a week ago.

More than half the WMO members lack early warning systems, especially in countries that can least afford disaster losses. So, WMO and the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) are scaling up their coordination, stated Mami Mizutori, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction and head of UNDRR.

The WMO Congress will specifically focus on key priorities including water, a comprehensive new data exchange policy and a reinforced, better-funded global observing system. It will adopt a WMO vision, strategy and action plan for hydrology, the organisation added.

It will also discuss the operation and maintenance of systems during extreme events / global crises and the ongoing reform of WMO structures, considering the disruption caused by the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Subscribe to Daily Newsletter :

Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.