The Caribbean Meteorological Organization (CMO) and Météo-France (the Meteorological Service of France) have signed an agreement to improve cooperation in the Caribbean, a multilingual region that is particularly vulnerable to weather extremes and climate impacts. The signature ceremony took place on the margins of the annual meeting of the World Meteorological Organization’s Executive Council.
The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) provides a broad umbrella under which 191 countries and territories around the world collaborate. A missing element in the Caribbean, however, has been a formal mechanism for improving direct collaboration between Meteorological Services and agencies that use different languages. Because weather and climate seriously impact all Caribbean islands, improving collaboration in the meteorological sciences is essential, especially on severe weather forecasts and warnings. The Governing bodies of CMO and Météo-France have therefore agreed to strengthen their collaboration by formalizing their Working Arrangements.
Mr Tyrone Sutherland, Coordinating Director of the Caribbean Meteorological Organization said that, as one of the first outcomes expected from this Agreement, WMO will be asked to implement a Severe Weather Forecasting Demonstration Project covering, to start with, the Eastern Caribbean island chain from Trinidad in the south to Puerto Rico in the north, with special arrangements for Haiti. The aim of the Demonstration Project would be to build on existing systems and structures used by Météo-France, CMO and the United States of America to improve operational collaboration among meteorological services and disaster-response agencies in neighbouring English, French and Dutch-speaking islands, particularly during severe weather episodes.
Mr Jean-Marc Lacave, Chairman and Director General of Météo-France, said that through this Agreement, Météo France and CMO aim to establish a sustainable, long-term operational mechanism that could that could start with a WMO Severe Weather Forecasting Demonstration Project. This Eastern Caribbean project would then be integrated into the existing end-to-end early warning system for the entire Caribbean Basin, which will benefit all Caribbean citizens.
Both parties agree that, for some of the activities envisaged through this Agreement, resources will need to be mobilized through regional and other international development partnerships, especially as long-term collaboration will link the regional and international weather and climate initiatives undertaken by the various specialist arms of their organizations.
A history of collaboration
While the new Agreement will greatly strengthen collaboration, Météo France and CMO do already collaborate on specific Caribbean projects and ad hoc activities of common interest. For example, they worked together to create and operate a regional weather radar composite by integrating data and imagery from CMO and French weather radar networks in the Caribbean.
Collaboration has also been taking place under the Carib Risk Cluster Project of the General Council of Martinique, funded by the European Union. This allows the National Meteorological Services in CMO Member States to access and use Météo France’s weather monitoring and forecasting systems. It also allows Météo France to access numerical weather-prediction products generated by CMO’s Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology (CIMH) in Barbados.
CMO, a specialized institution of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), coordinates the joint scientific activities of the National Meteorological Services of its 16 Caribbean Member States. It provides, among other services, training, research and specialized facilities in meteorology and applied sciences. CMO collaborates with Caribbean nations on delivering a reliable severe-weather warning system to safeguard the region.
Météo France is one of the world’s most advanced and active national weather services. It maintains major operations in its Caribbean Overseas Departments of Guadeloupe, Martinique and French Guiana.
The signing ceremony took place during the 68th session of the Executive Council of the World Meteorological Organization, of which both Mr Sutherland and Mr Lacave are members. The signature ceremony was also attended by the President of WMO, Mr David Grimes of Canada, Secretary-General of WMO, Prof. Petteri Taalas, along with the heads or senior officials of the National Meteorological Services of the USA, Costa Rica, Curaçao and the Cayman Islands, as well as several senior officials of the CMO, Météo-France and WMO.
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