Ships in the Arctic region will be able to receive early warning about navigational and meteorological hazards thanks to the expansion of the World-Wide Navigational Warning System into Arctic waters.
WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud, Efthimios E. Mitropoulos, Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), and Admiral Alexandros Maratos, President of the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO), marked the creation of five new Arctic navigational and meteorological areas, delineated by IMO and WMO respectively, at a ceremony in London this week.
As Arctic waters have become more accessible, the three agencies have worked to strengthen early warning systems for ships facing extreme and less predictable weather in the Arctic region.
Sea ice is projected to increasingly shrink under all scenarios and for some projections the Arctic late-summer sea ice would vanish almost entirely by the middle of the century, opening unprecedented challenges to maritime safety which were unpredictable just one generation ago, said Mr. Jarraud.
The expansion to the Arctic region closes a gap in the World-Wide Navigational Warning system, which was developed in the late 1970s by IMO, in collaboration with IHO. This divided the worlds oceans into l6 navigational areas, with one designated country in each area responsible for disseminating navigational information. Meteorological areas with identical limits were also subsequently established.
WMO, IMO and IHO have collaborated since 2006 to improve information for the Arctic region. The five Arctic navigational and meteorological areas were established in June 2010 and are currently in an Initial Operational Capability phase. The transition to Full Operational Capability is expected in June 2011.
Responsibility for the Arctic navigational and meteorological areas is divided between Canada, Norway and the Russian Federation.