No. 971 - World Meteorological Day 23 March: Watching the Weather to Protect Life and Property

No. 971 - World Meteorological Day 23 March: Watching the Weather to Protect Life and Property



21 March 2013
Press Release Number:

For use of the information media
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WMO Celebrates 50 years of World Weather Watch

GENEVA 21 March 2013 (WMO) Watching the Weather to Protect Life and Property is the theme of World Meteorological Day which also celebrates the 50th anniversary of the World Weather Watch: a symbol of global cooperation born at the height of the Cold War.

The title of this year’s event focuses attention on the crucial 24/7 role of meteorological and hydrological services in improving human safety and safeguarding society against hazards like floods, tropical cyclones and droughts.

“The growing impact of weather extremes cannot be ignored. Over the last 30 years natural disasters took the lives of over 2 million people and produced economic losses estimated at over 1.5 trillion US dollars,” said World Meteorological Organization Secretary-General Michel Jarraud. “Almost 90 percent of such disasters, more than 70 percent of the casualties and almost 80 percent of the economic losses were caused by weather-, climate- or water-related hazards.”

“Much more must, and can, be done to allay human suffering. Tropical cyclones, heavy rainfalls and floods, droughts and cold and heat waves affect the entire world, alerting us to some of the worst implications of growing climate variability and change,” Mr Jarraud said.

“Weather and climate early warnings and disaster risk reduction are central to any sustainable development. World Meteorological Day 2013 is a unique occasion to reinforce this message and to reflect on past achievements, take stock of what still needs to be done and to recommit to building on the legacy of World Weather Watch,” he said.

World Meteorological Day is held 23 March every year and marks the entry into force in 1950 of the WMO Convention creating an inter-governmental organization, as a successor to the non-governmental International Meteorological Organization (IMO) established in 1873.

Activities this year will also mark the anniversary of the World Weather Watch. Soon after the launch of the first weather satellite in 1960, the UN General Assembly requested WMO to investigate the potential of weather satellites as part of the agenda for the peaceful use of outer-space for the benefit of humankind . Setting aside their political differences, the United States and the USSR, joined by several other countries, produced a report that led WMO to launch the World Weather Watch Programme in 1963. It became a cornerstone for atmospheric sciences and meteorological services . Even today, it remains an outstanding landmark in international cooperation.

Achievements of the World Weather Watch include:

- It is the backbone for weather forecasting in all countries of the world, irrespective of size, wealth and technological advancement

- It provides the “core” operational infrastructure facility for all WMO Programmes, such as aviation and marine meteorology, climatology and agricultural meteorology, as well as for many international programmes of other agencies

- It laid the foundations for more modern scientific insights and technological advances in computing, telecommunications and satellites which form the vital ingredients for modern weather science and prediction.

The key components of the World Weather Watch are: global systems for observation (the Global Observing System), telecommunication (the Global Telecommunications System), and forecasting (the Global Data Processing and Forecasting System).

The World Weather Watch provides a fundamental contribution to WMO priority areas, from the Global Framework for Climate Services (GFCS) to disaster risk reduction, from the WMO Information System to the WMO Integrated Global Observing System, from capacity building to aeronautical meteorology.

Remarkable new observation and modelling technologies continue to develop, helping scientists to advance their understanding of the Earth’s complex global weather and climate system. As a result, today’s five-day forecasts are as reliable as the two-day forecast of 25 years ago. Meteorologists and climate scientists are starting to make seasonal and longer term forecasts and blurring the boundaries between weather and climate prediction by developing “seamless weather and climate forecasts” to meet the ever growing need for weather and climate services.

“More than ever the world needs global cooperation to promote and coordinate the provision of better and longer-term weather and climate forecasts and early warnings to protect life and property. The 2013 World Meteorological Day offers an occasion to reinforce this message and to contribute to addressing the challenges of the 21st century,” said Mr. Jarraud.

Notes to Editors:

Information about World Meteorological Day

The formal ceremony at WMO headquarters takes place 21 March 2013, starting at 2.30. Media are invited. WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud will give the welcome address. Special guest is Prof. Alan Thorpe Director-General of the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF). Guest speaker is Dr Hamadoun Touré Secretary-General of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). Full programme

WMO will host a Scientific and Technical Forum at its headquarters in Geneva on the morning of 21 March, featuring leading experts from around the globe. The Forum provides an overview of the past successes of World Weather Watch and its evolution into the 21st century. It will highlight advances in the three pillars of World Weather Watch: coordinated observations, telecommunications and meteorological forecasts. Programme

The World Meteorological Organization is the United Nations System’s authoritative voice on Weather, Climate and Water

For more information, please contact:

Clare Nullis, Media Officer, Communications and Public Affairs, Tel: +(41 22) 730 8478; 41-79) 7091397 (cell)


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