Geneva 23 October (WMO) - The recent spate of devastating tropical cyclones and fires has once again demonstrated the life-saving importance of weather forecasts and disaster warnings, which are critically dependent on radio frequency bands used around the clock by meteorological services.
In the face of increasing pressure on the use of radio spectrum from wireless technology and other applications, the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and World Meteorological Organization (WMO) are holding an international seminar on the “Use of Radio Spectrum for Meteorology: Weather, Water and Climate Monitoring and Prediction” from 23 to 24 October.
The meeting focuses on the protection and optimal use of the radio frequency spectrum used for the remote sensing of our atmosphere and exchange of information which are vital for Earth observations and efforts to understand and predict climate change. It brings together experts from national meteorological services and national radiofrequency regulators.
The seminar also aims to increase awareness among national meteorological and hydrological services (NMHS) of the importance of meteorological-related spectrum protection – and the growing need for NMHS participation in national and international spectrum management activities.
“Accurate and timely weather forecasts make the difference between life and death,” says WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas. “This was demonstrated by hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria which hit the United States of America and the Caribbean and, most recently Ophelia which struck Ireland. These record-breaking events have had a de
vastating impact on property and infrastructure. The loss of life was tragic but it would have been even higher without the advanced forecasts and warnings which gave people precious time to prepare and protect themselves,” says Mr Taalas.
The last 50 years has seen major improvements in our ability to predict the weather. A four day forecast in the northern hemisphere is now as good as a one day forecast in the early 80’s. This has been achieved largely by our ability to better analyze the current environment through remote sensing of observations, and through having the communications technology and computing power to collect and process the large amounts of data necessary to model and predict the future state of the atmosphere and oceans. All of this depends on having access to radio frequency bands that allows us to measure the environment remotely, according to Mr Taalas.
ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao said: "Global climate patterns continue to shift, and severe weather events are becoming more common – threatening millions of lives and livelihoods around the world. In response, ITU has teamed up with WMO to support the use of radio-based weather prediction systems that can provide countries with the life-saving capacities needed to plan ahead in emergency situations. This is just one of the valuable ways in which ITU is promoting the use of information and communication technologies to create a better world for all.”
In recent years there has been increasing pressure on the use of radio spectrum from wireless technology and other applications. WMO and ITU have therefore worked closely together to ensure the availability and protection of scarce and valuable radio-frequency bands for making and exchanging meteorological observations.
Ahead of the seminar, ITU and WMO issued an updated Handbook on the Use of Radio Spectrum for Meteorology. The handbook provides comprehensive technical information on the use of radio frequencies by meteorological systems, including meteorological satellites, radiosondes, weather radars, wind profiler radars, spaceborne remote sensing, etc.
It is intended for all users, practitioners, technicians, developers and other interested parties and individuals of the meteorological and radiocommunication communities, including governmental institutions and industry.
The handbook (WMO-No.1197) and the Guide to participation in Radio Frequency Coordination (WMO No 1159) are the basic tools for NMHS participation in frequency coordination and provide national frequency regulators and managers with information about NMHSs' usage and dependency on spectrum.
The handbook is available here.