The Instruments and Methods of Observation Programme (IMOP) works under the guidance of the Commission for Instruments and Methods of Observation (CIMO) to ensure the accuracy of weather observation by facilitating the creation of international standards and, thus, the compatibility of measurements. One of the principal challenges for the Programme today is in the integration and new technologies. The transition from manual observations to automatic and, now, remote-sensing wind profiler and satellite observations requires the development of guidelines on the use and performance of these and, possibly, conducting intercomparisons to assess their relative performance.
The ever growing demand for higher resolution meteorological observations in both time and space, such as for nowcasting and severe weather forecasting, and for the optimization of financial resources have obliged meteorological services to use observational data from various different sources – different systems as well as different providers – including external and private data providers. In addition, national security issues make these observations extremely sensitive.
Thus, the goals of the Instruments and Methods of Observation Programme include:
- the promotion of standards,
- development and publication of guides on instruments and methods of observation,
- instrument intercomparisons, and
- the organization of capacity building activities such as training workshops and technical conferences.
The Programme actively collaborate with instrument manufacturers – primarily through the Association of Hydro-meteorological Equipment Industry (HMEI) – the scientific community and other international organisations. Over the years, where synergies exist, it has partnered with other international organizations to achieve common goals. These include the Bureau International des Poids et Mesures (BIPM), the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the direct involvement of CIMO experts into metrology research such as with the European Metrology Research Programme (EMRP).
The International Cloud Atlas
In 2017, IMOP published a new user-friendly, digital version of the International Cloud Atlas. This authoritative, comprehensive and up-to-date source of reference is also of interest and accessible to a wide audience. The roots of the International Cloud Atlas date back to the 19th century. The International Meteorological Conference published the first International Cloud Atlas containing 28 coloured pictures in 1896. The new edition replaces the most recent edition of the International Cloud Atlas, which dated back to 1987.
The online International Cloud Atlas was published on World Meteorological Day (23 March), the theme of which was “Understanding Clouds.”