WMO ranked 2014 as the hottest year on record. In 2015, the United Nations Member States will adopt three major agreements that relate to the environment. The first, in March, is in the area of disaster risk reduction. The second, in September, will promote sustainable development. The third, in December, aims to limit average global temperature increases and the resultant climate change. WMO is active in all of these processes as weather, climate and water knowledge have a key role in the decision-making and actions that will be required on the international, national and community levels. The WMO theme for 2015, Climate Knowledge for Climate Action, is supportive of these ongoing processes. This issue of the Bulletin highlights that theme.
Strong weather and climate services are now more necessary than ever before to increase resilience to disasters and help countries and communities adapt to a fast changing and, in many places, less hospitable climate. The scientific community has made significant progress, but many gaps and challenges remain in delivering climate knowledge for climate action. The first half of this Bulletin looks at some of the scientific accomplishments and offers a candid view of the challenges ahead in both weather and climate science and in scaling down and refining data and predictions for local scales, for example, megacities.
Key among those challenges is prediction of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO). Around 93% of the excess energy trapped in the atmosphere by greenhouse gases from fossil fuels and other human activities ends up in the oceans. The heat content of the oceans is key to understanding the climate system. Understanding and forecasting of the onset and duration of the phases of ENSO have provided a basis for routine delivery of seasonal climate outlooks and associated information and services. However, “Progress on Observing and Predicting ENSO” highlights that the observing system is at risk and the evolution of the prediction systems, in general, is not keeping pace with the demand for climate services in terms of accuracy and reliability and more research is needed to close these gaps.
Another challenge is in the area of capacity development in National Meteorological and Hydrological Services. An estimated 150 000 meteorological personnel will need education and training in the next ten years as weather, climate and water expertise expand to include more tailor-made and fit-for-purpose services. In 2015, WMO Regional Meteorological Training Centres celebrate 50 years – are they still up to the challenge?
Reliable forecasts of seasonal streamflow are critical input for water resource managers, power operators and many other business sectors. The Bureau of Meteorology of Australia present a case study on their streamflow prediction services.
The Bulletin concludes with two articles highlighting major environmental issues of our generation: ocean acidification caused by the trapping of greenhouses gases mentioned above, and the ozone layer.