Leading hydrologists from around the world met in Entebbe, Uganda, from 26 to 29 September to discuss a four-year plan to implement the WMO Hydrological Status and Outlook System (HydroSOS), which will be capable of assessing hydrological variability on a global scale. The group also looked at how HydroSOS can help deliver the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 6, which stresses the importance of attaining human health, environmental sustainability and economic prosperity through access to safe water and sanitation, and sound management of freshwater ecosystems.
Currently some 20 million people around the world are at risk from flooding, but that figure could rise to 50 million in the next 15 years according to the World Resources Institute. The World Economic Forum estimates that the effects of drought across the globe cost up to US$ 8 billion a year from losses in agricultural and related businesses. However, there is no global hydrological monitoring, modelling and reporting system to warn of impending flood or drought situations. HydroSOS will use a combination of local ground-based data, global scale remotely-sensed satellite data, global/regional/national weather and climate forecast models and global hydrological models to help inform government bodies, regional and international aid agencies, and affected populations through their NMHSs of expected flood or drought risks.
“HydroSOS builds on WMO initiatives on hydrological monitoring, data sharing and seasonal meteorological and hydrological forecasting to deliver accessible and actionable hydrological information, especially for flood and drought impacted populations,” said Johannes Cullman, Director of the WMO Climate and Water Department.