Improving Marine Services in Small Island Developing States

The first meeting of the Expert Team on Marine and Oceanographic Services (Marine Expert Team) of WMO Regional Association IV (RA IV, North America, Central America and the Caribbean) on 4 March discussed the improvement of marine services in Small-Island Developing States (SIDS). The participants proposed various activities to address gaps and aim to draft an annual plan to improve marine services in the region.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) highlights the rapidly increasing vulnerability of low-lying SIDS and atolls due to sea level rise. AR6 underlines the need for mitigation and adaptation responses. However, the implementation of such measures is more effective if combined and/or sequenced, planned well-ahead, aligned with sociocultural values and development priorities, and underpinned by inclusive community engagement processes. Thus, to support Members with these challenges, WMO has been working through its Regional Associations to improve ocean services by enhancing cooperation between National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs), regional organizations and other international stakeholders to mitigate the risk from coastal weather and climate hazards. Hence, the RA IV Marine Expert Team was established to support Members in that region with the planning, implementation and evaluation of technical programme activities related to marine and coastal services.

Their first meeting looked at the outcomes of the Technical online seminar: Ocean Observations for Forecasting and Services across the Caribbean, held in November 2021. At that meeting, some Caribbean NMHSs highlighted the importance of promoting regional partnerships and information sharing to enhance Multi-Hazards Early Warnings Services (MHEWSs). The Marine Expert Team aims to augment cooperation among Members in order to develop products on marine meteorology and oceanography. Thus, the activities proposed by Marine Expert Team included the identification of deployment locations for buoys in the Caribbean, buoy data access and interpretation, online webinars on modelling and forecasting, standardization/integration of techniques and data, efficient monitoring systems for MHEWSs and webinars focused on communication within institutions and communities. The Marine Expert Team also decided to issue a survey to RA IV Members to identify areas for increased cooperation. At the end of the discussion, the experts agreed to identify marine focal points in every RA IV Member and to issue a survey to identify more areas of cooperation towards drafting a Marine Meteorological and Oceanographic Services Annual Plan for RA IV.

WMO will continue to support Regional Associations with Members that are experiencing a rise in their vulnerability due to climate change and whose climate-sensitive livelihoods are at risk. In this context, SIDS are especially deserving due to their limited adaptive capacities and the disproportionate impacts of climate-related hazards such as a rising sea level and extreme maritime weather.

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