WMO Services for Polar Waters – collaboration with the Arctic Council

WMO announced its new webpage that acts as a one-stop-shop for Members to access practical WMO polar information relevant to shipping at the fourth Arctic Shipping Best Practice Information Forum organized by the Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment (PAME). The Shipping Forum, which took place virtually from 24 to 25 November, supports effective implementation of the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) Polar Code by publicizing information relevant to all involved in safe and environmentally sound Arctic shipping. The WMO Polar Shipping page sources information from the Global Cryosphere Watch, in situ observations in Polar waters, the Year of Polar Prediction initiated by the World Weather Research Programme, and the Polar Climate Predictability Initiative sponsored by the World Climate Research Programme, and Arctic Climate Services.

WMO also joined the panel discussion on Multilateral Bodies – Support Related to Safe Arctic Navigation. Also participating in the panel were the International Hydrographic Organization’s Arctic Regional Hydrographic Commission and the International Ice Charting Working Group, represented by NOAA and the Permanent Representative of Denmark to WMO, respectively. WMO highlighted its support for Maritime Safety Information (MSI) through the Global Maritime Distress Safety System – more specifically the IMO-WMO Worldwide Met-Ocean Information and Warning Service – with the support of Arctic METAREA Coordinators: Canada, Norway and Russian Federation. WMO also pointed to its work with the International Ice Charting Working Group.

The most recent Arctic Consensus Statement on the Seasonal Climate Outlook and regional climate summary were presented at the Shipping Forum, which also took note of the recommendations of the first WMO-IMO International Symposium on Extreme Maritime Weather (2019):

  • Better monitor climate change, provide long-range services
  • Incorporate and standardize ice charts into shipboards ECDIS
  • Establish standards for ice forecasters and analysts
  • Improve iceberg models to predict location drift and deterioration
  • Improve training to ‘close the gap’ between met-ocean information providers and users.

The Shipping Forum placed particular emphasis on collecting practical and useful information for stakeholders, such as shipowners and operators in Polar waters from WMO.

In cooperation with IMO, WMO supports the International Convention for Safety of Life At Sea (SOLAS) through the provision of MSI. WMO has been an Observer to the Arctic Council since 2017 and is actively engaged in PAME.

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