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As the global population grows and the demand for water increases, it is critical to effectively and sustainably manage our limited water resources. To do so, we need to know where they are, in what quantity and quality, how variable they are, and how they will evolve in the foreseeable future.
Weather, climate and water impact on agriculture and fisheries, energy, transport, health, insurance, sports, tourism and many more socio-economic sectors. WMO promotes the application of meteorological, climatological, hydrological and oceanographic information in all human activities.
It is essential that people understand their risks, respect the national warning service and know how to react to the warning messages. Education and preparedness programmes play a key role. It is also essential that disaster management plans include evacuation strategies that are well practiced and tested. People should be well informed on options for safe behaviour to reduce risks and protect their health, know available evacuation routes and safe areas and know how best to avoid damage to and loss of property.
Continuous monitoring of hazard parameters and their precursors (when available for a particular hazard) is essential to generate accurate warnings in a timely fashion that allow sufficient time for the affected community or communities to enact their disaster management plans appropriate for that hazard. The systems used for detection and monitoring, which could be automated, should allow for strict quality control of the data under international standards when these are available.
Risks arise from the combination of hazards, exposure of people and assets to the hazards and their vulnerabilities and coping capacities at a particular location. Assessments of these risks require systematic collection and analysis of data and should consider the dynamics and compounding impacts of hazards coupled with vulnerabilities resulting from unplanned urbanization, changes in rural land use, environmental degradation and climate change. The level of risk can change depending on the actual impacts and consequences of hazards.
Natural hazards are severe and extreme weather and climate events that occur in all parts of the world, although some regions are more vulnerable to certain hazards than others. Natural hazards become disasters when people’s lives and livelihoods are destroyed.
In many parts of the world, flooding is a major problem. In the period from 1970 to 2012, storms and floods caused over one million deaths. Flood plains are often attractive areas for human development and a vast share of the world’s population depends, whether directly or indirectly, on a number of key natural resources that are generally provided by floodplains.