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When it comes to the weather and climate, most of us think only about what is happening in the atmosphere. If we ignore the ocean, however, we miss a big piece of the picture: covering some 70% of the Earth’s surface, the ocean is a major driver of the world’s weather and climate.
Publish Date: 2 February 2021
A new era of sailing for science is beginning, with support for vital ocean observations from the high-profile round-the-world Vendée Globe yacht race. The first of the IMOCA skippers crossed the finishing line at the end of January, after braving equipment failure and stormy conditions. Ten of them took with them scientific instruments including either drifting buoys that gather climatological information or Argo floats that analyse sea water. During the race they deployed all the drifting buoys and almost all the Argo floats at agreed co-ordinates in the Atlantic.
Currently, well over 10 000 manned and automatic surface weather stations, 1 000 upper-air stations, 7 000 ships, 100 moored and 1 000 drifting buoys, hundreds of weather radars and 3 000 specially equipped commercial aircraft measure key parameters of the atmosphere, land and ocean surface every day. Add to these some 30 meteorological and 200 research satellites to get an idea of the size of the global network for meteorological, hydrological and other geophysical observations.
Water stress, water-related hazards and water quality pose increasing challenges to modern society. And yet, the capacity to monitor and manage this vital resource is fragmented and inadequate. Billions of people around the world also feel the impact of climate change through water.
As a specialized agency of the United Nations, WMO is dedicated to international cooperation and coordination on the state and behaviour of the Earth’s atmosphere, its interaction with the land and oceans, the weather and climate it produces, and the resulting distribution of water resources.
Through its Technical Commissions, Programmes, Projects and Regional Offices as well as by synergistic partnerships, WMO facilitates the maintenance and expansion of its Members' atmospheric, oceanographic and land-based observational networks; the free unrestricted exchange of the resulting data and information; and related capacity development and research in order to optimize the production of weather, climate and water-related services worldwide.
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.