Category: WMO

New report: Hydromet Gap Report 2021

New report: Hydromet Gap Report 2021

A new report from the leaders of the Alliance for Hydromet Development provides insight into how far we have to go to tap the benefits of effective weather and climate services and presents the challenges of the complex global and local undertaking required. Additionally, the report highlights priority actions to scale up support to developing countries to strengthen their capacity.

Investments in improved weather forecasts, early warnings and climate information are vital to build resilience to extreme weather. According to the report, only 40 percent of countries currently have effective warning systems in place, and large gaps remain in the vital underpinning observations data upon which these services depend, particularly in Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and Small Island Developing States (SIDS). Such investments are highly important and create a triple dividend that includes: first, avoided losses – reliable and accurate early warning systems save lives and assets worth at least ten times their cost; second, optimized production; and third, improved long-term strategic response to climate change.

The report was launched on 8 July 2021 by leaders of the Alliance for Hydromet Development at a high-level event on the hydromet solutions needed for effective climate action and sustainable development.

Download the report here.

Climate Adaptation Summit: Invest in early warnings and early action

Climate Adaptation Summit: Invest in early warnings and early action

News and Press Release

Geneva, 26 January 2021- As climate change leads to an increase in the frequency and intensity of extreme weather, the need for effective early warnings and early action took centre stage at the Climate Adaptation Summit on 25-26 January.

The online event, hosted by the Netherlands, convened global leaders and local stakeholders. It launched a comprehensive Adaptation Action Agenda and heard of new financial pledges to initiatives to make the world more resilient to the effects of climate change.

“According to the World Meteorological Organization, there have been more than 11,000 disasters due to weather, climate and water-related hazards over the past 50 years, at a cost of some US$ 3.6 trillion,” United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told the opening session.

“Extreme weather and climate-related hazards have also killed more than 410,000 people in the past decade, the vast majority in low and lower middle-income countries. That is why I have called for a breakthrough on adaptation and resilience,” he said.

Although the global death toll has fallen, the poor remain disproportionately exposed.

Guterres further stated at the opening that as “one person in three is still not adequately covered by early warning systems, and risk-informed early approaches are not at the scale required, there is a need to work together to ensure full global coverage by early warning systems to help minimize these losses.”

Disaster Risk Management

A special Anchoring Event on Disaster Risk Management — one of the action themes of the Climate Adaptation Summit – addressed the urgency of greater investment in early warning systems. It also focussed on the need to translate early warnings into risk-informed early action in advance of hazards striking.

The event, Getting ahead of the climate curve: Investing in early warning and early action, was co-hosted by the Risk-informed Early Action Partnership (REAP), the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) through the Climate Risk and Early Warning Systems (CREWS) initiative and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). It featured leaders and decision-makers, including from countries on the frontline of climate change.

The event heard of new financial commitments from France, Finland and the European Commission to CREWS to build early warning systems capacity. Luxembourg Minister for Climate, Environment and Sustainable Development Carole Dieschbourg presented Luxembourg’s climate finance strategy that is doubling over the next five years, with support to the most vulnerable countries, such as small island developing states.

Capacity gaps

Early warning systems are a highly effective way of adapting to climate change and building resilience to extreme weather. It is estimated that investments in these services can save lives and assets worth at least ten times their cost.

Only 40% of WMO Members report having an early warning system in place. Furthermore, the WMO State of Climate Services 2020 report showed that there is a global incapacity for translating early warnings into early action.

“There are new levels of awareness and political commitment at the highest levels to tackle the impacts of climate change. Early warning systems and risk-informed action is one of the most effective ways to adapt to climate change and to reduce the number of casualties and reduce economic losses from extreme events,” says WMO Secretary-General Prof. Petteri Taalas.

“We need more impact-based forecasting to help bridge the gap between early warning and early action, by warning for not just what the weather will be, but what the weather will do,” he said. “But to provide good early warning services you need good observations. Gaps in data in Africa and some other parts of the world have a negative effect especially in data sparse areas, but also globally,” said Prof. Taalas, explaining the rationale behind a proposed Systematic Observations Financing Facility (SOFF).”

Juergen Vogele, Vice President for Sustainable Development at the World Bank, stressed the need to ramp up investments in adaptation and voiced support for SOFF.

Reach the last mile

According to the Global Commission on Adaptation, a 24-hour advance warning of a coming storm or heatwave can cut the ensuing damage by 30 percent. Expenditure of US$ 800 million on such systems in developing countries would potentially avert losses of US$3–16 billion per year.

The IFRC World Disasters Report 2020 found that while the number of people affected by climate-related disasters have increased, the numbers of deaths from these disasters have decreased.

“This is a good indication of our progress, and a sign that disaster risk reduction and climate adaptation efforts are working,” says Jagan Chapagain, IFRC Secretary General.

“But progress is not happening fast enough, especially in places hardest hit by climate change. Most people who have been killed or are directly affected by climate-related disasters live in low and lower/middle-income countries. As extreme weather events increase, we must prioritize support to people most exposed and most vulnerable to climate hazards and stresses, even if they are the hardest to reach,” he said. Mr Chapagain took the occasion to launch the Risk-informed Early Action Partnership’s Framework for Action, which sets out how partners aim to take risk-informed early action to scale, making 1 billion people safer from disaster in the coming years.

The event heard of effective initiatives that are improving climate resilience of vulnerable populations. One such example is the DARAJA project, meaning ‘bridge’ in Swahili. In informal settlements in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Nairobi, Kenya, DARAJA has successfully built bridges between communities and weather and climate information providers. It is financed and developed under the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office Met Office-led Weather and Climate Information Services for Africa (WISER) Programme.

In the Caribbean, 8 countries are now receiving CREWS funding and strengthening coordination against a common threat — hurricanes, said Arlene Laing from the Caribbean Meteorological Organization.

CREWS commitments

The CREWS Initiative was launched at the Paris Climate Change conference in 2015, with a target of raising US$ 100 million dollars to build resilience, especially in Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States,

It is estimated that an additional 10 million people are being protected thanks to these early warnings systems, through 13 projects covering more than 50 countries in the world.

European Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarčič announced a first Euro 10 million contribution to CREWS,

Finland’s Minister for Development Cooperation and Foreign Trade, Ville Skinnari, announced that Finland was joining CREWS and committed Euro 5 million to the Trust Fund as part of the country’s scaled-up commitment to climate change adaptation. The Minister mentioned that this engagement goes towards the targets of the Risk-informed Early Action Partnership (REAP).

Stéphane Crouzat, France’s Climate Ambassador announced a new Euro 4 million contribution to CREWS bringing their total contributions, since 2016, to Euro 26 million.

UN Special Climate envoy Selwin Hart said he was encouraged by the ambitious commitments to scale-up action on early warning and early action through CREWS and REAP, which aims to make 1 billion people safer from disasters by 2025.

“The partnership we have seen today between CREWS and REAP is exactly what is needed to help bridge the early warning to early action divide, to protect lives and livelihoods from the climate crisis,” said Mr Hart.

Climate Change adaptation will be a key platform of this year’s UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, according to Anne-Marie Trevelyan, International Champion on Adaptation and Resilience & Minister for Business, Energy and Clean Growth, United Kingdom.

The Sustainable Development Goals and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction commit governments to substantially reduce global disaster mortality and increase access to and availability of early warning systems by 2030 and to measure their progress towards that target.


View the original article here.
Supporting countries in improving their forecasting: A new brief on how the Systematic Observations Financing Facility works

Supporting countries in improving their forecasting: A new brief on how the Systematic Observations Financing Facility works

Set up by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the Systematic Observations Financing Facility (SOFF) provides a new way to upgrade our global weather and climate forecasting systems for a fraction of the cost compared to current investment plans. This new information brief outlines how the SOFF will work and describes the process by which this new way of investing benefits all of the global community.

Many countries lack the resource and capacity to produce regular and detailed observations, and to share them with the global community. This significantly limits the accuracy of weather and climate forecasts made for their local areas, and therefore limits the plans they can put in place to adapt and become more resilient to climate change and extreme weather events. This is because weather prediction models’ outputs are reliant upon the quality of data input – if you have low quality or infrequent observational data for an area, then the outputs are likely to be limited.

Whilst improvements have been made to other types of earth observation methods, such as from satellites, surface-based observational coverage is not consistent across the globe and has not received as much investment. This has spurred the creation of the Global Basic Observing Network (GBON). GBON sets out the standard for observations, ensuring that data are of acceptable frequency and coverage, and shared in a timely and consistent way across the global community. However, not all countries are able to meet this basic standard – or if they can, they may struggle to sustain it due to the resource and capacity needs for making surface-based observations.

This brief describes how SOFF will act as the mechanism by which countries – in particular, 68 SIDs and LEDCs – can be supported in covering their ‘GBON gap’ and in sustaining compliance with the GBON requirements. This includes both financial and technical assistance, delivered in new ways. Internationally agreed metrics guide investments (GBON), and data exchange is used as a measure of success, which also create local benefits and provide a global public good.

SOFF will only cost $400 million in its first 5 years – a fraction of the $2.5 billion currently invested just in the Alliance for Hydromet Development member’s projects. Yet SOFF is predicted to result in a 10-fold increase in radiosonde observations (observations that are taken by suspending measuring equipment under a large balloon that will ascend to high altitudes) and a 20-fold increase from weather stations.

The mechanism of SOFF’s financial and technical assistance has been carefully designed so as to ensure investments are made wisely, and that success is measured by how well data is being shared – the crucial element of improving global forecasts. This design also ensures that countries’ contributions are sustained and increase the benefits for the entire global community.

Image: A diagram of the SOFF outcomes, phases, and operational partners. 


This information brief is one of several produced by the World Meteorological Organization in collaboration with Acclimatise. They are based on the work of the SOFF working groups that brought together 30 international partners to jointly develop the SOFF concept and design.

You can learn more about SOFF and read the other briefs here.


New Information brief explores the Global Basic Observing Network (GBON) gap

New Information brief explores the Global Basic Observing Network (GBON) gap

In 2019, the World Meteorological Congress and its 193 member countries agreed to establish the Global Basic Observing Network (GBON), setting out an obligations and clear requirements for all members to acquire and exchange the most essential surface-based observational data at a minimum resolution and timeframe level. Achieving compliance with the GBON requirements requires sustainable investments and strengthened capacity in many countries. Spearheaded by the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), the Systematic Observations Financing Facility (SOFF) is being established to meet these needs.

This new information brief explains the GBON gap analysis undertaken by the WMO for each of its 193 Members and how to calculate it. The gap analysis provides a quantitative estimate of the number of surface-based observing stations that will need to be installed, rehabilitated or upgraded, and exchange data in order to meet the GBON requirements.

Preliminary findings indicate that Small Island Development States (SIDS) and Least Developed Countries (LDCs) are currently far from meeting the GBON requirements, largely due to a lack of infrastructure and capacity. In order to close this gap, about 2000 new and/or rehabilitated stations need to become operational which, in turn, will lead to massive increases in exchanged observations. SOFF provides a new way to help close the GBON gap by ensuring upgrades to weather and climate forecasting systems for a fraction of the cost compared to current investment plans.

This information brief is one of several produced by the World Meteorological Organization in collaboration with Acclimatise. They are based on the work of the SOFF working groups that brought together 30 international partners to jointly develop the SOFF concept and design.

You can learn more about SOFF and read the other briefs here.


Cover photo by Duncan Bullock
The value of surface-based meteorological observation data: a new brief on the costs and benefits of the Global Basic Observing Network (GBON)

The value of surface-based meteorological observation data: a new brief on the costs and benefits of the Global Basic Observing Network (GBON)

Spearheaded by the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), the Systematic Observations Financing Facility (SOFF) provides a new way to upgrade our global weather and climate forecasting systems for a fraction of the cost compared to current investment plans. SOFF applies internationally agreed metrics – the requirements of the Global Basic Observing Network (GBON) – to guide investments and create local benefits while delivering on a global public good.

This new information brief explains how the world can benefit from improved surface-based observations and shows how targeted investments can yield the highest level of improvement in weather prediction and climate analysis.

Improved surface-based observations deliver economic, environmental, and social benefits. Alongside the provision of timely warnings about extreme weather events, investments in weather and climate services yield a strong positive cost-benefit ratio that will positively impact a wide range of sectors. However, these benefits will only be realised if systems are in place to translate them into useful information through improved forecasting.

Numerical Weather Predictions (NWPs) use computer-encoded versions of predictive equations of atmospheric behaviour to understand how climate has changed in the past, and how it may be evolving in the future. While global NWP is useful, there is significant scope for improvement in NWP accuracy. In fact, full implementation of GBON will roughly double the amount of surface-based data available to global NWP.

The monetary benefits of implementing GBON will fall mainly to regions with a high share of global GDP. However, there are massive cost savings to be had by all. Currently, the world’s global observation system is estimated to cost US$ 10 billion a year whereas the estimated funding to supports Small Island Development States (SIDS) and Least Developed Countries (LDCs) in achieving GBON compliance for an initial five-year period corresponds to USD 400 million.

This information brief is one of several produced by the World Meteorological Organization in collaboration with Acclimatise. They are based on the work of the SOFF working groups that brought together 30 international partners to jointly develop the SOFF concept and design.

You can learn more about SOFF and read the other briefs here.


WMO issue new warning as earth approaches 1.5˚C

WMO issue new warning as earth approaches 1.5˚C

By Lydia Messling

Last week, the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) announced that there was around a 20% chance that one of the next five years will be at least 1.5 degrees warmer than pre-industrial levels. The earth’s average temperature is already over 1 degree warmer than pre-industrial levels, and continues to rise as more greenhouse gas emissions are released into the atmosphere. The WMO forecast is significant as, in November 2016, countries signed the Paris Agreement, which included a commitment to keep warming “to well below 2°C and pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5°C”.

The WMO’s finding is especially concerning as last year they issued a similar forecast which estimated the chance of exceeding 1.5 degrees in five years to be just 10%. This suggests that the world is still failing to tackle climate change with sufficient urgency and casts further doubt on the possibility of hitting the 1.5-degree target. The clear implication of this is that we must prepare for a highly unstable climate in a world where average temperatures are well above the 1.5- and 2-degree temperature targets.

One swallow does not a summer make

So does the latest WMO forecast mean we’ll miss the Paris Agreement’s 1.5-degree target? Whilst still a cause for concern, even if one of the next five years surpassed 1.5 degrees, we would not have breached the Paris Agreement’s target, because this is calculated as a 30-year moving average.

It’s a bit like measuring your running speed. The qualify time for the men’s marathon in the Tokyo Olympics is 2 hours, 11 minutes, and 30 seconds. That’s an average of about 5 minutes per mile. Just because you managed to run a sub-5-minute mile on your morning run does not necessarily mean that you are now ready to go for gold at the Olympics (no matter how much Strava kudos your friends give you). It could have been a fast mile for a number of reasons. Maybe it was downhill, the wind was behind you, or you were only ever running one single mile full pelt before collapsing. To think you could now run that 5-minute mile 25.219 more times, and keep that pace, might seem a bit of a stretch. Instead, in order to establish your long-term trend, you need to compare your averaged speed across a much longer distance, much closer to a marathon length, in order to fairly judge your marathon potential. One mile is not a fair judge.

The same is true here. Whilst there’s a 20% chance we might hit an annual average of 1.5 degrees warmer in the next 5 years, this is quite different to stating that we’ve crossed the threshold of the Paris Agreement, as this threshold is determined by a 30-year average. This is so that the effects of natural variability can be accounted for. For example, 2015 and 2016 were both affected by El Niño, which meant the underlying human-caused warming was amplified. Indeed, the WMO report says that there is only a small chance – 3% – that the next five-year average will exceed 1.5 degrees.

A worrying direction of travel

In 2020, the Arctic is likely to have warmed by more than twice as much as the global mean. There are also still impacts of climate change to be felt between now and 2024. In 2020, many parts of South America, southern Africa, and Australia are likely to be dryer than the recent past. Between now and 2024, high latitude regions and the Sahel are likely to be wetter. Sea-level pressure anomalies suggest that the northern North Atlantic region could have stronger westerly winds, resulting in western Europe experiencing more storms.

A single year that is 1.5 degrees warmer than pre-industrial levels is not enough to surpass the 1.5-degree threshold as described by the Paris Agreement, but it is an indicator that it is within reach. There is still a lot of climate change to be experienced between now and the Paris Agreement target of 1.5 degrees of warming – more than enough to motivate us in ensuring we do not exceed it. However, it remains unlikely that collectively we will act fast enough to reduce our emissions meet the target. At the moment, we are on track for qualifying for a much warmer world, with an unstable climate unlike anything experienced in human history.


Cover photo by ActionVance on Unsplash.
WMO expresses concern as impacts of COVID-19 reduce earth observation measurements by 80% in some areas

WMO expresses concern as impacts of COVID-19 reduce earth observation measurements by 80% in some areas

By Álvaro Linares

In an article released on 9 April 2020, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) expressed its concerns on the impacts that the COVID-19 pandemic is having on the Earth Observing System, which has major implications on weather observations and forecasts, as well as on the monitoring of atmospheric processes and climate change.

On the positive side, a significant portion of the WMO’s global observing system is either partly or fully automated. For instance, space-based observations and many ground-based observing networks are highly automated and are not expected to be impacted by the effects of the pandemic. Currently, there are 30 meteorological and 200 research satellites, continuously providing observations, and in most developed countries, surface-based weather observations are nearly fully automated. 

However, the WMO article explains that some parts of the global observing system have already been severely affected. The most significant reduction in weather measurements corresponds to in-flight measurements of temperature, wind speed and wind direction, and in some cases, humidity and turbulence – all important variables for both weather prediction and climate monitoring. Commercial airlines are part of the WMO Aircraft Meteorological Data Relay programme (AMDAR) gathering over 800,000 observations per day. Due to the flight restrictions set by countries on commercial flights, many parts of the world have seen a decrease in measurements between 50% and 80% over the past two weeks.

Beyond the immediate decrease of in-flight observations caused by the pandemic, there are also concerns that if the pandemic persists for several weeks, maintenance and supply work, as well as scheduled redeployments will be affected.

In many developing countries, ground-based observations have been affected by the pandemic due to their reliance on manual reporting by weather observers. The WMO article points out that the WMO’s global observation system has seen a significant decrease in the availability of this type of manual observations over the last two weeks. Some of this may be attributable to the current coronavirus situation, but it is not yet clear whether other factors may play a role as well. WMO is currently investigating this. Lars Peter Riishojgaard, Director, Earth System Branch in WMO’s Infrastructure Department said: “At the present time, the adverse impact of the loss of observations on the quality of weather forecast products is still expected to be relatively modest. However, as the decrease in availability of aircraft weather observations continues and expands, we may expect a gradual decrease in reliability of the forecasts”.

“The same is true if the decrease in surface-based weather observations continues, in particular if the COVID-19 outbreak starts to more widely impact the ability of observers to do their job in large parts of the developing world. WMO will continue to monitor the situation, and the organization is working with its Members to mitigate the impact as much as possible,” he said.

To partially mitigate the impact of the sudden decrease in observations, some WMO members ,such as Europe, have increased the launches of radiosondes. These radiosondes are attached to weather balloons, which can fly from the surface up to 20 to 30 km into the atmosphere, transmitting measurements of some critical meteorological variables.

These additional WMO efforts are critical for monitoring climate change. COVID-19 has caused positive short-term environmental impacts such as a significant reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and a worldwide increase in air quality. Capturing these impacts with high-quality observations, thanks to the mitigation efforts of the WMO, can help shed light on the advantages that a systemic shift to a more sustainable economy can have on climate change and the planet.


Cover photo from Wikimedia Commons.
World very likely to enter another climate-warming El Niño next year

World very likely to enter another climate-warming El Niño next year

By Will Bugler

There is a 75-80% chance of an El Niño developing by February 2019, according to the latest update from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). Although it is not expected to be a strong event, it will drive warmer overall temperatures through next year.

The El Niño is a naturally occurring phenomenon driven by changes in ocean surface temperatures in the equatorial Pacific, which in turn drive changes in the circulation of air in the atmosphere. El Niño conditions have major implications on weather patterns across the globe.

“The forecast El Niño is not expected to be as powerful as the event in 2015-2016” said Maxx Dilley, director of WMO’s Climate Prediction and Adaptation branch. “Even so, it can still significantly affect rainfall and temperature patterns in many regions, with important consequences to agricultural and food security sectors, and for management of water resources and public health.”

Strong El Niño events like that in 2016, can lead to extreme weather events with normally damp places such as parts of Australia experiencing drought, and drier places in South America facing heavy rainfall and flooding. However, the exact nature of the weather patterns remains unpredictable. Warmer ocean temperatures are likely to be a bad sign for the world’s coral reefs, which may face further bleaching next year.

What might the El Niño mean for the world’s weather?

  • Temperatures are more likely to be above average in most of Asia, Europe, North America, the Caribbean, Africa, Australia, the Indonesian archipelago and South America. There could be some exceptions to this, but most regions that saw above normal temperatures over the summer of 2018 can expect higher than average temperatures.
  • Rainfall is more likely to be lower than normal in the Caribbean, central America, part of northern South America, the offshore islands of southeast Asia, the southern part of the Indonesian archipelago, some south Pacific islands, portions of southwest Africa and eastern equatorial Africa, subtropical southwest coastal South America and southern South America.
  • Rainfall is more likely to be higher than average in part of southern North America, part of southeast South America, part of northwest North America, central and northern Asia, part of southwest Asia, part of the eastern Maritime Continent, and part of Europe.

As Maxx Dilley explains El Niño conditions are expected to “combine with long-term climate change to boost 2019 global temperatures.” Higher temperatures, evaporation rates and water in the atmosphere means that weather conditions are likely to be abnormal next year, and 2019 could be amongst the hottest years on record.


Cover photo by NASA Jet Propulsion Lab (public domain): Sea surface temperature differences on March 1, 2016. Dark red indicates much warmer water.