Wednesday, March 23, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) celebrates WMO Day, along with its 189 National Meteorological and Hydrological Services Members, and the worldwide meteorological community at large. Each year the celebration centers around a selected theme. This year’s theme is the “Climate for you”.
The WMO is a “specialized agency” of the United Nations created in 1950 in recognition that weather, climate and water cycle are global in nature and know no international boundaries. Consequently, international cooperation is compulsory for increased understanding and prediction of the earths coupled land, atmosphere, and ocean systems. The WMO provides the framework to enable that cooperation, and by in large has been successful in doing so.
Among its most important and visible accomplishments, WMO facilitates each and every day the unrestricted provision and exchange of near-real-time observations and related information across the globe, as well as model forecasts and derived products. This is something some national forecast centers and users may take for granted. But accessing/using this information would be impossible without international agreements related to, for example, data type, format, and observing sensor design. The scope of these agreements covers data from 10,000 land stations, 3000 aircraft,1000 upper-air stations, 1000 ships, and literally millions of individual observations from satellites.
In addition to enabling efficient and effective collection and exchange of observations, etc., the WMO promotes and fosters collaboration between its Members in applications of meteorology and climate to needs of public weather services in the areas of agriculture, aviation, shipping, environment, hydrological issues and the mitigation of the impacts of natural disasters, especially those related to extreme weather/climate events.
The complete array of products and services, including those related to this year’s theme, “Climate for You”, are well beyond the scope of this post. So, I strongly recommend anyone interested in weather and climate to peruse the numerous informative and enlightening contents starting at the WMO home page.
(Personal note: not withstanding the role and accomplishments of the WMO, having experience working with and for the WMO on occasion in my former life, international cooperation sometimes is easier to say than become a reality. Generally speaking this follows from the WMO’s unwieldy bureaucracy and non-overlapping and competing interests of Members where politics seemingly trumps all else – but there are few large agencies, government or otherwise, where unfortunately the same is not true.)