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The Future of Weather and Climate Services
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14th June 2021

The Future of Weather and Climate Services

WMO has held a top-level dialogue session on the future of weather and climate forecasting as part of its ongoing drive to strengthen collaboration and Public-Private Engagement (PPE) in order to support climate adaptation, sustainable development and build resilience.

The second high-level session of the Open Consultative Platform, held virtually on 26-27 May, focused on two priority grand challenges: the future of weather and climate forecasting; and the evolving roles and responsibilities – the future of the National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs).

It was hosted by WMO Secretary-General, Prof. Petteri Taalas, and WMO President Prof. Gerhard Adrian, and brought together leaders from the NMHSs, private companies, meteorological equipment providers, the research community and academia.

The demand for weather and climate forecast information has grown rapidly during the last decade and will increase even faster in the coming years in view of growing extreme weather, climate, water and other environmental risks.

The generation and provision of these services has been revolutionized by supercomputers, satellite and remote sensing technology, smart mobile devices. A growing share in these innovations has come from the private sector. At the same time progress has been hampered by persisting holes in the basic observing system.

“Undoubtedly, the 2020s will bring significant changes to the weather, climate and water community: on the one hand through rapid advancement of science and technology, and on the other hand through a swiftly changing landscape of stakeholders with evolving capabilities and roles,” says WMO Secretary-General Prof. Petteri Taalas.

“Such changes will affect the way weather and climate forecasts are produced and used,” he says.

The Future of Weather Forecasting

Dr. Gilbert Brunet, Chair of the WMO Scientific Advisory Panel (SAP) and Chief Scientist of the Bureau of Meteorology of Australia presented a new White Paper on Future of Weather and Climate Forecasting.

The White Paper traces the development of the weather enterprise and examines challenges and opportunities in the coming decade. It examines three overarching components of the innovation cycle: infrastructure, research and development, and operation.

These will facilitate a new generation of weather and climate services that help people, businesses and governments to better mitigate risks, reduce losses, and materialize opportunities from the new intelligence of highly accurate and reliable forecasts and predictions,” says the White Paper.

The main structures of the forecasting enterprise will not change significantly in the coming decade, but we will see notable shift in roles and performance requirements, said Dr. Brunet.

International cooperation at State level will continue to be a main factor. WMO should increase significantly its effort in international R&D coordination and promotion.

At the national level, NMHSs need to engage more in community-based modelling and data initiatives, and R&D consortia. The importance of working closely with users and the opportunities for PPE should be recognized and promoted.
WMO should continue to be the backbone of capacity building and to provide numerical forecast for various global and regional service providers.

Governments need to sustain and ideally accelerate public investments in global observing system and supercomputing capability which are fundamental for the PPE.

The development/improvement of climate models needs to be in line with the strategy for weather prediction. A unified single model system across a range of timescales (nowcasting to centennial) and spatial scales (convective scale to climate system Earth modelling) is possible and desirable in this context, said Dr. Brunet.

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