Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Monitoring the climate

Stephen Leahy in IPS: Imagine being able to know months in advance when and where floods or droughts may occur. That is what over 150 countries participating in the third World Climate Conference, which concluded last Friday in Geneva, pledged to achieve through the creation of a Global Framework for Climate Services.

"Today is a landmark day for making climate services available to all people," said Michel Jarraud, secretary-general of the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), convener of the conference, told over 2,000 climate scientists, sectoral experts and decision-makers. "Climate services" is the long-distance cousin to weather services or weather forecasting. New technology and better climate science has opened the window to very long range forecasting of climate events like droughts weeks and months in advance.

This year, scientists were able to anticipate unprecedented flooding of the Red River Valley in the United States Midwest months in advance, enabling local communities to prepare and avoid the worst consequences, said Jane Lubchenko, a noted ecologist, administrator of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and head of the U.S. delegation.

…The proposed Global Framework for Climate Services will "strengthen production, availability, delivery and application of science-based climate prediction and services". It will include a Global Climate Observing System, a World Climate Research Programme and climate services information systems and interface. This is largely about capacity-building in developing countries and delivering information in a usable form for decision-makers at all levels, from officials to farmers….

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