March 23, 2013
Hug Your Weatherman: Saturday Is World Meteorological Day
redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online
“Watching the Weather to Protect Life and Property” is the theme of this year´s annual World Meteorological Day, which is being commemorated by climate scientists internationally on Saturday.
According to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the UN´s specialized agency for weather and geophysical sciences, the yearly event is held every March 23 in order to mark the date on which the association was officially created back in 1950.
The focus of the 2013 edition of this event is designed to take into account the essential role meteorological and hydrological professionals play in helping to keep people and places safe from floods, droughts, and other weather-related phenomena, WMO officials explained. This year, it is also being used to mark the 50th anniversary of World Weather Watch, a global effort to facilitate the exchange of meteorological observations, the generation and distribution of forecasts and the spread of weather-related warnings and advisories.
“The growing impact of weather extremes cannot be ignored. Over the last 30 years natural disasters took the lives of over 2 million people and produced economic losses estimated at over 1.5 trillion US dollars,” the group´s secretary-general, Michel Jarraud, said in a statement. “Almost 90 percent of such disasters, more than 70 percent of the casualties and almost 80 percent of the economic losses were caused by weather-, climate- or water-related hazards.
“Much more must, and can, be done to allay human suffering. Tropical cyclones, heavy rainfalls and floods, droughts and cold and heat waves affect the entire world, alerting us to some of the worst implications of growing climate variability and change,” he added. “Weather and climate early warnings and disaster risk reduction are central to any sustainable development. World Meteorological Day 2013 is a unique occasion to reinforce this message and to reflect on past achievements, take stock of what still needs to be done and to recommit to building on the legacy of World Weather Watch.”
The idea for World Weather Watch first came about in 1960, shortly after the launch of the first weather satellite. At that time, the UN General Assembly asked the WMO to investigate how those probes could be used as part of an agenda to promote the peaceful and beneficial uses of space programs on an international level. In spite of political differences, the US, Russia and several other nations completed a report that ultimately led to the creation of the World Weather Watch initiative in 1963.
The program went on to become “a cornerstone for atmospheric sciences and meteorological services,” and remains “an outstanding landmark in international cooperation,” the WMO said. Over the past five decades, it has become the backbone for weather forecasting in countries of various sizes throughout the world, and provides the primary operational infrastructure for the WMO´s meteorology and climatology programs. The World Weather Watch has also helped lay the foundation for scientific and technological advances essential for modern climate science, including computer, telecommunication, and satellite technology.
“More than ever the world needs global cooperation to promote and coordinate the provision of better and longer-term weather and climate forecasts and early warnings to protect life and property. The 2013 World Meteorological Day offers an occasion to reinforce this message and to contribute to addressing the challenges of the 21st century,” Jarraud said.