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1 Feb, 2012

Global Weather Body Launches Data Exchange System to Reduce Risks, Costs

Geneva, 31 January 2012 (WMO), A new international information system to improve and expand the current exchange of weather, climate and water data – and cut the costs involved – has become operational.

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Information System will make it easier to find and use meteorological observations and products and to share them with a wide variety of stakeholders in order to help them with disaster risk reduction, water management, food security and health issues.

It builds on the proven success of the Global Telecommunication System of WMO’s World Weather Watch which has been the backbone of meteorological information exchange for the past 40 years and is used for daily weather observations and forecasts, tropical cyclone warnings and Tsunami alerts – to name but a few applications.

The top level objectives of the WMO are:

  • To produce more accurate, timely and reliable forecasts and warnings of weather, climate, water and related environmental elements;
  • To improve the delivery of weather, climate, water and related environmental information and services to the public, governments and other users;
  • To provide scientific and technical expertise and advice in support of policy- and decision-making and implementation of the agreed international development goals and multilateral agreement.

“The WMO Information System is the pillar of our strategy for managing and moving weather, climate and water information in the 21st century,” said WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud. “It will reduce the costs of information exchange incurred by National Meteorological and Hydrological Services and maximize exploitation of advances in communications technology.”

“It will allow users outside the meteorological community to have free access to this information for the first time. This will be especially important as WMO moves ahead with other U.N. and international partners with the Global Framework for Climate Services which aims to provide basic climate services for all in the food security, water management, disaster risk reduction and health sectors,” Mr Jarraud added.

The WMO Information System, or WIS, connects and integrates information from three types of data centres:

  • National Centres collect and distribute data on a national basis. They generate quality controlled analysis and forecast products, and services, including archiving national climate information. The National Meteorological or Hydrological Service coordinate or authorize the use of the WIS by national users.
  • Data Collection or Production Centres are similar to National Centres but focus on thematic, regional or global collection and/or production of sets of data, forecast products, processed or value-added information, and/or for providing archiving services.
  • Global Information System Centres connect to each other through a high speed private network. They rapidly share information meant for routine global dissemination that they collect from National Centres and Data Collection or Production Centres in their area of responsibility . They also  serve as distribution centres into their areas of responsibilities. Global Information System Centres provide entry points, through unified portals and comprehensive metadata catalogues, for any request for data exchanged within the WIS. They also provide the connection to other information systems such as the Global Earth Observation System of Systems.

WMO’s governing World Meteorological Congress has approved several Global Information System Centres which meet the required standards. Three of these, Beijing, China; Tokyo, Japan, and Offenbach, Germany, have been running in pre-operational mode since the middle of 2011 and will be officially operational from the end of January 2012. Others will shortly become operational.