the world Meteorological Organization (WMO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations (UN). It is the UN voice on the state and behavior of the Earth's atmosphere, its interaction with the oceans, the climate it produces, and the resulting distribution of water resources. The WMO has a membership of 188 member states and territories. It originated from the International Meteorological Organization, which was founded in 1873. Established in 1950, WMO became the specialized agency of the United Nations in 1951 for meteorology (weather and climate), operational hydrology, and related geophysical sciences. It is based in Geneva, Switzerland.
The WMO seeks to provide the framework for an international cooperation regarding climate matters. The organization points out that weather, climate, and the water cycle know no national boundaries, so international cooperation at a global scale is essential for the development of meteorology and operational hydrology. Since its establishment, the WMO has devised programs and services attempting to contribute to the preservation of the environment and the welfare of humanity. The National Meteorological and Hydrological Services have sought to protect life and property against natural disasters, to preserve the environment, and to encourage the economic and social well-being of all sectors of society in areas such as food security, water resources, and transport.
The WMO supports cooperation to establish networks for meteorological, climatological, hydrologi-cal, and geophysical observations, as well as for the exchange, processing, and standardization of related data. It also provides technology transfer, training, and research and fosters collaboration between the National Meteorological and Hydrological Services and its members. The organization sponsors the application of meteorology to public weather services, agriculture, aviation, shipping, the environment, water issues, and the mitigation of the effects of natural disasters.
WMO aids the free exchange of data and information, products, and services in real- or near-real-time on topics relating to safety and security of society, economic welfare, and the protection of the environment. It contributes to policymaking in these areas at national and international levels. In the specific case of disasters related to weather, climate, and water, which represent nearly 90 percent of all natural catastrophes, WMO's programs try to provide advance warnings that save lives and reduce damage to property and the environment. The organization is also committed to reducing the effects of human-induced disasters, such as those associated with chemical and nuclear accidents, forest fires, and volcanic ash. Thus, the WMO is central in international efforts to monitor and protect the environment. In collaboration with other UN agencies and the National Meteorological and Hydrological Services, the WMO supports the implementation of a number of environmental conventions and is instrumental in providing advice and assessments to governments on related issues. The organization claims that its activities contribute toward ensuring the sustainable development and well-being of nations.
Global warming is a major WMO concern. The organization supports intergovernmental legal agreements on major global environmental concerns such as ozone-layer depletion, climate change, desertifi cation, and biodiversity. WMO also coordinates the observing systems that provide the necessary data to assess atmospheric-ocean processes and interactions, such as El Niño/La Niña, and water-resources availability. Most significantly for global warming, the WMO lists, among its programs, the Global Atmosphere Watch (GAW). The WMO's interest in a program of atmospheric chemistry and the meteorological aspects of air pollution dates back to the 1950s. This included assuming responsibility for standard procedures for uniform ozone observations and establishing the Global Ozone Observing System during the 1957 International Geophysical Year.
In the late 1960s, the Background Air Pollution Monitoring Network was set up and was subsequently consolidated with the Global Ozone Observing System into the current GAW in 1989. The GAW monitoring scheme includes a coordinated global network of observing stations along with supporting facilities. GAW provides data for scientific measurements of changes in the chemical composition and related physical characteristics of the atmosphere that may negatively affect our environment. The priorities of the scheme have been identified in greenhouse gases for possible climate change, ozone and ultraviolet radiation for both climate and biological concerns, and certain reactive gases and the chemistry of precipitation.
GAW is intended to provide accessible, high-quality atmospheric data to the scientific community. These components include measurement stations, calibration and data-quality centers, data centers, and external scientific groups for program guidance. Support for these components is obtained, largely, by individual WMO member countries that directly participate in the program. Additional resources come from international funding and the WMO secretariat's internal budget.
SEE ALSO: Climate; Global Warming; Weather.
Luca Prono University of Nottingham
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