JCOMM Services on wind waves, storm surges and coastal hazard forecasting

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The WMO-IOC Joint Technical Commission on Oceanography and Marine Meteorology, at its first session in June 2001 (JCOMM-1), decided to establish an Expert Team on Waves and Storm Surges (ETWS), building on the previous WMO Wave Programme under the Commission for Marine Meteorology, which came into existence in 1984. The general objective of the Programme was to help WMO Members in the provision of high-quality data as well as wave analysis and forecast services to a large variety of applications including highly specialized activities. The CMM Subgroup on Wave Modelling and Forecasting continued the activities of the Ad Hoc Group on Wave Modelling established by Resolution 5 (CMM-X).

The Commission agreed that it would be logical to transform the WMO Wave Programme into the JCOMM Wind Wave and Storm Surge Programme. Most important considerations were that storm surge prediction support was included in the new expanded terms of reference of JCOMM and that there were many commonalties between systems providing wind wave and storm surge prediction. The Commission recognized that a draft JCOMM Wind Waves and Storm Surges Programme had been prepared. It requested the Expert Team on Wind Waves and Storm Surges to review and finalize that programme. In doing so, the Commission clearly recognized that it was a very ambitious programme, which would require substantial efforts by JCOMM members, other experts and Members/Member States.

The Commission agreed that the JCOMM Wind Wave and Storm Surge Programme contained elements that cut across all programme areas: Services, Observations and Data Management (particularly marine climatology). At the same time, the Commission recognized the value of developing specific expertise for that theme, and therefore agreed to establish an Expert Team on Wind Waves and Storm Surges.

The Terms of Reference established at JCOMM-1 for the initial Expert Team on Wind Waves and Storm Surges largely remained intact throughout the life of JCOMM, with minor changes as priorities evolved. The ToR notably were: (a) Review and advise on the implementation of wind wave and storm surge activities within JCOMM and propose amendments, as required; (b) Develop technical advice on wave and storm surge modelling, forecasting and service provision and provide assistance and support to Member States, as required; (c) Monitor projects for the verification of operational wind wave and storm surge model outputs and assist in their implementation, as required; (d) Ensure effective coordination and cooperation with appropriate GOOS bodies on requirements for, and implementation of, wind wave and storm surge products and services; (e) Provide advice to the Services Coordination Group and other JCOMM groups, as required, on issues related to wind waves and storm surges.

The ETWS was very active in developing and promoting improved guidance on wind wave and storm surge activities, including but not limited to:

ETWS met 3 times (see below):

  • ETWS-1 Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada – June 2003
  • ETWS-2 Geneva, Switzerland – March 2007
  • ETWS-3 Toronto, Ontario Canada June 2011

At its 4th Session in Yeosu, Republic of Korea, JCOMM decided to broaden the scope of work of ETWS to acknowledge the broader area of coastal hazards, encompassing additional ocean aspects including tides and sea surface height anomalies and coastal hydrology which could interact with the ocean components to exacerbate coastal inundation. JCOMM-4, therefore, decided to rename the ETWS to the Expert Team on Waves and Coastal Hazard Forecasting Systems (ETWCH).

ETWCH met in April 2013 (ETWCH-4) continued several activities which were initiated by ETWS, including:

  1. continued technical and scientific support for CIFDP,
  2. the completion of the revised Guide to Wave Analysis and Forecasting
  3. the completion of a white paper on forecasting severe sea states

At its 5th Session in Geneva, Switzerland (JCOMM-5), the Commission decided to further broaden the reach of ETWS-ETWCH by renaming it the Expert Team on Disaster Risk Reduction (ET-DRR) with similar but somewhat expanded terms of reference. However, with the dissolution of JCOMM in 2019 this Expert Team never met.

The WMO reform saw the activities of JCOMM distributed across two Technical Commissions, for Services and Infrastructure. The work of the previous expert teams dealing with waves and coastal hazards was located within the Services Commission, specifically under the newly formed Standing Committee for Marine Meteorology and Oceanography (SC-MMO), by establishing an Expert Team on Coastal and Emergency Response(ET-CER). That new ET carried forward much of the work of the previous ETs (ETWS, ETWCH), while also including tasks related to marine environmental emergency response.


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