Capacity Development for Wave and Coastal Hazard Forecasting

A key aspect of all JCOMM programmes was capacity development. This concept covers a broad spectrum of activities, from high-level technical conferences and workshops where new science and technology is shared and joint collaborations facilitated, to development of capacity for wave, storm surge and coastal services at the national and regional level, and particularly for SIDS and LDC, often through individual projects or meeting series. Following is a summary of several important capacity development activities carried out by the ETWS (ETWCH) during the lifetime of JCOMM, often in collaboration with other WMO and external activities.

JCOMM Storm Surge Symposium

The first JCOMM Scientific and Technical Symposium on Storm Surges, held during 2-6 October 2007 in Seoul, the Republic of Korea (JCOMM2007SSS initiated renewed awareness of the need to improve storm surge forecasting systems that make full use of modern techniques and observations. JCOMM, and its successors, in collaboration with other WMO Technical Commissions and relevant UNESCO/IOC subsidiary bodies, continue to implement the scientific/technical recommendations from this Symposium, including coastal inundation and linkages to storm surge forecast and warning operations in all relevant regions.

The Joint WMO-IOC Technical Commission for Oceanography and Marine Meteorology (JCOMM), from its predecessors, had a long-standing programme activity relating to the provision of expert technical advice on the modelling, analysis and forecasting of storm surges, to assist national agencies in fulfilling their service obligations. In this context, JCOMM organized the first international Scientific and Technical Symposium on Storm Surges, hosted by the Korean Government. This symposium was the first such scientific event devoted solely to storm surges in at least the past 3 decades. It aimed to support the development of marine multi-hazard warning systems, by 1) providing a forum for the exchange of ideas and information related to storm surge modelling, forecasting and hindcasting; 2) coordinating ongoing and planning future R&D initiatives in these fields, and 3) providing guidance/technical support for National Meteorological Services and other national agencies providing storm surge forecasting and warning services. Results from the Symposium contributed to the WMO Guide to Storm Surge Forecasting which was under finalization at that time. It set the stage for advances in the forecasting of these events and the reduction of their impacts. A key component of the symposium was the panel discussion session on the last day, designed to draw conclusions and point the way forward in storm surge modelling and forecasting. The agreed set of recommendations and actions were addressed to researchers, WMO/IOC/JCOMM, and the Member States. Full papers and presentations are downloadable here

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Guidance for Wave and Coastal Forecasting Services

The operational procedure for services on marine meteorology (and oceanography to a certain extent) provided by the National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs) follows the WMO Manual on Marine Meteorological Services (WMO-No.558), and the WMO Guide to Marine Meteorological Services (WMO-No.471). For those specific topics of Waves and Storm Surge Forecasting/Hindcasting, the Expert Teams have developed the Guide to Wave Analysis and Forecasting (WMO-No.702) as well as the Guide to Storm Surge Forecasting (WMO-No.1076), and have kept these publications under review. The Guide to the Application of Marine Climatology (WMO-No.781) was developed by the former Commission on Marine Meteorology and is also kept under review. A Guide to Coastal Inundation Forecasting is in preparation. ETWS-ETWCH also contributed to the ongoing development of operational guidelines for Multi-Hazard Early Warning Systems (MHEWS), and fostering JCOMM partnership with related programmes and groups for coastal hazards, such as the Intergovernmental Coordination Groups of Tsunami Early Warning System and Integrated Coastal Area Management (ICAM).

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WMO Coastal Inundation Forecasting Demonstration Project (CIFDP)

CIFDP is an example of capacity development through the implementation of a major project. A full description of the Demonstration Project can be found on the project website, well as the new Coastal Inundation Forecast Initiative (CIFI).

In addition to in-country capacity development as part of the sub-projects, the CIFDP also contributed to broader capacity development, including the translation of the COMET storm surge modules into French and Spanish, and the development of videos on coastal inundation early warning and response, and buoy vandalism.

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JCOMM-TCP Joint Workshops on Waves and Storm Surges

WMO, jointly by JCOMM and the Tropical Cyclone Programme (TCP), has regularly been conducting hands-on training workshops on storm surge and wave modelling. The objective is to enhance the capacities of the National Hydrological and Meteorological Services (NMHS) in providing necessary forecasting and warning services against natural marine hazards, which complement broader disaster preparedness and mitigation activities.

The Workshops were proven to be a very useful exercise, especially for developing countries, to develop necessary skills to apply available/open-source wind waves and storm surge models to their operational services. It has also provided fora to exchange experience and share technologies in modelling and forecast services between operators, and to discuss common issues of the Region. Many countries participating in the Workshops were able to initiate running wave models and storm surge models in their operational agencies and use the outcome to provide forecasting services, and several countries successfully adapted the given models to the conditions of their forecasting regions and use them on an operational basis. As a follow-up to the Workshops, WMO also has provided the necessary support for expert advice to NMHSs that tried to develop an operational modelling scheme.  This Workshop series, together with the national sub-projects of CIFDP, is also a way to address the technical requirements of the regional Storm Surge Watch Scheme (SSWS).

Meetings and reports are

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International Workshop on Waves, Storm Surges and Coastal Hazards (incorporating the International Workshop on Wave Hindcasting and Forecasting)

While not an activity led by JCOMM, the International Workshop on Waves, Storm Surges and Coastal Hazards (incorporating the International Workshop on Wave Hindcasting and  Forecasting) is an important forum for the exchange of research and operational developments on waves and coastal hazards. Co-sponsored by JCOMM since 2006, it forms a key mechanism for capacity development through support for the participation of Least Developed Countries (LDC) and Small Island Developing States (SIDS).

The first International Workshop on Wave Hindcasting and Forecasting was held in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada in September 1986. Since then, 16 more workshops have been organized, joined in 2007 by the Coastal Hazards Symposium, following on the very successful JCOMM Scientific and Technical Symposium on Storm Surges, providing an excellent opportunity for cross-pollination of ideas related to wave and storm surge prediction.

Although the precise nature of the research has changed significantly since 1986, and the research tools and the topics have changed over the years, the primary objectives of the first workshop, as noted below and extended to include similar themes for storm surge and coastal hazards, remain unchanged:

  • Provide a forum for the exchange of ideas and information related to wind and wave hindcasting and forecasting, including modelling, measurement, and past and future states of the climate;
  • Coordinate ongoing research and development initiatives;
  • Discuss priorities for future research and development.

What makes this Workshop unique is the treatment of the end-to-end issues associated with ocean waves and coastal inundation, from the basic research to the ultimate end use of the products. This includes research and operational aspects of wave and storm surge hindcasting and forecasting; including operational forecasting; regional hindcasts; storm surge climatology;  data collection and instrumentation; data assimilation into numerical models; wave-current interaction; wave-ice interaction; shallow water and nearshore effects; wind fields for wave hindcasting or forecasting: extremal analysis; case studies, past and future climate trends and variability.

Over the past 30 years the Wave Workshop has presented the results of many innovative and ground-breaking studies, introduced new national and international initiatives, and induced a large number of collaborative research efforts on all aspects of waves and coastal hazards.

The Proceedings of all Workshops in the series are available online at The history of the Workshop is described in an Ocean Dynamics article. On a popular note, the 10th Wave Workshop is well described in Chapter 8 of the popular-science book The Wave by Susan Casey.

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