WMO Projects Newsletter 03

Building Resilience to High-Impact Hydro-Meteorological Events in Small Island Developing States and South East Asia 

Many studies have indicated that Small Island Developing States and countries in Southeast Asia are likely to experience increased exposure to these extreme events due to climate change and developmental challenges.

Every year, disasters related to weather, water and climate extremes, such as tropical cyclones, severe storms, floods, heat waves and drought, lead to loss of life and socio-economic impacts, particularly in countries that lack resources. The extent of the losses in these regions may be attributed in part to a lack of understanding of the risk associated with these hazards and the lack of preparedness to respond.
The "Building Resilience to High-Impact Hydrometeorological Events through Strengthening Multi-Hazard Early Warning Systems in Small Island Developing States and Southeast Asia" project aims to protect lives and property through strengthening weather, climate, and water-related impact-based decision support services. This will be achieved through sponsoring WMO flagship activities in the project regions to benefit stakeholders from all socio-economic sectors and communities.
To learn more about the project and its achievements, click here

Fully Optimized User Centric Climate Services Value Chain for Southern Africa (FOCUS-Africa)

This month, WMO and 20 partners launched FOCUS-Africa, a four-year € 7 million initiative funded by the European Commission.

FOCUS-Africa aims to deliver tailored climate services in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region in four key sectors: agriculture and food security, water, energy and infrastructure. The full value chain for climate services will be demonstrated through eight pilot case studies in six countries, which will involve a wide range of end-users and beneficiaries. They will illustrate how the use of climate science, forecasts and projections can maximize socio-economic benefits in specific national private and public sectors in the region.

The SADC countries are vulnerable to climate variability, change and extremes – particularly their water resources, agriculture, hydropower generation, ecosystems and basic infrastructures which are under stress as a result of increasing frequency and intensity of floods, droughts and landslides. The development of improved climate information and forecasts of decision-relevant parameters are essential to addressing these challenges. Tailored forecasts such as rainfall onset and cessation are regularly requested by users, along with the associated skill information. Development and delivery of such products and services, and the evaluation of their socio-economic benefits, are central to FOCUS-Africa.

The project will benefit SADC-based users and the European consortium partners who will also greatly enhance their scientific knowledge and climate services provision know-how.

                                                       Click here for more information on FOCUS-Africa.

Polar Prediction Project   
During the Year of Polar Prediction (YOPP) implementation phase (2017-2019), WMO Members taking part in several Special Observing Periods (SOP) added 7 300 extra radiosonde flights to routine upper air observations. As a result, additional data from two SOPs showed a positive improvement in the capability of the Numerical Weather Prediction (NWP) suites in the Northern Hemisphere, especially in the winter months. 

To further understand the impact of additional observations during airmass transformation events, Members also agreed to participate in a Targeted Observation Period (TOP) experiment. The experiment took advantage of the Multidisciplinary Drifting Observatory for the study of Arctic Climate (MOSAiC). The expedition was centred around the RV Polarstern, the German research icebreaker which was frozen into Arctic sea ice in October 2019 then drifted across the Arctic until late May 2020. 

Between March and May 2020, a team led by Professor Gunilla Svensson from the University of Stockholm monitored weather forecasts looking for possible airmass transformation events reaching MOSAiC. An event was identified between 12 and 20 April, and WMO Members – Canada, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Norway and Sweden – provided additional radiosonde flights to help track the transformation of the airmass as it moved north over the Arctic. The surface temperature measured on Polarstern increased from the average April temperature of around  –20 °C, to around 0 °C during warm events on 16 and 19 April. 

The progress made so far has far surpassed the expectations formulated during the first Polar Prediction Project (PPP) / YOPP planning meetings in 2011 and 2012. Before the project formally finishes in 2022, major additional progress is expected, including scientific improvements in understanding environmental processes in the ocean, sea ice and atmosphere, as well as new approaches for bringing co-located observations and model data together for intercomparison. 
The YOPP Final Summit, which will take place in May 2022 in Montreal, will provide a complete overview and discussion of the accomplishments achieved during PPP and YOPP. Discussions on further projects to build upon the PPP legacy will commence prior to the end of PPP. 
Polar Prediction Project along with its flagship Year of Polar Prediction are part of the World Weather Research Programme (WWRP). The PPP/YOPP coordination activities aim to improve environmental prediction in the polar regions and are funded directly by WMO Members, principally Canada and Norway. 

Subseasonal-to-Seasonal South East Asia Real Time Pilot Projec

In November 2019, WMO launched a Subseasonal-to-Seasonal (S2S) Real-Time Pilot as part of its Subseasonal-to-Seasonal Prediction Project. In Southeast Asia, the Pilot is building on an existing S2S programme, allowing the ASEAN Specialized Meteorological Centre (ASMC) and its partners – United National Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN ESCAP) and Regional Integrated Multi-Hazard Early Warning System for Africa and Asia (RIMES) – to work with users to refine their subseasonal predictions and demonstrate the usefulness or limitations of predictions in the region.

Due to COVID-19, original plans to test subseasonal products for disaster risk reduction, through a regional user and selected national users and NMHSs, were put on hold. In the interim, ASMC engaged the AHA Centre to provide regular forecasts and progressed towards sending formal invitations to select NMHSs.

AHA Centre has been receiving regular subseasonal forecasts from ASMC since the end of February 2020. Through online meetings, the partners discussed the content and structure of the outlooks that would be most useful to users. Work with the AHA Centre has highlighted several useful hydrometeorological case studies, which will be looked at more closely in the future.

National users have not yet been brought onboard due to the ongoing COVID-19 situation. Plans to engage with national participants have been put on hold due to travel restrictions. Working from home has also had its challenges. Despite these setbacks, NMHSs and users have recognized the potential value of subseasonal information and are on track to join the Pilot by the end of the year.

Looking forward, the results of this Pilot will contribute to the last of the series of S2S Southeast Asia training workshops. ASMC and its partners hope to be able to discuss future work in person soon. 


Improved Coastal Inundation Forecast System in Tuvalu
Under the Pacific Small Island Developing States Climate Risk Early Warning Systems (CREWS) Project, the Pacific Community (SPC), in partnership with the Tuvalu meteorological service (TMS) is developing a coastal inundation forecast system for Tuvalu. Over the last twelve-months, significant progress has been made towards the tailoring and operationalisation of the system.

A range of in-situ data was collected to support the development and validation of local ocean forecast products. Wave forecast models were also developed to provide ocean stakeholders with detailed information around the islands of Tuvalu to support improved inundation warnings and strengthening maritime safety. The local community and TMS have expressed their gratitude for the newly developed models which will assist their early warning efforts and information for the early preparation of its people. The SPC will be providing trainings on the system and will run additional tests to verify the model further once COVID-19 travel bans are lifted.
Partner Profile

Israel Acosta, Manager of the Hydrological Department, Instituto Nacional de Recursos Hidráulicos (INDRHI), Dominican Republic
Israel Acosta Lantigua is the Instituto Nacional de Recursos Hidráulicos (INDRHI) focal point for the Building Resilience to High-Impact Hydro-Meteorological Events through Strengthening Multi-Hazard Early Warning Systems in Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and Southeast Asia project. Israel graduated from the Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo as a civil engineer in hydraulics and sanitation, and has over 15 years of experience in various roles at INDRHI.

Through WMO, an integrated riverine flood forecasting (IRFF) system is being implemented in two pilot basins in the Dominican Republic. Israel is providing technical recommendations for the tailoring the IRFF, promoting relations between national institutions and local actors, contributing to the organization of trainings, and facilitating access to data and information. 

Israel is the hydrological advisor of the Dominican Republic for WMO.

Data Exchange Through the SEE-MHEWS-A Project

As of August 2020, over 13 000 additional daily observations are being provided regularly by South-East European countries to the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) and this number will increase in the coming months, thanks to the implementation of new data exchange policy in the region.

In November 2019, the 14 countries participating in the WMO South-East European Multi-Hazard Early Warning Advisory System (SEE-MHEWS-A) project agreed to extend their cooperation on data exchange. All signed the Policy on the Exchange of Hydrological and Meteorological Data, Information, Forecasts and Advisories, which provides the technical and conceptual principles to promote data, information, forecast and warning exchange and interoperability within the South-East European region. The Policy allows access to a large quantity of additional observations, not previously shared regionally, and the use of that data in various projects, including numerical weather prediction, data assimilation and verification, hydrological modelling and nowcasting. The Data Policy was also signed by ECMWF, who is supporting its implementation.

The signatories of the Policy provide additional observations to those they routinely share via the WMO Global Telecommunication System (GTS)/ WMO Information System (WIS). These additional observations are collected in the Central Observational Database (CODB) for SEE-MHEWS-A hosted by the ECMWF.

Technical Assistance to the SEE-MHEWS-A is provided with financial support from the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR) and the European Union, the latter under the EU-WB/GFDRR Western Balkans DRM Program managed by the World Bank and GFDRR.

COVID-19 Update

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought forth challenges in project implementation due to the protective measures being taken by countries, implementing partners and WMO. In view of travel restrictions, significant efforts are still being made to move projects forward virtually – through online meetings, trainings, and activities – and projects where travel restrictions do not apply continue to move forward as planned. WMO would like to thank donors and partners for their cooperation during this time.