Earlier this month, three major European meteorological institutions joined the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) to announce their support for the creation of a new Systematic Observations Financing Facility.
The heads of WMO, the European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF), EUMETNET (a grouping of 31 European National Meteorological Services), and the satellite agency EUMETSAT signed a joint statement urging European governments and institutions and all multilateral climate and environment financing institutions to consider funding the new initiative.
“The goal of the Systematic Observations Financing Facility is to strengthen climate adaptation and resilience to respond to the increased frequency, severity and impact of weather and climate events by contributing to improved weather forecasts and climate services,” said the statement.
“The quality of these services depends decisively on a homogenic global distribution of surface-based observations. This will protect lives, property and reduce poverty, creating benefits for all citizens across the globe, in particular the most vulnerable,” it said.
The proposed facility will provide technical and financial assistance to Small Island Developing States and Least Developed Countries to collect and exchange the most essential suface-based meteorological data. This data is the foundation for improved weather forecasts and climate services. It will contribute to strengthen climate adaptation and resilience across the globe, benefiting, in particular, the most vulnerable.
Reliable, real-time access to observational data is critical to the quality of weather forecasts and climate analyses. Global numerical weather prediction is the basis on which all weather and climate services are built, and it requires a constant supply of observations from around the world.
Surface-based observations are critical to maximize the benefits of increasingly available satellite data, including for validating global climate records derived from satellite observations.
The creation of the Systematic Observations Financing Facility is spearheaded by the World Meteorological Organization in collaboration with many international development and climate finance partners, including the members of the Alliance for Hydromet Development. The Alliance unites efforts of its members to close the capacity gap on high-quality weather forecasts, early warning systems and climate information. The creation of the SOFF is a joint commitment and a priority action of the Alliance.
“Today, we are confronted with major surface-based observations gaps, in particular in poorer countries. Through the SOFF we will close this data gap in new ways,“ said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas.
“By bringing our decades of experience in weather forecasting into the collaboration with the WMO to develop the SOFF, we aim to enable more accurate environmental monitoring and forecasts. Weather does not stop at borders, and closing gaps in observational coverage will greatly improve the quality of local, regional and global weather and climate information. This is vital to help address the challenges that severe weather events and climate change are bringing to society,” said Dr. Florence Rabier, ECMWF’s Director-General.
“The WMO Global Observing System is a common asset serving all meteorological and climate applications for the benefits of societies. EUMETSAT is proud to provide the European contribution to this system. Surface-based observation networks are a critical complementary component, as satellites needs calibration and do not perform observations close to the surface. SOFF will help enhancing this key component,” said Alain Ratier, EUMETSAT Director-General.
Dr. Peter Binder, EUMETNET President, added, “The SOFF concept does not start from scratch but builds on the successful experience of the European Composite Observing System and its overarching network design, which has proven to be cost-effective and impactful. The SOFF will benefit from the expertise of European meteorological offices through the provision of technical and collaborative advice.”