The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has opened a new office in Singapore to serve the Asia-Pacific region. It is the first time a WMO regional office will be located within Asia and the South-West Pacific and is the second regional office to relocate from Geneva.
The new office is being hosted by the Meteorological Service Singapore (MSS) and will serve as the nerve center for WMO’s programs in the region. Its aims are to coordinate and improve the information available for hazards including flash floods, storms and fires. It will also help to strengthen the meteorological services available for rapidly evolving economic sectors such as air and marine transport.
Many countries in the Asia-Pacific region are already feeling the impact of climate change, including more frequent heat-waves, more intense tropical storms, and coastal inundation resulting from sea level rise, threatening food, health and water security. Air pollution and trans-boundary haze, environmental degradation and water stress add to the challenges.
Petteri Taalas, WMO secretary-general, said, “Weather, climate and water know no national borders. We need regional cooperation to improve resilience and adaptation to climate change from human activities and to prepare for naturally occurring events such as the powerful 2015/2016 El Niño, which caused widespread drought in Asia and the Southwest Pacific.
“In the last decades, the countries of the Asia-Pacific region have been exposed to rising land and ocean surface temperatures and weather and climate events of increased intensity and frequency. The year 2017 is proving to be no exception to that trend.”
Strengthening cooperation in Asia and South-West Pacific Asia and the South-West Pacific is one of the world’s most dynamic economic regions, especially for information and communications technology, transportation and renewable energy. It is a vast region with a great diversity of geography, climate and ecosystems, but with widening gaps in economies, technologies and capacities.
An important priority for the WMO regional office will be to strengthen regional cooperation and coordination. A key beneficiary will be the aviation sector, one of the most weather-sensitive of all economic sectors. The sector is undergoing a transformation driven by rapid growth, with global air traffic doubling every 15 years. There is an increasing need within the sector for more effective and efficient operations, while ensuring that safety is preserved. This, in turn, drives demand for cutting-edge aeronautical meteorological services, which need to be seamless and coordinated at the regional level.
Natural and environmental hazards are another area of concern. The regional office will work with its members to foster greater cooperation in multi-hazard early warning for the region. Such efforts will be complemented by capacity-building programs. The office will act as a forum for regional challenges such as trans-boundary haze arising from large-scale land and vegetation fires.
Masagos Zulkifli, minister for the environment and water resources, Singapore, said, “Climate change, the impending exponential growth in global air traffic demand, and the transformation of global air management systems to be more interoperable and harmonized, will significantly change the operating paradigm for our national meteorological services. Maintaining status quo is no longer an option. Meteorological information must be of higher precision and accuracy to tackle these three new challenges effectively. This is why Singapore has been investing heavily in cutting-edge climate research and building up our expertise to improve our understanding of the dynamic tropical weather patterns in our region. This will enhance the precision of our weather predictions.
“By strengthening our capabilities, we hope to deepen MSS’s contribution and regional role in climate science, aeronautical meteorology, and trans-boundary hazards. We are excited to have WMO’s physical presence in this part of the world, and look forward to the many exciting opportunities ahead for regional collaboration and capacity-building efforts in the region.” - August 2017