Protect our radio frequency bands, says WMO

20 November 2023

Radio frequency bands are vital for all weather forecasts and life-saving early warnings, for climate monitoring and for prediction of “space weather.” They must be protected from harmful interference in the face of increased competition from emerging technologies, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

WMO is seeking safeguards for essential radio frequency bands at the World Radiocommunication Conference, WRC-23, organized by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) from 20 November to 15 December in Dubai. The conference will update the Radio Regulations, the global treaty governing radio spectrum and satellite orbits.

"Access to the radio frequency spectrum is critical to the meteorological and hydrological infrastructure that underpins weather and related environmental services worldwide. Satellites, weather radar, radiosondes, hydrological observing systems, and drifting buoys all operate based on radio or microwave transmissions," says WMO Secretary-General Prof. Petteri Taalas.

“The safety of life and property depends on weather and environmental forecasts. Extended warning times for severe events enable citizens, civil authorities and first responders to act."

“Only by working together can we — the global meteorological and radiocommunication communities — maintain and improve our future capacity for Earth observation and the vital services that depend on it,” Prof. Taalas wrote in the ITU News magazine.

WMO and ITU enjoy longstanding collaboration on meteorology data and digital technologies. Both are partners in the Early Warnings For All initiative spearheaded by UN Secretary-General António Guterres to ensure everyone on Earth is protected from climate hazards and disasters through life-saving alerts by the end of 2027.

WMO is therefore appealing to ITU members to respect the meteorological community’s requirements for radio-frequency allocations and regulatory provisions at WRC-23. 

Specifically, it is essential to fully apply Article No. 5.340 of the Radio Regulation, which prohibits all radio emissions in specified frequency bands between 1400 MHz and 252 GHz. Weather, water and climate research and operations all depend on preserving these as emission-free bands.

From a meteorological and climate-monitoring perspective, the most critical issues are concerned with the measurement of sea surface temperature and the observations of space weather.