Executive Council endorses SERCOM initiatives

14 June 2024

The seventy-eighth session of the WMO Executive Council (EC-78) addressed various topics, including the work carried out at SERCOM-3 with the discussion of several documents related to services provision.

Drought Management

The Executive Council (EC) approved two documents on drought management. The first, Drought Early Warning Systems Implementation Plan, was developed in response to a request in Resolution 16 (Cg-19) on WMO Activities in Drought Management. Based on discussions in the SERCOM SC-AGR Expert Team on Drought, it was proposed to expand the Global Drought Classification System (GDCS) Implementation Plan to a National Drought Early Warning Systems Implementation Plan.

The second, Drought Indicators and Indices, requested all WMO Members to use the Standardized Precipitation Index for characterizing meteorological droughts. EC endorsed the addition of the use of the Standardized Precipitation and Evapotranspiration Index (SPEI), as well as the exploration of the use of the Combined Drought Index (CDI). These will be used alongside the drought indicators and indices that are already in use in their national services.

Scientific improvement within the International Airways Volcano Watch

EC-78 endorsed the recommendations and statement arising from the Eighth International Workshop on Volcanic Ash (IWVA-8), hosted by WMO in Rotorua, New Zealand in February 2023. This workshop addressed the needs of the aviation industry, recent developments as well as upcoming challenges and opportunities for volcano observatories and meteorological services, and the next generation of volcanic hazard services for aviation. The recommendations and statement from IWVA-8 help chart a path for scientific improvement within the International Airways Volcano Watch over this decade and beyond. The Proceedings of the Eighth International Workshop on Volcanic Ash (IWVA-8) is available as a WMO publication (AeM SERIES No. 8).

Climate data and data rescue

EC endorsed measures to strengthen the climate database, which underpins WMO climate services, especially the State of the Climate flagship reports. The creation, maintenance, and further development of high-quality climate-relevant data sets is a critical precondition for climate analyses and services provision. This could also include the rescue of historical data still on paper or outdated media such as magnetic tapes and microfilm. Because data rescue can be a tedious task for one single organization, the document promotes international collaboration and resource sharing for this purpose.

EC also adopted a resolution on modernizing the State of the Climate reporting at global and regional scales and endorsed SERCOM's roadmap for the implementation of the foreseen measures covering the period 2024-2027. 

Business continuity in times of crises

EC endorsed the Business Continuity Management Guidelines, now available to Members. The Guidelines assist National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs) in maintaining operations during disasters or crises. While NMHSs are the primary intended users of the guidelines, delegates acknowledged the need for resilience across all entities within the wider system.

Climate and Health

EC approved the WHO-WMO 2023–2033 Implementation Plan for Advancing Climate, Environment and Health Science and Services 2023–2033. This document proposes innovative approaches, sustained mechanisms, and engagement opportunities for better health and well-being for people facing existing and emerging extreme weather events, climate change, and environmental risks.  

This document aims to encourage Members to nominate and develop the capacities of health focal points to support climate and health activities. It also invites the World Health Organization (WHO), Members, and development and research partners to support and co-fund implementation of the proposed mechanisms and to ensure alignment with relevant WHO structures.

The discussions during EC-78 underscore the critical role of SERCOM in the development and implementation of globally harmonized services and applications. The initiatives carried out in the framework of SERCOM are pivotal in enhancing WMO Members' capacities to respond to environmental challenges, ensuring the delivery of user-focused services worldwide.