WMO emphasizes operational hydrology's vital role in addressing global challenges

18 April 2024

On Thursday 18th April 2024, INFCOM-3 hosted a hydrological monitoring side event to showcase the benefits of WMO's efforts in hydrological monitoring. It also celebrated key milestones and discussed future prospects for hydrological monitoring, with an emphasis on rapidly evolving technologies like artificial intelligence. The event shed light on the pivotal role of hydrology in global initiatives such as Early Warnings for All, climate resilience, and water management. 

Opening the event, INFCOM president Michel Jean, stressed the critical role of operational hydrology in addressing pressing global challenges such as floods and droughts. He underscored the need for robust monitoring systems and accurate forecast mechanisms, highlighting INFCOM's role in supporting its Members in establishing them. Jan Danhelka, newly elected co-vice-president of INFCOM, stressed in his remarks that hydrology is an essential part of the Earth System.

Member interventions and Milestone Celebrations of hydrological initiatives

Throughout the event, representatives from Member countries shared insights into major initiatives. The event also commemorated the anniversaries of two cornerstone initiatives: the World Hydrological Cycle Observing System (WHYCOS, 30 years) and the Project for the Assessment of the Performance of Flow Measurement Instruments and Techniques (Project X, 20 years). 

Attendees also learned about initiatives like the WMO Hydrological Observing System (WHOS) and HydroHub, which continue to improve hydrological monitoring. WHOS facilitates seamless data exchange and access at all levels, while HydroHub leverages cutting-edge technologies and innovations for hydrological monitoring. Moreover, the Global Hydrological Status and Outlook System (HydroSOS) provides status and outlook updates on water resources to empower decision-makers with timely information. These interventions showcased the collaborative efforts undertaken by WMO Members to enhance data collection, sharing, and analysis, contributing to a more comprehensive understanding of the global water cycle.

Future Prospects

While reflecting on past achievements, the event also looked optimistically towards the future of hydrological monitoring. It emphasized the need for seamless integration of hydrology into the WMO framework, improved interoperability, and exploration of innovative technologies, including Big Data, satellite and artificial intelligence. The aim is to ensure hydrology effectively contributes to global initiatives like Early Warnings for All, as a key component of the Earth System Approach. Overall, cooperation, innovation, and sustainability were highlighted as key factors for shaping the future of hydrological monitoring within INFCOM. The aim is to move towards a global hydrological network that is an integral component of the Earth System and incorporates different emerging technologies.

The session expressed gratitude to co-vice-president Silvano Pecora for his outstanding contributions to advancing hydrological data sharing and promoting hydrology within WMO as he steps down from his role. In his remarks for WMO future hydrology challenges, Pecora mentioned big data and use of AI, integrating new monitoring technologies, along with addressing long-standing challenges like training needs and resources. 

In her final remarks, Deputy Secretary-General Ko Barrett, emphasized WMO's commitment to prioritizing operational hydrology amidst global water challenges, notably exacerbated by climate change. She stressed the importance of cooperation, data sharing, and technical solutions, for addressing the challenges identified during the event. DSG Barrett underscored the necessity of collaboration across sectors as vital for innovation and shared solutions.

For daily highlights, visit the ⁠INFCOM-3 dedicated webpage.