Approximately 40% of the world’s population lives within 100km of the coast, relying on the ocean for their livelihoods. Weather forecasts and climate services help communities, businesses, and industries better prepare for and mitigate the impacts of extreme weather events, such as storms, floods, and heatwaves.
National meteorological marine services provide vital information about sea and coastal weather conditions. These include accurate predictions of storms, the winds and waves they generate and sea ice coverage and thickness, which are essential to making informed decisions related to maritime activities. Warnings and forecasting services help ensure the safety of ships, their crew and cargo, the operation and safety of workers on offshore maritime industries and the environment. Early warning systems and impact-based forecasting services can minimize the risk and impact of disasters from coastal weather and climate events; these are increasingly important for supporting coastal management and resilience, particularly in vulnerable coastal areas and small island developing states (SIDS).
Changes in the ocean serve as key indicators of the state of the climate and climate change. The ocean stores much of the heat trapped by greenhouse gases and plays a major role in how our climate is changing. It absorbs some of the carbon dioxide emitted by human activities, causing sea water to become less alkaline; this, along with increasing marine heat waves, is damaging coral reefs and their fisheries, upon which some one billion people rely. Rising sea levels worsen the impact of storms and coastal inundation, particularly in SIDS and along vulnerable coastlines, and can endanger freshwater supplies. By comprehending these intricate relationships and interactions, we can protect habitats, manage climate change impacts, and make informed decisions for sustainable resource management.
Better projections of how storm patterns will change, sea ice will melt, and regional sea levels will rise are vital for coastal zone management and enhancing safety of life and property at sea.