World Meteorological Day: WMO to ensure global early warning systems coverage in 5 years

What is the News?

On World Meteorological Day, the World Meteorological Organization(WMO) has announced that it would present an Action Plan on Early Warning Systems at the 27th Conference of Parties (CoP) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change(UNFCCC) in November 2022 at Sharm-el-Sheikh, Egypt.

Note: World Meteorological Day is observed on March 23rd every year. It is observed to mark the establishment of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). The theme for 2022 is ‘Early warning and early action’.

What are Early Warning Systems?

An early warning system for floods, droughts, heatwaves or storms is an integrated system that alerts people to hazardous weather. 

It informs how governments, communities and individuals can act to minimize the possible impacts of the weather event.

Aim: To understand what risks the foreseeable storms could bring to an area that will be affected — which may differ if it is a city or rural area, polar, coastal or mountainous region.

Currently, a third of the world’s people, mainly in the least developed countries(LDC) and small island developing states (SIDS) are still not covered by early warning systems. In Africa, it is even worse: 60% of people lack coverage.

What is the need for Early Warning Systems?

According to a report by Swiss Re Institute, a Switzerland-based research company, in 2021, extreme weather events caused total damage worth $105 billion, which is the fourth-highest since 1970.

According to a 2021 WMO report on disaster statistics, between 1970 and 2019, a weather, climate or water-related disaster has occurred on average every day — taking the lives of 115 people and causing $202 million in losses daily.

The number of lives lost due to these events decreased by a factor of three due to better weather prediction and associated early warning systems.

For instance, the Global Commission on Adaptation flagship report in 2019 had found that just 24 hours warning of a coming storm or heatwave can cut the ensuing damage by 30% and spending $800 million on such systems in developing countries would avoid losses of $3-16 billion per year.

What has India done on the Early Warning Systems?

India Meteorological Department(IMD) has developed state of art tools for cyclone warning services and has demonstrated its capability to provide early warning for Cyclones with high precision. This has already saved hundreds or even thousands of lives in the past few years.

In 2020, the Union Ministry of Earth Sciences in collaboration with the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai launched the Integrated Flood Warning system for Mumbai, referred to as iFLOWS-MUMBAI. A similar system was also established in Chennai in 2019.

But still more needs to be done in this regard, especially in the field of the district and even village-level weather prediction and early warning.

Source: This post is based on an article “World Meteorological Day: WMO to ensure global early warning systems coverage in 5 years” published in Down To Earth on 24th March 2022

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