Gap Analysis Solution to an Identified World Meteorological Organization Problem

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) published an important report (WMO Atlas of Mortality and Economic Losses from Weather, Climate and Water Extremes, 2021) recently which highlighted the need to increase the number of on-the-ground sensors for determining weather conditions, especially in third world countries. I would encourage anyone who has not read this report to read it; it is very enlightening.

Here are the major initiatives of the WMOIn particular WMO facilitates and promotes:

 • The establishment of networks of observational stations to provide weather-, climate- and water-related data;

 • The establishment and maintenance of data management centres and telecommunication systems for the provision and rapid exchange of weather-, climate- and water-related data;

 • The creation of standards for observation and monitoring in order to ensure adequate uniformity in the practices and procedures employed worldwide and, thereby, ascertain the homogeneity of data and statistics;

 • The application of science and technology in operational meteorology and hydrology to transport (air, land and maritime), water resource management, agriculture, energy, health and other focus areas;

 • Activities in operational hydrology as well as closer cooperation between NMHSs in States and Territories where these are separated;

 • The coordination of research and training in meteorology and related fields.

Pay particular attention to the first bullet item.  Based upon the above cited report, attaining this goal has been difficult for the WMO in the least developed countries of the world, especially in sections of Africa.  Here is a citation from the above report which addresses this particular goal: “WMO is playing a pioneering role in promoting impact based forecasts that inform the public of what the weather will do as well as what it will be and in fostering greater coordination between national meteorological services and their counterparts in disaster management agencies.  This is leading to better prevention, preparedness and response.”
“But much more remains to be done. There are severe gaps in weather observations, especially in Africa and island states, which undermine the accuracy of early warnings
locally and globally. Additionally, only half of 193 WMO Members have multi-hazard early warning systems. The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015–2030 (Sendai Framework) recognizes the significant benefits of MHEWSs by incorporating them into one of its seven global targets: “Substantially increase the availability and access to multi-hazard early warning systems and disaster risk information and assessments to people by 2030”

The WMO is putting aside funding to deal with this problem of not having sufficient data collection devices that will help to inform weather forecasting in respective countries of Africa and Asia.  This same problem does not seem to be present in more industrialized countries in North America and Europe.  And interestingly, I think that is where a potential solution may exist and I want to propose a possible solution to the problem as part of this post.

The proposal utilizes what already exists throughout North America and Europe and attempts to take what has been learned there to apply it to countries in Africa.  This is an area in which a practically oriented forum such as the could be of tremendous help. The number of members is over 20,000 and growing which provides so much collective brain power to think through how best to tackle this problem posed by the WMO. They are a group of like-minded individuals who have a great deal of experience in setting up personal weather stations (PWSs). What a wonderful resource to help countries who have a lack of PWSs!! I have been impressed by their ability to problem solve everyday solutions that are so creative and practical. It is so much of a boot-strap approach and I think that is what we need.

So I am going to be rather bold here and suggest that we attempt to get the and a group of their best problem-solvers to work with the WMO on a plan to get PWSs established in these under-represented and least developed countries around the world. It is the old adage about “We are only as strong as our weakest link”.

In continuing with the above WMO bullets, I think number 2 can be addressed through the CWOP (Citizen Weather Observation Program) set up by the NWS. This is a unique program in which data from PWSs gets utilized by the NWS on an on-going basis. It is truly an on the ground/grass roots type of program.  I think this type of program is easily transferable after the first bullet above is dealt with.  The WMO doesn’t need to re-invent the wheel, there are resources and networks that already exist that can be tapped. 

Now, of course, both the NWS and would need to be willing to share expertise through the WMO but I can’t picture these entities not wanting to do this especially as we all deal with the major issues of climate change which appear to be having a disproportionate negative impact on the least developed countries because of their lack of ability to forecast extreme weather.  And, of course, the WMO would need to be willing to share their funding with the individuals of the NWS and who would be spending the time to help WMO solve these thorny problems.

My plan is to reach out to these various groups to see if there is interest and if we can get a collaborative effort going.  I am also hopeful that various meteorological societies, such as the American Meteorological Society and the Royal Meteorological Society would be supportive as well as individual climate change scientists and interested individuals to deal with this worldwide problem.


Richard Fiene, Ph.D., Amateur Meteorologist

RMetS Member: 59934


About Dr Fiene

Dr. Rick Fiene has spent his professional career in improving the quality of child care in various states, nationally, and internationally. He has done extensive research and publishing on the key components in improving child care quality through an early childhood program quality indicator model of training, technical assistance, quality rating & improvement systems, professional development, mentoring, licensing, risk assessment, differential program monitoring, and accreditation. Dr. Fiene is a retired professor of human development & psychology (Penn State University) where he was department head and director of the Capital Area Early Childhood Research and Training Institute.
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