Updated UN strategy to monitor climate change with dozens of satellites

11 January 2008 – The United Nations meteorological agency is to present an updated strategy for tracking severe weather and changes to the Earth’s climate with dozens of new satellites at a meeting of top officials of international space agencies next week.

“There is a major societal need to further develop the capacity of satellites to monitor even more accurately climate and weather,” UN World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Secretary-General Michel Jarraud said in a news release ahead of his agency’s annual Consultative Meetings on High-level Policy on Satellite Matters in New Orleans on 15–16 January.

At least 16 geostationary and low-earth orbit satellites currently provide operational data on the planet’s climate and weather as part of the WMO Global Observing System (GOS). They are complemented by numerous experimental satellites designed for scientific missions or instrument technology demonstration. A record number of 17 satellites are planned for launch this year to further strengthen the system’s work.

The satellites provide a global picture of shifts in the climate system, the rising of ocean levels, impacts on land and alterations to the atmosphere, as well as assisting in disaster risk reduction. WMO has long worked with the space agencies of various countries to use satellites for monitoring the Earth’s weather and climate

Next week’s meeting has been organized in part for the agencies to discuss WMO’s new vision for its Global Observing System, setting priorities for the next generation of satellites needed to monitor weather and climate change and related applications. The meeting will also discuss a road map to transfer current experimental satellite missions into ongoing operational programmes.


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