The World Meteorological Congress has approved the establishment of a Global Basic Observing Network (GBON), paving the way for a radical overhaul of the international exchange of observational data which underpin all weather, climate and water services and products.
Local weather forecasts depend on access to 24/7 global observations. But there are big geographical gaps – in some parts of the world observations are either not made or not exchanged internationally, and in other parts they are not made or exchanged frequently enough. This limits our collective ability to understand and predict the atmosphere at all time-scales.
“Our planet is experiencing extreme weather and climate conditions that are having a direct impact on our lives. Billions of dollars’ worth of destruction and substantial loss of life can be attributed to weather, climate and water-related extreme events,” said Celeste Saulo, WMO’s First Vice President and director of Argentina’s national meteorological service (SMN).
“Reliable, real-time access to observational data is critical to the quality of forecasts and climate analyses. Global numerical weather prediction (NWP) is the basis on which all weather and climate services are built. Like an engine needs fuel, NWP requires a constant supply of observations from around the world to ensure accurate forecasts and climate products,” according to Michael Staudinger, President of WMO’s Regional Association VI (Europe) and Director of Austria’s national meteorological and hydrological service (ZAMG).
“The improvement in global numerical weather prediction enabled by GBON will directly impact our lives and our economies – saving lives and minimizing the billion dollar annual cost of infrastructure damages due to extreme events,” he said.
GBON represents a new approach in which the basic surface-based observing network is designed, defined and monitored at the global level.
Once implemented, GBON will improve the availability of the most essential surface-based data. This includes hourly surface observations at high resolution and twice daily radiosonde observations at a set maximum horizontal spacing wherever geography allows. This will have a direct positive impact on the quality of weather forecasts, so helping improve the safety and well-being of citizens throughout the world.
“WMO is the only organization with the mandate and the reach to coordinate the necessary exchange of observations, and our organization is committed to the free and unrestricted sharing of real-time data on a worldwide basis,” says Daouda Konate, President of WMO Regional Association I (Africa) and director of the national meteorological service of Cote d’Ivoire.
The path forward will not be without challenges, but the future benefits for the entire WMO community will be enormous.
GBON can be implemented relatively quickly over the territory of most WMO Members in the developed world. In many developing countries additional investment and capacity development will be needed, and WMO will be working closely with the international development and climate finance communities to facilitate this.
The landmark agreement on GBON was passed as part of package of resolutions which will usher in the initial operational phase of the WMO Integrated Global Observing System (WIGOS), one of WMO’s top priorities.
Congress said that “WIGOS has reached a sufficient level of maturity for the system to be considered operational effective 1 January 2020.
“WIGOS shall continue as a core WMO activity and that it shall be considered a basic WMO infrastructure element supporting all WMO programmes and application areas, with the continued involvement of all regions and technical and scientific discipline areas,” it said.
An animation explaining the Global Basic Observing Network is here.
Additional details are here.