2.4 Developments Regarding Space Weather by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO)

Monday, 24 January 2011: 2:15 PM
4C-3 (Washington State Convention Center)
Barbara J. Ryan, WMO, Geneva, Switzerland; and J. Lafeuille

In 2007 the fifteenth World Meteorological Congress requested the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Space Programme to consider activities in the area of Space Weather, largely due to their direct impact on meteorological satellite operations. In response to this request, a report titled, “The Potential Role of WMO in Space Weather” (WMO-TD No.1482) was issued in 2008 for consideration by the sixtieth (June 2008) session of the WMO Executive Council. The Executive Council discussed the potential scope, costs and benefits of a WMO activity in support of international coordination of Space Weather services. The Council recognized the relevance of Space Weather to WMO activities from several perspectives. From an operational perspective, it was recognized that WMO must pay attention to Space Weather because of its impacts --- first, on environmental satellites which are key components of the WMO Global Observing System (GOS), and second, on radio-communications which are essential components of the WMO Information System (WIS). Furthermore, from a service delivery perspective, it was recognized that strengthening the linkages between Space Weather and meteorological warnings will better meet the needs of several major socio-economic sectors including commercial aviation, geophysical exploration, global navigation, and electrical power networks.

The experience gained by WMO in implementing its mandate for international coordination of activities related to weather, climate, water and related disasters was also proposed to benefit the Space Weather community in the following ways: • Harmonizing observational requirements, sensors and standards; • Defining products in interaction with major application sectors; • Exchanging and delivering Space Weather information through WIS; • Issuing emergency warnings in the context of multi-hazard WMO activities; and • Encouraging the dialogue between the research and operational space weather communities.

In June 2009 at its sixty-first session, the WMO Executive Council established an Inter-Programme Coordination Team for Space Weather (ICTSW) involving the two WMO technical commissions with responsibilities for related efforts. Co-Chairs (from China and the United States) of the ICTSW have been appointed by the WMO Commission on Basic Systems (CBS) and the WMO Commission on Aeronautical Meteorology (CAeM). The ICTSW consists of representatives from ten countries and the European Space Agency (ESA), the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the United Nations Office of Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA). Preliminary discussions are now being held to establish the multi-year Workplan for this Team. Additionally, a number of WMO Members (States or Territories in the United Nations context) have named points-of-contact for Space Weather so that they can be kept informed of ongoing efforts of the ICTSW.

As there is a growing awareness of Space Weather events to society, through the increasing reliance on spaceborne capabilities for both communications and Earth observations, several initiatives are emerging to advance international cooperation in this regard, often in the broader context of Space Situational Awareness. WMO intends to maintain close collaboration with these initiatives, including the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UN-COPUOS) and the International Space Environment Service (ISES), and with international organizations involved in activities impacted by Space Weather events, such as the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and those named on the ICTSW.

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