GWEF Newsletter Issue 1, December 2019

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Introduction to the Global Weather Enterprise Forum

The Global Weather Enterprise is: the value chain of activities of the public, private and academic sectors providing accurate, reliable and timely weather and climate related information. It contributes to the safety of life and property, poverty reduction, and the promotion of economic development (c.f., the Sustainable Development Goals and Agenda 2030).

The goal of the Global Weather Enterprise Forum is: to create an open dialogue between the public, private and academic sectors in the global weather enterprise and pursue activities that test new ways to improve the delivery and sustainability of weather, climate and water services

Introduction: The success of the initial phase of the Global Weather Enterprise Forum, since its creation in 2018, and developments associated with the WMO Congress in June 2019 have led to a significant evolution and development of the Forum. Furthermore, the Forum will continue to evolve to provide support for the membership drawn widely from the public, private and academic sectors. Engagement, openness and dialogue continue to be the key touchstones of the Forum. As many people as possible who are actively involved in the enterprise are encouraged to become members of the Forum and take part in the dialogue. Further details regarding the development, scope and functioning of the Forum can be found on the website.

Membership: The Forum aspires to have a large, active, and representative, membership across the whole Global Weather Enterprise. Membership is open to anyone with an involvement with the global weather enterprise across the public, private and academic sectors and who wishes to contribute to the dialogue. If you wish to become a member of the Forum please complete the application form.

Ways of working: The Forum focusses on implementing activities that test ways to improve the delivery of weather, climate and water information and services that are essential for resilient development of national economies. It operates with projects, via volunteer Expert Groups drawn from the membership, that focus on aspects of the value chain of meteorological and hydrological services. A process of brokering is used to match interests among the members to create viable projects and create the expert groups to field the activities. Projects aim to pilot activities that can be scaled-up or contribute to knowledge transfer; examples of projects can be found here.

A regular newsletter, discussion group facilities, and a membership email list will provide a platform to share ideas and to propose projects in selected countries or regions to field-test various concepts for building capacity. Consequently, the Forum will function mostly via these online tools and via the Expert Groups. In addition, on an occasional basis, and in association with major international conferences/workshops, the Forum will hold plenary events to take stock and discuss next steps.

The operation of the Forum is facilitated by a Co-ordination Group, which is drawn from senior members of the enterprise, and in turn is supported by a small team from the World Bank’s Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery GFDRR. There is strong link to the WMO’s Open Consultative Platform (OCP); the Forum and the OCP have a complementary and co-operative relationship.

Global Weather Enterprise Forum Meeting – 15 January 2020, Boston, USA

(in the margins of the AMS Annual Meetings)

The next meeting of the Global Weather Enterprise Forum will take place on 15 January 2020 on the margins of the 100th Annual Meeting of the American Meteorological Society in Boston, US.

The Forum meeting will give an opportunity to continue discussions on the key areas of the public, private and academia engagement and will be a platform to identify practical actions for the next phase of the Global Weather Enterprise Forum.

The latest publication ‘The Power of Partnership: Public and Private Engagement in Hydromet Services’, produced by the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery of the World Bank, will be launched during the GWEF meeting. The report describes various models and scenarios for countries that seek to strengthen the provision of hydromet services. This study provides guiding principles for PPE and a shared understanding among public, private, and academic stakeholders of the hydromet value chain and its economics.

The GWEF meeting will be preceded by a panel discussion on ‘What is the path forward for international cooperation and coordination across the Weather Enterprise?’ taking place on January 13.

• Time: 8.30 am – 3 pm
• Venue: The Westin Boston Waterfront Hotel, Grand Ballroom, Section E, 425 Summer Street, Boston, MA, 02210, Phone: +1 (617) 532-4600

The agenda of the Forum will be provided closer to the event.

We are looking forward to seeing you there and to your contribution to the success of the meeting.

The GWEF meeting is a 2 minute walk from the main AMS venue, the Boston Convention & Exhibition Centre.

WMO 18th World Meteorological Congress

The 18th World Meteorological Congress in June this year adopted a landmark policy act entitled Geneva Declaration 2019: Building Community for Weather Climate and Water Actions. This declaration demonstrates a policy evolution over the last two decades towards a weather enterprise that accommodates three main sectors – public, private and academic, as well as the civil society as a whole, in order to build a concerted response to the global societal challenges related to extreme weather and climate change. The declaration sends a clear signal that the collaboration is the preferred mode of engagement between the sectors, based on a set of basic principles to guarantee ‘win-win’ solutions.

At a global level, WMO will provide leadership and facilitation to the public-private engagement through an Open Consultative Platform which was launched under the slogan “Partnership and Innovation for the Next Generation of Weather and Climate Intelligence”. The platform, which has been supported by more than 40 leaders from all sectors, will facilitate sharing views and ideas for collaborative solutions. One of the key tasks is to resolve existing deficiencies in the access to high quality meteorological, hydrological and climatological data, products and services in the developing countries. The public-private engagement is to provide the needed sustainable business models on which WMO has been working with the development partners to make this happen in the coming years. More information can be found in the OCP High-Level Round Table report.

The 18th Congress decided that the existing WMO data exchange policies and practices, expressed in Congress resolutions 40 (Cg-12), 25 (Cg-13) and 60 (Cg-17), need to be reviewed and updated to reflect the rapidly changing data environment. It is among the most important task for WMO in order to ensure the sustainability operation of the existing networks and systems, but also the need for rapid growth of the collective ability for the provision of critical decision making information. One important milestone in this regard is the plan for a Global Data Conference organized by the WMO in Autumn 2020 – a forum where representatives from public, private and academic sectors can discuss all challenges and opportunities of the new data paradigm and formulate recommendations to WMO Congress on the needed evolution of the data policies and practices at global, regional and national level. (More information about the WMO Data Conference will be provided in the next issue of the Newsletter).

Recent publications:

The latest issue of the WMO Bulletin (Vol. 68(2) – 2019) contains two article of interest for the readers of the Newsletter: Weather and Climate Services: • An Increasing Range of Choice for the Public and Private Sector, By Adriaan Perrels
• Origin, Impact and Aftermath of WMO Resolution 40, by John W. Zillman

Australian drought conditions prevail into 2020

By Jonathan Barratt, CEO, CelsiusPro (Aust) Pty Ltd.

For some Australian growers it is the third winter crop in a row that has failed, for others it’s the second. A dry spring with already prevailing drought conditions across Australia will see the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) cut its final estimates for the Australian wheat production. It is widely anticipated that ABARES will cut its estimates to below last year’s 17.2 million tonnes, which incidentally, was the smallest crop since 2007/08. The country normally produces 25 million tonnes of wheat each year, which accounts for 3–4% of world wheat production and 10–15% of global wheat exports. Of the total wheat production about 65–75% is exported annually.  Below is Australia’s predicted yields, where in some areas production is the lowest in 100yrs. Forecasts suggest the drought will not break until late summer. The upstream, downstream and future economic effects of the drought at this stage are not clear but it cannot be positive. Many industry stakeholders are asking how can these types of events be effectively insured?

Growers in Australia have no Government insurance schemes to help insure against failed crops caused by droughts other than emergency handouts and special assistance. There have been two fledgling insurance programs in operation to try to assist: Multi-Peril Crop Insurance (MPCI) and Index Insurance/Derivatives. MPCI offerings tried to establish a following in 2017 and 2018, however with tough conditions and limited take up, the offering was withdrawn from the market for the 2019 season. This has left Index Insurance/Derivative contracts are the only viable insurance solution growers can use to hedge adverse weather events like drought. In Australia these contracts are called Weather Certificates. They are simple financial products; the buyer is in control of all the parameters of the cover. They choose the risk period, the amount of rain needed and the amount of rain that would cause the crop to fail. From this information an acceptable premium for both the buyer and seller is derived. The covers need to be booked 20 days in advance and are paid out at the most 25 days after expiry thereby providing important cash flow for the buyer in times of need. The data that is used is from an independent third party, in this case it is Bureau of Meteorology in Australia. The rainfall data used can be either from a Weather Station or gridded data over a 5km x 5km grid point chosen by the buyer. The third-party data input is important as it provides integrity to pricing and settling points of the contract.

This year has been a watershed year for the fledging industry. As the country remains entrenched in drought Index Insurance/Derivative covers are offering a life line to many drought-stricken farmers. As of writing this article liquidity providers are still happy to provide liquidity and the take up by growers remains constant. This is a positive step towards the sustainability of the fledgling Index Insurance/Derivative market, not just for the Growers but for industry stakeholders as a whole.  If an Index Insurance/Derivative scheme in Agriculture can establish itself and be viable in Australia then the chances are it will work in other countries. Countries with similar harsh growing conditions should be taking note of the current Australian situation and experiences.

The jury is still out on the effectiveness of the index Insurance/Derivative model to shift the economic burden of drought, however the arguments on its suitability remain encouraging and growing. There is no doubt that a sustainable approach requires more boxes to be ticked. But this last season, with several beta solutions in play for producers, reassuring results are coming through as the season crawls to a close. If the model works for stakeholders in this environment then we feel we are on a track to a sustainable insurance program for primary producers against climate volatility in other regions.

The work continues.

A prelude: Barriers to developing and maintaining the workforce for the Global Weather Enterprise

By David B. Parsons, School of Meteorology, Oklahoma University

One of the tasks originally assigned to academic members of the Global Weather Enterprise Forum (GWEF) was to make recommendations on how to meet the need to successfully develop and sustain a workforce for the global weather enterprise with a focus on the low-income countries of the world. The motivation for this task included the need to reduce the detrimental impacts of weather and climate disasters, while maximizing the benefits of the GWE through developing vibrant partnerships across the private, public, and academic sectors. This document is a brief prelude to that report by providing a discussion of the barriers that are needed to be overcome in order to meet this goal. Both documents are meant to serve as a starting point for further discussions within the broader weather community.

Understanding these barriers require recognizing that ongoing fundamental shifts in the nature GWE. These changes include a greater role of the private sector in the weather enterprise ranging from becoming increasingly involved in providing of observations to a movement into the realm of global modeling. The growing role of the private sector brings challenges, such as threats to the open data policies often associated with weather prediction, to opportunities for partnerships that will enhance and sustain training, while benefitting society. Another fundamental change in the GWE is driven by the continued trend for weather to be at the frontier of big data science. For example, forecasts rely increasingly on large ensembles undertaken at finer resolution with greater usable skill at both very short (hours) and longer lead times (days, weeks and even months). Ensemble forecast systems begin with assimilating global observations that include an extensive volume of satellite remote sensing and conclude with advanced post-processing techniques to capture the forecast and characterize its uncertainty. These post-processing techniques are beginning to include the growing frontier of deep and machine learning algorithms.  Substantial challenges exist in developing a weather enterprise in low income nations that have access to and can appropriately utilize these observational and global forecast products, since the data sets and computational power produced by global forecast rival or exceed those produced by the research frontiers of the biological and physical sciences. These challenges acerbate the current difficulties in training and especially sustaining a workforce in low and middle income countries.

The report that follows is shaped, in part, by the authors’ previous experiences in the academic sector, working with and/or within the operational prediction community, and discussions at meetings organized by the GWEF with representatives of numerous private sector companies and weather services across the world. Barriers to developing and sustaining a work force for national meteorological and hydrological services (NMHSs) and a vibrant GWEF are numerous and include:

  • Attracting students to the GWE can be quite difficult in nations where the NMHSs are in their incipient phase and students can be unaware of meteorology as a career path. A misunderstanding of the field of atmospheric science, however, is not just a problem in these nations, but is often a global problem as the exposure to meteorologists is often limited to forecasters in the mass media.
  • Given the current size and limited potential for growth in a small nation’s weather enterprise, it is difficult and, often inefficient, for these nations to develop and sustain university-level educational programs in meteorology. Regional training centers are one strategy to partially fill this void.
  • The educational and training system is many low income nations can be inadequate due to a lack of access to modern forecast data sets and insufficient infrastructure for data display and post-processing. Given the increased role of the private sector in the GWE, a broader exposure to problem solving techniques is becoming increasingly important.
  • Training by NHMSs and regional is an efficient method to help develop and sustain a work force in low income nations. However, an ongoing local research and development effort tailored to meet the needs of a nation or region’s GWE would add vibrancy, improve for forecast products, and allow for development of private-public partnerships. Successful partnerships have developed between researchers in a range of formats (e.g., from individual partnerships to large research projects organized by the World Meteorological Organization’s World Weather Research Program). Unfortunately, disincentives exist for the involvement of leading researchers at many universities and institutes in developed nations, since their performance is typically judged by publication rates, grant funding, and other similar metrics. Funding for such partnerships is also often difficult.
  • The most driven and talented students with the potential to be future leaders in their countries sometimes undertake their graduate studies in North America, Europe, and Asia and then decide not to return to their home countries.
  • The education and subsequent training of technicians, engineers, and scientists for NMHSs can produce employees with skill sets that are highly desirable to employers in private sector enterprises.  If the work conditions at NMHSs are not appealing (i.e., low pay, lack of infrastructure, little opportunity for advancement), high turnover rates can decrease the effectiveness of the weather enterprise.

Report by GWEF

Developing and Maintaining the workforce for the GWE through expanding training (by academia predominantly) and enhancing kkills and competencies in the whole Global Weather Enterprise (GWE) value chain.

By David Parsons1, Erland Källén2, Leonard Smith3, and Alan Thorpe4

1School of Meteorology, University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK

2Department of Meteorology, Stockholm, Sweden

3Centre for the Analysis of Time Series Department of Statistics
The London School of Economics and Political Science, London, UK

4Department of Meteorology, University of Reading, Reading, UK

1. Issues and Recommendations: Educating, training, and sustaining a skilled engaged workforce within the GWE can be a critical limiting factor in the success of a variety of projects initiated in the developing nations of the world. Therefore, the GWEF recommends the following actions be implemented:

1.1. We request that the World Bank consider undertaking studies/projects aimed at determining the extent to which the lack of a sustained work force limits the success of disaster risk reduction and climate projects in low income nations.  This study should examine what factors limit the ability to sustain a well-trained work force in these projects (e.g., inability to sustain a steady stream of educated and trained replacements, lack of technical training for new equipment/techniques, low salary, inadequate facilities/infrastructure) and what strategies would likely significantly enhance success and reduce the risk of failure.

This recommendation comes from discussions with scientists in developing nations, it appears that low salary, lack of computational and other facilities in the work place, funding limitations for equipment maintenance, misplaced emphasis, and inability to sustain a stream of educated and trained replacements all play a role in the failure to sustain well-intended projects. For example, relatively low salary for public sector employees (NHMSs) in some low and middle-income nations. Hence, once an employee gains a technical skill set, they often leave these positions for private sector employees. Also, public sector employees in some developing nations sometimes do not have the technical facilities or budget to effectively do their job (slow/minimal internet, limited data storage, lack of computational/technical tools, support skills, training). These employees can become frustrated and seek employment elsewhere. The results of the proposed analyses could be incorporated into how projects are designed to enhance the chances for success in the future.

1.2 We note and appreciate the highly successful educational and training practices undertaken by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and its partners. It would be beneficial to extend these practices to: i) Seek partnerships that would enhance the understanding of and address the needs for education and training for employment in the private sector, particularly in low and middle income nations; ii) Implement strategies to develop and sustain applied research capacity in the low-income nations that would foster the enhanced use of forecast products; iii) Given that only about half of the WMO’s Members have educational infrastructures that can meet the education and training needs of NMHSs, efforts should also address the need to develop and implement long-term strategies for creating academic capabilities in appropriate low and middle income members that would provide the next generation of leaders in weather, climate, and water.; iv) Assist members in developing major research projects in low income nations as the AMMA project shows that these efforts enhance local interest in the atmospheric sciences, lead to improved forecast techniques, enhance infrastructure, and attract future leaders in the field. 

This recommendation is driven by the striking success of the WMO in education and training programmes. The WMO should be commended for their highly successful, diverse and intensive efforts to understand and remedy the need for training the workforce employed in the National Meteorological and Hydrometeorological Services (NHMSs). The range of activities is impressive and includes, but is not limited to: i) A wide variety of efforts of the Educational and Training Office; ii) Regional Training Centres that offer residence classes, distance-learning and blended learning on a variety of subjects; iii) WMOLearn offers a wide variety of training in conjunction with National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs) and local universities; iv) The Global Campus; v) Numerous projects initiated, supported, and endorsed by the World Weather Research Programme (WWRP) that involve international teams of academic researchers, scientists linked to NMHSs, operational forecasters, and users that can sometimes result in a dramatic paradigm shifts in expertise in developing nations. The WMO efforts are critical to the success of the global weather enterprise with the relatively large number of retirements expected in the next ~5 years (20 to 30% depending on location and job title) and the time it takes to educate and train the workforce (see WMO publications WMO-1209 and WMO-1219).  Sustaining and enhancing these WMO efforts is an underappreciated challenge, especially in the changing GWE and the needs of society.

2. The ability to attract the students and employees of high potential is critical to the success of the expanding global weather enterprise, yet this ability is limited by the perception of many outside of our field that weather is now a “mature science” with few remaining fundamental challenges.

2.1 In order to attract a diverse student body of high potential, the various sectors in the global weather enterprise including the learned and professional societies should take a leadership role on portraying/publisizing the atmospheric sciences, including weather, as a field that greatly benefits society, but a field that still has significant scientific and computational challenges.

The perception of weather as a scientific field with new challenges often comes about since people’s only interaction with the global weather enterprise is through receiving forecasts via numerous means from smart watches and phones to daily television broadcasts. Many university programs in the atmospheric sciences have trouble attracting significant numbers of students of high potential to their programs. While the requirements for physics and mathematics are similar to engineering, student expectations of the rigor and test scores are below that of engineering and other sciences despite the attempts by the academic community at recruiting.

2.2  The operational and research communities should partner on a common message that the global weather enterprise observational and prediction is one of the greatest technological and scientific success stories of the past several decades, yet fundamental scientific challenges abound that would further the success of this enterprise.

Too often the operational community is focused on success of their forecasts, while the scientific community is too focused on research needs based on a lack of predictive skill in forecasts. For example, the forecasts of a major tornado outbreak days in advance used convective-permitting models to accurately forecast the approximate time period when storms would arrive in a metro area well in advance, but the storms subsequently became non-tornadic as they moved past the metro area into the zone of the highest probability for tornado occurrence. Rather than a coherent and accurate message to the public and stakeholders, the operational community focused on the forecast success (time of arrival), while the research community stressed only the forecast failure (non-tornadic storm in the high probability area).

3. The private sector role in the GWE is changing in significant ways with predictions of a factor of 10 growth in the next 10 years and a greater participation of the private sector into new arenas such as global modeling, provision of measurements relevant to the global observing system, and research and development. Education and training need to evolve to meet these changes. Therefore, the GWEF recommends the following actions be implemented:

3.1 Noting that prospective students and students at the undergraduate and graduate level in the atmospheric sciences we recommend that professional and learned societies play a role in helping students be made more aware of the wide breadth and evolution of career options including the growing private sector.

Currently, many students are relatively unaware of the variety of options in the private sector and are initially attracted to and subsequently exposed to traditional career paths such as forecasting, research, and academics. The focus on research and academics is particularly prevalent at the graduate level. Thus, we recommend that professional and learned societies can develop and implement events where students and hear from and interact with a wide range of prospective employers. Another role of professional societies is to sponsor short courses aimed at exposing students to these new opportunities.

3.2 We recommend that nations and groups of nations obtain and provide statistics on graduation rates for B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. along with in-depth knowledge of expected employer needs. These statistics have been difficult to obtain in many countries and could be obtained through learned societies, academic societies, and the public sector.

In our efforts to understand whether academic institutions are graduating enough students to meet the 10×10 growth of the private sector, we have found it surprisingly difficult to obtain graduation numbers from many nations. Critical factors, such as whether the increasing need for students with M.S. degrees in the private sector is being met by the academic sector, could not be understood without these statistics.

3.3 We recommend that a closer partnership needs to occur between the academic and private sectors.  These partnerships could include bringing employers into undergraduate and graduate classes, seminar series, increasing internships, and a greater emphasis on research/development partnerships including the involvement of graduate students.

Productive academic-private sector partnerships of the academic community are critical to the success of the global weather enterprise, yet most students and even faculty are not fully aware of the rapid changes in the private sector. These partnerships occur in other field and can be increased in weather, water and climate.

Project update

By Jim Anderson, Chairman, Association of the Hydro-Meteorological Equipment Industry (HMEI) and Senior Vice President, Global Sales, Earth Networks


GFDRR in partnership with Earth Networks has a pilot project in Myanmar to evaluate various ways to enhance the deployment and operation of core observing infrastructure in that country. Public-private partnership is seen as an important approach potentially with multiple benefits. Market assessment, technical demonstration, training and evaluation initiatives are being completed. A formal report is being finalized and key findings will be published by the Forum in due course.

For further details please contact Jim Anderson at Earth Networks.

South Asia Hydromet Forum (SAHF)

The GWE had broad participation in the SAHF in Kathmandu from November 19-21. The conference brought together high level participation from all the NMHS in the region as well as World Bank, HMEI and other participants. There was a common theme of needing to build capacity to meet the increasing threats of climate change induced increases in severe weather. Flooding, mudslides, typhoons and severe thunderstorms and all the associated impacts are a major concern. How can the region work together to build resilience and improve access to reliable high quality meteorological and hydrometeorological services. New technologies and solutions as well as public private partnership models were discussed as options for more rapid capacity development and regional collaboration.

For more information on the SAHF, click here

The power of partnership

The World Bank/GFDRR has recently published a major 103-page Report entitled: The Power of Partnership: Public-Private Engagement (PPE) in Hydromet Services

Around the world, better warning systems, better meteorological and hydrological services, and customized service delivery can help prepare for and reduce the cost of weather events, minimize loss and damage, and build socio-economic resilience. Reliable hydromet services are in high demand in weather-dependent sectors like aviation, agriculture, shipping, transport, energy, and tourism. As the effects of climate change modify the patterns and intensity of natural hazards and as rapid urbanization and population growth increase vulnerability, adequate hydromet services are increasingly a very high value proposition.

For over a decade, the World Bank has invested in the modernization of National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs). Some countries have been more successful than others with sustaining and multiplying the outcomes of these investments. We have also witnessed that many countries are struggling to keep up with the ever-increasing demand for more sophisticated services to protect lives and assets as well as to support economies.

Over the same decade, advances in technology and innovation have widened the scope of products and services that can be used to improve weather data, warning systems, and hydromet information. Private-sector actors are playing an important role and along with the academic community are helping to push the frontiers of knowledge, investing in innovative solutions that deliver more reliable forecasting and more efficient and diverse services. The dynamics between the public, private, and academic sectors have been evolving, creating more opportunities than ever to join forces to deliver the socio-economic benefits of a more informed and resilient world.

This report looks at the current landscape of partnerships and analyzes the experience from eight countries (Ghana, Indonesia, Japan, Myanmar, U.K., U.S., Germany, and Israel) that have explored different approaches to partnership as they seek to strengthen the provision of hydromet services. Not surprisingly, these experiences show that collaboration across public, private, and academic actors in this field is changing rapidly, can be complex and challenging, but is worth the effort. The report offers ideas about lessons learned so far as countries attempt to structure a balanced model that builds on an awareness of comparative advantages, a shared commitment to improving global public goods in the service of strengthening global resilience.

Weathering the change: How to improve hydromet services in developing countries

This guide, published in March 2019, aims to help World Bank task teams and development practitioners—as well as National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs), which are, or may be, involved in working with national governments—to improve the delivery of national meteorological and hydrological services to their citizens and economies.

It touches on all actors involved in the production and delivery of these services, with an emphasis on the role of the public sector. The guide provides insights into how to improve the skill, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness of publicly funded NMHSs so that they can carry out their mandate to protect lives, livelihoods, and property, and are able to support economic development.

Download the guide here >>

Timeline of GWEF-related events

• GWEF launch, Washington DC – November 2017
• GWEF Meeting – InterMET Asia 2018, Singapore – April 2019
• GWEF Meeting (Web conference) – July 2018
• GWEF Meeting – Meteorology Technology World, Amsterdam – October 2018
• GWEF Meeting – AMS, Phoenix, Arizona – January 2019
• GWEF Meeting – InterMET Asia, Singapore – March 2019