We are involved in a number of projects as part of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Voluntary Co-operation Programme (VCP).
The Met Office Unified Model, used to produce forecasts, is run over Africa as a limited-area model (LAM) and this is complementary to the South Africa model run by South Africa Weather Services, which is also UM-based.
We have trained forecasters to use the Africa LAM, also equipping them with the expertise to pass on their training to other forecasters.
WMO is implementing a project in Southern Africa to focus on Severe Weather Forecasting, using the latest ensemble products to give advanced warnings of high-impact weather events. We have supported this with specific products for each of the countries involved and with training by one of our most experienced chief forecasters. This peer training has been highly appreciated by participants.
Records of the global climate are essential for monitoring climate change, but maintaining them requires accurate observations to be taken all over the world. The Global Climate Observing System (GCOS) co-ordinates both networks for taking readings from the upper-air and surface. While most contributing countries can support surface observations, the upper-air component can be very expensive to maintain.
Under VCP the UK has supported upper-air stations on isolated islands which are a key component of the GCOS Upper-Air Network (GUAN). We will also continue to support workshops to assist in the regional planning and sustainability of the network, and upgrades to technology where appropriate.
Over a long period, we have supported GUAN stations at St Helena, Gough Island (in partnership with South African Weather Services), Seychelles and in the South Pacific (with the Met. Service of New Zealand) at Funafuti in Tuvalu, Tarawa in Kiribati and Rarotonga in the Cook Islands. We also support automatic weather stations on Pitcairn Island in the Pacific.
To be of use records of climate data from around the world need to be stored in an easily retrievable, electronic form - a climate database management system. A system called Climsoft has been developed in conjunction with experts from Zimbabwe, Kenya and Guinea, which is designed to be simple to use and economical.
This system has already been installed in many countries in Africa, the South Pacific, the Caribbean and south-east Asia. Development of the system continues as the need grows for interoperability of climatology data with other environmental information, particularly for agriculture and, increasingly important, food security.
The SIAC course, run by the Statistical Services Department at the University of Reading, provides training in the use of climate observations for practical applications, such as agriculture, health and emergency/disaster planning.
Since 2000 we have been involved in supporting this training - mainly in Africa. Now the course comes in two stages:
A weather forecast is of little use if it is not communicated to the people who need to know about it. TV and radio are among the most effective ways of communicating to a wide variety of people quickly. Through VCP more than 40 developing countries have been given mini-Media Systems that enable the local national meteorological service (NMS) to prepare their own television broadcasts and forecasts for newspapers and websites.
These systems have also helped increase public and government awareness of the value of the NMS which, in some cases, has led to additional funding through sponsorship of the broadcasts.
Throughout the world there is a continuing need for the installation, or upgrading, of public weather presentation systems and the provision of broadcaster training. We are continuing to roll out the programme as part of our VCP contribution.
Currently we are providing a new 3-D software package to developing countries, and training people to use it.
Services cannot be provided without adequate human resources within the NMS. The right people with the right skills are required, but such skills are sometimes lacking in developing countries. A variety of training is supported by our VCP.
Over the years:
We work closely with WMO on short courses, especially by contributing experienced practitioners as trainers, and other resources. The annual aviation seminar is very highly regarded.
Following the success of the e-SIAC course, further distance learning courses have been developed and we sponsor a website which hosts many of these, www.met-learning.org.
We have developed an introductory course in management skills for middle-level staff of national meteorological services in developing countries, in association with the WMO Programme for the Least Developed Countries (LDC). This came from the realisation that, especially in the LDC and Small Island Developing States (SIDS), forecasters and other staff were technically highly skilled, but they did not receive training in the management skills which would help them to improve the delivery and application of their forecasts.
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