Fri 17-02-2017 23:07 PM

WMO Regional Association for Asia closes four yearly session

ABU DHABI, 17th February, 2017 (WAM) -- The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) Regional Association for Asia (RAII) closed its four-yearly session on Thursday after discussing ways how to increase resilience to extreme weather and climate change and contribute to sustainable socio-economic development.

Abdullah Ahmed Al Mandoos, Director of the National Center for Meteorology and Seismology of the United Arab Emirates, which hosted the meeting, was unanimously elected Regional Association President for the next four years.

"It is not a victory but a responsibility you have put in my hands with regards to all the people in this region," said Dr Al Mandoos.

"The Regional Association for Asia has a wide geographical surface area, many climatic regions, severe weather conditions and natural disasters that are repeatedly witnessed," he said. "Many parts of the Region have a high density population and live in fragile infrastructures," he said.

"It is natural we take these facts into consideration in every step we take. The character of this region means I have to listen to your opinions and translate your instructions."

WMO, which is the United Nations’ authoritative voice on weather, climate and water, has six Regional Associations. RAII is the biggest and the most diverse. Asia continues to be the world’s most disaster prone region, accounting for about two thirds of total global fatalities.

The meeting in Abu Dhabi from 11-15 February discussed a range of priorities, including: increased and improved weather observations throughout the region to make sure that all countries can benefit from sophisticated satellite technology;stronger regional and international cooperation in forecasts and warnings of environmental hazards like sand and dust storms, which affect human health and the economy in many countries in Asia, including the United Arab Emirates;better monitoring and measurement of international water supplies through WMO’s new HydroHub and dynamic and effective aviation meteorological services for the rapidly increasing aviation sector to improve efficiency and public safety.

Better weather and climate services in the "Third Pole" Himalayas region, where climate change is causing glacier melt, which will impact water supplies for hundreds of millions of people; new partnerships with the evolving private sector, whilst ensuring that national meteorological services remain the authoritative source of weather warnings and stronger marine meteorological services, including better warnings of coastal inundation and storm surges, which are becoming an increasing problem because of rising sea levels were also examined by delegates.

"In the last decades, the countries in the Asian region have been exposed to weather and climate events of increased intensity and frequency," said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas. "The year 2016 was no exception."

India, Iraq, the Islamic Republic of Iran and Kuwait all saw peak temperatures of more than 50 C last summer. Many other parts of Asia also saw heatwaves. In 2017 many countries have seen unusual weather patterns.

As President, Dr Al Mandoos will help guide the priorities for the Regional Association over the next four years.

"I look forward to his excellent leadership and excellent contribution to the WMO Executive Council and other processes in which RAII participates," said WMO President David Grimes.