The 2020 State of Climate Services Report - GEO’s contribution

News / 16 October 2020

On the International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) launched the 2020 State of Climate Services report, produced by 16 international agencies including the Group on Earth Observations (GEO). WMO and partners, through the Global Framework for Climate Services (GFCS) report annually on the state of climate services with a view to “facilitating the development and application of methodologies for assessing adaptation needs” as mandated by the meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement in 2018.

Extreme weather events, such as floods, wildfires and droughts have been increasing in both intensity and frequency due to climate change. To build climate resilience and lower climate-related risks, timely and accurate environmental data is key. Early warning systems (EWS) play a key role in helping countries prepare for and adapt to climate variability and change. According to the 2020 State of Climate Services report, there is still a significant EWS capacity gap especially among Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and Least Developed Countries (LDCs). The COVID-19 pandemic has intensified this gap by reducing both the quality and quantity of weather information and forecasts, leaving countries that are still transitioning to automated observations even more vulnerable.

The report identifies opportunities for governments to invest in EWS, and showcases lessons learned from 16 case studies from around the world demonstrating the socio-economic value of EWSs. In collaboration with the European Commission Joint Research Centre, GEO contributed the case study on the European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS), an initiative that supports wildfire management at the national and regional level. The EFFIS was initially developed to support wildfire management organizations in European countries and later extended to a global level into the Global Wildfire System (GWIS) to enable the monitoring and analysis of wildfire regimes worldwide through a joint initiative of the GEO and the Copernicus work programmes.

Other activities in the GEO work programme, such as the Group on Earth Observations Global Agricultural Monitoring Initiative (GEOGLAM) and GEO Blue Planet are also relevant  in terms of supporting climate services. GEOGLAM aims to improve both food security and market transparency through the dissemination of relevant, timely and actionable information for crop production projections and yield forecasts. It issues monthly global reports, including a Crop Monitor for Early Warning (CM4EW) which is a consensus assessment of crop production conditions in food insecure regions, supporting early warning for food security response. GEO Blue Planet aims to advance and exploit synergies among the many observational programmes in ocean and coastal waters, notably working on the Wave-driven Flood-forecasting on Reef-lined Coasts Early warning system (WaveFoRCE) designed to be implemented as an operational flood forecasting system on all coral reef-lined coasts around the world. The WaveFoRCE will combine satellite data with hydrodynamic models and a reef profile to derive sea surface elevation and wave height without having to rely on data from expensive wave-rider buoys.

The 2020 State of the Climate Services report concludes by making 6 strategic recommendations which include the need to: (1) focus investment in filling the EWS capacity gaps particularly in LDCs in Africa and South America, (2) improve communication and preparedness planning, (3) ensure sustainable financing of all the segments of the EWS value chain, (4) track finance flows to understand EWS implementation needs, (5) develop more consistency in monitoring evaluation,  and (6)  improve countries’ reporting on EWS capacity and climate information.

The network and expertise already exists in GEO to support these recommendations through promoting the value and use of Earth observations. Notably, in regions where data and information on climate impacts and adaptation are scarce, and by increasing cooperation with developing countries, such as nations in Africa, as well as the Pacific.

"GEO is very pleased to collaborate with WMO and to be included in the GFCS 2020 State of Climate Services report. This content can really help the global community with policy development, decision making and action. A substantial reduction of losses of life and property can be achieved by strengthening cooperation and sharing of Earth observation data, for managing risks posed by multiple hazards. The Global Wildfire Information System (GWIS) is one of the GEO initiatives that cuts across our climate action and disaster risk reduction activities.”

Steven Ramage, Head of External Relations, GEO Secretariat

The full report is available here.



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