The 2021 State of Climate Services Report - GEO’s contribution

Blog / October 12, 2021

On 5 October 2021, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) published the 2021 State of Climate Services Report with contributions from more than 20 international organizations, including the Group on Earth Observations (GEO). This 2021 edition focuses on water, an indispensable resource at the heart of the global agenda for sustainable development, disaster risk reduction and climate adaptation that affects all communities and economic sectors. Since 2019, WMO and its partners have published annual State of Climate Services reports to provide input to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) process, thus supporting climate adaptation with science-based information.

The report finds that for the 101 WMO Member countries for which data is available:

  • There is insufficient interaction between climate service providers and users of information in 43% of WMO Members;
  • In about 40% of WMO Members, data for basic hydrological variables are not collected;
  • No hydrological data are provided in 67% of WMO Members;
  • End-to-end flood forecasting and warning systems for rivers are lacking or inadequate in 34% of WMO Members that have provided data, with only 44% of Members reaching more than two-thirds of the population at risk with their existing systems;
  • End-to-end drought forecasting and warning systems are lacking or inadequate in 54% of WMO Members that provided data - with only 27% of Members reaching more than two-thirds of the population at risk with their existing systems.

Significant additional financial commitments are needed to meet adaptation targets, but there are several constraints that limit what countries can do. These include low capacity to develop and implement projects and difficulties in raising funds within the public financial systems of low-income countries.

The report draws lessons from 16 case studies from around the world to improve water resource management and reduce the impact of water-related disasters. In collaboration with the Group on Earth Observations Global Water Sustainability (GEOGloWS) Initiative, AmeriGEO, and ENEE-Honduras, GEO contributed the case study on "Reliable and Actionable Information for Water Management Ahead of Hurricanes Eta and Iota in Honduras."

The GEOGloWS Streamflow Forecast Service is a worldwide application of the global runoff forecasts from the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) that translates runoff into river discharge forecasts  for all rivers in the world. The GEOGLoWS-ECMWF Streamflow Forecast Service was used by the state-owned power company of Honduras, Empresa Nacional de Energía Eléctrica (ENEE), to establish a series of low flow releases through the massive hydroelectric dam “El Cajón” between hurricanes Eta and Iota that hit the country in November 2020, following discharge protocols that dictate that the maximum discharge of 1000 m3/sec must not be exceeded. Following the first hurricane Eta, the information from the regional flash flood guidance and short-term forecast models was insufficient to determine a long-term management strategy and estimate the volume of runoff that Iota was bringing thirteen days later. Through collaboration with AmeriGEO, ENEE became aware of the 15-day discharge forecast from the GEOGLoWS ECMWF Streamflow Forecast Service provided directly from the web. Based on that information, prior to the arrival of Iota, a total of 185.95 million m3 was discharged, providing the reservoir with sufficient storage for the runoff that Iota brought from the upper basin. The timely application of the information provided by the GEOGloWS-ECMWF Streamflow Forecast Service enabled national authorities to efficiently manage the reservoir during the storms and helped to prevent potentially huge losses and damages in the Sula Valley, one of the most populated and productive areas in Honduras. This case study demonstrates the importance of climate services and early warning systems in protecting livelihoods by helping communities prepare for and respond to climate related challenges.

The 2021 State of the Climate Services report concludes with 6 strategic recommendations, including the need to:

  1. Invest in Integrated Resources Water Management as a solution to better manage water stress, particularly in Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and Least Developed Countries (LDCs);
  2. Invest in end-to-end early warning systems for droughts and floods in vulnerable LDCs, including drought warnings in Africa and flood warnings in Asia;
  3. Close the capacity gap in data collection for basic hydrological variables that underpin climate services and early warning systems;
  4. Improve interaction between national levels to co-develop and operationalize climate services in partnership with information users to better support adaptation in the water sector. There is also an urgent need for better monitoring and evaluation of socio-economic benefits, which will help showcase best practices;
  5. Fill data gaps on country capacity for climate services in the water sector, especially for SIDS; and
  6. Join the Water and Climate Coalition to promote policy development for integrated water and climate assessments, solutions and services, and benefit from a network of partners developing and implementing tangible, practical projects, programs and systems to improve hydroclimate services for resilience and adaptation.

To support these recommendations in the face of increasing water-related threats and stresses, GEO is promoting Earth observation data and tools for improved water management, monitoring, and early warning, and facilitating collaboration between data providers, developing countries, and underrepresented communities.



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