World Meteorological Organization (WMO)

May 7, 2012, 7:27 pm
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The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) is an agency of the United Nations which addresses issues of climate and weather.

The WMO is governed by the WMO Congress which represents its 183 member Nations. The Congress elects the President (Alexander Bedritskiy, Russia) and appoints the Secretary-General (Michel Jarraud).


Originating from the International Meterological Organization (IMO), the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) was established in 1950, and became a specialized agency of the United Nations in 1951.  It is the UN system's authoritative voice on the state and behavior of the Earth's atmosphere, its interaction with the oceans, the climate it produces and the resulting distribution of water resources.  To date, the WMO has 183 Member States and Territories.    

The vision of WMO is to provide world leadership in expertise and international cooperation in weather, climate, hydrology and water resources and related environmental issues and thereby contribute to the safety and well-being of people throughout the world and to the economic benefit of all nations. 

The WMO provides forecasts and early warnings to nations, economic sectors and individuals which help prevent and mitigate disasters while also reducing damage to property and the environment through better risk management.  In order to accomplish this, WMO provides up to date, accurate and quantitative information on the state of the Earth's atmosphere, oceans, surface water and underground waters collected by land stations, aircrafts, ships and air stations.  WMO will also assist countries in enhancing their data management capacity. WMO promotes cooperation in the establishment of networks for making meteorological, climatological, hydrological and geophysical observations, as well as the exchange, processing and standardization of related data, and assists technology transfer, training and research.

In 1988, WMO, in collaboration with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), created the Intergovernmental Penal on Climate Change (IPCC), to "assess on a comprehensive, objective, open and transparent basis the best available scientific, technical and socio-economic information on climate change from around the world."

WMO Congress

The WMO Congress is the supreme body of the Organization.  Congress is responsible for assembling the delegates of Members every four years in order to determine general policies designed to fulfill the WMO vision and mission.  Congress is also the authority for determining Organization membership, determining General, Technical, Financial and Staff regulations, and coordinating the activities of the constituent bodies of the Organization.  The Congress is also the body responsible for approving all long-term Organization plans as well as the following periods financial budget.  The last major function of the Congress is to elect the Organization's President, Vice-Presidents, Executive Council members, and appointing the Secretary-General. 

The WMO Bureau

The WMO Bureau- consisting of the President, three Vice-Presidents, and the Secretary-General- is the Organizations informal consultative mechanism to advise the President of the Organization and facilitate carrying out his or her mandates. 

Meeting twice per year, the Bureau mainly plans, organizes, and coordinates the work of Congress and the Executive Council.  It also is responsible for reviewing the implementation of the commands of Congress and the Executive Council.

WMO Programmes

WMO carries out its work through 10 major scientific and technical programmes.  Each of these programmes is designed to focus on a specific area related to meteorology and hydrology so that they can result in positive changes for that area, benefiting the Members as a whole.

  1. The World Weather Watch (WWW) Programme was established in 1963 by the WMO.  The WWW makes meteorological and related environmental information available to Members.  WWW combines telecommunication facilities, data-processing and forecastings centers, run by WMO Members, so that almost instantaneous weather information and predictions can be exchanged globally.
  2. The World Climate Programme (WCP) was established after the First World Climate Conference held in Geneva, Switzerland in 1979.  It promotes the improvement of the understanding of climate processes through internationally coordinated research and the monitoring of climate variations or changes.  It is a scientific programme designed to improve understanding of the Earth's climate system and to apply that knowledge for the benefit of societies facing climate change and variability.  It is made up of four programs: the World Climate Data and Monitoring Programme (WCDMP), World Climate Applications and Services Programme (WCASP), World Climate Research Programme (WCRP), and World Climate Impact Assessment and Response Strategies Programme (WCIRP).  It also promotes the application of climate information and services to assist in economic and social planning and development.
  3. The Atmospheric Research and Environment Programme (AREP) coordinates and stimulates research on the composition of the atmosphere and weather forecasting, focusing on extreme weather events and socio-economic impacts.  It does this through two programmes: Global Atmosphere Watch (GAW) and the World Weather Research Programme (WWRP).  The GAW focuses on the coordination and application of global observations of atmospheric greenhouse gases, ozone, ultraviolet radiation, aerosols, selected reactive gases and precipitation chemistry. It supports international conventions on ozone depletion, climate and long-range transport of air pollution. The WWRP supports research to develop improved and cost-effective forecasting techniques and their application for socio-economic benefit and in decision-making.
  4. The Applications of Meteorology Programme (AMP) consists of four essential programme areas: public weather services, agricultural meteorology, aeronautical meteorology and marine meteorology and oceanography.  These promote the development of infrastructure, expertise and services for the benefit of the general public and the economic sectors of agriculture, air and marine transport in Member Countries.
  5. The Hydrology and Water Resources Programme (HWRP) is designed to evaluate the quality and quantity of water resources, both above and within the ground, in order to meet societal needs, permit mitigation of water-relatde hazards, and to enhance or at the very least maintain the condition of the global environment.  It also provides advice to Members on flood management policy and assists them in their effort to adopt Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM).
  6. The Education and Training Programme (ETRP) works closely with all WMO scientific and technical Programmes in organizing specialized training in weather-, climate- and water-related fields.  The ETRP manages the Education and Training Programme, which serves as an advisory body on all aspects of technical and scientific education and training in meteorology and operational hydrology.
  7. The Technical Cooperation Programme (TCP) coordinates the resource-mobilization activities leading to the development of NMHSs worldwide and comprises the mainstream of organized transfer of meteorological and hydrological knowledge and proven methodology among the Members of the Organization. Particular emphasis is laid upon the provision of a wide range of weather, climate and water services; on strengthening and operating key World Weather Watch infrastructures; on supporting the WMO Education and Training Programme; and on implementing the WMO Programme for the Least Developed Countries (LDCs).
  8. The Regional Programme (RP) addresses meteorological, hydrological and related environmental issues which are unique to and/or of common concern to one of the six listed Regions or multiple Regions.  It provides a framework to form many of the global WMO Programmes and helps implement those Programmes at a national, subregional, and regional level.  It also promotes the development and implementation of regional/subregional initiatives in meteorology and hydrology among Members and cooperation with regional economic communities.
  9. The WMO Space Programme (SAT) is responsible for coordinating environmental satellite matters within WMO, developing the space-based Global Observing System, and promoting satellite data use for weather, water, climate and related applications.  SAT provides satellite observations, services relating to climate, the ocean, agriculture, aviation, atmospheric chemistry and the water cycle, as well as natural hazards, for all WMO programmes.
  10. The Disaster Risk Reduction Programme (DRR) is a Programme designed for observing, detecting, monitoring, predicting and early warning of a wide range of weather–, climate- and water-related hazards.  The Programme also provides scientific and technical support to WMOs actions in response to disaster situations

Further Reading




Mangino, K. (2012). World Meteorological Organization (WMO). Retrieved from


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