Message by Petteri Taalas, WMO Secretary-General, on the Occasion of World Meteorological Day
March 23, 2021
Greetings from Geneva, from WMO.
We are today celebrating the World Meteorological Day 2021.
And…and this is to commemorate the signing of the basic agreement behind the WMO 71 years ago. Actually, we are a much older organization, we were established already in 1873 as the International Meteorological Organization, and we are the second oldest United Nations Organization from that perspective.
This year, the theme of the World Meteorological Day is devoted to the…the theme “the ocean, our climate and weather.” It celebrates WMO’s focus in connecting the ocean, climate and weather within the Earth system. The WMO community has a major stake in supporting research, observations, predictions and services, and closing data gaps for the ocean.
Our changing climate is warming the oceans, having a profound effect on our weather. 2020 was one of the three warmest years on…on record, despite La Niña cooling in the Pacific Ocean. The last decade, 2011-2020, was the warmest decade on record since [the] 1950s. Ocean heat is at record levels, ocean acidification is continuing. Sea ice is melting. The rate of sea level rise has accelerated during the last decades.
In 2020, the annual Artic sea ice minimum was among the lowest on record. Polar communities suffered abnormal coastal flooding and sea ice hazards as a result of melting ice. Warm ocean temperatures helped fuel a record Atlantic hurricane season, and intense tropical cyclones in the Indian and South Pacific Oceans. Actually, in the Atlantic, we are breaking the record in the amount of hurricanes.
With more than 40 percent of the global population living within 100 kilometers of the coast, there is an urgent need to protect communities from the impacts of storm surge and coastal hazards through improved Multi Hazard Early Warning Systems.
Nearly 90 percent of the world trade is carried across the sea and is exposed to the dangers of extreme maritime weather. WMO partners with the International Maritime Organization and the International Hydrographic Organization to provide standardized information, forecasts and warnings to ensure the safety of life and property at sea.
WMO works very closely with UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission for ocean observations and research.
WMO is proud to contribute to the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030). WMO is committed to the “safe ocean”, “predicted ocean” and “transparent ocean” goals of…of the Decade.
To understand our weather and climate, we must understand our oceans. We will continue working towards this, to protect vulnerable communities and in support of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, and the Paris Climate Change Agreement, as well as the SAMOA Pathway.
WMO is leading several important global initiatives during the coming years to address priorities of our members: The importance of enhancing [the] global basic observing network and putting in place an innovative financing facility (SOFF) to ensure systematic weather and climate observations especially for LDC countries and SIDs. Secondly, we are creating a water and climate coalition for accelerating action on SDG 6, which is related to water. And thirdly, we would like to ensure enhanced Multi Hazard Early Warning Systems and services at all our Member…Member Countries. And we are working hard to get external resources for…for these purposes, and…and we are already assisting record amount of our members with those resources.
With these words, I would like to wish you all a happy World Meteorological Day despite (of) these unusual times that we are having worldwide. Thank you.