The Commission for Agricultural Meteorology CAgM of WMO Remote Sensing and GIS

Agricultural meteorology had always been an important component of the National Meteorological Services since their inception. A formal Commission for Agricultural Meteorology (CAgM) which was appointed in 1913 by the International Meteorological Organization (IMO), became the foundation of the CAgM under WMO in 1951.

The WMO Agricultural Meteorology Programme is coordinated by CAgM. The Commission is responsible for matters relating to applications of meteorology to agricultural cropping systems, forestry, and agricultural land use and livestock management, taking into account meteorological and agricultural developments both in the scientific and practical fields and the development of agricultural meteorological services of Members by transfer of knowledge and methodology and by providing advice.

CAgM recognized the potential of remote sensing applications in agricultural meteorology early in the 70s and at its sixth session in Washington in 1974 the Commission agreed that its programme should include studies on the application of remote sensing techniques to agrometeorological problems and decided to appoint a rapporteur to study the existing state of the knowledge of remote sensing techniques and to review its application to agrometeorological research and services. At its seventh session in Sofia, Bulgaria in 1979, the Commission reviewed the report submitted by Dr A.D. Kleschenko (USSR) and Dr J.C. Harlan Jr (USA) and noted that there was a promising future for the use in agrometeorology of data from spacecraft and aircraft and that rapid progress in this field required exchange of information on achievements in methodology and data collection and interpretation. The Commission at that time noted that there was a demand in almost all countries for a capability to use satellite imagery in practical problems of agrometeorology. The Commission continued to pay much attention to both remote sensing and GIS applications in agrometeorology in all its subsequent sessions up to the 13th session held in Ljubljana, Slovenia in 2002. Several useful publications including Technical Notes and CAgM Reports were published covering the use of remote sensing for obtaining agrometeorological information (Kleschenko, 1983), operational remote sensing systems in agriculture (Kanemasu and Filcroft, 1992), satellite applications to agrometeorology and technological developments for the period 1985-89 (Seguin, 1992), statements of guidance regarding how well satellite capabilities meet WMO user requirements in agrometeorology (WMO, 1998, 2000) etc. At the session in Slovenia in 2002, the Commission convened an Expert Team on Techniques (including Technologies such as GIS and Remote Sensing) for Agroclimatic Characterization and Sustainable Land Management.

The Commission also recognized that training of technical personnel to acquire, process and interpret the satellite imagery was a major task. It was felt that acquisition of satellite data was usually much easier than the interpretation of data for specific applications that were critical for the assessment and management of natural resources. In this regard, the Commission pointed out that long-term planning and training of technical personnel was a key ingredient in ensuring full success in the use of current and future remote sensing technologies that could increase and sustain agricultural production, especially in the developing countries. In this connection, WMO already organized a Training Seminar on GIS and Agroecological Zoning in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in May 2000 in which six participants from Malaysia and 12 from other Asian and the South-West Pacific countries participated. The programme for the seminar dealt with meteorological and geographical databases, statistical analyses, spatialization, agro-ecological classification, overlapping of agroecological zoning with boundary layers, data extraction, monitoring system organization and bulletins.

The training workshop currently being organized in Dehradun is in response to the recommendations of the Commission session in Slovenia in 2002 and it should help the participants from the Asian countries in learning new skills and updating their current skills in satellite remote sensing and GIS applications in agricultural meteorology.

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