The World Meteorological Organization, a specialized agency of the United Nations, has a membership of 187 states and territories (as of June 2003). Amongst the many programmes and activities of the organization, there are three areas which are particularly pertinent to the satellite activities:
• To facilitate world-wide cooperation in the establishment of networks for making meteorological, as well as hydrological and other geophysical observations and centres to provide meteorological services;
• To promote the establishment and maintenance of systems for the rapid exchange of meteorological and related information;
• To promote the standardization of meteorological observations and ensure the uniform publication of observations and statistics.
The Fourteenth WMO Congress, held in May 2003, initiated a new Major Programme, the WMO Space Programme, as a cross-cutting programme to increase the effectiveness and contributions from satellite systems to WMO Programmes. Congress recognized the critical importance for data, products and services provided by the World Weather Watch's (WWW) expanded space-based component of the Global Observing System (GOS) to WMO Programmes and supported Programmes. During the past four years, the use by WMO Members of satellite data, products and services has experienced tremendous growth to the benefit of almost all WMO Programmes and supported Programmes. The decision by the fifty-third Executive Council to expand the space-based component of the Global Observing System to include appropriate R&D environmental satellite missions was a landmark decision in the history of WWW. Congress agreed that the Commission for Basic Systems (CBS) should continue the lead role in full consultation with the other technical commissions for the new WMO Space Programme. Congress also decided to establish WMO Consultative Meetings on High-level Policy on Satellite Matters. The Consultative Meetings will provide advice and guidance on policy-related matters and maintain a high level overview of the WMO Space Programme. The expected benefits from the new WMO Space Programme include an increasing contribution to the development of the WWW's GOS, as well as to the other WMO-supported programmes and associated observing systems through the provision of continuously improved data, products and services, from both operational and R&D satellites, and to facilitate and promote their wider availability and meaningful utilization around the globe.
The main thrust of the WMO Space Programme Long-term Strategy is:
"To make an increasing contribution to the development of the WWW's GOS, as well as to the other WMO-supported Programmes and associated observing systems (such as AREP's GAW, GCOS, WCRP, HWR's WHYCOS and JCOMM's implementation of GOS) through the provision of continuously improved data, products and services, from both operational and R&D satellites, and to facilitate and promote their wider availability and meaningful utilization around the globe".
The main elements of the WMO Space Programme Long-term Strategy are as follows:
(a) Increased involvement of space agencies contributing, or with the potential to contribute to, the space-based component of the GOS;
(b) Promotion of a wider awareness of the availability and utilization of data, products - and their importance at levels 1, 2, 3 or 4 - and services, including those from R&D satellites;
(c) Considerably more attention to be paid to the crucial problems connected with the assimilation of R&D and new operational data streams in nowcasting, numerical weather prediction systems, reanalysis projects, monitoring climate change, chemical composition of the atmosphere, as well as the dominance of satellite data in some cases;
(d) Closer and more effective cooperation with relevant international bodies;
(e) Additional and continuing emphasis on education and training;
(f) Facilitation of the transition from research to operational systems;
(g) Improved integration of the space component of the various observing systems throughout WMO Programmes and WMO-supported Programmes;
(h) Increased cooperation amongst WMO Members to develop common basic tools for utilization of research, development and operational remote sensing systems.
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