The Value of Meteorological Services

20 02 2015

Dale C. S. Destin |

The Value of Meteorological Services will be the focus of a workshop to be hosted by the Antigua and Barbuda Meteorological Service, February 23-27, 2015.


Met Services Provide 1000% Return on Investment

Entitled Designing Socio-Economic Benefits Studies of Meteorological/Hydrological Services and Products in the Caribbean, the workshop which is being organized by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), will see about 25 participants from across the region, including mainly meteorologists and climatologists converge on Antigua.

According to the WMO, there is a “rapidly growing demand for meteorological services around the world”. It’s estimated that national meteorological and hydrological services (NMHSs) maintain and operate most of the US $10 billion infrastructure that supports the provision of these services. However, the rapid demand for services is creating major scientific, operational and public policy challenges that can only be successfully met by major investment injections into the NMHSs.

The diverse nature of the increasing demand requires major investments in resources ranging from comprehensive, high quality and robust observational networks to improved understanding of meteorological and hydrological phenomena through ongoing scientific research to user needs to improved mythologies and algorithms for use of meteorological, hydrological and information in decision-making.

It has long being wondered by the meteorological and economics communities if the weather fraternity is earning its keep. According to WMO, it has long been known that investment in NMHSs provides a return of at least $10 for every dollar spent, more than earning its keep. If the NMHSs were banks, it means that they would be paying their depositors a stupendous unheard of 1000% on their money. Amazingly, this does not include the value it contributes to human safety and well-being, which is not easily quantifiable, but quite large.

It’s very crucial and of significant interest to all that NMHSs be able to demonstrate their socio-economic benefits. This is because we are facing the greatest economic and environmental threat of our time – climate change. If we are to adapt to the changing climate, huge additional investments will be required in climate services infrastructure to support important national responsibilities including those under the GCOS, GFCS and UNFCCC.

The WMO has been grappling with the issued of the Value of Meteorological Services for decades. Concrete measures were put in place in 2007 and these have culminated into a book to be published this year by the WMO on the subject titled “Valuing Weather and Climate: Economic Assessment of Meteorological and Hydrological Services”. To help publicise and promote the book and its findings, the WMO has gone on a global road show by putting on a number of workshops surrounding the socio-economic benefits of NMHSs. It’s for these reasons why WMO is coming to Antigua to talk about the Value of Meteorological Services.

I am looking forward with great anticipation to this workshop. For once and hopefully for all, the open secret of the Value of Meteorological Services to society will be made crystal clear. It is expected to remove all doubts about the major economic contribution to GDP that meteorology plays and provide a fact based platform for conscious and deliberate further development of the meteorological Services here and across the region.

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