WMO tells summit good data vital to tackling global water crisis

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The WMO has stressed the importance of good data for managing the growing problems related to water around the world.

Johannes Cullmann, WMO’s director of climate and water, delivered the message during a keynote address at the Budapest Water Summit on October 16.

“We need robust and resilient data sources,” said Cullmann. “We also must make sure that we get the message to the end users. There are often institutional disconnects in the production and delivery of water-related information, warnings and services to people who need them most.”

Cullmann told the summit that the WMO is focusing on strengthening operational hydrological services and improving monitoring and forecasting as part of a global effort to deal with issues relating to water stress, water-related hazards and water quality.

In spite of the threats posed by floods, storms and droughts, only 38% of WMO members have well-established national flood and riverine forecasting services and only 44% have drought warning policies, according to Cullmann, comparing the relative availability of meteorological data to frequently inaccessible hydrological data.

Water-related disasters are increasing in frequency globally, in part due to the effects of climate change. The USA, for example, has suffered three major flooding events so far this year that have cost the country at least US$1bn in economic losses. Over the same period, it has suffered two tropical cyclones – Hurricane Dorian and Tropical Storm Imelda – that led respectively to storm surge damage on the South Carolina coast and severe flooding in Texas.

At the opening ceremony of the event, which took place from October 15 to 17, Hungarian President János Áder observed, “The drama of scarce water, too much water and polluted water is unfolding before our eyes.”

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