Weather divorces history


History is not as important as it used to be when it comes to weather forecasting. According to the head of the United Nations World Meteorological Organization (WMO), with the onset of climate change, relying on history is no longer an accurate way of predicting weather patterns.

In the past, forecasts were made by taking statistics of past decades into account, but “now with climate change, these statistics are changing,” WMO secretary-general Michel Jarraud told UN Radio.

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In some areas, according to the United Nations, global warming will make rainfall less frequent, making the past an unreliable predictor for future precipitation levels, he said, while heat waves, on the scale of the massive and deadly one which engulfed Western Europe in 2003, “might occur more frequently.”

But Mr. Jarraud stressed that “there are many lessons to be learned from the past,” highlighting the value of climate statistics.

The WMO is organizing a week-long conference in Geneva, Switzerland, kicking off on August 31, on how to best use climate predictions to adapt to climate change.

When socio-economic decisions – such as those involving health, food security and transport – are made by governments, the private sector and others, it is essential that they are based on “the best possible scientific information,” the WMO chief said.

According to Mr. Jarraud, next week’s meeting seeks to “bridge the gap” between those who possess this kind of information with decision-makers around the world.