UN launches “Year of Polar Prediction” for Arctic, Antarctic weather-watching
“Vital in order to improve safety management in polar regions and beyond”
The United Nations weather agency has kicked off of a two-year international effort “to close gaps in polar forecasting capacity and to improve future environmental safety at the farthest reaches of the planet.”
The World Meteorological Organization has launched the Year of Polar Prediction, which will aim to improve predictions of weather, climate and ice conditions in the Arctic and Antarctic.
“Warming Arctic air masses and declining sea ice are believed to affect ocean circulation and the jet stream, and are potentially linked to extreme phenomena such as cold spell, heat waves and droughts in the northern hemisphere,” said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas in a UN news release about the launch.
During the Year of Polar Prediction—spread out from mid-2017 to mid-2019—scientists plan to observe, model and improve forecasts of weather and climate systems.
The goal: to learn more about and improve the understanding of the weather changes at the poles.
The Year of Polar Prediction will also see special observing periods added to improve the number of routine observations by weather balloon launches and buoy deployments from research vessels to measure conditions in the air and water.
The WMO says changes in weather, climate and ice conditions at the poles are also linked to more transportation, tourism, fisheries and mining.
“The expected increase in activity comes with its own share of risks to both the environment and society, including traditional Indigenous livelihoods,” Taalas said, noting that ice-laden seas are a challenge to navigate and that oil spills “could be catastrophic.”
“Accurate weather and sea-ice information will thus become increasingly vital in order to improve safety management in polar regions and beyond.”