The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) expressed concerns on Wednesday that some parts of its observing system have been affected by the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Worldwide flight suspensions have led to a dramatic decrease in the number of measurements over the last two weeks. In-flight ambient temperature, which are taken alongside wind speed and direction measurements, are an important source of information for weather prediction and climate monitoring.
The Aircraft Meteorological Data Relay programme (AMDAR) uses onboard sensors, computers and communications systems of commercial airliners to collect, process, format and transmit meteorological observations. These are sent to ground stations via satellite or radio links for analysis.
Data on surface-based observations have also declined over the past two weeks, particularly from developing countries.
“National Meteorological and Hydrological Services continue to perform their essential 24/7 functions despite the severe challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic,” said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas. “We salute their dedication to protecting lives and property but we are mindful of the increasing constraints on capacity and resources.”
“The impacts of climate change and growing amount of weather-related disasters continue. The COVID-19 pandemic poses an additional challenge, and may exacerbate multi-hazard risks at a single country level. Therefore it is essential that governments pay attention to their national early warning and weather observing capacities despite the COVID-19 crisis,” Taalas said.