The Caribbean Meteorological Organization (CMO) and the Meteorological Service of France (Météo‑France) signed an agreement on 21 June 2016 to formalize the working arrangements between their two institutions.
The Caribbean Meteorological Organization, which is a specialized institution of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), coordinates the joint scientific activities of the National Meteorological Services of its sixteen Caribbean Member States, provides, among other things, training, research and specialized facilities in meteorology and applied sciences, and collaborates with other nations in the Caribbean for the delivery of a reliable severe weather warning system to safeguard the region.
The Meteorological Service of France, with Headquarters in Paris, is one of the world’s most advanced and active national weather services. It maintains major operations in its Caribbean Overseas Departments of Guadeloupe, Martinique and French Guiana.
Over the years, Météo-France and the CMO have collaborated on various activities in the Caribbean, but these have been on specific projects or on ad-hoc activities of common interest. One such example of the collaboration between the two agencies is the creation and operation of a regional weather radar composite, by integrating data and imagery from the CMO and French weather radar networks in the Caribbean.
Collaboration between Météo-France and CMO has also been taking place under the Carib Risk Cluster Project of the General Council of Martinique, funded by the European Union, which allows National Meteorological Services in CMO Member States access to and use of Météo-France’s weather monitoring and forecasting systems, while allowing Météo-France access to numerical weather prediction products generated by CMO’s Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology (CIMH) in Barbados.
The Geneva-based World Meteorological Organization (WMO) provides a broad umbrella under which countries of differing languages are able to collaborate. A missing element in the Caribbean, however, has been a formal mechanism to improve direct collaboration between Meteorological Services and/or agencies of differing languages. Recognizing that regional weather and climate issues impact all the islands in the Caribbean, the matter of improving collaboration in cases of severe weather forecasts and warning remains an area of great concern to the two agencies. As a result, the Governing bodies of CMO and Météo-France agreed to strengthen their collaboration through these formal Working Arrangements.
Mr Tyrone Sutherland, Coordinating Director of the Caribbean Meteorological Organization, said that as one of the first outcomes expected of this Agreement, the World Meteorological Organization will be asked to implement a Severe Weather Forecast Demonstration Project covering the Eastern Caribbean island chain from Trinidad in the south to Puerto Rico in the north, in the first instance, with special arrangements for Haiti. The aim of the Demonstration Project would be to build on existing systems and structures used by Météo-France, CMO and the USA to improve the operational collaboration between Meteorological Services and disaster-response agencies in neighbouring English, French and Dutch-speaking islands, particularly during severe weather episodes.
Mr Jean-Marc Lacave, Chairman & Director General of the French Meteorological Service, said that through this Agreement, Météo-France and CMO would be looking for the establishment of a sustainable long-term operational mechanism that could have its genesis in a WMO Severe Weather Forecast Demonstration Project, which would then be integrated into the existing Caribbean Basin-wide end-to-end early warning system for the benefit of all the citizens of the Caribbean.
They both agreed that for some of the activities envisaged through this Agreement, there would be a need for some resource mobilization efforts through regional and international development partnerships, especially as the long-term collaboration would link the broad regional and international weather and climate initiatives undertaken by all the specialist arms of their organizations.
The signing ceremony took place as a side event to the 68th session of the Executive Council of the World Meteorological Organization, of which both Mr Sutherland and Mr Lacave are members. Also in attendance at the signing were the President of WMO, Mr David Grimes of Canada, Secretary-General of WMO, Prof. Petteri Taalas, along with the heads or senior officials of the National Meteorological Services of the USA, Costa Rica, Curaçao and the Cayman Islands, as well as several senior officials of the CMO, Météo‑France and WMO.
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