• Bautista Perez, M., 1996: New WMO regulations on the international exchange of meteorological data and products: Incorporating Resolution 40 (Cg.XII)—WMO policy and practice for the exchange of meteorological and related data and products, including guidelines on relationships in commercial meteorological activities. WMO Bull., 45, 2029.

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  • Daniel, H., 1973: One hundred years of international cooperation in meteorology (1873–1973)—A historical review. WMO Bull., 12, 156203.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Davies, D. A., 1990: Forty years of progress and achievement: A historical review of WMO. WMO Rep. 721, 205 pp., https://library.wmo.int/pmb_ged/wmo_721_en.pdf.

  • Foust, J., 2017: Smallsats provide opportunities and challenges for weather data. SpaceNews, https://spacenews.com/smallsats-provide-opportunities-and-challenges-for-weather-data/.

  • Gunasekera, D., 2010: Use of climate information for socio-economic benefits. Proc. Environ. Sci., 1, 384386, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.proenv.2010.09.025.

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    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Obasi, G. O. P., 2003: A decade of progress: The World Meteorological Organization in the 1990s and the new century. WMO Rep. 956, 228 pp., https://library.wmo.int/pmb_ged/wmo_956_en.pdf.

  • Rasmussen, J. R., 2003: Historical development of the World Weather Watch. WMO Bull., 52, 1625.

  • Serra, Y. L., and Coauthors, 2018: The risks of contracting the acquisition and processing of the nation’s weather and climate data to the private sector. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 99, 869870, https://doi.org/10.1175/BAMS-D-18-0034.1.

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    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Zillman, J. W., 2000: Millenium perspectives. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 81, 29932994.

  • Zillman, J. W., 2008: International cooperation in Earth system science and services. Proc. First Conf. on Int. Cooperation in Earth System Science and Services, New Orleans, LA, Amer. Meteor. Soc., https://ams.confex.com/ams/pdfpapers/136389.pdf.

  • Zillman, J. W., 2018a: International cooperation in meteorology, part 1: Origin and early years. Weather, 73, 295300, https://doi.org/10.1002/wea.3217.

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  • Zillman, J. W., 2018b: International cooperation in meteorology, part 2: The golden years and their legacy. Weather, https://doi.org/10.1002/wea.3219, in press.

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THREAT TO DATA INTEGRITY AND INTERNATIONAL EXCHANGE

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  • 1 Deakin University, Geelong, Australia
  • 2 Monash University, Melbourne, Australia
  • 3 University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia
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© 2018 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

For more than a hundred years, it has been recognized that reliable weather prediction for every country will continue to depend on collection and exchange of high-quality, consistent, homogeneous meteorological observations from within its national borders and from around the world. In the May 2018 issue of BAMS, Serra et al. (2018) highlight what they see as serious threats to U.S. meteorology from the privatization of data collection. In fact, these developments represent a threat to the entire international system for meteorological monitoring, research, and services that have served the world extraordinarily well since the origins of international meteorological cooperation in the mid-nineteenth century. This system has underpinned essential public weather and climate services in every country, supported the safety and efficiency of international shipping and aviation, and helped ensure the integrity of a growing private meteorological service industry in many parts of the world (Davies 1990; Obasi 2003).

The privatization of meteorological data collection for the provision of essential public weather services presents significant challenges for data ownership, access and sharing, especially in the context of the established arrangements for free and unrestricted data exchange between the Member countries of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). These international arrangements have their foundation in long historical experience (Daniel 1973) and political and administrative concern for rigorous economic efficiency and effectiveness (Gunasekera 2010).

The present system of international cooperation goes back to the first international meteorological conference convened by U.S. Navy Lieutenant Matthew Fontaine Maury in 1853. It was developed under the non-governmental International Meteorological Organization (IMO) between 1873 and 1950, strengthened and consolidated under the intergovernmental WMO established in 1950, and institutionalized in the highly successful WMO World Weather Watch established in 1963 (Rasmussen 2003). The uniquely successful IMO/WMO model of international cooperation is based on every country acquiring as many as it can of the observations it must have for domestic purposes and making those observations freely available to every other country to support international shipping and aviation as well as its national needs. Numerous studies have demonstrated the effectiveness, equity, and economic cost efficiency of the World Weather Watch and the research, systems, and services built on it as a universally owned framework for international cooperation in delivering the increasing benefits of meteorology to the world (Zillman 2000, 2008).

The need for continuity, homogeneity, and strict adherence to agreed instrumental and observational standards is now far more acute than when the World Weather Watch was put in place in the 1960s. National communities are now much more insistent on the reliability of public weather information, and governments cannot allow the kinds of failure in critical warning services that can flow from use of erroneous or inconsistent observational data in prediction models. The measurement and monitoring of climate variability and change through the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS) established in 1992 now requires far greater attention to uniformity, consistency, homogeneity, and continuity in observations for climate purposes, especially those that bear on governments’ obligations under the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

The current threats to the integrity of observational data collection and to free and unrestricted international exchange of meteorological data are not entirely new. Probably the most serious such threat occurred in the late 1980s and early 1990s when moves towards commercialization of a number of (mainly European) National Meteorological Services (NMSs) brought pressures to turn previously freely exchanged data from a global public good into commercial property, leading to countries' withholding of data followed by retribution from their neighbors.

For a time, only the U.S. and a few other countries held out on the essentiality of free and open data policies to continuing international cooperation. Eventually, through the unanimously adopted “Resolution 40” of the 1995 World Meteorological Congress, more than 160 Member countries of WMO committed “as a fundamental principle of WMO…to broadening and enhancing the free and unrestricted international exchange of meteorological and related data and products” (Bautista Perez 1996).

Meteorology and its applications have advanced greatly since the early 1990s, but the fundamental principle of free and unrestricted exchange of data as a global public good remains unchanged as the essential foundation for international cooperation in meteorology and for vital public interest weather and climate research and services in every country (Zillman 2018a,b).

Robust international governance arrangements compatible with WMO obligations to share data unrestrictedly across countries for public benefit are urgently needed to establish the regulatory and legal frameworks necessary to address data collection and exchange issues associated with any attempts to commercialize the large-scale collection of meteorological data. We consider it imperative that the Member countries of the WMO maintain their commitment to free and unrestricted data exchange with other countries. This, at least, will continue to deliver widespread global benefit from meteorology, even if depriving the commercial data providers of some of their potential customers (Foust 2017).

REFERENCES

  • Bautista Perez, M., 1996: New WMO regulations on the international exchange of meteorological data and products: Incorporating Resolution 40 (Cg.XII)—WMO policy and practice for the exchange of meteorological and related data and products, including guidelines on relationships in commercial meteorological activities. WMO Bull., 45, 2029.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Daniel, H., 1973: One hundred years of international cooperation in meteorology (1873–1973)—A historical review. WMO Bull., 12, 156203.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Davies, D. A., 1990: Forty years of progress and achievement: A historical review of WMO. WMO Rep. 721, 205 pp., https://library.wmo.int/pmb_ged/wmo_721_en.pdf.

  • Foust, J., 2017: Smallsats provide opportunities and challenges for weather data. SpaceNews, https://spacenews.com/smallsats-provide-opportunities-and-challenges-for-weather-data/.

  • Gunasekera, D., 2010: Use of climate information for socio-economic benefits. Proc. Environ. Sci., 1, 384386, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.proenv.2010.09.025.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Obasi, G. O. P., 2003: A decade of progress: The World Meteorological Organization in the 1990s and the new century. WMO Rep. 956, 228 pp., https://library.wmo.int/pmb_ged/wmo_956_en.pdf.

  • Rasmussen, J. R., 2003: Historical development of the World Weather Watch. WMO Bull., 52, 1625.

  • Serra, Y. L., and Coauthors, 2018: The risks of contracting the acquisition and processing of the nation’s weather and climate data to the private sector. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 99, 869870, https://doi.org/10.1175/BAMS-D-18-0034.1.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Zillman, J. W., 2000: Millenium perspectives. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 81, 29932994.

  • Zillman, J. W., 2008: International cooperation in Earth system science and services. Proc. First Conf. on Int. Cooperation in Earth System Science and Services, New Orleans, LA, Amer. Meteor. Soc., https://ams.confex.com/ams/pdfpapers/136389.pdf.

  • Zillman, J. W., 2018a: International cooperation in meteorology, part 1: Origin and early years. Weather, 73, 295300, https://doi.org/10.1002/wea.3217.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Zillman, J. W., 2018b: International cooperation in meteorology, part 2: The golden years and their legacy. Weather, https://doi.org/10.1002/wea.3219, in press.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
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