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GENEVA, Oct. 23 (Xinhua) -- Radio frequency bands used around the clock by meteorological services are increasingly playing a life-saving role in weather forecasts and disaster warnings, especially during the recent spate of devastating tropical cyclones, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said on Monday.
Recent years has seen increasing pressure on the use of radio spectrum from wireless technology and other applications, which has prompted the WMO and the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) to work together to ensure the availability and protection of scarce and valuable radio-frequency bands for making and exchanging meteorological observations, according to a seminar co-hosted by the two agencies on Monday.
The two-day meeting, with a theme on "the Use of Radio Spectrum for Meteorology: Weather, Water and Climate Monitoring and Prediction," focuses on the protection and optimal use of the radio frequency spectrum used for the remote sensing of the atmosphere and exchange of information, which are vital for Earth observations and efforts to understand and predict climate change.
"Accurate and timely weather forecasts make the difference between life and death," says WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas, who gave example of recent hurricanes like Harvey, Irma and Maria that hit the United States and the Caribbean and, most recently, Ophelia which struck Ireland.
These record-breaking events have had a devastating impact on property and infrastructure, and the loss of life would have been even higher without the advanced forecasts and warnings which gave people precious time to prepare and protect themselves, he added.
According to the WMO, the last 50 years has seen major improvements in the ability to predict the weather. A four-day forecast in the northern hemisphere is now as good as a one-day forecast in the early 1980s. This has been achieved largely by people's ability to better analyze the current environment through remote sensing of observations, and through having the communications technology and computing power to collect and process the large amounts of data necessary to model and predict the future state of the atmosphere and oceans.
All of this depends on having access to radio frequency bands that allows people to measure the environment remotely, Taalas highlighted.
Ahead of the seminar, ITU and the WMO jointly issued an updated handbook on the use of radio spectrum for meteorology, which is intended for all users, practitioners, technicians, developers and other interested parties, including governmental institutions and industry.