By Dale C. S. Destin |
Happy World Meteorological Day! Today, March 23, is World Meteorological Day (World Met Day). It is celebrated each year to mark the coming into force the 1950 convention that created the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).
WMO is to meteorology what FIFA is to football (soccer); it is the United Nations body that governs what happens in the world of weather and climate. Perhaps not as rich as FIFA though!
Over the years, Antigua and Barbuda has benefited tremendously from being a member of WMO since 1988. Last year, made local history when we graduated our first ever female meteorologist, the first and only Antiguan currently with an MSc in Meteorology, and we are looking forward fondly to celebrating our second female meteorologist shortly. Both of whom were funded by WMO.
World Met Day also celebrates the invaluable contributions that National Meteorological Services (NMSs) and the broader meteorological community make to the safety and well-being of society.
This year’s theme for World Met Day is “Weather and climate: engaging youth;” an appropriate theme given the challenges and opportunities of today’s world. One of the greatest challenges of our time and for generation Z is global climate change. What will a changing world look like 40 years from now? As with challenges there are opportunities. Youth will no doubt play a major part in developing the technologies and policies required to answer the challenges of climate change.
In celebration of World Met Day, with our Caribbean colleagues and the rest of the world, the Antigua and Barbuda Meteorological Service (ABMS) will be having an “Open Day” on March 24. The public, especially the youth, is invited to visit the Met Office at the V. C. Bird International Airport to interact with us and see what we do. We also look forward to your feedback on how we could better serve you. We especially welcome creative and out of the box thoughts.
“Engaging the youth” is nothing new for the ABMS, as it is also nothing new for the WMO. For about half century now, the ABMS has basically had an open door policy, welcoming many schools and thousands of youths to its facilities and supporting their career fairs. The ABMS has also facilitated and supported many school projects and assignments from the primary to tertiary levels.
Many of the current members of the ABMS staff, which are youth, are beneficiaries of some of the above mentioned interactions and have since been inspired to make weather and climate a career.
As with any venture, there are always room for improvement. With the heightened sensitivity to the potential disastrous impacts of climate variability and change, NMSs have become centre stage for weather and climate services. In this area, there is much room for development and expansion; Antigua and the Caribbean are no exceptions. With a revamp structure, many more of the region’s youth will have the opportunity to have distinguished careers in weather, climate and related sciences.
Revamping the structure of the region’s NMSs is a growing urgent need that requires immediate attention. With the challenges, present and ahead, and the pivotal roles the NMSs of the region will be required to play, I believe this needs to be a regional effort, perhaps reaching the highest regional body – CARICOM. Of course, these efforts should be led by the Caribbean Meteorological Organization and the Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology.
Notwithstanding, there is much to celebrate! Happy World Met Day!
Visit WMO for activities and materials in support of World Met Day