Who are the main parties involved in the conceptual modelling activity - or rather, which communities are responsible for driving the requirements?

Note: this is written from a WMO perspective - largely with the aim of harmonising initiatives across a number of communities.

WMO - operational meteorology

WMO - operational meteorology context

World Meteorological Organisation - Specialized agency of UN (1951)

“UN system's authoritative voice on the state and behaviour of the Earth's atmosphere, its interaction with the oceans, the climate it produces and the resulting distribution of water resources”

~ 190 Member States and Territories (circa 2010)

WMO facilitates the free and unrestricted exchange of data and information, products and services in real- or near-real time relating to safety and security of society, economic welfare and the protection of the environment. Policies for the exchange of meteorological data and products are defined by ‘Resolution 40

Originally founded in 1873, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) became a specialized agency of the United Nations in 1951. It is the UN system's authoritative voice on the state and behaviour of the Earth's atmosphere, its interaction with the oceans, the climate it produces and the resulting distribution of water resources.

As weather, climate and the water cycle know no national boundaries, global international cooperation is essential for the development of meteorology and operational hydrology as well as to reap the benefits from their application. WMO provides this cooperative framework.

WMO facilitates the free and unrestricted exchange of data and information, products and services in real- or near-real time relating to safety and security of society, economic welfare and the protection of the environment. It contributes to policy formulation in these areas at national and international levels.

Weather, climate and water-related hazards account for nearly 90% of all natural disasters. WMO Programmes provide vital information for the advance warnings that save lives and reduce damage to property and the environment. WMO also contributes to reducing the impacts of human-induced disasters, such as those associated with chemical and nuclear accidents, forest fire and volcanic ash.

WMO plays a leading role in international efforts to monitor and protect the environment through its Programmes. In collaboration with other UN agencies and the National Meteorological and Hydrological Services, WMO supports the implementation of a number of environmental conventions and is instrumental in providing advice and assessments to governments on related matters. These activities contribute towards ensuring the sustainable development and well-being of nations.

World Weather Watch & Global Telecommunication System

The routine collection and exchange of weather information to support operational weather forecasting by National Meteorological Services is known as the 'World Weather Watch' - a WWW long before the W3C was born! The Global Telecommunications System (GTS) is the global extranet that supports this exchange of information - it has been operational for 50+ years and predates the Internet by some margin. Necessarily, it has an operational focus with its primary objective to support the ‘closed’ community of National Meteorological Services.

WMO Data Product Specifications: Traditional Alphanumeric Codes (TAC) and Table Driven Code Forms

Given the operational focus (i.e. for supporting time & safety critical functions) and longevity of the GTS, the data specificiations for products exchanged are highly compact & suitable for low-bandwidth networks. These efficient encodings are designed to work in conjunction with external reference data (tables). To use such data products, consumers need access to the reference tables alongside the data products. Whilst this is fine for members of the WMO community, who often establish (bi-lateral) agreements out-of-band about local extensions to the reference tables, it is not easy for such data products to be consumed by general users.

WMO maintain 2 data-representation systems for data products:

  • Traditional Alphanumeric Codes (TACs) ... legacy alphanumeric codes dating back to the era of teletypes
  • Table Driven Code Forms (TDCF) (BUFR, CREX, GRIB) ... binary data, capable of encoding significantly more complex content
TDCF tables/regulations include data models and data representation systems.

WMO is migrating from TAC to TDCF for data representation (endorsed by WMO Executive Council/Congress) - with the intention of retiring the TAC code-forms.

WMO Information System (WIS)

Recognising WMO's position as the UN System's authoritative voice on the state and behaviour of the Earth's atmosphere, its interaction with the oceans, the climate it produces and the resulting distribution of water resources, the WMO seeks to improve its ability to provide weather, climate and water-resource information to as broad a community as possible.

The WMO Information System ensures the...

"extension of WMO's policy on the free and unrestricted international exchange of meteorological and related data and products to the entire domain of such data and products used globally.“

[WMO Bulletin Vol. 55(4) - Oct 2006]

The WMO Information system (WIS) is the single coordinated global infrastructure responsible for the telecommunications and data management functions. It is the pillar of the WMO strategy for managing and moving weather, water and climate information in the 21st century. WIS provides an integrated approach suitable for all WMO Programmes to meet the requirements for routine collection and automated dissemination of observed data and products, as well as data discovery, access and retrieval services for all weather, climate, water and related data produced by centres and Member countries in the framework of any WMO Programme.

WIS is not just about contemporary, Internet-compatible technology. It is also concerned with making data more accessible. To facilitate this, new data and metadata standards developed within WMO build on the ISO Geographic Information / Geomatics suite of standards.

ICAO - Aviation Community

Weather information is critical to the aviation community - it is a legal requirement for pilots to have appropriate information before take-off.

The International Civil Aviation Authority (ICAO) delegated responsiblility for managing data product spsecifications relating to operational meteorology for avaiation users to WMO - the 'Chicago Convention'. These are referred to as 'Annex 3' OPMET data representation systems.

The OPMET data are product centric: TAF, METAR, SigWx etc.

The aviation user community reluctant to use the WMO TDCF due to their limited applicability for other aeronautical information. As a result, the avaition community continue to exploit the legacy TAC code-forms, thus slowing WMO's attempts to retire these legacy formats.

Developing XML-encodings of OPMET products is considered important step for ICAO in order to facilitate the exchange of richer content. From WMO's perspective, such a move must be compatible with the existing table-driven data models in order to mitigate the risk of needing to maintain an additional code-form alongside TDCF.

Aeronatical Information Management (AIM) - future plans.

The ICAO Assembly – 36th Session (Montréal 2007) expressed:

"Recognition of need to transition to the broader concept of aeronautical information management (AIM) to ensure availability of real-time accredited and quality assured information to any Air Traffic Management user in a globally interoperable and fully digital environment"

As the aviation community looks to increase the flight capacity within the global airspace, this implies minimizing the impact of weather sensitivities to air traffic – resulting in the need to improve the fidelity of information disseminated to end-users by exchanging datasets of observed and forecast phenomena which are unconstrained by traditional OPMET product specifications.

Future AIM projects

EUROCONTROL (Single European Sky ATM Research [SESAR]) and FAA (Next Generation Air Transportation System [NextGen])

The Weather Exchange Model (WXXM) has been developed with FAA-EUROCONTROL cooperation with the aim to displace existing Annex 3 data-products. It forms part of the family of Aeronautical Information Exchange Models (AIXM) based on the ISO Geographic Information / Geomatics suite of standards originating from ISO TC/211

Earth Science

WMO and science communities

WMO Earth Science community context

WMO is factored into a number of Technical Commissions:

  • CBS: Basic Systems
  • CHy: Hydrography
  • CCI: Climatology
  • CAgM: Agricultural Meteorology
  • CAeM: Aeronautical Meteorology
  • CIMO: Instruments, Measurements & Observations
  • JCOMM: Oceanography & Marine Meteorology

The Commission for Basic Systems (which operates the World Weather Watch programme) is complemented by a number of other commissions which engage in the broad community of Earth Systems science - often through programmes such as IPCC, WCRP and GCOS

Earth Science standards

Standards for data representation and exchange within the Earth Systems Science community often have no explicit governance authority – community adoption is driven by the utility of the standards and richness of associated tooling ...

Earth Science community standards

The governance of these formats is outside the control of WMO, which has lead to divergence and lack of interoperability between formats maintained by WMO (with a focus on operational exchange) and those developed by the community (with a focus on utility for research)

Community lead initiatives such as the Climate Science Modelling Language (CSML) from UK Natural Environment Research Council, and Unidata's Common Data Model for netCDF seek to reconcile these standards with the ISO Geographic Information / Geomatics frameworks.


INSPIRE header

The INSPIRE directive came into force on 15 May 2007 as European Regional Legislation

The INSPIRE directive aims to create a European Union (EU) spatial data infrastructure. This will enable the sharing of environmental spatial information among public sector organisations and better facilitate public access to spatial information across Europe in support of policy making and activities which may impact the environment.

The INSPIRE directive addresses 34 spatial data themes needed for environmental applications [ ]

The INSPIRE directive implementing rules mandate the use of ISO Geographic Information / Geomatics standards from ISO TC/211

More information is available on the Definition of Annex Themes and Scope


WMO Region VI (Europe) Members must conform to both INSPIRE & WMO implementation rules – therefore WMO seek to harmonize implementing rules with INSPIRE

The diagram below indicates the broad range of overlapping themes between the two communities:

WMO and INSPIRE overlaps

-- JeremyTandy - 20 Apr 2011
Topic revision: r1 - 20 Apr 2011, JeremyTandy
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