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Name World Meteorological Organisation
Logo Image:WMO.gif
Geographic Scope Global
Subject Focus Expertise Weather, Climate, Water, Oceans, Environment, Natural hazards, Socio-economic benefits, Observations, Research, Information management, Capacity-building, Least Developed Countries, Gender
Contact E-mail: wmo@wmo.int
URL URL: http://www.wmo.int
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The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations. 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.

WMO has a membership of 188 Member States and Territories(since 24 January 2007). It originated from the International Meteorological Organization (IMO), which was founded in 1873. Established in 1950, WMO became the specialized agency of the United Nations in 1951 for meteorology (weather and climate), operational hydrology and related geophysical sciences.

As weather, climate and the water cycle know no national boundaries, international cooperation at a global scale is essential for the development of meteorology and operational hydrology as well as to reap the benefits from their application. WMO provides the framework for such international cooperation. For over 70 years, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and its predecessor, the International Meteorological Organization, have supported National Hydrological Services, River Basin Authorities and other institutions responsible for water management in a wide range of activities.

Water-Specific WMO Programmes

1. Hydrology and Water Resources Programme (HWRP)

WMO's Hydrology and Water Resources Programme - is concerned with the assessment of the quantity and quality of water resources, both surface and groundwater, in order to meet the needs of society, to permit mitigation of water-related hazards, and to maintain or enhance the condition of the global environment. It provides advice to Members on flood management policy and assists them in their effort to adopt Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) with an emphasis on practical applications. The main goal of the Hydrology and Water Resources Programme is to promote the effective use of hydrology in the framework of Integrated Water Resources Management to contribute to sustainable development, to assist in risk reduction of water-related disasters; and to support effective environmental management at national, basin, regional and international levels.

HWRP is implemented through 4 mutually supporting component programmes:

2. World Hydrological Cycle Observing System (WHYCOS)

WHYCOS is a WMO programme aimed at improving the basic observation activities, strengthening the international cooperation and promoting free exchange of data in the field of hydrology. WHYCOS and its components primarily focus on strengthening technical and institutional capacities of National Hydrological Services (NHSs) and improving their cooperation in the management of shared water resources.

3. Associated Programme on Flood Management (APFM)

APFM addresses flood management in the development context of countries. The programme adopts a new Integrated Flood Management approach, giving consideration to both the positive and negative aspects of floow waters. The programme integrates land and water resources development in a river basin, within the context of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM), with a view to maximizing the net benefit from floodplains and minimizing loss to life due to extreme hydrologic events.

WMO's mission is to:

  • Facilitate worldwide cooperation in the establishment of networks of stations for the making of meteorological observations as well as hydrological and other geophysical observations related to meteorology, and to promote the establishment and maintenance of centres charged with the provision of meteorological and related services;
  • Promote the establishment and maintenance of systems for the rapid exchange of meteorological and related information;
  • Promote standardization of meteorological and related observations and to ensure the uniform publication of observations and statistics;
  • Further the application of meteorology to aviation, shipping, water problems, agriculture and other human activities;
  • Promote activities in operational hydrology and to further close cooperation between Meteorological and Hydrological Services;
  • Encourage research and training in meteorology and, as appropriate, in related fields, and to assist in coordinating the international aspects of such research and training.

Key Resources


  • The Hydrological Information Referral Service (INFOHYDRO) - is a metadata base/service for the distribution of hydrological information to the member countries of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), and their experts, agencies and enterprises engaged in projects related to water-resource assessment, development and management.
  • MEDDAT is a database access and management application produced by MED-HYCOS team, with a possibility of browsing the MED-HYCOS database through tabular and graphical interface with different tools for data displaying. Interfaces for local ACCESS and remote ORACLE databases are included.
  • MEDMAP - MedMap is a mapping application produced by MED-HYCOS team based on Geographical Informational System (GIS) technology, with a possibility of accessing and browsing two types of the MED-HYCOS database, local Access database and/or Internet Oracle database. The database is represented through map interface of Mediterranean region. Four layers are available: Countries, Basins, Rivers and Stations. Raster layer, representing terrain elevation is available as well.
  • MEDCLIM - The main purpose of the tool MedClim is the visualisation and graphical linear and spatial) representation of climatic data from the mediterranean region, namely monthly rainfall and temperature values, including the derivated (averaged monthly and yearly data).
  • The Global Runoff Data Centre (GRDC) is the digital world-wide depository of discharge data and associated metadata. GRDC's role is to serve as a facilitator between data providers and data users. It serves under the auspices of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and has been established at the Federal Institute of Hydrology (BfG), Germany, as early as 1988 in order to support the hydrological and climatological research community by collection and dissemination of a comprehensive and sound runoff data base.
  • The Global Precipitation Climatology Centre (GPCC) provides global precipitation analyses for monitoring and research of the earth's climate. The centre is a German contribution to the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP) and to the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS).
  • International Groundwater Resources Assessment Centre (IGRAC) is dedicated to groundwater information and knowledge in the widest sense, on a world-wide scale and on a non-commercial basis. The IGRAC portal is developed for groundwater-related organisations and professionals, as well as for all others who have stakes in groundwater. (see also UNESCO)
  • The Global Terrestrial Network – Hydrology (GTN-H) is a global hydrological "network of networks" for climate that is building on existing networks and data centres and producing value-added products through enhanced communications and shared development. The goal of the GTN-H is to meet the needs of the international science community for hydrological data and information to address global and regional climate, water resources and environmental issues, including improved climate and weather prediction; detection and quantification of climate change; assessment of impacts of climate change; assessment of freshwater sustainability; and understanding the global water cycle. Collaboration between WMO, UNEP, UNESCO-IOC and ICSU.


Click here for WMO publications relevant to water issues. These include;

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Work on the Ground

The The Commission for Hydrology (CHy) shapes the water resources related activities of the WMO and addresses issues related to the basic hydrological observation network, water resources assessment, flood forecasting and management, adaptability to climate variability and change and promotes exchange of technology and capacity building. In particular the outcomes of its deliberations provide guidance to WMO Member countries and WMO Secretariat for the implementation of the Hydrology and Water Resources Programme of WMO.

Areas of activity include integrated hydrological networks, hydrological forecasting systems, hydrological aspects of natural disasters and environmental issues, assessment of water use, latest advances in hydrological technology and practical implementation of IWRM principles with particular attention to integrated flood management. This information is incorporated into technical standards, reports or guidelines that can be used by NHSs in their work.

The Associated Programme on Flood Management (APFM) is a joint initiative of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the Global Water Partnership (GWP). It promotes the concept of Integrated Flood Management (IFM) as a new approach to flood management. The programme has been financially supported by the governments of Japan and the Netherlands.

Hydrological Operational Multipurpose System (HOMES) was established by the World Meteorological Organization for the transfer of technology in hydrology and water resources. This technology is usually in the form of descriptions of hydrological instruments, technical manuals or computer programs, material which has been made available for inclusion in HOMS by the Hydrological Services of member countries of WMO from the techniques which they themselves use in their normal operations. This is an important aspect of the HOMS philosophy in that it ensures that the technology transferred is not only ready for use but also works reliably.

The six Regional Associations (RAI - Africa, RAII - Asia, RAIII - South America, RAIV - North and Central America, RA V - South-west Pacific and RAVI - Europe) of WMO have each established a working group on hydrology (WGH) with terms of reference encompassing the range of topics covered by the HWRP. Decisions concerning the implementation of these regional activities are taken by the associations at their four-yearly meetings. The work is undertaken by the associations' rapporteurs and working groups, with the support of the WMO Secretariat, the technical support being provided by the HWR Department. These working groups consider hydrological problems of interest in their respective Regions

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