World Weather Watch


EarthData from daily observations all over the world are required in real time to provide weather warnings and forecasts. The World Weather Watch (WWW) is a unique worldwide weather observing system operated by WMO since 1963. Its origin lies in the 1961 UN General Assembly Resolution on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, which itself owed much to the address made by American President J.F. Kennedy to the same session of the General Assembly. It is designed to make available up-to-the-minute meteorological and related information for the efficient use of all countries. A Remarkable example of international cooperation, the WWW is composed of the Global Observing System (GOS), the Global Telecommunication System (GTS), the Global Data-processing system (GDPS) with supporting elements of Data Management Systems Support and Operational Information, all together known as Basic Systems. In addition, the WWW has supplementary programmes dealing with the Satellite Activities, Instruments and Methods of Observation, Tropical Cyclones, and Emergency Response Activities.


Weather balloonAs the basic infrastructure for all WMO's activities, the WWW is the main source for global exchange of meteorological, oceanographic and related observations. Nearly 10.000 land stations, ten geostationary and polar orbiting satellites, approximately 7.300 Voluntary Observing Ships, 3.000 aircraft and more than 800 drifting and 200 moored buoys at sea gather data to distribute worldwide. High-speed links transmit daily over 20 million data characters and 2.000 weather charts through 3 World, 35 Regional and 185 National Meteorological Centres cooperating with each other in preparing weather warnings and forecasts. All observations including those taken outside of national territories (from outer space, over ocean areas and Antarctica), data processing centres and telecommunication links are maintained by Member countries.


The effective worldwide collection, rapid processing and exchange of meteorological observations and forecasts are the main objectives of the WWW. It is aimed at providing weather warnings, forecasts and other products for Member countries of WMO, for other WMO Programmes, and for relevant Programmes of other international and environmental organisations.


Weather satelliteBenefits have centred on the safeguarding of life and property through observing, forecasting, detecting and warning of severe weather phenomena such as local storms, tornadoes, and tropical cyclones. A wide range of economic activities such as farming, aviation, shipping, the construction industry, energy and water resource management, health services, tourism and many more have benefited greatly from weather observations, with subsequent analysis and weather forecasts now extending up to 7-10 days, and seasonal forecasts. Warnings of tropical cyclones, hurricanes, typhoons and the prediction of other natural hazards are now more accurate and timely as a result of the WWW Programme. The WWW has also provided the key database for assessing changes in climate. Despite differing levels of complexity of technology and techniques used at the various WWW centres, the WWW Programme has made it possible for all member countries to participate in a global scheme of activities that allows the global exchange of meteorological data and information. Information transmitted through the WWW is increasingly being used in cases of non-meteorological events. Environmental emergency response systems for nuclear accidents, volcanic ash clouds and large-scale fires have benefited from information made possible through WMO's WWW Programme. Public weather services which are provided using the WWW facilities have assisted individuals, industry groups, government policymakers and international agencies in planning decision making.


German Democratic Republic - stamp World Weather Watch 1968The WWW Programme has conducted assessment of the impact of the Internet and is currently developing a WMO Guide on the Use of the Internet for national Meteorological and Hydrological Services. Capacity building in the area of upgrading observational facilities, especially in developing nations, continues to be of high priority. New telecommunications technology and procedures are being introduced into the GTS that will enhance the speed and reliability of communication links at WWW centres. The replacement of radio transmission by satellite broadcasts is implemented to improve efficiency. Significant progress is being made in the development of regional centres including the African Centre for Meteorological Applications for Development (ADMAD), the Drought Monitoring Centres (DMCs) in Africa and the Regional Specialised Meteorological Centre in Singapore.


The design and development of future systems of the WWW will involve new technologies and more automation for observational instruments, satellite-based telecommunications, use of the potential of Internet and Intranet and higher performance computers. The WWW will become more integrated in terms of surface and space-based observing, research and operations. The WWW will continue to be the foundation of all meteorological activities, be they operational services or those based on research and development. WWW will also continue its support to other WMO Programmes in the 21st century.



Stamp catalogue


German Democratic Republic     24 January 1968









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last revised: 16 February 2008