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NZer to head world commission for agri meteorology

NIWA Media Release 15 November 2006

New Zealander to head world commission for agricultural meteorology

New Zealand climate scientist, Dr Jim Salinger, of the National Institute of Water & Atmospheric Research (NIWA) has been elected President of the Commission for Agricultural Meteorology of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

The WMO is the United Nations agency with responsibility for issues relating to weather, climate, and the water cycle.

The Commission for Agricultural Meteorology is one of the eight technical commissions of the WMO. It assists the 187 WMO member states and territories in the provision of climate, weather, and related services to the agricultural community. It has a wide-ranging work programme including strengthening monitoring and early warning systems for weather-related disasters, increasing efficiency in water use, and improving agricultural production and quality.

Dr Salinger says the Commission's work on developing early warning systems for natural hazards (floods, windstorms, droughts, landslides, and heatwaves) is particularly important. 'Over the past ten years we have seen a rising trend of natural hazards, with floods and droughts having the most severe impacts on agriculture, forestry and rangelands, and poor nations suffering the most. As an example, the Commission is working to improve monitoring systems for early detection of drought. This requires more accurate climate forecasts which make it possible to develop new early warning systems.'

Until his election, Dr Salinger chaired the Commission's work programme on climate change/variability and natural disasters in agriculture. As President he will be expected to oversee the Commission's entire work programme and chair its management group. This position recognises, in part, New Zealand's role as an innovative primary producer. 'New Zealand farmers have access to a high standard of weather and climate information,' says Dr Salinger. 'With the current climate forecast of an El Niño and a drier early summer likely in the northeast of both islands farmers can increase their preparedness now for any drop in pasture production that may eventuate later.'


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