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. Weather forecasting needs huge boost to tackle climate change: WMO
GENEVA, Sept 20 (AFP) Sep 20, 2007
The UN's meteorological agency on Friday called for a multibillion dollar boost for weather forecasting, warning that about 30 percent of economic wealth was directly exposed to the impact of global warming.

The World Meteorological Organisation urged the international community to pay greater attention to helping countries, especially poor nations, adapt to the extreme weather conditions associated with climate change.

"We estimate that today up to 30 percent of the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) of a developed country shows a significant sensitivity to weather, climate and water conditions, and the share can be proportionally even bigger in developing countries," said WMO Secretary General Michel Jarraud.

He urged countries to extend and make better use of the technology available in order to cope with an increase in floods, drought or storms and to better protect lives, health, food supplies and the wider economy.

An estimated five to 10 billion dollars is spent every year around the world on weather forecasting but the amount needs to increase sharply according to the WMO.

"In developing countries it's definitely much more than doubling. In developed countries it's more subtle than that," Jarraud told journalists.

"In developing countries it's fundamental, it's not just strengthening, it's even rebuilding (weather) infrastructure," he added.

The appeal was made ahead of a meeting of world leaders at the United Nations in New York on Monday to help strengthen action against accelerating climate change.

Jarraud pointed to gaps in prevention, such as long term weather forecasting, as well as shortcomings in the use of weather information in different economic or social sectors such as farming, water supplies or health.

"It's one thing to issue good warnings, but we have to do something with the warnings," he added.

Most international efforts to deal with climate change have focused so far on mitigation -- attempts to cut pollution or carbon dioxide emissions that contribute to global warming -- more than adaptation.

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