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The Value of Surface-based Meteorological Observation Data (English)

Weather forecasting generates significant societal benefits, which can be increased by improving accuracy and lead-time through better meteorological monitoring, modeling and computing. Forecasting relies on numerical weather prediction (NWP), which is significantly impacted by the availability of meteorological observations, with space-based observations being the most important. Surface-based observations also contribute substantially to NWP performance, but current availability in Antarctica, Africa, South America, the Pacific and parts of Asia is insufficient. More observations from these regions would improve global NWP and forecasting quality, particularly in the data-sparse regions themselves, but also over the rest of the globe. It is estimated that improvements in the coverage and exchange of surface-based observations to meet the World Meteorological Organization’s Global Basic Observing Network (GBON) specification can deliver additional global socioeconomic benefits of over five billion annually. This is a conservative estimate omitting non-financial benefits such as potential lives saved and improvements to well-being, so underestimates the full benefits, particularly for developing countries. Investing in improving surface-based observations in data sparse regions is also highly economically efficient, yielding a global benefit to cost ratio of over twenty-five. Assuming sufficient observational coverage, international data exchange is a very efficient multiplier of the value of observations. However, exchange is currently insufficient across all regions. In view of the growing climate- and weather-related challenges facing humanity and recognizing that climate services similarly rely on meteorological monitoring, surface-based observations should be treated as a critical public good, with public oversight and open exchange within the meteorological and climatological communities.


  • Author

    Kull,Daniel Werner, Riishojgaard,Lars Peter, Eyre,John, Varley,Robert Andrew

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  • Document Type

    Working Paper

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  • Region

    The World Region,

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  • Doc Name

    The Value of Surface-based Meteorological Observation Data

  • Keywords

    united nations framework convention on climate change; weather forecast; European Bank for Reconstruction and Development; united states agency for international development; socioeconomic benefits; observational data; weather prediction; water use in agriculture; water supply system operation; benefits in fuel saving; reduction in fuel consumption; United Nations Environment Programme; impact of climate change; global climate observing system; global public good; numerical weather prediction; meteorological observation; early warning system; disaster risk management; climate services; providing universal access; industrial water use; snow and ice; data exchange; climate-related risks; quality and quantity; provision of service; severe weather warnings; global economic development; sustainable development goals; global environment facility; islamic development bank; costs of exclusion; drought early warning; national road network; portion of total; average retail price; electrical power generation; industrial water supply; industrial water consumption; fixed water supply; impact of weather; agricultural production loss; privileges and immunity; Water Resource Management; long term projection; danger to life; small island countries; Disaster Risk Reduction; Green Climate Fund; world food programme; meteorological service; global benefit; value chain; cost-benefit analysis; weather observations; forecast error; asset loss; satellite operator; surface pressure; international exchange; drifting buoy; climate analysis; road transportation; Public Goods; climate monitoring; meteorological data; climate forecast; global estimate; surface area; Learning and Innovation Credit; computer model; societal benefit; project duration; wholesale price; based systems; conservative assumption; hydrometeorological service; common good; geostationary satellites; recent years; construction delay



Official version of document (may contain signatures, etc)


Kull,Daniel Werner Riishojgaard,Lars Peter Eyre,John Varley,Robert Andrew

The Value of Surface-based Meteorological Observation Data (English). Washington, D.C. : World Bank Group.