Storms, floods, droughts and landslides are just a few examples of hydro-meteorological hazards that can be caused by climate change or extreme weather events. As these hazards account for the majority of natural disasters occurring worldwide, robust hydrometeorological monitoring systems are required to improve preparedness and mitigation. But what are hydrometeorological monitoring systems and how are they used?
What are hydrometeorological studies and why are they important?
Hydrometeorology is the study of energy, chemistry, physics and water fluxes in the atmosphere and Earth's surface. This science measures and understands hydrological phenomena occurring in the atmosphere and on the surface; it places particular emphasis on the interaction between the two. The hydrological cycle describes the transport cycle of water linking the land, ocean and atmosphere. Water moves between the atmosphere, Earth and oceans through processes such as precipitation and evaporation. Water is transported within the Earth by surface runoff and infiltration.
Hydrometeorological monitoring systems include tools to measure changes in many variables of the hydrological cycle. These monitoring and information systems are used in a variety of critical applications. These applications and services are typically used to:
1.Predict, forecast and warn of hydrometeorological hazards, enabling communities and governments to develop adequate preparedness, prevention and mitigation strategies.
2.Assist in water resource management and distribution, and drought forecasting. This can also include water quality assessments and ecotoxicological assessments.
3.Monitor, assess and mitigate any climate-related risks.
How do they apply in different contexts?
Different techniques and monitoring systems assess various hydrometeorological phenomena.
Hydrometeorological monitoring uses many types of technology, such as radar, advanced weather balloons, satellites, and numerical and mathematical models. These techniques are often used in conjunction with other hydrometeorological equipment and synoptic weather stations to compile reliable weather data. Many communities use these solutions to monitor variables in the hydrological cycle.
Current applications of hydrometeorological monitoring
The Mekong Hydrometeorological Monitoring Initiative plays an important role in local communities. It provides near real-time weather information and has the ability to issue early warnings. The system also supports water resource management and development. Natural events such as monsoons and individual storms can trigger changes in river flow. They can also be caused by other factors, such as human activity, climate change and deforestation.
Hydrometeorological stations installed along the Mekong River span multiple countries. These stations enable drought monitoring and provide near real-time water level and precipitation data. These data can be used for river monitoring and forecasting. The information system enables member countries to obtain reliable and accurate data on the entire river from the upper reaches of China to the delta in Vietnam.
Current and future research in hydrometeorological monitoring
To keep up with a changing climate and planet, more precise and sophisticated equipment, models and instruments need to be developed. This need has been at least partially met by recent advances in satellites, on which most hydrometeorological monitoring systems rely heavily.
The third generation of weather satellites will be launched in 2022 to improve weather forecasting, especially of severe storms. NASA aims to launch four Earth science missions in 2022. These missions will be carried out using its constellation of Earth observation satellites. These missions will gather more information about Earth's climate systems and processes. To aid analysis, data will be collected to monitor tropical cyclones, atmospheric dust, extreme storms, and surface water and oceans.
As technology continues to improve, the future of hydrometeorological monitoring is promising. In addition to the development of more advanced satellites and instruments, advances in alternative technologies such as drones will improve data collection programs, especially in hard-to-reach areas. Incorporating artificial intelligence and machine learning into data modeling is also expected to significantly improve the capabilities of current and future hydrometeorological monitoring systems.