Hydrometeorology is a branch of meteorology and hydrology that studies the transfer of water and energy between the land surface and the lower atmosphere. Hydrologists often utilize meteorologists and products produced by meteorologists As an example, a meteorologist would forecast 2-3 inches of rain is a specific area, and a hydrologist would then forecast what the specific impact of that rain would be on the terrain. UNESCO has several programmes and activities in place that deal with the study of natural hazards of hydrometeorological origin and the mitigation of their effects. Among these hazards are the results of natural processes or atmospheric, hydrological, or oceanographic phenomena such as floods, tropical cyclones, drought and desertification. Many countries have established an operational hydrometeorological capability to assist with forecasting, warning, and informing the public of these developing hazards.
One of the more significant aspects of hydrometeorology has to do with the prediction and attempt to mitigate the effects of high precipitation events. Beginning with the prediction, there are three primary ways to model when coming to forecasting. These are now-casting, numerical weather prediction, and statistical techniques. Now-casting is good for predicting events for a few hours out, utilizing observations and live radar data to combine with the numerical weather prediction models. Numerical weather prediction, which is the primary technique used to forecast weather, uses models to take account of the atmosphere, ocean models, and accounts for many other variables when it produces forecasts. These forecasts are generally used for predictions days or weeks out. Finally, statistical techniques utilize regressions and other statistical methods to create long-term projections that go out weeks and months at a time. These models allow scientists to view how a multitude of different variables interact with one another, and they illustrate one picture in how earth's climate interacts with itself.
A major component of hydrometeorology is mitigating the risk associated with flooding and other hydrological threats. First, there has to be knowledge of the possible hydrological threats that are expected within a specific region. After analyzing the possible threats, warning systems are put in place to quickly alert people and communicate to them the identity and magnitude of the threat. Many nations have their own specific regional hydrometeorological centers that communicate threats to the public. Finally, there has to be proper response protocols in place to protect the public during a dangerous event.
Operational Hydrometeorology in Practice
Countries with a current operational hydrometeorology service include, among others:
- England and Wales (Flood Forecasting Centre)
- The United States of America
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