Meteorology, key to meeting the goals of the UN’s Agenda 2030

Madrid / 23 March 2021

Although it sometimes goes unnoticed, meteorology plays a vital role in the development of economic activities, and even more so in the field of renewable energies. To give just one example, the science that studies atmospheric phenomena is responsible for deciding where to locate a wind farm so that it offers the highest possible yield. But in addition, meteorology is crucial to help meet goals 11 and 13 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Sustainable Cities and Communities and Climate Action, respectively.
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"Of the 17 goals set by the UN, there is only one that has nothing to do with meteorology and climatology; in all the others it is a necessary element for achieving them through its different facets: atmospheric pollution, climate information, climate change or weather forecasting," says Nekane Martínez, head of the Meteorological and Energy Forecasting department at Siemens Gamesa. Achieving more accurate forecasts is essential, which is why meteorologists rely on Big Data and Artificial Intelligence. 

These two tools provide "an increase in the capacity to manage and assimilate a greater amount of information than in the past. This results in a higher quality of predictions and an increase in the number of prediction variables," explains Sergio Castillo, meteorology specialist at Siemens Gamesa.
"Within the UN itself we find initiatives such as the UN Global Pulse designed to take advantage of the potential of Big Data," explains Camilo Moreira, Meteorology expert at Siemens Gamesa. UN Global Pulse is the UN Secretary General's initiative on Big Data and Artificial Intelligence for development, humanitarian action and peace. 
Climate science is supported by Big Data and Artificial Intelligence, in addition to an increase in open weather information sources, i.e. short- and medium-term forecasts and historical weather data through reanalysis available for any geographic location. The more open data (available from two sources: the Global Forecast System (GFS) and the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF)), the better it can be assimilated and, therefore, the life for global citizens will also improve.
Meteorology and the 2030 Agenda
Meteorology is key to achieving the goals that in 2015 the member states of the United Nations set themselves to end poverty, protect the planet and improve people's lives.
Tackling climate change and promoting sustainable development are two issues that go hand in hand, since "investments in sustainable development help to tackle climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, helping to drive sustainable development," adds Nekane Martínez. Among all these goals, we highlight two: 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities) and 13 (Climate Action).
Meteorology plays a vital role in the development of economic activities
Sustainable Cities and Communities
Within cities, "knowledge of the climate and the return period of extreme events is a key factor in the management and planning of cities," says Sergio Castillo. Meteorologists agree on one aspect above all: avoiding harmful levels of nitrogen oxides and carbon dioxide with measures that reduce the impact on the population. "Improving air quality is everyone's job, therefore, having systems for predicting and warning of unfavorable conditions for the dispersion of pollutants is vital, among other activities, for traffic planning," explains José Luis Sánchez, professor of Physics and director of the Institute for Research into the Environment and Natural Resources (IMARENA) at the University of León.
On the other hand, within cities, the efficiency of buildings also stands out in the so-called Smart Buildings. These buildings have optimized and automated air conditioning through the Internet of Things: IoT. From the data that the building receives, there is "weather data with which the building's climate control is managed more efficiently. Even lighting could be optimized using cloud data. This optimization, when carried out in a generalized way, will have a great impact on sustainability," says Camilo Moreira.
According to the meteorologists consulted, other points that can be achieved within objective 11 are maximizing agricultural production by controlling meteorological variables or making a good seasonal forecast to improve the management of water resources. In addition, it is also very important to apply preventive measures in the face of extreme events, as was the case of the great snowfalls of Filomena in Madrid, Spain in early 2021 or most recently in Texas, United States.
Climate action
The motto of Goal 13 of the 2030 Agenda is clear: we must act for the climate. According to the latest report of the International Panel of Climate Change (IPCC), extreme events will intensify in the coming years. "A good weather forecast of these would help to reinforce prevention and civil protection actions to avoid fatal consequences derived from this increase in the frequency and intensity of severe weather events," explains Sergio Castillo. José Luis Sánchez highlights the climatological risks according to three factors: danger, exposure and vulnerability, where he emphasizes the latter two since "if we want to reduce the risk, we have to act on them, therefore, we must direct our efforts towards these two actions", he claims.
Climate science is supported by Big Data and Artificial Intelligence

This vulnerability and exposure is related to the place, that is to say, it has a local component. Each region has different characteristics and means that there is no one-size-fits-all solution. "The different climatic conditions and vulnerability, as well as the exposure to climatic conditions by the population determine which adaptation measures are reasonable to apply in different places and sectors," says Ernesto Rodriguez, head of the Climate Assessment and Modeling Area (AEMET) and member of the board of directors of the AME.

To improve weather forecasting and help unusual weather conditions, digitization is key to improving the quality of forecasting variables and deepening new applications. For example, within wind energy, this digitization can be perceived. "The prediction of the risk of icing on blades or the probability of electrical activity around wind turbines is already available. In the near future, we will also offer the prediction of dust in suspension, a phenomenon that can trigger erosion and early wear on the blades," explains Sergio Castillo.
Meteorology goes beyond what the weather is going to be like at the weekend so that we can enjoy our leisure activities. It plays a fundamental role in the fight against climate change and in meeting all the goals of the 2030 Agenda.


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