CTBTO-WMO, the Way Forward

A highly successful workshop entitled "CTBTO-WMO, The Way Forward" co-sponsored by the CTBTO Preparatory Commission and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) was held at the VIC from 16 to 18 October. The WMO and the Commission are in the process of concluding a Cooperation Agreement. The CTBTO Preparatory Commission is already complying with the Agreement, and the WMO Executive Council has declared that it can be provisionally applied before formal approval by the WMO Congress in May next year.

The workshop welcomed representatives from 15 institutions with 24 hour service capacities from ten different countries, as well as from the WMO Headquarters, the European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasts and the Preparatory Commision. Work focused on atmospheric transport modelling (ATM), an area where WMO Meteorological Centres specialising in atmospheric transport problems could assist the Commission in associating specific radionuclides with a possible source region. A two-part agenda included individual presentations on existing and planned capabilities, as well as concrete planning for a common experiment.

Under certain circumstances, radionuclide monitoring technology may be the only means of detecting an ambitiously disguised, or decoupled, nuclear explosion. In such cases source region association through atmospheric transport modelling will be crucial in determining the region from which the suspicious radionuclides may originate. The inclusion of modelling results from WMO Centres helps to address the uncertainties associated with the dynamics of the atmosphere, providing views from different geographical regions and thus building confidence in the source region estimation results delivered to the States Parties.

The workshop was opened by Mr. Wolfgang Hoffmann, Executive Secretary of the Preparatory Commission. Participants agreed that the first co-ordinated CTBTO-WMO experiment on source location estimation will take place in spring 2003. Full agreement was reached on the procedures and requirements for joint ATM modelling in line with the needs of the CTBT verification regime. The hypothetical radionuclide measurement scenario of the experiment will be as close as possible to reality according to solid scientific experience and analysis. Workshop participants fully acknowledged the rapid and significant progress made by the Commission in the fields of ATM. The experiment should be an important step forward for the CTBT radionuclide verification system.

The workshop was closed by Mr. Dieter Schiessl, Director of the Basic Systems Department of World Weather Watch, on behalf of the Secretary-General of the WMO. Some ten recommendations will be communicated to Working Group B.

Previous joint ATM experiments have been carried out in March 1999 with meteorological centres in Melbourne, Montreal and Washington, and in May 2000 with these centres and additional centres in France, Japan, the Russian Federation and the United Kingdom.