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Olympiad seeks better weather forecasts
By Liu Li (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-07-20 00:45

Beijing may hold a weather forecast demonstration during the 2008 Olympic Games, presided by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

Officials say weather forecasts during the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games may be more accurate with international participation. Organizations from Canada, Britain, Australia and the United States will work with the China Meteorological Administration.

If approved, the Games in 2008 will become the second ever Olympic event to hold such a demonstration project after the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia.

"I'm 99 per cent sure of Beijing's winning the project although the decision will not be made until October by the World Weather Research Programme (WWRP) under the WMO," Thomas D. Keenan, member of WWRP Science Steering Committee, told China Daily Monday.

"Beijing is well prepared for the project since 2002 when its proposal was submitted," he said.

The final decision will be made in October by the organization.

Keenan and five experts from WWRP and the science committee, as well as two officials from the WMO attended a meeting in Beijing Monday to evaluate the proposed project. It will last until tomorrow.

The 29th Olympic Games will be held in Beijing between August 8 and 24, 2008. The Paralympic Games are to be held in the following two weeks.

"Since high-impact weather events such as high temperature and mugginess, heavy rain and thunderstorms occur frequently during this period of the year, weather will be a significant factor for the success of the Olympic Games," Liu Wenbin, an official with the Sports Department of the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad, said Monday.

He emphasized outdoor sports, such as sailing, canoeing, baseball and tennis, are especially weather sensitive.

"For example, competitions of kayak and rowing will not be able to go ahead if the wind is heavier than three metres per second," he said.

The organizing committee signed a contract with the Beijing Meteorological Bureau in 2003 for meteorological services for the 2008 Games.

The bureau has vowed to provide various forecast services from general weather forecasts to daily forecasts during the Games.

Five automated weather observation stations were installed by the bureau last year.

"Only a high-quality weather information service precise to sports can ensure successful games," Liu said.

Meanwhile, an official with the China Meteorological Administration vowed that the forecast of severe weather events during the 2008 Olympic Games, like the sudden storm on July 10 in Beijing, will be more accurate than now.

The nation's capital was hit hard by a storm on July 10, which collapsed five houses, injured three people, caused dozens of traffic jams and pushed its drainage system to the limit.

Although the meteorological authority in Beijing forecast one day before that there will be rain that day, no information was given to the public about how heavy the storm would be or where it would hit.

"Collective forecast, which is expected to be adopted by Beijing during the Games in 2008, will be more precise than the single forecast system," said Zhao Datong, vice-director of the Scientific Development Department under the China Meteorological Administration.

But the official pointed out that even the world's top forecast system could not guarantee 100 per cent accurate weather predictions.

"Forecasts of heavy rainfall in a short time are a global problem," he said. "The international accuracy rate is 10 per cent to 20 per cent."

Furthermore, Assistant President of the Chinese Academy of Meteorological Sciences Ye Qian called for an overall plan for the 2008 Olympic Games to give advanced meteorological services to agencies involved in public transportation, infectious disease control, fire fighting and anti-terrorism activities.

He also urged the integration of the plan into the daily disaster prevention and emergency treatment system of the Beijing municipal government.

There will be more than 20,000 athletes, coaches and Olympic officials attending the Games in 2008 in Beijing, along with more than 1 million visitors and 10 million local residents, Ye said.

"This requires better weather forecast services than now," he said.

Ye was a visiting scientist of the National Centre for Atmospheric Research of the United States before working in his current post in the academy.

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