To create better public understanding and support for meteorology, the National Meteorological Center (NMC) and National Satellite Meteorological Center (NSMC) opened to the public on March 24.
Meteorological stations all over the country also opened as part of the activities held on World Meteorological Day, the theme of which was "Volunteers for Weather, Climate and Water."
To Know More About Meteorology
"I've listened to weather forecasting for dozens of years, but don't know how it works. It is interesting to visit the meteorological station and hear experts' introduction," said an aged scholar feelingly.
A college student, with a most professional manner, asked, "The sandstorms this year have affected a wide area, even including Shanghai and Nanjing. What's the reason?"
In fact, the NMC became a museum of science on March 24. Meteorological workers found themselves questioned throughout the day by large audiences about basic or professional phenomena.
Among the facilities that were opened to the public were the meeting and consulting rooms for weather forecasting, the TV weather program production room and the NMC's computer, and the operation control, data reception and processing rooms for the Fengyun-I weather satellite, and the demonstration hall of meteorological satellite cloud atlas at the NSMC.
Visitors were able to get such services as technological consultation with experts, introduction to the weather forecasting process, TV programs about basic meteorological knowledge, a microcomputer demonstration of weather forecasting, and publicity materials.
Incomplete statistics show that over 1,000 meteorological stations have been opened to the public in the past three years and received 450,000 visitors. Consequently, meteorology has been recognized and more clearly understood by common people.
Volunteers Needed in Meteorological Courses
Qin Dahe, director of China Meteorological Administration (CMA), was also there. He is an expert in glaciers and permafrost and the first person in China to walk across the Antarctic.
According to him, meteorology has developed due to the continuous exploration and experience accumulated by meteorological fans and volunteers. In many countries, meteorological services rely heavily on the work of the volunteers. In China, however, the number of meteorological volunteers is small and is increasing only slowly.
Qin urged people from all walks of life, as well as youngsters to participate in the meteorological work alongside the professionals and contribute to the development of meteorology, economic construction, national defense and social development.
"China has 9.6 million square km of land and nearly 3 million square km of sea area, while the number of meteorological workers is only 100,000. Therefore, the data collected is far from enough and more volunteers are needed," he said.
Qin said that meteorological observation in China is mainly carried out by 2,600 meteorological stations and observatories as well as some automatic stations and observatories and the Doppler radar observation net, which collects atmospheric materials at ground and near-ground level. Due to various reasons, however, the data collected is not so scientific. For example, Hebei Province has 120 meteorological stations, while the figure for Tibet, a 1.2 million square km area, is only 30, which tends to distort overall basic data. This problem is often solved by the participation of volunteers in developed countries.
Qin hoped the artificial observation in the high mountainous, frigid, drought-stricken, island and border areas would be replaced by automatic stations in the near future. At the same time, he stressed the role of volunteers in accelerating the development of meteorological work in China.
Qin also outlined the blueprint for meteorological service development in the future:
By 2015, a high-standard and modernized meteorological system will be set up in China, which will be advanced not only in meteorological observation through ground stations, satellite observation, aviation meteorology and remote-sensing control, but also in the scientific and technological level and quality of the staff.
He emphasized that with research in climate sciences deepened, it would be more and more closely related with economic construction, social development and international politics.
Sandstorm: A Focus of Concern
Air and water pollution, warming trend of the globe by greenhouse effect, especially sandstorms in the past two years, has led people to pay more attention to meteorology and their living environment. On the World Meteorological Day, in fact, north China was once again attacked by a sandstorm.
Qin explained that the sandstorm is not merely a problem of climate, but also related with ecological system and water. "It is no doubt that the overlapping of different subjects will help improve our meteorological and weather forecasting level," he added.
The Central Meteorological Station began forecasting sandstorms on March 1 and set it one of the tasks of national meteorological services. The work will go on just as forecasting temperature, precipitation, wind direction, power and speed.
(CIIC by Chen Fang and Chen Peng 03/29/2001)