ECMWF statement on the outcomes of the ITU WRC-2019 conference

Components of the global weather observing system

The outcome of the ITU's World Radiocommunication Conference 2019 (WRC-19) in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, from 28 October to 22 November regarding the important 24 GHz observations is a big disappointment for ECMWF. We have worked closely with the community to explain and highlight the risks attached to 5G operators being allowed to transmit at close proximity to meteorological frequencies. The agreement reached in Egypt falls far short of ensuring 5G applications do not interfere with weather observations at 24 GHz.

It is worrying and disheartening to watch history repeat itself and science losing to other societal pressures. Watching the cost society now has to pay for having ignored global warming warnings, one would have hoped that the voice of atmospheric science would have carried more weight.

We want to pay tribute to the amazing work of the World Meteorological Organization, on this, and in reaching good outcomes in Egypt on many other complex radio-frequency issues. We hope that the strong written intervention by WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas will ensure greater awareness of the impact of interference on passive bands. ECMWF will continue to work with its community to address these new challenges as we face life-endangering weather.

More on why we need to protect weather prediction from radio frequency interference.

Top image credit: WMO