Guide To The Hydrological Observing System

On August 31, 2015, I saw a blog post titled WMO Hydrological Observing System (WHOS).

The post provided a link to a new website where users could access hydrological data, made freely and openly available online by National Hydrological Services.

No explanatory information as to why and how this new website came about was provided, so I decided to provide the Commission members with some additional information.

In February 2013, just three months after becoming president, I represented CHy at a meeting of the Inter-Commission Group on the WMO Global Observing System (ICG-WIGOS).

At that meeting, it became apparent that other groups within WMO had a misperception that WHYCOS was a data repository that could serve as the CHy contribution to WIGOS.

After explaining that WHYCOS was a capacity-building mechanism, with the goal of building sustainable hydrological databases, I realized that the Commission needed to provide some mechanism to access existing hydrological data within the framework of WIGOS.

At the second meeting of the CHy Advisory Working Group (AWG) in September 2014, I proposed the development of a WMO Hydrological Observing System (WHOS) as a mechanism for fulfilling the Commission’s effort to support WIGOS implementation.

The AWG endorsed this proposal and, as part of my report to Congress 17 this past June, I presented the WHOS concept and plan for its development. Congress urged the promotion of WHOS among National Hydrological Services as well as the broader hydrological community.

WHOS is conceived as a portal to facilitate access to already available on-line real-time and historical data, drawing from the water information systems of countries around the world that make their data freely and openly available, including HYCOS projects. It is being developed in two phases in preparation for review and endorsement by CHy-15 in December 2016.

The first phase is the establishment of a map interface on the CHy website that links to those NHSs that make their real-time and/or historical stage and discharge data available online. This map interface was implemented online in August 2015, as noted in the August 31 e-Board posting.

The second phase is a much more comprehensive undertaking to develop a fully WIS/WIGOS compliant services-oriented framework linking hydrologic data providers and users through a hydrologic information system that enables data registration, data discovery, and data access. A beta version of this capability is being prepared for CHy-15 review and endorsement, with an aim to have an initial implementation of the full capability ready for EC approval in June 2018.

Significantly, the WMO Hydrological Observing System will go a long way to fulfilling the desire of hydrologists and water resources specialists worldwide to have simple access to hydrological data from those National Hydrological Services around the world that make their data freely and openly available. It represents a major CHy achievement and I hope you find it both exciting and useful.

Harry F. Lins,  President, Commission for Hydrology

About Harry Lins

Harry Lins is President of the WMO Commission for Hydrology. Over the past 25 years, he has served WMO and the Commission in a variety of capacities.

From 2008 to 2012, he served on the Commission’s Advisory Working Group (AWG), leading activities associated with the Quality Management Framework – Hydrology (QMF-Hydrology) theme area. During the period 2004 to 2008, he served on the AWG with responsibility for the Analysis of Hydroclimatological Data for Variability and Trends theme.

Before becoming a member of the Advisory Working Group, Dr Lins served WMO as the Executive Secretary of the World Climate Programme – Water (2000-2006), as a member of the coordination panel of the Global Terrestrial Network – Hydrology (GTN-H) (2001-2006), as a technical expert on the CHy Working Group on Applications (1996-2000), as a rapporteur for the RA-IV Working Group on Hydrology (1996-2000), and as co-chair of the Hydrology and Water Resources Working Group during the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) First Impacts Assessment (1989-1992).