GENEVA, Oct. 11 (Xinhua) -- The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said Wednesday it is to showcase initiatives to strengthen observations and predictions of weather, climate and ice conditions in response to rapid climate change in the Polar regions, at the Arctic Circle Assembly in Iceland.
WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas will join leading global experts at a plenary session on Observing and Responding to a Changing Arctic on the opening day of the assembly on Oct. 13, the organization said in a statement.
"What happens at the Arctic doesn't stay at the Arctic but affects the entire globe," said Taalas.
The three-day Assembly will take place in Reykjavik and is the largest annual international gathering on the Arctic.
It is attended by more than 2,000 participants, including government and business leaders, scientists and environmentalists and indigenous representatives from around 50 countries.
WMO said the effects of global warming due to greenhouse gas emissions are felt more intensely in the Arctic than almost anywhere else.
It noted that the Arctic is heating twice as rapidly as the rest of the world, causing melting of glaciers, shrinking sea ice and snow cover.
"Warming Arctic air masses and declining sea ice are believed to affect ocean circulation and the jet stream. This may affect weather and climate conditions in countries which are home to hundreds of million people," Taalas said.
Rapid climate change is making the Arctic more accessible, leading to increased human activities such as transportation, tourism, fisheries and natural resource exploitation and extraction, said WMO.
It says that weather forecasting advances taken for granted elsewhere in the world are struggling to keep up with the pace of Arctic change and the Arctic is one of the world's most poorly observed regions because of the harsh environment, remoteness and high costs.
"We urgently need to improve weather and climate services and forecasts of ocean and ice conditions to minimize risks to the environment and society, including traditional indigenous livelihoods, and improve safety management in polar regions," said Taalas.