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World Meteorological Day 2021: The Ocean, Our Climate and Weather

World Meteorological Day (WMD) is observed on March 23rd each year in commemoration of the establishment of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) on March 23rd 1950. The theme for WMD 2021, “The ocean, our climate and weather” highlights the start of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021 to 2030) spearheaded by UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission.  WMO is committed to the “safe ocean”, “predicted ocean” and ”transparent ocean” goals of the Decade. 

The Ocean and Trinidad and Tobago’s Climate and Weather

The role and linkage that the oceans play in regulating national, regional and global weather and climate are unanimously recognized as established science. The reason for this linkage is the fact that oceans absorb and store the most amounts of the solar energy reaching the Earth’s surface from the sun. Trinidad and Tobago is considered a large ocean State due to the vast ocean spaces to its east, west, north and parts of its south. As a consequence, the ocean is the main player in the local weather and climate. In fact, Trinidad and Tobago’s weather and climate are inextricably linked to the surrounding oceans, as well as, oceans not in its immediate surroundings. For these reasons, the local weather and climate are influenced by large ocean-atmosphere interactions such as trade winds, El Niño, La Niña, Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone, tropical waves, tropical depressions, tropical storms and hurricanes.  For example, ocean surface temperatures in the east-central tropical Pacific Ocean, some distance away from Trinidad and Tobago, is a significant indicator of  transfer-potential of heat from the ocean to the atmosphere in the tropics. Ocean temperatures in this region of the Pacific determine the existence of global climate drivers such as El Niño and La Niña, which are used to provide seasonal rainfall predictive skills for local, regional and international regions. Both El Niño and La Niña are two well-known influencers of local climate extremes, with El Niño known to influence rainfall deficits, droughts and extreme heat events, while La Niña is associated with excessive rainfall events and rainfall surpluses. 

Similarly, it is the vast amount of energy captured by the North Atlantic Ocean which creates the powerful and destructive tropical storms and hurricanes which have been particularly destructive in recent years in the Caribbean and which have threatened or impacted Trinidad and Tobago from time to time. There are other linkages between the ocean and the local weather and climate. The ocean warms and cools more slowly than the atmosphere. As a result, the difference in size of both islands and their close proximity to the ocean, are key influencers of localized weather features. This ocean/land interaction has led to fewer hot and cold temperature extremes and is the reason why Crown Point’s average night minimum temperatures are warmer than Piarco’s night minimum temperatures. This difference in land/sea temperatures between the Gulf of Paria and Port of Spain, as well as, other land areas along the west coast of Trinidad, is also the reason why large thunderstorms develop in the afternoon in Port of Spain and these areas during periods of the wet season, which often lead to perennial flooding.

Apart from these climate indicators, the impact of global warning, which is a feature of climate change, is causing enhanced warming in oceans. This is disturbing the natural regulatory role of the ocean. This disturbance is responsible for observed increases in the frequency, duration and severity, of extreme rainfall, droughts and flooding events. Trinidad and Tobago has not been spared these impacts, which are projected to increase at the local scale. Additionally, global warming is directly influencing sea level rise, which pose a significant risk to Trinidad and Tobago’s coastal zones. Together, extreme weather and climate events and sea level rise as a climate stressor, pose one of the most immediate and significant threats to Trinidad and Tobago’s sustainable development.

TTMS Photo Competition

Here in Trinidad and Tobago, the oceans have not only been a major driver of the local climate and weather, but it has also long been a source of inspiration and sustenance for many. The country’s beautiful diversity is reflected in the ocean and its effect on the weather and climate, and our natural environment. Hence, in the lead up to World Meteorological Day 2021 celebrations, the Trinidad and Tobago Meteorological Service (TTMS) hosted its first Photo Competition based on the theme “The oceans, our climate and weather.”

Competition Background

The competition was advertised on the TTMS’s website and social media platforms. All amateur and professional photographers in Trinidad and Tobago were invited to submit high-quality and artistic photos illustrating the chosen theme.

Submission Period

The submission period of the competition took place between October 12th and November 2nd 2020. During this time, the TTMS received over 100 amazing submissions taken all across the country, showcasing the wonder of “The Ocean, our climate and weather”. The deadline for submission was initially October 31st. However, due to the overwhelming response from the public, this was extended to November 2nd 2020.

Preliminary Judging/Shortlisting

Preliminary judging occurred from November 2nd – 9th 2020. All valid entries that met the competition guidelines were evaluated by a TTMS panel of experts in meteorology, as well as, experienced professional photographers and graphics artists. They deliberated on factors such as adherence to theme, impact, creativity, composition and lighting. Using their professional insight, the judges were able to narrow down the scores of submissions and select the top 20 photos.

Social Media Voting

On November 13th 2020, the shortlisted photos were posted to the TTMS’s Facebook and Instagram pages. The public was given until November 22nd to vote for their favourites. Almost 13,000 votes were cast across both social media platforms during this period.

Top 12

After social media voting ended on November 13th, all votes were tallied and the top 12 photos were determined based on a combined score from the TTMS judging panel and social media. The Top 12 Winners were announced on the TTMS’s social media pages on November 30th 2020. The winning photos can be viewed here on the TTMS’s official Flickr account.

Prize Distribution Ceremony

A prize distribution ceremony was held at the TTMS Rawindsonde/Administrative building in Piarco. The top 3 winners were all invited to collect their prizes from TTMS Director Mr Ezekiel Sampson.

From left: 1st place winner Dale Maharaj, TTMS Director Ezekiel Sampson and 3rd place winner Bissoon Parasram

TTMS 2021 Virtual Calendar

The TTMS 2021 Virtual Calendar, featuring the top 12 entries, was published on the TTMS’s website on the December 30th 2020. The calendar, which includes a comprehensive list of all TTMS products and services, is currently available for download here.

To celebrate World Meteorological Day here in Trinidad and Tobago, the TTMS is showcasing a collection of amazing photos. See video here!


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