Czech Hydrometeorological Institute celebrates 50th birthday


Weather forecasts are something that most people take for granted these days. If you want to know whether to put on that extra jumper, you can turn on the TV, the radio, open any newspaper or search on the internet. But do we know where and how weather is being monitored? In the Czech Republic the institution responsible for weather monitoring and forecasting is the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute which has just celebrated its 50th birthday. But as director Ivan Obrusnik told me, its history dates further back.

"Officially, it was established in 1919 as the State Meteorological Institute and, separately, there were some institutes for hydrology. But the history is even longer because meteorological service and also hydrological service existed already during the Austro-Hungarian Empire. 1954 is a very important year for our institute because at that time meteorology was joined with hydrology in one institution. That's very important because it is very practical, for instance, for flood forecasting and some other fields."

With increasing industrialisation in the 1960s, it became vital to include a whole new field of research and start taking records of air pollution.

"1967 was an important year because at that time the Air Protection Department was included in our institute, so since then we have three main fields: meteorology with climatology, hydrology and air protection."

Beside a wide range of monitoring activities, the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute is also responsible for early warning systems in case of natural disaster.

"We are monitoring the state of the hydrosphere and the atmosphere and many other activities connected with both the main parts of the environment - the atmosphere and the hydrosphere. We do forecasts: weather forecasts, hydrological forecasts for rivers, we also monitor the state of the quality of air. It is done continuously and all the citizens of the Czech Republic have access to the data so they can be warned etc."

Weather, of course, knows no borders and that's why weather offices in all countries need to share information, as the director of the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute, Ivan Obrusnik, points out.

"Weather is very important from the international point of view. We are members of the World Meteorological Organisation. It means we are continuously connected with the whole meteorological community all over the world. We feed data into this network and at the same time we get data from the world. So we can forecast from the data from oceans, from other continents etc. So really, international cooperation is the basis of meteorology."

You can find weather forecasts for the Czech Republic, the quality of air in the cities of Bohemia and Moravia and also water levels on Czech rivers at the official website of the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute: