What is it about?

For decades, countries around the world have coordinated to collect and share information about Earth's weather, using satellites and other technology. It may seem that the weather is something everyone can agree on, but diplomacy among countries to enable global weather monitoring is complex. During the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union set up programs to share satellite data, but more recently, the United States rejected proposals to use weather satellite data collected by China. To understand how and why the approach to cooperation has changed over time, we need to consider the actors involved, the diplomatic methods they use, and the underlying technologies and issues being discussed.

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Why is it important?

Accurate monitoring and prediction of the weather affects everything from one person's plan for the morning (should you pack an umbrella) to multi-billion dollar industries in air travel, boating, and recreation. To develop the best predictions, we need to coordinate with other countries to get data about weather conditions around the world, and to ensure that even unpopulated areas - like the oceans and the Arctic - are monitored. International diplomacy enables this cooperation, and understanding these processes helps to ensure successful cooperation continues in the future.


International diplomacy is complex - even on an issue like weather monitoring via satellite, which is important to all nations, the ability to get countries to work together has varied over time. By understanding why diplomacy succeeded at some times and in some cases, but not in others, we can help to enable more successful cooperation in the future.

Mariel Borowitz
Georgia Institute of Technology

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Let’s Just Talk About the Weather: Weather Satellites and Space Diplomacy, The Hague Journal of Diplomacy, February 2023, Brill,
DOI: 10.1163/1871191x-bja10150.
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