New tools to forecast excessive rainfall and rainfall deficits – critical issues in an era of climate change – have been unveiled to water managers and weather forecasters at a two-day workshop that ended on Wednesday, in a bid to better manage water resources amid unpredictable weather patterns.
Climate scientists have shown the participants how to use forecasts to predict flash floods and dry spells as part of a larger plan to share early warning information about climate change in a worldwide short-range forecasting system set to be rolled out this year.
The two-day workshop at the Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology (CIMH) was organised by the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) and hosted by the CIMH at its Husbands, St James base.
The workshop, part of the Intra-ACP GCCA+ Programme in the Caribbean, was in collaboration with the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI) of Columbia University, the workshop received support from the European Union. The CCA/GCCA+ is a platform for dialogue and sharing of experiences between the EU and developing countries on climate policy and practical approaches under the global climate accords.
Climate scientist Dr David Farrell, the head of the CIMH, said the workshop provided an “invaluable platform” for water managers and meteorological forecasts to understand forecasting for predicting water availability not only by the six-month wet/dry season but at a much shorter sub-seasonal range – typically two to four weeks.
“By collaborating with our partners in CARIFORUM countries, the CCCCC, and the IRI, we are strengthening our capacity to address climate resilience and improve water resources management in the region,” Dr Farrell said. The workshop’s goal was to prepare for the impacts of climate change and make better decisions about water, he explained.
CCCCC lead project manager Ansel Dubon said what was learned in the workshop is key to reducing risks from climate change in the region.
“The activities, inclusive of the workshop, being undertaken by the CIMH and IRI are essential to achieving the overall objective of the GCCA+ programme, which is to reduce risks and vulnerabilities from climate change to human-made and natural assets in CARIFORUM countries,” he said. “We look forward to the various officers who participated in the training applying the new capacities to benefit the supply of water in their respective countries and by extension, the region”.
Dr Simon Mason, the chief climate scientist at Columbia’s IRI praised the CIMH as a member of the global rainfall forecasting initiative.
“There have been some exciting developments in the last few years in the science community’s ability to predict heavy rainfall and dry spells two to four weeks in advance, and these so-called sub-seasonal forecasts will become routine from some of the leading global centres early in 2024,” he said.
He added: “Such forecasts provide valuable potential to improve water resource management and flash-flood control in the Caribbean region, but collaboration with the water management community is required to ensure that the forecasts are adapted, designed and interpreted to maximise their benefit. This water managers’ workshop is an excellent opportunity to take these important next steps to strengthen resiliency in the region.”
CIMH produced its first-ever experimental sub-seasonal forecast at the most recent Caribbean Climate Outlook Forum held in Dominica in November.
During the workshop, participants were introduced to sub-seasonal forecast potential for flashfloods and dry spells as part of a range of climate early warning information products delivered by the Caribbean Regional Climate Centre hosted by CIMH.