Sun | Oct 22, 2017

Sound info can prepare Ja for impact of climate change

Published:Monday | March 28, 2016 | 12:00 AMChristopher Serju

The increased availability of timely climate and weather information will position Jamaica to become more resilient to climate change impacts and improve development across key sectors such as health, agriculture and tourism. This was the consensus of experts at a forum and exhibition which was held in recognition of the 2016 World Meteorological Day, under the theme 'Hotter, Drier, Wetter. Face the Future', on Wednesday at The Knutsford Court Hotel, New Kingston.

"There is no doubt that future strategies to deal with climate change will depend upon sound knowledge of past and present climate in our nation and in our region", Daryl Vaz, minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, disclosed.

A panel discussion, chaired by Professor Michael Taylor, director of the climate studies, University of the West Indies, Mona, brought home the potentially disastrous impact of climate change fallout on the activities of Jamaicans. Medical epidemiologist from the Ministry of Health, Sherine Huntley-Jones, discussed the impact of climate change on vector-borne diseases and explained that "even in prolonged periods of drought, we are expected to see an increase in vector-borne diseases as persons are going to be storing water, which will lead to an increase in breeding sites".

Jacqueline Spence of the Meteorological Service of Jamaica introduced the fire-danger rating index being developed for the country, which will indicate the preconditions that would increase the likelihood for the occurrence of forest (bush) fires. Emeleo Ebanks, chief fire prevention officer at the Jamaica Fire Brigade, acknowledged the relevance of the fire-danger rating index and indicated that this tool, coupled with public education campaign, would be effective in minimising the incidents of forest fires.

Presenters Glenroy Brown and Dr Arpita Mandal, respectively, discussed climate services and products available for agriculture planning and management, and future implications for land use and economic planning in low-lying areas based on climate models.

The forum brought to the fore one of the strategies the Ja REEACH II, in collaboration with the Meteorological Service and other Government of Jamaica partners, will undertake to advance the availability and quality of climate data to be utilised across key sectors.