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Earth Today | Jamaica to improve forecasting capabilities

Published:Wednesday | November 29, 2017 | 12:00 AM
An automatic weather station being installed at a site for the Meteorological Service.

JAMAICA'S WEATHER forecasting capacity will get a boost with the addition of 35 automatic weather stations to the Meteorological Service's network across the island.

The weather stations, which will be outfitted with the capability to transmit real-time data, are being acquired and installed as part of the Improving Climate Data and Information Management Project (ICDIMP) under the Pilot Programme for Climate Resilience (PPCR).

The ICDIMP is funded by the Climate Investment Funds (CIF), administered through the World Bank and executed by the Planning Institute of Jamaica and other partners.

To date, automatic weather stations have been installed at six sites and it is projected that installation at the 35 sites will be completed by the end of January 2018.

Project manager Lehome Johnson advised that this is just one phase of the upgrading works at the Met Service.

"A major component of the project involves upgrading the hydro-meteorology (hydro-met) data collection systems and updating weather forecasting mechanisms so that as a country, we can use the data to inform and improve climate resilient planning," he said.

"Apart from the automatic weather stations, plans are far advanced for the installation of a sea-level tide gauge at the Montego Bay pier and the team is assessing the possibility of an additional site on the south coast," Johnson added.

The Met Service has a target of 188 weather stations islandwide and with the assistance of ICDIMP, that network will be boosted to approximately (50) per cent of that target.




Head of the Met Service Evan Thompson said the automatic weather stations will allow staff faster access to weather data, which they will be able to use to make credible forecasts, guide the flash flood watch/warning processes and advance internal efforts to provide improved weather and climate products to key stakeholders and the general public.

"This will be instrumental for accurate measurements of tidal heights which could be used to develop and provide other products and services to the local marine community who currently have need for this type of information," said Thompson, referencing the installation of the sea-level tide gauges.

"Consequently, the data from the tide gauges will improve (and verify) our annual tide predictions. During tropical cyclone events, Met Service forecasters will have the capability to monitor storm surges and, to a lesser extent, data recorded by the tide gauges could be used by the ODPEM to confirm/detect the occurrence of a tsunami," he added.

"In addition to supporting the internal processes of the Met Service, data from these tide gauges will be very useful to climate scientists who will now have more data points in the Caribbean Sea from which to monitor changing mean sea levels," Thompson noted.

The PPCR was conceptualised to implement practical solutions to boost climate change resilience. The ICDIMP was launched in January 2016 and is one of a suite of projects giving effect to the goals and objectives of Jamaica's Strategic Programme for Climate Resilience, which is geared towards the climate change adaptation imperative outlined in Vision 2030 Jamaica - National Development Plan.