Petre Williams-Raynor, Contributing Editor
CLIFFORD MAHLUNG, one of Jamaica's senior climate negotiators, is now head of the climate branch of the Meteorological Service, after two years acting in the post.
The promotion became official last month, to the delight of Mahlung, who has served the Meteorological Service for more than 30 years.
"It is a fulfilment of the number of years that I have been in the Met Service. I think it is also a fulfilment of my love and loyalty for the Met Service and the work that I do," he told The Gleaner.
Mahlung started at the Met Office as a meteorology technician in 1980. He has since worked his way through the ranks from radar observer to weather forecaster, before being assigned to the data- processing section - his last stop before acting as head of the climate branch.
"The data-processing section is responsible for quality control and quality assurance for the climate information collected from more than 200 stations across the island," Mahlung explained.
"We have to ensure it is properly archived into the climate database, and then we are responsible for interacting with the users of the information and, in that respect, we do analysis on the information when requested, and we prepare technical reports and rainfall summaries. We are also now producing rainfall predictions for three months in advance," he added.
Further, Mahlung noted that the section, which forms a part of the climate branch, was intent on developing a drought index "to predict dry spells".
It is data that will be critical in Jamaica's efforts to stymie the ill- effects of the changing climate, which threatens, among other things, more extreme weather events such as droughts and hurricanes.
Mahlung got involved with climate change in 1996 and has, over the years, done battle within the negotiating halls of international climate-change conferences, in the interest of Jamaica and other small island states.
He has served as an executive member and chair of the board of the Clean Development Mechanism, which oversees the approval of projects designed to help developed countries meet greenhouse-gas emission targets, under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. This is in addition to advancing the climate-change adaptation efforts of developing countries.
As the man at the helm of the climate branch, he will provide the necessary support to the climate-change division being established by the Ministry of Land, Water, Environment, and Climate Change.
"I will work with the division to ensure that Jamaica continues to be an integral part of the process that is trying to find a global solution to this environmental challenge [climate change]," said Mahlung, the Latin America and Caribbean representative of the Adaptation Committee of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
There is little wonder why, given the work of the climate branch, which is comprised also of data processing, data acquisition, applied meteorology and information technology comprise the climate branch.
Meanwhile, Mahlung said his work in climate change, over the last decade, has helped prepare him to do a good job as head of the climate branch.