Outdated equipment stalls climate adaptation drive
Jamaica's ability to develop appropriate climate-adaptation measures is limited due to inadequate capacity and resources to collect reliable climate and water resources data, Dr Alvin Hayles, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Land, Water, Environment and Climate Change, disclosed recently.
In addition, the island's hydrometeorology system, which is managed principally by the Meteorological Service of Jamaica and the Water Resources Authority, is facing the greater demand for the collection of more and varied data sets, which will allow for better planning and decision making as it relates to climate change and its impact.
Hayles' comments came during the US$6.8 million grant-signing ceremony between the Jamaican Government and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Develop-ment, for the 'Improving Climate Data and Information Management Project'.
It is designed to address the critical data shortfall on various climate parameters such as rainfall, land-sea surface temperature, as well as secondary effects such as sea-level rise and climate modelling to project temporal and spatial changes in the climate variables.
To this end, Claire Bernard, deputy director general on sustainable development and social planning at the Planning Institute of Jamaica, which is the executing agency, said emphasis will be placed on presenting data at spatial sales relevant to different regions of the island, as well as different sectors.
The Ministry of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change, in particular the Meteorological Service of Jamaica and Water Resources Authority, which are responsible for data collection, processing, management, as well as operation and maintenance of equipment, are the main beneficiaries.
Evon Thompson, head of the weather branch at the Met Service, was heartened by the news that the intervention would include an improvement and increase in much-needed equipment.
"We will get a replacement of our Doppler radar, which from time to time, experiences some difficulty, and we will also be increasing the number of automatic weather stations across the country. So all of that, along with working on our database, working along with Water Resources Authority to determine some of the protocols for the sharing of our data all that is part of the project, and we will definitely benefit," he told The Gleaner.
The senior weather forecaster further explained that one of the main objectives is provision of timely, accurate weather information, which is the basis of climate information. For this reason, once all the new equipment is in place and the information database activated, a better-empowered Met Service would be able to present weather-related news in a new light.
"Gathering the data on a regular basis, monitoring, observing, and then being able to use that information, not only short-term forecasts, but also the medium and long-term forecasts, as we develop that database and establish where we are moving in terms of our climate," Thompson shared.
However, he noted that the situation was not likely to improve significantly overnight.