Canadian initiative completes early warning improvements in the Caribbean, Pacific and Southeast Asia

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Work has concluded on a six-year, C$10m (US$7.7m) project to strengthen the quality and availability of impact-based forecasts and services to support communities in Southeast Asia, the Caribbean and the Pacific.

Funded by Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC), the project was launched in 2016 under the framework of the Climate Risk and Early Warning Systems Initiative (CREWS). It supported capacity building of national meteorological and hydrological services (NMHSs) to provide more accurate and timely forecasts, including effective, risk-informed multi-hazard early warning services to vulnerable populations in 35 countries.

The Building Resilience to High-Impact Hydro-Meteorological Events Through Strengthening Multi-Hazard Early Warning Systems in Small Island Developing States and Southeast Asia (Canada CREWS) project fulfilled three key objectives: strengthen coordination and communication between multi-hazard early warning systems stakeholders; enhance the capacities of WMO regional centers and participating NMHSs to forecast severe weather, flash floods and coastal inundation; and provide regional and in-country technical assistance to NMHSs to develop and deliver impact-based products and services.

Diane Campbell, assistant deputy minister, Meteorological Service of Canada, and permanent representative of Canada to the WMO, said, “The objective of the Canada CREWS funding was to protect lives and property, by sponsoring capacity building activities in the Caribbean, the Pacific and in Southeast Asia. We hope the results and lessons learned under the Canada CREWS project can contribute to the work underway to respond to the UN Secretary-General’s recent call to action to ensure every person on Earth is protected by early warning systems within five years.”

Canada CREWS was centered around strengthening and leveraging WMO’s network of regional centers to downscale support to members at the national level and promote multilateral cooperation. This was achieved by sponsoring WMOs flagship initiatives including the Severe Weather Forecasting Programme (SWFP), which provides numerical weather prediction (NWP) using global data and models; the Flash Flood Guidance System (FFGS), which provides a series of products in near real time to provide guidance on flash flood events; and the Coastal Inundation Forecasting Initiative (CIFI), which builds improved operational forecast and warning capabilities for combined extreme waves, surges and river flooding events.

Filipe Lúcio, WMO director of member services, said, “Multilateral cooperation was prioritized as it was recognized that cooperation among member states is critical across the three regions. This is due to the transboundary nature of hazards. Enhanced cooperation and collaboration among member states was a significant achievement of the project. This was made possible by leveraging WMO’s network of regional centers and the transboundary nature of the programs being implemented through the project including SWFP and FFGS.”

Main achievements of the project include:

  • Development and implementation of the Southeast Asia Flash Flood Guidance System, the first regional FFGS with nowcasting products and real-time and historical data inputs from various sources, providing information with a lead time of up to 36 hours;
  • Establishment of the Flash Flood Guidance System for Fiji, one of the most advanced systems developed to date;
  • Development of an offshore wave and coastal inundation forecasting system with risk information and warning services in Kiribati (Tarawa) and Tuvalu (Pacific SIDS);
  • Development of a fully integrated Riverine Flood Forecasting System for the Dominican Republic;
  • Implementation of community-based early warning and activities to prepare and respond to impact-based forecasts and warnings in the Pacific SIDS;
  • More than 150 NMHS staff personnel trained across all three regions covering a wide range of activities.

To formally close the project, WMO staff joined regional representatives from Cambodia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam at a workshop running from June 28-29, 2022, at the Viet Nam Meteorological and Hydrological Administration headquarters in Hanoi.

Activities to improve warnings of severe weather, flash floods and coastal inundation will continue beyond the lifetime of the Canada CREWS project as WMO continues to engage with the benefitting NMHSs.

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, editor-in-chief

Dan first joined UKi Media & Events in 2014 having spent the early years of his career in the recruitment industry. As editor, he now produces content for Meteorological Technology International, unearthing the latest technological advances and research methods for the publication of each exciting new issue. When he’s not reporting on the latest meteorological news, Dan can be found on the golf course or apprehensively planning his next DIY project.

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