Extreme climate change prompts UN to fund weather forecasting

  • Weather data for Africa has declined
  • Also monitoring gaps in the Caribbean, Latin America, the Pacific
  • The countries not responsible for global warming are the most affected

GLASGOW, Nov. 3 (Reuters) – As climate change triggers deadly heatwaves, droughts and floods, three United Nations agencies will roll out financing plans to improve weather forecasts in vulnerable countries on Wednesday.

The initiative, announced at the United Nations climate summit in Glasgow, aims to close gaps in weather monitoring and data collection so that developing countries can better prepare for possible climate-induced disasters. .

Over the next decade, organizers of the United Nations World Meteorological Organization (WMO) plan to step up weather monitoring in 75 small island states and least developed countries that have done little to provoke the crisis. climate but which face the most significant and costly impacts.

“If you don’t have observations, you are not in a position to provide a good forecast,” WMO Secretary General Petteri Taalas said in a statement.

“We have significant data gaps in our observing systems in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific Islands and parts of Latin America,” he said.

Improving rainfall forecasting can, for example, help farmers manage their fields, communities manage water resources, or governments plan food imports when yields are likely to decline. They can also help communities prepare for possible flooding.

For the Burkina Faso Red Cross, such forecasts – where they exist – are crucial for the aid organization’s budget and procurement planning, said Kiswendsida Guigma, climate scientist for the Red Cross.

But in many places, there is a “huge gap” in precision and detail, Guigma said. “We do not have very dense networks of instruments collecting data, and (there is) a lack of human and technical capacity.”

The new initiative, called the Systematic Observations Funding Mechanism, is part of global plans to provide $ 100 billion a year in climate finance to the poorest countries.

The failure of rich countries to meet this 2020 target has earned Glasgow a broad rebuke. On Tuesday, US climate envoy John Kerry said the world could meet that target by 2022.

Further details are expected to be announced on Wednesday for the funding project led by WMO, the United Nations Development Program and the United Nations Environment Program.

Improved weather data can also contribute to the long-term predictability of climate change, said Lars Peter Riishojgaard, director of the Earth System Branch at WMO.

“If you are a rural economy with subsistence agriculture, you need to know: can people make a living where they are now or do they have to choose different crops? »Said Riishojgaard. “If you can’t predict it, you can’t adapt to it.”


In recent years, weather data for Africa has declined, as readings from weather balloons equipped with observational equipment – known as radiosondes – fell by about half between 2015 and 2020.

Radiosonde data, which unlike satellite data is collected at different atmospheric altitudes, is considered one of the most important information for weather forecasting and climate modeling.

A lack of investment, along with other challenges, including security conflicts, have prevented African countries from floating new balloons, said Columbia University climatologist Tufa Dinku.

“There is almost no data off the roads, outside the cities,” he said. And “if you think about it, farming doesn’t happen in cities.”

This has left African farmers and ranchers struggling to plan ahead, even as temperatures in the south of the continent rise at one of the fastest rates in the world.

Madagascar, off the southeastern coast of Africa, suffered this year from a crippling famine which scientists say is caused by climate-induced drought. Read more

More than a million people on the island face extreme hunger in a country that has produced less than 0.01% of the carbon dioxide emissions that cause global warming, according to the Global Carbon Project.

Globally, weather-related natural disasters have quintupled over the past 50 years, WMO said. More than 91% of associated deaths have occurred in developing countries.

Reporting by Andrea Januta in New York, Kanupriya Kapoor in Singapore and Katy Daigle in Glasgow; Additional reporting by Alessandra Prentice; Editing by Janet Lawrence and Barbara Lewis

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