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$10M aid to better weather forecasting

Within the next year, the Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology (CIMH) should have faster and more accurate weather forecast products as well as better training facilities.

The institute’s principal Dr David Farrell said this would be possible through an injection of US$5 million (BDS $10 million) that will be provided by the United States government over the next three years to establish a Regional Climate Centre for the Caribbean at CIMH.

“We have started a programme to development climate and weather products and that has been going on for a while. Instead of 12 hours, we are talking now about a couple hours to deliver a product which means that the faster I can deliver a product the faster we can get into the forecasting system and the better the early warning process can be better informed,” he explained.

Farrell was speaking to the media after the launch and opening ceremony Programme for Building Regional Climate Capacity in the Caribbean, at CIMH’s Husbands, St James headquarters. He said that through the launched programme, capacity development at the Barbados based institute as well as national meteorological services around the region and also within climate vulnerable sectors would be enhanced.

To aid in this effort, the principal said that some of the funds will also be used to support infrastructural development at the institute including the upgrading of its training and research abilities and also its physical structure.

In delivering remarks, US Ambassador to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean Dr Larry Palmer said that as the impacts of climate change was expected to worsen  in the coming years, increasing the possibility of storms and hurricanes hitting the region, alongside more severe droughts and  other extreme weather events that currently have limited ability to predict, the availability of changing the Caribbean represented a huge and critical need, as does establishing stronger capabilities to analyze climate data and produce information that people can use to understand what was coming, to effectively prepare for and to respond strategically.

He said the centre will strengthen the capacity of CIMH and national institutions across the region to monitor the changing climate and to convert climate data into products that will better inform decision-making in climate sensitive sectors, such as tourism, agriculture and fishing.

“We will also establish a Caribbean Environmental and Climate Computational Centre to provide CIMH and regional scientist with the resources they need to better understand and predict climate change impacts. This information will feed into early warning systems so that people in the regional can be alerted earlier and receive more reliable information before floods, droughts and storms hit.

“This information will also go into the hands of those who need it most on a daily basis – from farmers and fishermen to community leaders and government policy makers to support decisions at all levels that can help to reduce the catastrophic risks associated with natural disasters and enable local communities and economies to adapt to the changes we’re seeing and grow more resilient over time,” the ambassador said.

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