How the Early Warning System Can Help Us Cope With Severe Weather

In April 2021, the island nation of Southeast Asia of Timor-Leste hit by the worst flood in its recent history. As a result of a tropical storm, the floods affected more than 30,000 homes and killed 34 people.

Such events have become a sadly familiar story around the world, with climate -related disasters on the rise. But in Timor-Leste, a new climate adaptation project can help lower this risk. the plan focuses on building an early warning system in the country, alerting people in advance if there is a similar serious weather event to occur in the future. It can make all the difference — allowing people to protect themselves and their property.

Such systems are especially considered an important measure of adaptation to climate change. “We’re already locked into intensifying the effects of climate in the next decades or so,” said Stefanie Tye, a climate stability expert at the World Resources Institute. “That’s why it’s only part of the reality now that we need these systems to protect people and ecosystems.”

Early warning systems can alert local communities to things like impending storms, hurricanes, or landslides due to heavy rainfall, where the advance of incidents even for a few hours can be. of all the differences, according to Tye. They can also provide insight into the slower onset of events, such as the upcoming drought a few months ago. “You use the system to notify people who will be affected by these events, so they can take the right steps to prepare.”

In Bangladesh, for example, a country known for its climate vulnerability and the sophisticated use of these systems, storm warnings significant decline in the number of deaths over the past two decades.

They are also efficient, according to a 2019 report from the Global Commission on Adaptation, with their benefits outweighing the cost. Just a 24-hour warning of an impending storm or heat wave can reduce damage to people and property by 30 percent, the report found.

There are many aspects to making these systems work. One key is to ensure accurate observational data to produce accurate and timely warnings, says Jochem Zoetelief, head of climate services and capacity building unit of the UN Environment Program (UNEP. ), which runs the project in Timor-Leste. “People have to have confidence in predictions and warnings, because if they’re not accurate, and that happens all the time, people get lost.” So early warning system projects will regularly install equipment such as automatic weather stations and radar systems, and strengthen the country’s hydrometeorological services.

But another important part is to make sure that the resulting information actually reaches the people who are likely to be affected. In fact, there is no point in sending an email alert if no one has internet access. Tropical storms can also wipe out communication infrastructure, so backups are necessary even if people have mobile phones. So every project has to look at the local context to decide on the best way to disseminate information, which can be anything from SMS alerts or radio broadcasts to someone announcing using a megaphone in the middle of a village.

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