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Panos Caribbean Launches New Climate Justice Campaign

On the eve of the next global climate change conference to be held in Poland in December, and following the release of a special report by the International Panel on Climate Change that highlights the urgent need for action by governments, industries and individuals to contain global warming, Panos Caribbean is launching a new regional campaign to support the Caribbean and other vulnerable countries in the fight against climate change.

The face of the campaign is a new, powerful painting by Saint Lucian – American artist Jonathan Gladding. It pictures a young girl with her body almost entirely submerged by sea-level rise, and with her fingers sending the desperate message that she needs #1point5tostayalive.

Saint Lucian poet and playwright Kendel Hippolyte, who played a lead role in the campaign to secure the historic Paris Agreement in 2015, has called on Caribbean artists to add their voice to the call for decisive global action against climate change.

Click on the image above to obtain and download large-resolution.

“We cannot look at our children and grandchildren and say we did nothing or we did not know what to do. Whatever artistic gift we have – and whatever rewards it brings or we hope it will bring – will not mean a thing if all we hand over to our descendants is a planet that is their funeral pyre even while they are alive,” says Hippolyte.

Hippolyte has also revealed that he is working on a new theme song, entitled “1.5 Is Still Alive”, in collaboration with musician and humanitarian Taj Weekes. As was done in 2015 with the theme song of the campaign leading to the Paris conference, this project will bring together a number of well-known Caribbean singers.

“In a campaign such as this,” says Panos Caribbean’s coordinator Yves Renard, “artists play a pivotal role, because their voices are known and credible, and because they are able to convey messages in ways that resonate with the culture, feelings and concerns of people and communities. We encourage all organisations,” Renard said, “to reproduce Jonathan Gladding’s beautiful painting and use it to convey the urgency of action.”

JonathanGladdingThe Paris Agreement signed at the historic climate conference in 2015 called on all countries “to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase … to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial average”. Climate change experts now confirm that global warming is on track to break the 1.5°C mark by around 2040.

PICTURED, LEFT: SAINT LUCIAN – AMERICAN ARTIST JONATHAN GLADDING

Experts agree that an increase of average global temperature above 1.5°C will have disastrous impacts on the Caribbean and other vulnerable regions of the world, but they also believe that it is possible to contain global warming, that we have the technology to reduce our impact on the climate. “It is still possible to contain the rise of global temperature, but that will not happen unless governments and businesses in the largest emitting countries are prepared to take radical measures and unless everybody, from the schoolchild to the government official, from the technician to the parent, from the wise elder to the young dreamer, contributes their pebble or their stone towards building a bulwark against climate change.”

This regional awareness campaign is supported by the Caribbean Development Bank and the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre, in collaboration with the CARICOM Secretariat, the OECS Commission and other regional entities.

CREDIT: PANOS Caribbean

IPCC Releases 1.5 Report with dire warning for the Caribbean and the World

Belmopan, Belize; October 10, 2018 – The highly anticipated 1.5 degrees’ report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has been released, and the news is dire. But while Scientists ‘sound the alarm about complacency’, they’ve given hope that it is still possible to keep global warming to 1.5 degrees.

The report clearly outlines the risks of exceeding 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels; this is the upper limit of warming that small islands states have advocated for many years.

“This report is a wake-up call for governments and the world, that we no longer have time for playing-around. It is time for hard-work to avert climate change and  the small islands states need significant financial help to make it happen” said Science Advisor and deputy executive director at the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) Dr Ulric Trotz.

In the Special Report on Global Warming at 1.5 Degrees released on Monday, October 8, 2018, the IPCC warned that the global leaders need to quickly cut carbon emissions over the next decade. The landmark report by the world’s top scientists studying climate change noted, that to avoid going past 1.5 degrees Celsius of pre-industrial levels, the world needs to adopt “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society”.

“From the small island perspective, this is probably the most important report the IPCC has done, not only because it was in part called for by Small Island Developing States (SIDS) but also because every important message we have been requesting over the years is now backed up by scientific assessment in this report,” said Dr Michael Taylor one of the Caribbean’s leading climate scientists and a contributor to the report.

Dr Taylor noted that the Caribbean science underpins the assessments and supports the urgency of the messages that highlight not only the expected impacts on the region at 1.5 degrees”, but also “the enormous risks of 2 degrees, to the synergies with Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s), to adaptation needs, deficits and costs, to the necessity for more mitigation”.

The report outlines the considerable risks now being faced by SIDS to the escalating impacts of extreme events, from sea level rise to slowed economic growth, biodiversity loss and significant global risks, should global warming exceed 1.5°C.

For SIDS, the difference between warming at 1.5°C and 2°C is critical, resulting in increased water stress, more intense rainfall during tropical cyclones, and increased exposure to irreversible sea level rise. Some coral reefs would be able to adapt at 1.5°C, at 2°C their chances of survival are next-to-none, irrecoverably damaging the fisheries and livelihoods that depend on them.

Here in the Caribbean, the changes are already happening. The region is experiencing hotter days and nights, more intense rainfall as well as more and longer periods of drought, putting lives, livelihoods and economies at risk.

Significant data from the Caribbean and SIDS have featured prominently in this IPCC reports which provides a clear picture of the level of devastation that would occur at 2 degrees. The inclusion of regional data sets has been hailed a success by the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) the agency designated by CARICOM to lead the Caribbean’s response to Climate Change.

“We set out to have the Caribbean situation reflected in the report and we have accomplished that,” Trotz said.

The Centre has been working with regional and international organisations to pull together institutions such as Cuba’s Institute of Meteorology, the Caribbean’s own CIMH, the Universities of the West Indies and Suriname and others to coordinate the production of Caribbean-specific models and information which provided critical information to the special report.

The 1.5 report was released during the 48th Session of the IPCC in Incheon, Republic of Korea.

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Link to the Special Report on Global Warming at 1.5 Degrees: http://ipcc.ch/report/sr15/.

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The Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre coordinates the region’s response to climate change. Officially opened in August 2005, the Centre is the key node for information on climate change issues and the region’s response to managing and adapting to climate change. We maintain the Caribbean’s most extensive repository of information and data on climate change specific to the region, which in part enables us to provide climate change-related policy advice and guidelines to CARICOM member states through the CARICOM Secretariat. In this role, the Centre is recognized by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the United Nations Environment Programme, and other international agencies as the focal point for climate change issues in the Caribbean. The Centre is also a United Nations Institute for Training and Research recognised Centre of Excellence, one of an elite few. Learn more about how we’re working to make the Caribbean more climate resilient by perusing The Implementation Plan.

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PRESS RELEASE – “1 point 5 to stay alive”, the Caribbean speaks to the world at global Climate Change Conference

PRESS RELEASE – Bonn, Germany. 13 November 2017.  “1 point 5 to stay alive”, the Caribbean speaks to the world at global Climate Change Conference

“1.5 is a matter of necessity,” said University of the West Indies’ Professor Michael Taylor, speaking at an event convened by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) as part of the Conference on Climate Change, COP23, taking place in Germany until the end of this week.

Prof. Taylor was at the time delivering the main results of a study funded by the CDB, a study that has brought together 45 Caribbean scientists from 11 regional institutions to examine and compare the implications of climate change for the region.

The facts speak for themselves. On average, the temperature on this planet has already increased by 1 degree Celsius over what it was before the world began to industrialise, and the impacts of that increase are there for all to see.

In the Caribbean, global warming has already resulted in more intense hurricanes with stronger winds and much more rain, but it is also responsible: for increases in both air and ocean temperature; for more very hot days and nights; for longer and more frequent periods of drought; for an increase in very heavy rainfall events; and for sea-level rise and coastal erosion.

Climate change is real, and things can only get worse, but the question is: how much worse? This is the question that was at the centre of the climate change negotiations in Paris two years ago, and this is why the Caribbean considered it a success that the Paris Agreement made a commitment to an increase of “not more than 2 degrees”, trying to achieve the target of 1.5 degrees.

“This 1.5 Caribbean project,” said Prof. Taylor, “is the region doing its own science, putting Caribbean science in the literature of the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).”

And the messages from that research are clear. With ‘business as usual’, temperatures will increase by at least 2.5 degrees by the end of the century, reaching 1.5 degrees in the late 2020s, and 2 degrees in the 2050s.

“At 2 degrees, we would have a significantly harsher climate. We would be moving into the realm of the unprecedented. It’s a matter of compromise,” said Prof. Taylor, “even a 1.5 degree temperature increase will be very problematic.”

The message that the Caribbean is giving at the UN Conference is therefore one of urgency, a message that was echoed by Saint Lucian Prime Minister Allen Chastanet, who spoke at the session and who is attending the Conference in his capacity as CARICOM Lead on Sustainable Development and Climate Change.

“The Caribbean and other small island developing states (SIDS) have been patiently waiting for the world to get its act together,” said PM Chastanet, “but we now need action; we don’t have the ability to wait any longer, we need investment to build our resilience. Financing is a major constraint, and we now need a dedicated source of funds to support resilience building, specifically for the SIDS”.

The need for accessible and appropriate financing was also stressed by Dr. Keith Mitchell, Prime Minister of Grenada and current Chairman of CARICOM, who declared that “we need funding for adaptation but, with the projected impact of a 1.5 increase, adaptation is not enough, thus our call for a more comprehensive regime on Loss and Damage.”

“Since the Climate Change Conference of 2009 in Copenhagen, when the message of 1 point 5 to stay alive was first sent out, the Caribbean has been advocating that a target of 1.5 degrees is both necessary and feasible,” said Dr Kenrick Leslie, the Executive Director of the CCCCC.

At the Bonn Conference this year, thanks to the work of Prof. Taylor and other Caribbean scientists, and to the tireless work of Caribbean delegates in these critical negotiations, this message is coming across even louder and stronger, backed by the highly credible scientific work of the region’s scientific community.

For more information, contact climate.justice@panoscaribbean.org and visit www.1point5.info and https://www.facebook.com/savethecaribbean/

A Challenge for the Caribbean: Nature and Tourism

Excerpt taken from the Inter-American Development Bank’s publication:

Integration & Trade Journal: Volume 21: No. 41: March, 2017

Carlos Fuller, International and Regional Liaison Officer, Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre, (CCCCC)

One of the greatest injustices of pollution is that its consequences are not limited to those who produce it. The Caribbean is one of the least polluting regions in the world but it is also one of the most exposed to global warming due to the importance of the tourism sector within its economy.

Carlos Fuller, an expert from the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre, explains the consequences of the region’s dependence on petroleum and analyzes the potential of public policy for supporting renewable energy.

How is climate change impacting the Caribbean?

The Caribbean’s greenhouse gas emissions are very small because we have a small population, we are not very industrialized, and we don’t do a lot of agriculture, so we don’t emit a lot. However, mitigation is important for us because of the high cost of fuel and energy. Most of our islands depend on petroleum as a source of energy, and when oil prices were above US$100 per barrel, we were spending more than 60% of our foreign exchange on importing petroleum products into the Caribbean. In that respect, we really want to transition to renewable energy sources as we have considerable amounts of solar, wind, geothermal, and biomass energy potential.

Has climate change started to affect tourism?

It has. Climate change is severely impacting our natural attractions, our tourist attractions. For example, we have a significant amount of erosion because of sea level rise, wave action, and storm surges, which is causing tremendous erosion and affecting our beaches. Our coral reefs, which are a big attraction, are also suffering a lot of bleaching which is impacting our fish stock. Those resources are being affected significantly. We do have significant protected areas; however, we need more resources to enforce the protection of these.

What role do public policies play in developing renewable energy?

In some countries, [we’re] doing reasonably well on this front. In Belize, for example, we now have independent coal producers and we have transitioned to an increased use of hydro, solar, and biomass, so more than 50% of our domestic electricity supply is from renewable energy sources. However, on many of the islands, we need to create an enabling environment to allow renewable energy to penetrate the market. We are going to need a lot of assistance from the international community to put in the regulatory framework that will allow us to develop renewable energy in these places. We then need to attract potential investors to provide sources of renewable energy in the region. Of course, the Caribbean’s tourism is an important sector of the economy, which is one of the reasons we need to protect our reserves and natural parks. We are also trying to make our buildings more resilient to the effects of extreme weather. That is the focus of our work.

How does the Green Climate Fund work? 

The Green Climate Fund is headquartered in South Korea and it has an independent board of management. However, various agencies can be accredited to access the fund directly. We have already applied for a project to preserve the barrier reef and another to promote biomass use in the Caribbean. So, we have two projects in the pipeline through the Green Climate Fund which are valued at around US$20 million.

Do you think that the Paris and Marrakesh summits brought concrete results for the region?

We were very pleased with the outcome in Paris. The objectives that the Caribbean Community wanted were achieved: the limit for warming was set at 2°C; adaptation was considered along with mitigation; finance, technology transfer, and capacity building were included; and a compliance system was put in place. All the things that we wanted out of Paris, we achieved, and so we are very happy with that.

Peruse the complete Integration & Trade Journal: Volume 21

Office of Climate Change spearheads ‘green’ agenda sessions in Schools-Regions 4, 5, 6 and 10 to benefit in first quarter of 2017

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The Office of Climate Change (OCC), which falls under the purview of the Ministry of the Presidency, in collaboration with the Caribbean Youth Environment Network (CYEN), yesterday, visited three schools in East Berbice-Corentyne (Region Six) to continue its countrywide Climate Change sessions, which are aimed at educating students on the effects of the global phenomenon and Guyana’s pursuit of a ‘green’ agenda.

The team, comprised of staff from the Office of Climate Change and volunteers from the CYEN, delivered 90-minute sessions the All Saints Primary, the New Amsterdam Multilateral and the Manchester Secondary Schools.

During the course of each session, short videos detailing the effects of rising sea levels, importance of water management, the impact of Climate Change on the Caribbean region and Guyana, among other related areas, were shown to the students, after which they were given measures and steps they can take in the home and at school to combat the effects. It was followed by a reinforcement session in which the students were quizzed and given prizes.

Ms. Yasmin Bowman, Communications Specialist at the OCC, in an invited comment, said that the outreach to the region is one in a series of outreaches, which have been planned by Department for the first quarter of 2017. A total of 20 schools were targeted and thus far, 14 have been completed.

“What we have been doing is engaging a lot of the schools in Regions 4, 5, 6 and next week we are going to Region 10. The purpose of this awareness session is exactly what I said, to bring awareness to the students on Climate Change. From the interactions, we have had over the last few weeks, we have noticed that a number of schools and children are not familiar with Climate Change in general or what Climate Change is. Some of them have never even heard about the Office of Climate Change and so we are hoping that once we come to the school, we can bring awareness to the children,” she explained.

Ms. Bowman added that the sessions, however, are also aimed at promoting behaviour change with regard to the treatment of the environment especially at a time when Guyana has embarked on a ‘green’ development plan.

In addition to Primary and Secondary School students, “we would also be engaging nursery level students but their awareness sessions will be done in the form of puppeteering as against the format we used for the Secondary and Primary School children, where we have videos and a reinforcement session and power-point to ensure they grasp as much as possible. What we did not want to do is to use one paint brush to cover everything so we did the awareness in a format where the child could have an appreciation for what is happening,” she said.

Ms. Elon McCurdie, National Coordinator for CYEN, said that the organisation wants to focus primarily on climate change and its impacts and to identify actions that youths can take within the communities, schools and homes so that they can help in the process.

“With them being children now and them taking on actions, whether it is at school or at home, they are now heading into a more sustainable lifestyle so that as they get older, these are things that they can use to help Guyana and themselves,” she said.

Ms. McCurdie is hopeful that the programme can also be taken to the Hinterland regions and not just the Coastland, to ensure that a concerted effort is taken to combat Climate Change and global warming and to raise support for the path, which Guyana has chosen to go.

Meanwhile, Head Master of the All Saints Primary, Mr. Bassant Jagdeo, who sat in the session facilitated at his school, said that the initiative is commendable and must be taken across the country so that behaviour changes can be achieved for the good of the environment and the country as a whole.

“I really appreciate this and not only on my behalf but the entire school population. The kids are the ones that we have to target and the ones who need to become more aware. I know that a lot of the adults are neglectful in their actions and saving our earth but if we can start with the youths, then we are going to have a positive reward in years to come. This is a very great initiative and we should not only target schools but homes too need to be apart. Parents need to be involved because this starts from the home,” he said.

The school has been promoting its own little project in its compound, which sees plants being grown and the students having responsibility to take care of them. Mr. Jagdeo said that this is aimed at inculcating responsibility for the environment in the child so that they can be conscious in their actions.

Japan and UNDP launch climate change project in eight Caribbean countries

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Members of the J-CCCP Project Board following the project launch

The government of Japan and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) launched the US$15 million Japan-Caribbean climate change partnership (J-CCCP) on Thursday, in line with the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius and to drive efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

The launch follows a two-day meeting with more than 40 representatives from eight Caribbean countries, including government officials, technical advisors, NGO and UN partners to set out a roadmap to mitigate and adapt to climate change, in line with countries’ long-term strategies.

The new initiative will help put in practice Caribbean countries’ actions and policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change, such as nationally appropriate mitigation actions (NAMAs) and national adaptation plans (NAPs). It will also boost access to sustainable energy and help reduce fossil fuel imports and dependence, setting the region on a low-emission development path, while addressing critical balance of payments constraints.

“The government of Japan is pleased to partner with UNDP. It is envisaged that the project will also contribute to building a platform for information sharing in developing and implementing climate change policies and promoting the transfer of adaptation and mitigation technologies. Japan expects, through pilot projects and information sharing, the project will enable the Caribbean countries to enhance their capacity to cope with climate change and natural disasters,” said Masatoshi Sato, minister-counsellor and deputy head of mission at the embassy of Japan in Trinidad and Tobago, stressing that the partnership will also promote South-South and North-South cooperation, including study tours to Japan for government officials and technical advisors.

Participating countries include Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, and Suriname, benefitting an estimated 200,000 women and men in 50 communities.

“This partnership comes at a critical time in our nation’s sustainable development programme,” said Gloria Joseph, permanent secretary in the ministry of planning, economic development and investment in Dominica. “Dominica has experienced firsthand the devastating and crippling effect that climate change can have on a nation’s people, their livelihoods and economy, risking losing up to 90 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) due to a tropical storm or hurricane. Dominica stands ready and welcomes the opportunity to benefit from early response warning systems, climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction measures as it seeks to restore and ‘build back better’.”

Climate change is recognised as one of the most serious challenges to the Caribbean. With the likelihood that climate change will exacerbate the frequency and intensity of the yearly hurricane season, comprehensive measures are needed to protect at-risk communities. Boosting resilience is crucial for the region’s development and is a clear part of UNDP’s global strategic plan of programme priorities.

Negative impacts on land, water resources and biodiversity associated with climate change have also been predicted with the potential to affect shoreline stability, the health of coastal and marine ecosystems and private property, as well as ecosystem services. Increasing coastal erosion and severe coral reef bleaching events are already evident in some locations.

“UNDP has been championing the cause of climate change in the Caribbean for many years and we are pleased to partner with the Government of Japan toward the implementation of climate change projects in eight Caribbean countries,” said Rebeca Arias, regional hub director for UNDP’s Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean. “In light of the COP21 agreement, these projects are timely in assisting countries to respond more effectively to the impacts of climate change and to increase their resilience through actions today to make them stronger for tomorrow.”

Credit: Caribbean News Now

Atlantic, Caribbean storms more destructive as temperatures rise – study

Hurricanes in the Atlantic and Caribbean oceans will grow more than twice as powerful and damaging as ocean temperatures rise from global warming, a new study says.

Warming seas could produce more rainfall and far more destructive storm surges of water along the ocean shorelines in the next 50 to 100 years, said the study by U.S. scientists published this week in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

“It could affect the entire Atlantic coast,” said William Lau, a co-author and research associate at the University of Maryland’s Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center.

Simulation showed future storms with as much as 180 percent more rain than what occurred during Superstorm Sandy, which heavily damaged the Northeastern United States in 2012, he said.

“The rainfall itself is probably way out in the ocean, but the storm surge would be catastrophic,” he said.

In 2012, Sandy killed 159 people and inflicted $71 billion in damage as it battered the U.S. coast, especially in the states of New Jersey and New York. Nearly 200,000 households obtained emergency government assistance, and rebuilding remains stalled in some areas.

Simulating weather patterns with higher ocean temperatures rising due to global warming, the study found future hurricanes could generate forces 50 to 160 percent more destructive than Sandy.

Credit: Reuters

Multimillion-dollar regional climate change initiative to be launched in Barbados

This image made available by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on December 17, 2015 shows warmer- or cooler-than-normal temperatures around the world for January through November 2015. If governments are serious about the global warming targets they adopted in Paris, scientists say they have two options: eliminating fossil fuels immediately or finding ways to undo their damage to the climate system in the future. The first is politically impossible — the world is still hooked on using oil, coal and natural gas — which leaves the option of a major clean-up of the atmosphere later this century.

A new partnership to help disaster-prone Caribbean countries mitigate the effects and adapt to climate change will be launched in Barbados on January 28.

The Caribbean Community (Caricom), Japan and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) will launch the US$15-million Japan-Caribbean Climate Change Partnership (J-CCCP) that will bring together policymakers, experts and representatives of affected communities to encourage policy innovation for climate technology incubation and diffusion.

A UNDP statement said that the launch is in “tandem with the recent agreement by world leaders at the Paris Climate Conference to keep global warming below 2 degrees celsius, and further to pursue below 1.5o degrees celsius in order to avoid negative impacts to the Caribbean”.

It said that the new initiative aims to ensure that barriers to the implementation of climate-resilient technologies are addressed and overcome in a participatory and efficient manner.

 Thursday’s launch will be addressed by Rebeca Arias, director, UNDP Panama Regional Hub, Masatoshi Sato, minister-counsellor and deputy head of mission at the Trinidad-based Embassy of Japan, and Stephen O’Malley, resident representative, UNDP Subregional Office for Barbados and the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States.

The new Japan-Caribbean-UNDP Partnership will boost national policies and plans to cope with climate change-related adversity, also aiming to reduce dependency on fossil fuel imports, setting the region on a low emission path and improving access to sustainable energy.

Credit: Jamaica Observer

Jamaica’s drought tool could turn table on climate change

Drought-map_-629x432

On a very dry November 2013, Jamaica’s Meteorological Service made its first official drought forecast when the newly developed Climate Predictability Tool (CPT) was used to predict a high probability of below average rainfall in the coming three months.

By February, the agency had officially declared a drought in the eastern and central parishes of the island based on the forecasts. July’s predictions indicated that drought conditions would continue until at least September.

Said to be the island’s worst in 30 years, the 2014 drought saw Jamaica’s eastern parishes averaging rainfall of between 2 and 12 per cent, well below normal levels. Agricultural data for the period shows that production fell by more than 30 per cent over 2013 and estimates are that losses due to crop failures and wild fires amounted to US$1 billion.

Jamaica’s agricultural sector accounts for roughly seven per cent of the island’s gross domestic product (GDP) and employs about 20 per cent of its workforce.

The Met Service’s, Glenroy Brown told IPS, “The CPT was the main tool used by our Minister (of Water, Land, Environment & Climate Change) Robert Pickersgill throughout 2015 to advise the nation on the status of drought across the island.”

It was also used but the National Water Commission (NWC) to guide its implementation of island-wide water restrictions.

A technician with Jamaica’s Met Service, Brown designed and implemented the tool in collaboration with Simon Mason, a climate scientist from Columbia University’s International Research Institute (IRI) for Climate and Society with funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

“The tool provides a Windows package for constructing a seasonal climate drought forecast model, producing forecasts with updated rainfall and sea surface temperature data,” he explained.

The innovation was one of the first steps in building resilience under Jamaica’s national climate policy. It provides drought-monitoring forecasts that allows farmers to plan their planting around dry periods and has been “tailored for producing seasonal climate forecasts from a general circulation model (GCM), or for producing forecasts using fields of sea-surface temperatures,” Brown said.

The tool combines a number of applications including Google Earth and localized GIS maps, to generate one to five day forecasts that are country and location specific. The information is broken down and further simplified by way of colour-coded information and text messages for the not so tech-savvy user.

The tool designed by Brown and Mason also incorporated IRI’s own CPT (designed by Mason) that was already being used by Caribbean countries with small meteorological services and limited resources, to produce their own up-to-date seasonal climate forecasts. The new tool combined data on recent rainfall and rainfall predictions to provide a forecast that focused specifically on drought.

“It was important for us to design a system that addressed Jamaica’s needs upfront, but that would also be suitable for the rest of the region,” Mason noted.

The scientists explained, “Because impact of a drought is based on the duration of the rainfall” and not only the amount of rainfall, looking forward is not enough to predict droughts because of factors related to accumulation and intensification.

“What we’re doing is essentially putting a standard three-month rainfall forecast in context with recent rainfall measurements,” Mason, told USAID’s publication Frontlines last May. He noted that if below-normal rainfall activity was recorded during an unusually dry period, indications were there was a “fairly serious drought” ahead.

Sheldon Scott from Jamaica’s Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) told IPS that farmers who used the SMS information were able to avoid the worse effects of the drought.

“The impacts were visible in relation to farmers who used the information and others who didn’t, because those who did were able to manage the mitigating factors more effectively,” he said.

During the period, more than 500 farmers received text alerts and about 700,000 bulletins were sent to agricultural extension officers.

Among the farmers who signed up for text messaging service, Melonie Risden told Frontlines, “The information we received from the Met office gave us drought forecasts in terms of probabilities. We still decided to plant because we were fortunate to have access to the river and could fill up water drums ahead of time in anticipation of the drought.”

Risden lost the corn she planted on the 13-acre property in Crooked River, Clarendon, one of the parishes hardest hit by the drought with only two per cent of normal rainfall, but was able to save much of the peas, beans and hot peppers.

Six months after Jamaica’s Met Service made its ground-breaking forecast, the CIMH presented the first region-wide drought outlook at the Caribbean Regional Climate Outlook Forum in Kingston. Now 23 other Caribbean and Central American countries are using the tool to encourage climate change resilience and inform decision-making.

“Regionally the tool is now a standard fixture across several countries within the region, including the Dominican Republic, Cuba and Haiti. This regional effort is coordinated by the CIMH,” Brown said.

Back in Jamaica, the tool is being hailed “a game-changer” in the climate fight by Jeffery Spooner head of the Met Service, who described the CPT as “an extremely important tool in Climate Change forecasting and specifically for the agricultural – including fisheries- and water sectors for rainfall projection .”

The CPT is now also used to provide regular monthly bulletins that are published by the Meteorological Service on their web site www.jamaicaclimate.net. RADA has also continued to use the CPT in its extension service, to enhance the ability of farmers’ and other agricultural interests to improve water harvesting, planting and other activities.

Since most of the island’s small farms depend on rainfall, more farmers – including those with large holdings – are using the information to better manage water use and guide their activities, Scott said.

Local and intentional scientists have linked the extreme atmospheric conditions related to the droughts affecting Jamaica and the region to the persistent high-pressure systems that has prevented the formation of tropical cyclones to global warming and climate change.

Across the agricultural sector, Jamaica continues to feel the impacts of drought and the challenges are expected to increase with the climate change. In a 2013 agricultural sector support analysis, the Inter-American Development Bank estimated, low impact on extreme climate events on Jamaica’s agriculture sector by 2025 could reach 3.4 per cent of “baseline GDP” annually.

In fact, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Synthesis Report (AR5) pointed to tools like the CPT to mitigate the impacts of climate change. Its importance to Jamaica’s and the region’s food security and water sector cannot be overlooked.

In addition to adaptation for the water sector, the CPT is being modified to provide early warning indicators for wind speeds and coral bleaching among other applications, said the report.

And as showers of blessings cooled the land and brought much relief in the closing months of the year, CPT shows the drought could well be over.

Credit: Caribbean 360

Climate Talks: What’s at Stake for the World’s Species

Infographic shows how even under 2 degrees Celsius of global warming, one in 20 species could go extinct, at great cost to economies, health and food.

The golden toad is one of two species that is already considered extinct due to climate change. Credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Editor’s Note: This infographic is part of the ICN “What’s at Stake” series highlighting the key impacts associated with climate change. See also What’s at Stake for the World’s Coasts.

Warming temperatures, rising seas, ocean acidification, changes to regional weather patterns—nearly every consequence of climate change threatens the world’s 8.7 million species in some way. About half of flora and fauna are already on the move in search of cooler climes. Even keeping global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius—the target for international climate treaty talks—will force many species to the brink of extinction, threatening food supplies, human health, economies and communities. Here is a rundown of just how big an impact climate change could have on the natural world.

Click to enlarge infographic.

Credit: inside climate news
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