J5.1 Climate Monitoring and Forecasting for Humanitarian Response Planning

Wednesday, 13 January 2016: 10:30 AM
Room 343 ( New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center)
Wassila Mamadou Thiaw, NOAA, College Park, MD

Drought is one of the greatest challenges in Africa due to its impact on access to sanitary water and food. In response to this challenge, the international community has mobilized to develop famine early warning systems (FEWS) to bring safe food and water to populations in need. Over the past several decades, much attention has focused on advance risk planning in agriculture and water. This requires frequent updates of weather and climate outlooks. This paper describes the active role of NOAA's African Desk in FEWS and in enhancing the capacity of African institutions to improve forecasts. Emphasis is on the operational products from short and medium range weather forecasts to subseasonal and seasonal outlooks in support of humanitarian relief programs. Tools to provide access to real time weather and climate information to the public are described. These include the downscaling of the U.S. National Multi-model Ensemble (NMME) to improve seasonal forecasts in support of Regional Climate Outlook Forums (RCOFs). The subseasonal time scale has emerged as extremely important to many socio-economic sectors. Drawing from advances in numerical models that can now provide a better representation of the MJO, operational subseasonal forecasts are included in the African Desk product suite. These along with forecasts skill assessment and verifications are discussed. The presentation will also highlight regional hazards outlooks basis for FEWSNET food security outlooks. The preparation of the hazards outlooks requires the monitoring of the climate system and the forecasts. Beside meteorological fields, other products considered in the preparation of the hazards include crop conditions obtained from remote sensing data, hydrological information, and field reports. The information is blended using geographical information system (GIS) to draw polygons in areas that may experience drought or flooding during the outlook period. The outlooks are disseminated to the public and to FEWSNET, and are used in the preparation of regional food security outlooks. Finally, the African Desk residency training program, which is supported by this seamless approach to operational forecasting and aimed at enhancing the capacity of African institutions to improve forecasts, is discussed.
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