1.4 World Weather Attribution and Well-being

Wednesday, 13 January 2016: 2:15 PM
Room 343 ( New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center)
Roop K. Singh, Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre, New York, NY
Manuscript (43.8 kB)

The Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre is piloting a new project named World Weather and Well-being (W3) that will help assess the resilience of populations in Africa and Asia to climate extremes such as floods, droughts and tropical cyclones, as they occur. News articles and literature that follow extreme events typically report on casualties, and property damage, but miss the opportunity to talk about what coping mechanisms were actually effective during the event. W3 brings together all three areas of disaster risk: the hazard, exposure, and resilience of a population, to build case studies for learning about what coping mechanisms are most effective during actual floods and droughts. These case studies can help inform the work of adaptation practitioners as well as influence policy decisions. The hazards are monitored using near real-time tools, such as the University of Maryland's Global Flood Monitoring System which incorporates TRMM Multi-satellite Precipitation Analysis rainfall (TMPA) data into a hydrological runoff and routing model to highlight areas where flooding is likely taking place. Based on this objective information about the hazard, we notify our partners on the ground about areas that may be flooding. Our partners subsequently interview people on the ground about which coping mechanism were in place, and how effective they were during the event. This can include information about the services available before and after the event, whether or not there was an early warning of the event, and if people acted on that warning, as well as more difficult questions like “what could have gone wrong, but didn't?” These interviews are integrated into news stories, and blog posts for local and international media. In some cases, we may find that no one was impacted at all, despite the occurrence of climate extreme. By highlighting why this occurs, W3 will shed light on events that normally would not have made the news as opportunities for learning. In conjunction with this work, another project called World Weather Attribution uses statistical methods and climate model projections to assess if some of the events identified by W3 can be attributed to climate change. The injection of both information about the current state of resilience, and whether or not an event was caused by climate change into local media will help people understand their risk to climate extremes in the context of a changing climate. In the cases where a disaster does occur, this information can be invaluable as decisions about rebuilding, relocation, and recovery are made at a local level.

For example, heavy rain on May 12, 2015 caused flooding that wreaked havoc on roads in Nairobi, Kenya. Many people were stuck overnight on the roads, while others used social media and the local radio to know which roads should be avoided due to flooding, a coping mechanism.

The government blamed the flooding on garbage and debris that blocked drains, and dispatched teams to unblock the drains. In the aftermath of the flooding, many Nairobians were critical of the lack of longterm solutions posed by the government, with some calling for the demolition of buildings that impede the flow of water along the riverbank. An analysis of the changing probabilities of extremes, as well as coping mechanics that are effective during flooding would prove useful for making investments in more resilient infrastructure and adaptation practices, highlighting the potential World Weather Attribution and, World Weather and Well-being have to influence policy around the world.

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