WMO strengthens climate services delivery in Bhutan

Source(s): World Meteorological Organization (WMO)

WMO, with support from the National Centre for Hydrology and Meteorology (NCHM) Bhutan and the Regional Integrated Multi-Hazard Early Warning Systems in Asia and Africa (RIMES) has successfully completed the implementation of a project aimed at strengthening the capacity to provide climate services and support climate sensitive sectors in the remote, landlocked mountainous country.

The two-year project titled ‘Developing capacities for effective climate services in Bhutan’ was funded by the Korea Meteorological Administration (KMA) through the Korea Global Framework for Climate Services (GFCS) trust fund to support the implementation of GFCS at the national scale and promote planning and implementation of climate adaptation measures in climate-sensitive sectors.

Effective climate services are essential to support agriculture, water, health and other sectors, to develop and evaluate climate adaptation strategies. For example, climate services can empower farmers to select the appropriate crops and marketing strategies based on seasonal climate forecasts; assist public health services to target vaccine and other prevention campaigns to limit climate-related disease outbreaks; and help improve the management of water resources and energy.

The Climate Services Information System (CSIS), one of the five pillars of GFCS, is the principal mechanism through which information about climate – past, present and future – is routinely archived, analyzed, modelled, exchanged and processed. CSIS is designed to produce and authoritatively deliver climate information data and products through appropriate operational mechanisms, data exchange and technical standards.

Climate services toolkit

To enable Bhutan’s meteorological and hydrological service to produce, communicate and apply climate information products efficiently, the project deployed a customized Climate Services Toolkit (CST):  a suite of guidance, data, software tools, training resources and examples (case studies) for enabling climate services in the following areas: (i) climate data rescue, management and mining; (ii) climate analysis and monitoring; (iii) climate prediction; (iv) climate projection; and, (v) tailoring information to specific user needs. It includes products, tools, models and data from Regional Climate Centres (RCCs) and WMO Global Producing Centres for Long-Range Forecasts.

Mr Karma Dupchu, Director of the national meteorological and hydrological service and Permanent Representative of Bhutan with WMO expressed his appreciation. “All the sectors need climate information and services for planning and decision-making especially in the light of climate variability and climate change. Access to information and services is a great challenge for many developing countries. The Climate Service Toolkit is a platform for the NMHS where a wide range of sectors can avail climate information, products and services.”

Dr Filipe Lucio, Director, Member Services and Development Department, WMO notes that: "Advancing the development of effective climate services to assist decision and policy-making application, particularly in adaptation practice and planning, will require a strong engagement between users and providers of such services and effective mechanisms facilitating access to climate information. The Climate Services Toolkit is a central enabling piece for the implementation of the Climate Services Information System, which forms the primary mechanism established by the Global Framework for Climate Services (GFCS) for producing and delivering authoritative climate information and services. The current project on developing capacities for effective climate services in Bhutan sets a critical landmark in the WMO strategy for deployment and application of Climate Services Toolkit worldwide.”

The deployment of the climate services toolkit in Bhutan is a major milestone for WMO as it is the first such instance where it has become operational. The experience gained from Bhutan will pave the way for future implementation of CST across the globe and help Members to deliver climate information effectively to its users.

The operationalization of the climate services toolkit through the project is an important step towards enabling Bhutan to improve delivery of climate services for its stakeholders. It will be critical to sustain the project, with monitoring and evaluation of socio-economic benefits of climate services, improving observation networks and database systems, strengthening human resources capacities and promoting research in climate science, modelling and prediction. Upcoming projects and initiatives in the region can help strengthen these aspects and promote collaboration not just at the national level but at the regional and global level as well.

Approach to enhancing climate services

As a first step to improving the climate services capacities, a stock-taking exercise was carried out to identify and understand the existing capacities, gaps and requirements.  After consultations through online surveys, the agriculture, water and health sectors were selected for the development of tailored climate information and products. A roadmap was developed and outlined the following requirement for the sector users:

  • Integration of sub-seasonal to seasonal forecast for sector users
  • Climate indices and access to regional and global reanalysis data
  • Capacity building of the national meteorological and hydrological service and sector users

Dr. G. Srinivasan, Chief Scientist, Climate Applications with RIMES, outlined that “Climate information enables effective management of climate risks in key sectors and the WMO Climate Services Toolkit (CST) Bhutan has contributed to this effort. Leveraging appropriate tools developed through close interaction with user departments like agriculture and water, the project has made the access and provisioning of climate services in Bhutan.”

To test the customized CST at a local level, two Dzongkhags (districts), namely, Paro and Wangdue were identified as pilots. The Dzongkhag Level Climate Information Services Forum (CISF) will increase the awareness of climate products and services delivered for planning and decision-making at the local level. It will further improve the knowledge and understanding of climate hazards and their impacts on the sectors while promoting co-production of climate services at local level for sector specific application.

The Dzongkhag level CISF will link to the National Climate Outlook Forum (NCOF) which is held annually by the NCHM before the onset of the southwest monsoon and target the local government officials, village representatives, block agriculture extension officials and representatives from the relevant departments/stakeholders.

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