Coastal forecasting for safer communities

Coastal forecasting for safer communities



30 May 2011

With more people living in crowded cities along the worlds shorelines, coastal forecasting is emerging as an essential service.

A WMO Coastal Inundation Forecasting Demonstration Project (CIFDP) is being launched in Bangladesh and the Dominican Republic, and there is demand to extend the project concept to neighboring countries with common coastal zone issues. The project focuses on identifying regional requirements, developing and transferring technology, building communications platforms and conducting training.

A side event on Coastal Inundation Matters on 27 May during the WMO 16th Congress provided the opportunity to discuss coastal forecasting challenges and shape project approaches. Participants emphasized the need to:

  • include the end user in the early phases of project planning;
  • focus first on users from sectors that already have a mature relationship with meteorological departments;
  • design integrated forecasting systems that communities can operate on their own, based on existing, available open source forecasting models for storm surges and coastal inundation;
  • include development of communications platforms, so that forecasting reaches the people who need the information most;
  • ensure that verification processes are incorporated, by enhancing relevant observing data collected through commonly agreed and qualified procedures; and
  • explore regional approaches that maximize resources, while still leaving scope for country and community-specific approaches.

User commitment is key, said Dr Don Resio, Co-Chair of the CIFDP Steering Group. National Meteorological and Hydrological Services have an important part to play. One needs to identify an agency with the right mandate computer and communications infrastructure, and the ability to be present 24/7 during an emergency, he added.

Coastal forecasting is our biggest issue, said Ms Arjumand Habib, Director of the Bangladesh Meteorological Department. If WMO can obtain international support to help people living along the coast, we will do our best to make the investment sustainable.

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