The mission of the Agency for Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics of the Republic of Indonesia (BMKG) is to be reliable, responsive and capable in supporting public safety and national development. As such, the Agency is committed to building public awareness of weather, climate and geophysics in order to reduce the risks related to these natural occurrences. Its campaigns engage youth through “fun” activities and encourage young adults to pursue careers in weather, climate and geophysics.
It is essential to promote weather and climate issues in the younger generation. Improving their understanding will improve their future as it will help them to deal with weather and climate phenomena and may push them to take action to protect the natural environment.
Students visit program
Visits to BMKG offices – headquarters as well as regional weather stations – offer great opportunities to reach out to youth. The students are divided into groups to visit the meteorological and geophysical stations and see how the observation equipment operates. They learn weather and climate basics and observe forecasters as they make analyses using satellite, radar and other data. They then see how these predictions are disseminated to stakeholders and those dealing with extreme events. These activities are conducted in the Operational Unit for the Meteorological-Climatological Early Warning System (MCEWS). The climate and weather part of the visit ends in the air quality laboratory where they learn how greenhouse gas concentrations are measured and about climate change.
In the geophysical part of the visit, students learn how an earthquake signal is processed to provide early warnings for tsunamis. The Operational Unit for the Indonesian Tsunami Early Warning System (InaTEWS) staff explain what to do before, during and after an earthquake. Posters on the wall describe actions to take and the Mercalli Modified Intensity (MMI) scale for measuring seismic activity. But students’ favourite part of the visit is always the simulator. The simulator room has two chairs, a kitchen cabinet, a hanging lamp and decorations. It is connected to a computer that shakes the room to a level corresponding to that of any earthquake signal. Students can sit in the chairs and experience an earthquake mainshock such as the destructive 2006 Jogjakarta earthquake. The students get very excited. When the shaking starts, they often experience momentary dizziness and the swinging lamp and falling flower vase help them imagine the disastrous effects. They are full of enthusiasm when they describe their experience.
The visit ends in a museum of old observation and data analysis equipment, which includes an old Wiechert seismograph. Students are encouraged to ask questions and cheerful discussions often arise.
Engaging youth beyond BMK
BMKG developed the Indonesian Academy for Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics, which grants students full scholarships, even providing a living allowance. Staff from the Agency teach and share their knowledge and experiences with the students at the Academy. Included in the curriculum are BMKG scientific seminars in English. The cadets – students – in this class must also present their papers in English. This prepares the cadets to follow in the footsteps of their seniors working in the international arena such as the BMKG Director General, Ms Sri Woro B. Harijono, who is President of WMO Regional Association V.
In addition, BMKG publishes posters, booklets and comic books on weather, climate and earthquake issues for youth, and provides related source material for magazine publishers and TV programs for young people. BMKG also participates in school evacuation simulations in collaboration with local government authorities in earthquake vulnerable area such as in Buleleng, West Bali.
What’s to come
BMKG is now planning the launch of a Bahasa language website on weather, climate and earthquake topics for youth. The site will contain kids posters, comics and booklets. Young people will be able to email their question to experts in order to get further explanation on weather climate and earthquake phenomenon.
BMKG does not have a budget allocated for these activities, but it is committed to the promotion of weather and climate issue to its community, especially to reaching out to the young generation. The future of our planet is in their hands.