Enhancing seasonal forecasts in the Western South America

WMO and IDEAM (the Colombian NMHS), with additional support from USAID, convened a technical workshop in Bogota, Colombia, from 30 October to 1 November with the aim of identifying the technical and scientific barriers in national prediction systems that prevent the full exploitation of climate information in support of climate risk management. The workshop defined steps to improve capabilities to deliver climate prediction products to meet the needs of economic sectors such as agriculture, water and energy.

Advances in research permit the development of reliable seasonal forecasts of hydrometeorological parameters, information that is useful for a number of climate-sensitive economic and social sectors. Through the Global Producing Centres for Long Range Forecasts (GPCLRFs) and the Regional Climate Centres (RCCs), including facilitating mechanisms such as Regional Climate Outlook Forums (RCOFs), WMO has established operational infrastructures to make seasonal forecasts on global and regional scales available on a regular basis. The imperative is now to put systems in place at the national level to maximize the use of these to produce calibrated seasonal forecast products tailored to economic and societal sectors sensitive to climate variability and change.

The workshop was guided by a previous assessment conducted by  the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture that mapped existing climate services in Colombia as part of an international initiative led by USAID. Key stakeholders – representing public and private sectors, civil society and academia – joined the experts in seasonal and sub-seasonal forecasting and representatives of IDEAM, DMC (the Chilean NMHS), SENAMHI (the Peruvian NMHS) and CIIFEN (a WMO RCC) for the first day of the worskhop to present their climate data and information needs.

The second day of the workshop was dedicated to the exploration of internationally-used methods and tools for producing seasonal forecasts at regional and national levels. Emphasis was placed on the verification of the quality and the confidence of the seasonal prediction. CIIFEN also made its regional climate information portal available to support national climate services.

The workshop defined a set of actions to guide the implementation of an improved seasonal forecast system for Colombia to make better use of global and regional seasonal prediction model products statistically-downscaled to the national level and enhanced by national data to support country level decision-making. This implementation plan will be part of a regional proposal to the Adaptation Fund to be submitted in 2018 by Chile, Colombia and Peru, which will focus on calibrating seasonal forecasts for users to make better decisions in key sectors such as agriculture, energy and water management.

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