South Asian Region: Climate Outlook; Water and Drought

The South Asian Regional Climate Outlook Forum (SASCOF), held from 20 to 22 April, issued a seasonal outlook ( predicting below average rainfall over large tracts of South Asia during the forthcoming summer monsoon.

Only the southern islands of the Maldives can expect to see above normal rainfall. The seasonal outlook is largely due to the weak El Niño conditions over the Pacific Ocean that are expected to continue through to September, impacting on the monsoon performance.

The climate outlook is a consensus product based on many different models and assessments, taking into account climate drivers such as the El Niño/Southern Oscillation, the Indian Ocean Dipole and Northern Hemisphere winter snow cover. The outlook is made for the entire season and does not make predictions of the onset of the monsoon or for rainfall for individual months. National Meteorological and Hydrological Services are responsible for downscaling the regional forecast to local scales and also providing regular updates as the season progresses.

The Southwest monsoon accounts for 70%–80% of annual rainfall in most countries in South Asia. It underpins socio-economic development and well-being in this densely-populated region, which is regularly hit by devastating flooding and damaging droughts. Backed by funding from Environment Canada, WMO is working to strengthen and increase regional and national climate outlook forums as part of GFCS implementation. The immediate focus is on Small Island Developing States in the Caribbean and Southwest Pacific, as well as the South Asia/Third Pole region. The Maldives held its first National Climate Outlook Forum at the end of April. Others have taken place in Papua New Guinea and Belize.

The Climate Outlook Forum, attended by experts from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, was held conjointly with a Climate Services User Forum for the Water Sector and a Drought Management Workshop. The Bangladesh Meteorological Department hosted the three events.


Water Forum and Drought Workshop

The Water Sector Forum, the second to be held with funding from Environment Canada, was co-sponsored by the International Commission for Irrigation and Drainage. It provided a platform for water managers and flood forecasters to discuss their needs for climate products such as more refined seasonal forecasts and tailored hydrological models and data.

The Forum aimed to boost regional collaboration on flood forecasting in view of the high number of trans-boundary rivers. WMO is working with the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) towards a regional flood forecasting system, as part of the HKH-HYCOS Phase II with financial support from the Government of Finland.

The establishment of a South Asia Drought Monitoring System was the focus of discussions in the Drought Management Workshop, co-sponsored by WMO, the Global Water Partnership and the International Water Management Institute, as part of the Integrated Drought Management Programme (IDMP). There are currently no validated early warning systems for drought in the region, nor adequate tools to monitor the extent of such events. However, water stress is expected to increase as a result of population growth, urbanization, environmental degradation and climate change. The workshop gained strong engagement from participating countries.

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