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Jun 13, 2017

The Met Consults on Climate and Change

Variations in climate influence most human activities either directly or indirectly resulting in losses or benefits. Making effective use of available climate information ensures efficiency and sustainability across a number of sectors. As has been recorded across the world, climate change imposes additional stresses on agricultural systems and human livelihoods. So, the need for timely and accurate information that meets the needs of the different sectors is critical. The National Met service is engaging stakeholders to learn what they need from these climate services. News Five’s Andrea Polanco reports.


Andrea Polanco, Reporting

The national climate outlook for Belize will see rainfalls range from above normal to normal up to November and the temperatures for the next six months are expected to be on the warmer side, says the Belize Met Service.


Ronald Gordon, Climatologist, National Met Service

“We are expecting rain falls to be just above normal in the June to August period. And above normal in the September to November period. In terms of our temperatures, we are seeing a clear pattern that our night time temperatures are increasing and we are expecting warmer than normal temperatures from June right throughout November this year.”


The Met Service puts out forecasts like this one to be used by just about everyone, and for those who use this information to make decisions, or those affected by the climate, it is critical that the service meets their needs. So, today the Belize Met Service is hosting a one day forum to find out from stakeholders what their needs are when it comes to climate service that they provide.  This is the fifth year that this forum is taking place; it takes place twice year – at the start of the rainy and dry seasons.


Catherine Cumberbatch

Catherine Cumberbatch, Chief Meteorologist

“We invite our key stakeholders such as agriculture, tourism health, water, energy and the purpose is that we present a season forecast and we discuss and dialogue how this forecast can be incorporated in their needs and how they can use it for their needs in their sector. It doesn’t make sense we provide a forecast and we don’t know how the forecast is being  incorporated, if it needs to be improved or enhanced, so the purpose here is to get the people who are the use of this forecast and see how this forecast is being utilized and incorporated into the system.”


The needs from the stakeholders, whether from the agricultural, tourism or any other sector, may differ. As it stands, the Met Service capabilities may be limited in what all they can provide; but over the years they have expanded their services to better support stakeholders need.


Ronald Gordon

Ronald Gordon

“One of the things that always come up is that they want specific numbers – what we call deterministic forecast that would be exact values. In terms of our capacities, we can provide forecast in terms of probabilities, so we normally explain to our stakeholders what are the probability of getting above normal rainfall or below normal rainfall. One of the things we have done during the past couple of years is that we have started to put that probability in a number, so we will tell them you can expect this range of rainfall over particular areas of the country.”


Andrea Polanco

“So, you would say that different sectors have specific needs or expectations that they would want from the met service?”


Ronald Gordon

“Yes. Different sectors definitely have different needs. For example, people in the agricultural sector would be to know the short to medium term forecast in terms of rainfall; whereas the energy sector would want to look at a longer term rainfall forecast in terms of different rainfall in catchment area for different purposes, damn purposes and so on.”


Andrea Polanco

“Generally speaking though, you would say that the Met Service is meeting the needs of the stakeholders in terms of what they expect from forecasts?”


Ronald Gordon

“Well, what I can say is that we have been improving and it is a continuous process. So, we have made some improvements; our website has been re-designed and we have all those automatic stations up there that that we are providing to them. And we have model forecast that we have up on our website.”


To aid in that improvement, Doctor Cedric Van Meerbeck of the Caribbean Institute of Meteorology and Hydrology based in Barbados is in Belize to participate in this annual forum. He says the aim is to provide support to Belize Met Service.


Cedric Van Meerbeck

Dr. Cedric Van Meerbeck, Climatologist, Caribbean Institute for Meteorology

“In such a forum like today, we are not looking at weather forecast for the next couple of days, we are looking at how the season will pan out; how in the past few months we have had sort of an impact and how we go from the previous months to the next months in terms of impacts on the ground for farmers, for hydrologists, hotel managers, for all range of sectors that are affected by climate. My role here is to bring in the regional vision to bring in the capacity building effort that is led by the Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology in the region including Belize.   Belize is quite close to the  top so I see that there is very good development of capacity within Belize and not just with the met service but also within the user community of climate change information are affected by economic sectors that are affected by climate in Belize.   In the way it is kind of an informal assessment of their capacity and advances that they make. It is really wonderful to note that Belize is spearheading some efforts that we haven’t seen in other countries, so I am very happy with that. Another way for us to be here to provide some other technical capacity where some of the region’s countries have already developed something because their priorities were a little bit different and we can then report on that and help Belize in that regard as well.”


Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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