How early warning systems can help us deal with extreme weather

April 2021, Southeast Asian Islands East Timor Suffered the worst flooding in its recent history. Affected by tropical cyclones, floods affected more than 30,000 households and caused 34 deaths.

As climate-related disasters continue to increase, such events are becoming regrettable and familiar stories around the world. But in East Timor, a new climate adaptation project may help reduce this risk.this plan The focus is on establishing an early warning system in the country. If similar extreme weather events occur in the future, people can be alerted in advance. It can play an important role-enabling people to protect themselves and their assets.

This system is increasingly recognized as a key measure to adapt to climate change. “In the next few decades or more, we have been caught up in the ever-increasing climate impact,” said Stephanie Tai, a climate resilience expert at the World Resources Institute. “So now we need these systems to protect humans and ecosystems. This is only part of reality.”

Tye said that early warning systems can warn local communities about events such as upcoming hurricanes, hurricanes, or landslides caused by extreme rainfall. In these events, even a few hours in advance can play an important role. They can also provide knowledge of slow-occurring events, such as the upcoming drought in a few months. “You use this system to notify people who will be affected by these events so that they can take appropriate measures to prepare.”

For example, in Bangladesh, a country known for its climate vulnerability and complex use of such systems, Cyclone warning In the past two decades, the number of deaths has decreased significantly.

They are also very efficient, according to 2019 report From the Global Adaptation Committee, the benefits far outweigh the costs. The report found that warnings of upcoming storms or heat waves can reduce personnel and property losses by 30% in just 24 hours.

There are several aspects to make these systems work. Jochem Zoetelief, head of the climate services and capacity building department of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), which runs the project in East Timor, said that one key is to ensure that accurate observations are obtained in order to generate accurate and timely warnings. “People need to have confidence in forecasts and warnings, because if they are inaccurate and this happens frequently, you will lose people.” Therefore, early warning system projects usually install equipment such as automatic weather stations and radar systems, and strengthen the country. Hydrometeorological services.

But another key part is to ensure that the final message can truly reach the people most likely to be affected. In fact, if no one is online, sending email alerts is meaningless. Tropical cyclones can also destroy communications infrastructure, so even if people have mobile phones, they may need to back them up. Therefore, each project must determine the best way to disseminate information based on local conditions, which can be anything from SMS alerts or radio broadcasts to announcements in the middle of the village with megaphones.

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