The Finnish Meteorological Institute has cooperated with meteorological institutes in the Caribbean to strengthen their hydrometeorological know-how. The objective is to modernise weather service production and to increase preparedness for extreme natural events in the region.
According to statistics, natural disasters in the Caribbean are mainly the result of meteorological, hydrological and climate-related events or their consequences. In addition to the loss of lives, the disasters cause considerable economic losses and impede the development of Caribbean states.
Although the region already has fairly advanced warning systems, it is thought that climate change will mean increasing problems for the region. More violent hurricanes, rising sea levels and heavier rainfall during the rainy seasons cause problems in countries that are already vulnerable and easily affected by the weather. For this reason, systems need to be updated and improved as soon as possible in order to meet the challenges brought about by climate change within the next few years.
Through the recently completed SHOCS project, the Finnish Meteorological Institute, in cooperation with the Association of Caribbean States (ACS), has helped these states to cope with the impacts of climate change. Preparedness for the effects of climate change has been improved, for instance, by giving the ACS a more prominent role in cooperation between the states. The ACS has 25 member states and 4 associate members throughout the Caribbean.
“A strategic plan has been prepared in cooperation in order to minimise the damage resulting from natural disasters. The Finnish Meteorological Institute has also raised know-how and upgraded equipment in the region’s meteorological institutes. Quality practices meeting international standards have been put in place. These will guarantee uniform services among the countries,” says Martti Heikinheimo of the Finnish Meteorological Institute, who has managed the project.
The development needs of weather warning services were assessed in view of future development projects in 16 island states. The aim is to start the second phase of the SHOCS project, lasting for three years, in 2013. The budget is about one million euros. The projects are funded by the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs. “The project is expected to continue seamlessly on the basis of the investigations carried out. In the coming year, we plan to invest, among other things, in weather observation equipment and forecast systems,” Heikinheimo explains.
Project Manager Martti Heikinheimo, tel. 029 539 3300, firstname.lastname@example.org