Meteorology Experts Support Climate Resilience

Speeches Shim

Thursday, February 3, 2022
Guncha, a professional weather forecaster at Turkmenistan’s State Service for Hydrometeorology

To Protect Life and Property, USAID Partners with Civil Servants at Turkmenistan’s State Service for Hydrometeorology for Accurate Forecasting

Increasingly, climate change is causing extreme weather events. It disrupts the reliability and accuracy of existing weather prediction methodologies, making conventional weather forecasting based on historical data less accurate.

This increases the risk to the safety of populations and economies, as potentially dangerous events such as floods, heat waves, and cold snaps become more common but less predictable. Accurate weather forecasting is useful for more than the evening news; weather conditions affect a wide variety of industries from agriculture to urban planning to shipping and logistics.

To strengthen the effectiveness of government efforts and to reduce the impact of weather-related disruptions, USAID’s Governance Support Program advances the skills of meteorologists like Guncha, a professional weather forecaster at Turkmenistan’s State Service for Hydrometeorology. USAID also partners with the State Service for Hydrometeorology to update and use cutting-edge technologies such as Automated Meteorological Measuring and Information System (AMIS) software, which automates the collection of meteorological data such as temperature, atmospheric pressure, wind speed, and direction.

Guncha’s day usually starts with a review of synoptic data and maps created by meteorologists in other countries. “These maps show us information about atmospheric pressure, which helps us understand and predict weather phenomena,” she explains. Using international synoptic information, Guncha and her colleagues do their own calculations to come up with local forecasts, which are broadcast to the public and used by other civil servants to prepare for weather events. But relying on international data has its drawbacks: even small differences in local conditions can have large impacts on the accuracy of these predictions.

After updating the AMIS software for the seven meteorological stations in Turkmenistan’s Akhal region, in November 2021, the USAID Governance Support Program organized a five-day intensive training for local meteorologists. During the training, Guncha and her colleagues learned sophisticated mathematical techniques to improve their synoptic analysis. The team also gained hands-on experience collecting and using local data from cutting-edge instruments and online data repositories. 

Ultimately, the training will help Turkmenistan’s meteorologists improve medium-range weather forecasting by allowing them to collect and use local data, instead of the nearby international sources. Guncha and her colleagues are enthusiastic about this new knowledge. “We can now make our own maps instead of relying on the maps that we would usually receive from other countries; choosing the area we want to cover, time range we want to cover, etc.” she says. “We now have the flexibility to make more specific local maps and forecasts.” 

This accurate, local weather information is critical to effectively prepare for potential weather disasters and to minimize their impact – so communicating it quickly and clearly is essential. That’s why the USAID Governance Support Program prioritized another key element: updating the ways meteorologists share their analyses and predictions. As part of a broader national shift towards the digitalization of government services prioritized by President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, the program supported the State Hydrometeorology Service to implement what the country refers to as “e-document flow” for the state hydrometeorology service. Instead of sharing their predictions via phone and fax, the Turkmenhydromet now uses email and sophisticated electronic data sharing procedures.

As international scientists have been warning, increased volatility and extreme events are becoming more common around the world including in Turkmenistan and beyond. Improved forecasting accuracy and efficient information sharing has already proven critical to protecting the health and safety of Turkmenistan’s citizens, as well as their economic livelihoods. 

In the fall of 2021, Guncha observed this firsthand as her analysis predicted a sudden cold snap. Temperatures plummeted from about 20 degrees to -9 Celsius. Her advanced techniques and the new electronic document system allowed civil servants and the public to prepare. The Turkmenhydromet’s warnings were effectively shared throughout the Akhal region, and local farmers were able to mobilize to protect the crops they worked hard to produce during the growing season. Such accurate and timely forecasts that were well-communicated to key stakeholders help in preventing serious consequences - such as disruptions to the region’s agricultural cycle.

Although the uncertainty and hazards of the global climate crisis looms, Guncha believes that the science of meteorology will be a key element of climate change resilience, “My work in forecasting helps people around me to be better prepared for the changing climate and avoid its most adverse effects,” she says.

Through its Governance Support Program, USAID seeks to deepen the relationship between citizens and state actors by directly linking those who are governed with those who are democratically elected to govern. 

Since 2015, the USAID Governance Support Program has worked towards the vision of improved public administration by providing technical advice through research and analysis, as well as training and dissemination of best practices. As of January 2022, the program has trained over 3,700 stakeholders in elements of strong governance and economic development, including ethics and anti-corruption, equity and social inclusion, climate change and environmental protection, effective agricultural policies and practices, and the use of information and communications technologies.

Last updated: August 26, 2022

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