IRIN Africa – DISASTERS: Smart weather data can make a difference

Farmers are increasingly uncertain about when to plant

NAIROBI, 15 February 2012 (IRIN) – “When should we plant?” is a question increasingly being asked by small farmers in sub-Saharan Africa who depend on rain-fed agriculture. To help answer such questions, climate scientists are being urged to provide more reliable and relevant local climate data, and better communicate their knowledge on climate adaptation techniques. 

“When we think about preparing for imminent disasters it is not possible to prepare for flooding, for example, just a few days in advance, which we get from the weather forecast. We need to think about preparedness further in advance and think in terms of what kind of decisions we can make, say, three months in advance, such as moving important resources away. We need a continuum of information,” said Simon Mason, the chief climate scientist at Columbia University’s International Research Institute (IRI) in the USA.

According to Mason, more effective short, mid-range and seasonal weather forecasting is needed for the development of useful early warning systems. 

Spatial weather tools, including satellite imagery and weather forecasts, allow the processing of weather data over different space and time frames. By allowing better integration of historical data with real-time weather data, such tools can improve the accuracy and impact of forecasts.

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