Monday, 26 November 2018

Weather Related Disasters in Sri Lanka: Most Vulnerable and Where to Find Them

Wimal Nanayakkara

Every year, natural disasters wreak havoc on the lives of people around the world. In the recent past, Sri Lanka too has experienced an increase in the frequency and intensity of natural disasters. Floods and droughts are the most common weather-related disasters, affecting tens of thousands of people in the country. Sri Lanka is also prone to hazards such as landslides, storms, coastal erosion, and lightning strikes. The impact of natural disasters could have severe consequences, and according to the report “Impact of Disasters in Sri Lanka, 2016”, the poorest and the economically vulnerable are those most at risk. The frequency and aftermath of such disasters have a negative impact on the economy. This blog, based on the Household Income and Expenditure Survey (HIES) 2016, conducted by the Department of Census and Statistics (DCS), focuses on the socioeconomic backgrounds of those who have been affected by such weather-related natural disasters during 2016.

Monday, 19 November 2018

Uncertainties and Scientific and Technological Challenges in Weather and Climate Forecasting
Shiromani Jayawardena
Deputy Director (Research and Climate Change), Department of Meteorology

Over the last few decades, the frequency and intensity of extreme climate events have been increasing, especially due to global warming caused by human activities. According to a special report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 2012, changes in the frequency, intensity, spatial extent, duration, and timing of weather and climate extremes can increase people’s vulnerability to natural disasters and become a major threat to global economies. Weather forecasts, ranging from timescales of few hours to entire seasons, can reduce susceptibility to weather variations and climate-related disasters, improve food security and health outcomes, and enhance water resource management. However, a major challenge is predicting future weather patterns in a rapidly changing climate. The future is intrinsically uncertain. Further, dynamic physical processes of atmosphere and its interactions with surrounding systems (e.g. land, ocean, and ice surfaces) make forecasting even more difficult.

Monday, 12 November 2018

Developing Climate Information Products (CIPs) for Farmers: Demand-side Challenges and Necessity for an Integrated Approach

Chandrika Kularathna and Lalith Rajapaksha
Janathakshan Ltd. 

Agriculture is a key sector that stands to benefit from well-designed climate information products (CIPs). Prior knowledge about variations of weather parameters can assist in planning and making operational decisions, reducing risks, and maximising returns, while facilitating the process of adapting to climate change. Therefore, CIPs can make a significant contribution to ensure Sri Lanka’s food security in the long run, under conditions of rising climatic uncertainty.  

However, many developing countries, including Sri Lanka, still lag behind in producing and disseminating accurate and reliable CIPs for farmers. As a result, farmers still rely on their traditional knowledge when planning farming activities and making agronomic decisions. They make risky decisions, based on their own expectations about weather patterns such as rainfall. In this context, it is concerning that the reliability of farmers’ traditional knowledge has declined due to unexpected changes in local climate patterns. Thus, farmers struggle to make accurate agronomic decisions. This points to the urgent need to develop and disseminate reliable and timely CIPs to farmers and integrate scientific climate information systems to their decision making processes.