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Using CORDEX datasets for regional climate projections

Utsav Maden

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A screenshot of the participants and resource persons present on the first day of the training.

Regional climate projections can inform more detailed impact and adaptation assessments and planning, especially in vulnerable regions like South Asia. Compared with global climate models, they predict and capture local meteorological phenomenon better as they simulate climates at a regional scale. Key national and regional institutions delivering climate services in South Asia can provide informed climate change responses if they are equipped to analyse such projections.

We therefore teamed up with the Met Office – UK’s national meteorological agency, the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP), and the Coordinated Regional Climate Downscaling Experiment (CORDEX) office to organize a six-day online training on regional climate change projections under the UK aid-funded Asia Regional Resilience to a Changing Climate (ARRCC) programme over two weeks in October 2020.

The training focused on imparting knowledge and skills for analysing regional climate change projections using CORDEX regional climate models over South Asia. It covered aspects of climate change science and projection, and how CORDEX datasets can be accessed and analysed. Through hands-on exercises, our resource persons worked with those from the Met Office and the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM) – Pune to guide participants in using different open-source tools to analyse and visualize climate change projections at different time scales for user-specified locations.

AMD staff attending-1280x600
AMD staff attending the remotely administered training on regional climate projections at their office. (Clockwise from left: Soma Popalzai, Farzana Hashimi, Basir Ahmad Abasi, and Khayber Rahmani) (Photo: AMD)

Soma Popalzai, Afghanistan Meteorological Department’s (AMD) Head of Research Division, and three other meteorologists at AMD attended the training from their workstations in Kabul, Afghanistan. They joined 21 other participants from Nepal, Bangladesh, and Pakistan in the online training. Popalzai shares that the virtual platform and time zone differences made the training a rather unique experience. She adds that the AMD team hopes to learn additional skills on analysing and visualizing climate projections at future trainings being planned under ARRCC.

ARRCC’s institutional capacity-building approach

The training is part of ARRCC’s institutional capacity-building approach, which aims to develop and deliver trainings to enhance the institutional capacities of national climate service institutions in ARRCC focal countries – Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Pakistan – to analyse, assess, use, and communicate future climate projections. The approach targets national hydro-meteorological agencies and other organizations working to provide climate services to government/non-government organizations, communities, and industrial sectors vulnerable to climate change impacts.

A quarter of the participants intimated poor-to-fair knowledge on climate projections and topics covered in the workshop pre-training assessment. Post-training, 38% of the participants shared that they now had very good knowledge on the topics, while an additonal 15% stated that they gained excellents insights from the training.

Participants' response to knowledge
Participants’ response to knowledge on workshop topics (pre- and post- training)

 

Participants' response on knowledge
Participants’ response on knowledge on workshop topics post-training

Nibesh Shrestha, Environmental Engineer at Real Time Solutions Pvt. Ltd. in Nepal, states that the training enabled him to download and use downscaled climate projections for a given location. He adds, “The hands-on exercises in the second week were particularly fruitful for me. I learnt about using R for data analysis and visualization of climate data with detailed and elaborate code. Despite the virtual nature of the workshop, the resource persons were very dedicated and helped clarify any doubts throughout.” Shrestha plans to apply the CORDEX datasets for further research in the field of water resources, hydrological modelling, and disaster management in Nepal. He points out that future trainings with modules on downscaling and bias correction in climate projections would be very useful.

measuring river discharge in Babai River-1280x600
Nibesh Shrestha (extreme right) measuring river discharge in Babai River, Bardiya on 8 November 2020 (Photo: Binod Parajuli/Office of Hydrology and Meteorology, Kohalpur)

Shankar Bhattarai, a PhD student at the National Pingtung University of Science and Technology, shares that the knowledge and skills gained at the workshop will be particularly useful for his PhD dissertation focusing on the impacts of climate change in agriculture in high-altitude areas of Nepal’s Himalaya. He adds, “The R code shared at the workshop will help me analyse CORDEX datasets for my research.” Bhattarai hopes to contribute in connecting science, policy, and actions to address climate relevant risks and vulnerabilities.

A dedicated session solicited feedback from participants on the requisites for a regional climate data platform on the final day of the training. Resource persons and participants also charted a roadmap to support further institutional capacity building on climate projections and services and developed an engagement plan identifying clear roles and responsibilities as part of the institutional capacity-building plan adopted under ARRCC.

We will join hands with the Met Office and other partners to organize a series of training activities between 2020 and 2022 to build capacities of individuals at targeted institutions, developing their skills and knowledge to analyse climate projections and produce information products for use in different sectoral applications.

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