Water & Development Information for Arid Lands: A Global Network - Latin America and the Caribbean
Agua y Desarrollo de la Información en las Zonas Áridas: Una Red Global - América Latina y el Caribe

Flood and Drought Monitor for Latin America and the Caribbean conducts technology transfer in Santiago de Chile

©UNESCO/Flood and Drought Monitor for Latin America and the Caribbean

Predicting current and future periods of flooding and drought is the main characteristic that the Monitor System for Latin America and the Caribbean offers. The Monitor was designed to forecast these phenomena. With the goal of learning to use this valuable tool, a technology transfer workshop will be held on 17 and 18 November, 2014, at the UNESCO Office in Santiago de Chile.

The training event will be attended by professionals from the hydro-meteorological agencies of 14 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, who will also learn protocols for the calibration and validation of the system by working with national precipitation and flow rate records from their countries of origin.

Koen Verbist, a specialist in the UNESCO programme on Hydrological Systems and Global Change, explains the need for learning how to use these tools in the region: “Throughout Latin America and the Caribbean countries are being affected by climate change, generating episodes of extreme stress on water resources. It is vital that we learn how to read data from yesterday and today in order to be able to manage flood and drought risk, minimize people’s vulnerability to these events through early warning, and work together, given that the impacts of flooding and drought often cross national borders - as in the case of the current drought in Central America.”

The Monitor will have the capacity to forecast these phenomena in the short term (7 days) and also in longer timescales (months).

How does the Monitor work?

The tool was developed by the Terrestrial Hydrology Research Group at Princeton University, with the support of the International Center for Integrated Water Resources Management (ICIWaRM) and the Water Centre for Arid Zones in Latin America and the Caribbean (CAZALAC). This regional version will use the same technology that was used for the United States and Africa and is based on a Variable Infiltration Capacity (VIC) model for the region, combined with climatological inputs from the Climate Forecasting System (CFS). Thus, the system is calibrated with a combination of observation-derived datasets and remote sensing.

The Monitor works through a web portal that contains information on current meteorological conditions (precipitation, temperature, radiation, and wind velocity) as well as drought indicators (SPI, soil moisture, NDVI) and indicators of flooding (flow rates). This information can be obtained for large areas or for specific points, and for a user-selected time period. The data are compared with expected conditions or percentiles.

The workshop will identify short- and medium-term hydro-climatological risks, and will set out to provide participants with experience that they can apply in their own countries. The activity will also define a follow-up plan and a road map for the introduction of improvements and adjustments for the tool.

More information:

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International Hydrological Programme for Latin America and the Caribbean
Luis Piera 1992 - 2do piso, Montevideo, 11200 - Uruguay

The GWADI Technical Secretariats for LAC is suported by the Water Center for Arid an semi-Arid Zones in Latin America and the Caribbean - CAZALAC