Climate: The hydro-met department’s seasonal forecast shows normal to more than normal rainfall this monsoon.

Monsoon begins by June 5 and withdraws towards the end of September. The southwest monsoon onset starts from Kerala, India.

Hydro-met services officials presented the forecast at the two-day National Climate Outlook Forum (NCOF)  that ended yesterday.

NCOF is to assist priority sectors like agriculture and food security, water, energy, disaster risk reduction, and health in applying climate information within their decision and policy-making processes. It will also provide feedback on the needs of specific sectors.

The programme was one of the activities under the Global Framework for Climate Services (GFCS), which guides the development and application of science-based climate information and services. It was held before the monsoon so that the sectors know what to expect.

The participants also discussed preparedness measures considering the seasonal outlook. They also identified the capacity development needs of hydro-met department and other sectors.

The director of hydro-met services department, Karma Tsering, said that none of the sectors present at the meeting has used the products seriously so far. “However, despite the indifference from other sectors, we have to work hard to do our job to bring out reliable forecasts.”

Representatives from the sectors raised issues with interpreting the information or forecasts from the hydro-met department.

Agriculture officials said that while the department gives the forecast, users wouldn’t have the capacity to break them down for our specific uses. “So we need impact-based forecast with details.”

Hydro-met officials said the task was out of their mandate.

Hydro-met services department’s meteorology officer, Tshencho Dorji, said: “Our main job is to generate the forecasts and let them know.” He added that hydro-met department would provide help to interpret the forecast and provide details to the sectors.

The seasonal forecasts are also not definite. The officials follow a probabilistic forecast model and the sectors have to check with hydro-met department for short-term forecasts to avail of accurate information.

Tshencho Dorji said: “Seasonal forecast is only a baseline because as forecast period gets longer the accuracy reduces.”

Hydro-met services department today provides accurate weather forecast for two days. The department uses satellite images updated every 10 minutes through Japanese government assistance.

The department’s officiating chief of meteorology division, Tayba Buddha Tamang, said localised weather forecast is difficult. “Owing to rugged terrain and small amount of rainfall that the country gets, it is not possible. That’s why we provide only on dzongkhag level.”

The department will launch a climatology atlas of the country before next May. It will have basic climatology maps of rain and temperature distribution, among others, derived using hydro-met data of the past 19 years.

Participants at the NCOF submitted their needs from the department. The representatives from the sectors will have to report how they use the outlook information at the next NCOF.

Tshering Palden