Forecast improvement

Given that many weaknesses refer to different aspects of forecasts themselves, three key sets of actions around forecast improvement can be identified. Firstly, models

SARCOF process Timely issuance Spa rial distribution Lack of data Key relationships Further forecasted parameters Tailored forecasts Stakeholder awareness/training Capacities Communications channels Language/terminology Intra-seasonal distribution

S ADC Member States Fig. 3.2 Identified priority weaknesses/gaps in the climate information systems

used in forecasting can (and are being) improved in a number of ways. Ongoing model improvement to provide forecasts in a more timely manner while increasing the skill is required. Another essential task to be done is further analysis of how climate information could serve the agricultural sector better. However, the main challenge here is to balance what users in the agricultural sector require with what scientists can confidently provide, given the existing level of technology. Investigation undertaken during the 2002/3 rainy season under regional conditions of elevated disaster risk showed a number of weaknesses and gaps in the climate information systems in the Southern African region, and making it more challenging to benefit key sectors, particularly agriculture (SADC-RRSU 2002, Archer et al. 2007).

In an effort to improve the provision of climate information, a project 'Mitigating the Effects of Hydroclimatic Extremes in Southern Africa,' funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) was established, tte project focused on problems of climate information dissemination and interpretation in the region as a strategy to contribute to mitigating current (and future) climate risk. Essentially, the project attempted to answer the question "What would constitute an improved role for climate prediction in contributing to sustaining agricultural production and food security in Southern Africa?". Key gaps seen as a priority included the lack of information on intra-seasonal distribution, insufficient translation in terms of language and terminology and a range of challenges around stakeholder and institutional capacity. Recommendations are made in the areas of forecast improvement (e.g. greater focus on forecasting intra-seasonal distribution) and increased national and non-traditional investment in outreach and applications, amongst others (SADC-RRSU 2002, Archer et al. 2007).

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