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Partnerships for enhanced engagement in research (PEER) SCIENCE
Cycle 2 (2012 Deadline)

Exploring the dynamic of extreme weather events in Indonesia using large scale meteorological pattern as the forecast guidance (pilot study: Indramayu, West Java)

PI: Heri Kuswanto (Institut Teknologi Sepuluh Nopember)
U.S. Partner: Richard Grotjahn (University of California, Davis)
Project Dates: August 2013 to January 2016

Project Website - Extreme WeCaRe 

Indonesoa Partnership Picture 2
Adji Linarka, a staffer at the R&D department of BMKG Jakarta, trains project staff to use the Grads software program (Photo courtesy Dr. Kuswanto)

Extreme Weather Events (EWEs) cause negative impacts socially, economically, and environmentally. EWEs also influence planning and management decisions by utilities and governments. Indonesia has been identified as being among the countries most vulnerable to the risk of natural disasters, such as floods, heat waves, and droughts. Considering these facts, forecasting EWEs is crucial work. This project focuses on heavy rain and heat waves, two dominant EWEs for countries like Indonesia that are located in tropical regions. Current forecasting of extreme events in Indonesia is carried out by interpreting synoptic maps for several fields without taking into account the link between the observed events in the “target” area with remote conditions. Moreover, the forecast decision subjectively depends on the ability and experience of the forecaster. This situation may cause misidentification of the event leading to an inaccurate prediction. This project examines EWEs in Indonesia’s Indramayu District as a pilot study.

In particular, the project aims to develop a supporting tool for forecasting EWEs based on the corresponding large-scale meteorological pattern (LSMP). LSMPs are composite weather maps linked to each type of EWE. Finding and using such LSMP maps has improved the reliability of EWEs forecast in the United States. One novelty of the research to be carried out in this project is the development of the method for a tropical extreme weather pattern. The currently used forecast model often misses local details of the tropical meteorological climate system, which reduces forecast reliability. The LSMP methodology focuses on the larger-scale pattern that the model is better able to forecast, as that larger-scale pattern creates the conditions fostering the local EWE. The bias of the model will be removed prior to the data analysis. Collaboration between Indonesian and U.S. partners will promote knowledge transfer, training, and advancements for Indonesian researchers. The expertise of the U.S. partner is expected to strengthen the Indonesian capacity to forecast EWEs in Indonesia, so that losses and risks caused by such events can be minimized. The project also includes collaboration with the Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) Indonesia, an institution with official authority to set policy regarding EWEs, so BMKG staff and students participating in project-related workshops and seminars will also benefit from capacity building. Through this project, a new research group on extreme weather/climate events will also be established at Institut Teknologi Sepuluh Nopember, affiliated with the institute’s Research Center for Earth, Disaster, and Climate Change.
Summary of Recent Activities
During the period January – March 2015, Dr. Kuswanto and his colleagues focused on writing programming codes to generate outputs to be plotted as composite maps. This builds on their work in previous months on creating an anomaly map to reduce bias. The data management process involves several steps dealing with high dimensional data, and the research team members have written the programming codes using the R and Grads software packages to speed up the analysis and make it easier to apply when working with different variables. They have used the outputs generated from the codes to create composite maps for several fields, with the focus on developing maps for three variables in different fields: relative humidity, temperature, and mean sea level pressure. The maps for these three variables will be presented at the 26th General Assembly of the International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics (IUGG) in Prague in June 2015.

On March 12, 2015, Dr. Kuswanto and Ms. Shofi Andari visited BMKG Jakarta, where they met with Prof. Edvin Aldrian to discuss current progress on their research and to explore some new potentially useful ideas for BMKG that could be carried out in the project. They also discussed organizing a workshop to present the results of the project to BMKG staff and consulted with other staff members on their codes and on the automatic rain gauge they plan to purchase. Finding an appropriate supplier has been difficult, but at BMKG’s suggestion they have identified a vendor and are currently negotiating the price and technical specifications. They expect to buy the gauge by July 2015.

In addition to the IUGG meeting in Prague this June, at which Dr. Kuswanto will make a presentation about composite maps for extreme rainfall in Indonesia and meet with his U.S. partner Dr. Richard Grotjah, the PI has two other upcoming conference events planned. He and his team have submitted an abstract on a procedure to detect active zones dealing with extreme events, to be presented at the Scientific Meeting of the Association of Indonesian Experts on Disasters, May 26-28 at Gadjah Mada University, Yogjakarta. Another presentation on extreme identification involving multiple sites has been submitted to the 5th Euro Asia Civil Engineering Forum Conference in Surabaya, September 15-18, 2015. A no-cost extension through January 2016 has been authorized to allow more time to complete the research, publication, and outreach activities on this project.

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