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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 July 2015

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
Dr. Kuswanto and his group spent the initial months of 2014 analyzing meteorological data for their project. After identifying the dates when extreme amounts of rain fell, the team used two software packages (Grads and R) to determine the dynamics of meteorological patterns associated with extreme rainfall events in the region. They then worked to map the results so that extreme rainfall patterns in Indramayu may be explored and interpreted. As part of their capacity building efforts, the project team visited the Indonesian Agency for Meteorological, Climatological and Geophysics (BMKG) to learn from staff about weather forecasting and the variables used in dynamic model outputs. A staff member from BMKG also provided helpful training on the use of the Grads software package.
Dr. Kuswanto’s abstract entitled “Large Scale Meteorological Pattern of Extreme Rainfall in Indonesia” was accepted for presentation at the European Geosciences Union General Assembly meeting in Vienna in late April 2014. After participating in that conference he will travel to Germany to present his results and confer with colleagues at Hannover University in early May. Future events in the first project year will include the completion of the composite maps, which will involve further consultation with BKMG staff. Dr. Kuswanto plans to send one member of the project team for a week-long internship with BMKG to learn about how to interpret a synoptic weather map. He also expects to organize two seminars in July for members of the Indonesian weather forecasting and climate change community, and he will make another visit to his U.S. partner at the University of California, Davis in the coming fall.

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