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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
 
During the third quarter of 2014, Dr. Kuswanto and his team made steady progress towards reaching the goals of their project. A vast majority of the team’s time and resources were spent on learning and developing various programming languages, evolving the ongoing bootstrapping process, and conducting research in order to be able to develop accurate and relevant mathematical and meteorological predictions.

On August 21, Dr. Kuswanto attended the Global Engineer workshop at Universiti Teknologi Malaysia as one of the delegates from ITS. He was selected via an intercollegiate competition to present his PEER project and the ongoing research and progress of his team. The following week, senior members of USAID Indonesia visited the team to discuss the project and the future direction of ITS research.

One of the major issues faced by Dr. Kuswanto and his team was the fact that a crucial aspect of their program involves utilizing an outside programing language, NCL (NCAR Command Language), to interpret large data sets and the team discovered that it lacked the technical skills to integrate NCL into their models. Fortunately, Dr. Kuswanto was able to attend an NCL workshop organized by DKRZ and NCAR-USA in Hamburg, Germany on September 29. It proved extremely beneficial as Dr. Kuswanto will share the knowledge he gained there with his team upon his return, and this will enable them to overcome many of the issues presented by the incorporation of NCL into their models.

In the upcoming months, Dr. Kuswanto and his team will work to fully utilize NCL and produce composite weather maps. In the last week of October, he will meet with his US partner, Dr. Grotjahn, in California to discuss the implementation of NCL, data interpretation, and various other aspects of the project, including possible collaboration on future weather research. In addition to this meeting, members of the research team will have short internships at BMKG to learn weather forecasting methods and the team will present at the annual BMKG workshop.
 

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