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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

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
Most activities on this project during the third quarter of 2015 were focused on data analysis, particularly data management and extreme high temperature detection. At the beginning of the project, the ITS team and U.S. partner had intensive discussions regarding the extreme event that would be investigated and the region to be studied. Considering the fact that Indonesia has never experienced a heat wave, they decided to focus on extreme high temperatures using a daily maximum temperature dataset. Intensive efforts have been made to work on the dataset covering several stations over Java Island, and the thresholds have been found to characterize the events in all regions. However, defining extreme high temperatures in Java involving multiple data records is not easy. Unlike the extreme rainfall definition, there are two important criteria of extreme high temperature, i.e., threshold of temperature and minimum length of the events in days.

As the project is moving into its final phase, Dr. Kuswanto has made several presentations of his results in recent months. July 23-27, 2015, he spoke at the Joint Workshop “Global Engineer Asia 2015,” held at Ritsumeikan University, Japan. On August 6, he and his team made presentations at a workshop organized by the Research Center for Earth, Disaster and Climate Change and co-sponsored with PEER project funds. The workshop was held at ITS and involved multiple stakeholders, including BMKG, the National Board for Disaster Management (BNPB), and the Ministry of Agriculture, among others. The institutional representatives expressed their gratitude for the results of the research, calling them very useful. The Ministry of Agriculture in particular needs reliable information about extreme events, as it will help them to set up planning regarding agricultural activities. On September 15, Dr. Kuswanto spoke at the Euro Asia Civil Engineering Forum (EACEF) regarding a simple methodology for defining extreme events involving multiple sites. His paper will be published in the Forum’s proceedings in Procedia Engineering. In addition, the PI made a presentation at the Special Session of AustMath2015, the annual meeting of the Australian Mathematical Society, held September 28 to October 1. At this event he shared current progress in his research on extreme high temperatures, receiving many valuable comments from the participating Australian mathematicians and statisticians. We received many valuable remarks and comments about the results.

The team continue analyzing their data and developing and interpreting their composite maps on extreme high temperature in consultation with their U.S. partner, Dr. Richard Grotjahn. They are also writing a module for BMKG about the composite maps. A key deliverable for the project, the module will include detailed steps on how to interpret and use the maps and how to produce maps for other regions in Indonesia, as well as several other aspects regarding implementation of the maps at BMKG. Dr. Kuswanto and Dr. Grotjahn are also preparing a joint paper to be submitted to an appropriate journal by the end of January 2016 when the project is scheduled to be completed. In addition, the rain gauge purchased as part of the project has been tested in the ITS Laboratory of Hydrology, and Dr. Kuswanto and his group have been surveying potential installation sites to be put in place in the last quarter of 2015. 

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