Jamaica is now better positioned to keep an eye on the changing climate, thanks to the addition of 35 new automatic weather stations to the Meteorological Service’s network.
Used to record temperature, humidity, wind speed and direction, atmospheric temperature and precipitation, the stations are an improved version of the older ones and should enhance the Met Service’s forecasting ability.
“The new stations give our forecasting team eyes across the island in many places where there were none before,” says Jacqueline Spence, head of the Met Service’s Climate Branch.
The Climate Branch monitors Jamaica’s climate and aspects of climate change, does climate data collection and provide information to sectors, agencies and legal entities on issues relating to climate.
New features of the weather stations include a data logger to save daily human labour and the capability to transmit real-time data. The data collected by the stations over time is what will enhance the Met Service’s forecasting capabilities.
The stations were installed under the management of the Planning Institute of Jamaica as part of the Improving Climate Data and Information Management Project (ICDIMP) of the Pilot Programme for Climate Resilience (PPCR).
Prior to the start of the ICDIMP – on which the Climate Investment Funds is spending US$6.8m and administered through the World Bank – the Met Service had 135 manual stations and 45 automatic weather stations across the island.
With installation out of the way, the entity is focused on actualising the real-time aspect of its network to enable its technical team to access weather readings directly from the Met Office and eliminate the need for monthly data collection at the sites.
The sites are to be maintained by individuals who have signed a memorandum of understanding with the Met Service to ensure the environment surrounding the stations are kept in good condition.
The PPCR was conceptualised to help developing countries integrate climate change resilience into development planning and investment. The ICDIMP is one of several projects aimed at meeting the goals and objectives of Jamaica’s own Strategic Programme for Climate Resilience (SPCR), geared towards the climate change adaptation imperative outlined in Vision 2030 Jamaica.
The new installations were part of phase one of overall upgrading works under phase one of the ICDIMP, which has also seen the placement of a sea level tide gauge at the Montego Bay Pier to better record the height of the surrounding water level.
The second and third phases will include climate resilient planning, hydro-meteorological information services and climate change education and awareness across the island.