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Weather forecasting

Finep is going to distribute R$ 12.8 million to recover the state meteorology networks and anticipate extreme climatic phenomena

The Financier of Studies and Projects (Finep) is going to invest R$ 12.8 million in programs directed towards keeping alive the meteorology networks of the Brazilian states and to promote research into the forecasting of extreme climatic phenomena on Brazilian territory and in the tropical belts and the South Atlantic ocean. The resources are being divided up within two public callings. The first will distribute R$ 6.8 million coming from the sectorial funds of Hydro Resources (CT-Hidro) and of Energy (CT-Energ). The goal is to support the state meteorology networks, helping them to improve their data collection, interpretation and distribution system. Each network could receive between R$ 200,000 and R$ 400,000. Twenty four State Meteorology, Climatology and Hydro Resources Centers exist in Brazil, which are organized in networks and which complement the national weather forecasting system, whose federal arms are the National Meteorology Institute (InMet) and the Weather Forecasting and Climate Studies Center (CPTEC), under the auspices of the National Institute for Space Research (INPE).

The quality of weather forecasting depends on a good geographical distribution of the stations for collecting weather information, such as rainfall and temperature, and of the existence of a series of histories for these parameters. In some states, such as São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Minas Gerais, the networks work well. In others, principally those of the Amazon, their work is irregular. “In many of the federation units the meteorology forecasting networks are confronting difficulties and it’ll be necessary to have at least R$ 20 million to begin to convert them into a modern system, with data banks accessible to all citizens”, suggests Ricardo Gattass, Finep’s superintendent in the Universities and Research Institutions Area. “This R$ 6.8 million is an initial step in the sense of keeping them alive so that later there can be the creation of an integrated forecasting system, fed by information at the same quality level”, he affirmed. The Finep intends to launch similar tenders over the next few years in order to provide sequence to the investment.

In accordance with the existing sectorial funds legislation, 30% of the resources will be destined to proposals in the North, Northeast and Central-West regions. “In this case, this is especially important because South and Southeast states, which have more critical mass, already possess the best networks”, says Gattass.

The second public convocation is going to distribute R$ 6 million coming from the sectorial funds of Agribusiness (CT-Agro) and Hydro Resources (CT-Hidro). For this edictal the money will be less spread out. The intention is to support between four and ten multidisciplinary research networks that will boost the capacity for observation, forecasting and alerting on extreme meteorological and climatic conditions in Brazil and in the Tropical and South Atlantic ocean. On the list of these events are included floods and catastrophic droughts, cyclones and hurricanes, which have major impacts on the civil defense, in the management of the agribusiness and in the generation of energy. “The public tender intends to induce coordinated action for the construction of an articulated warning system that informs and prepares the population on the occurrence of extreme phenomena, saving lives and lowering the impact of these phenomena in the more vulnerable sectors. This action will have considerable return in relation to the investments, given the demand for meteorological information in the areas of agriculture, cattle raising, energy, hydro resources, aircraft, marine and road transportation, public health and civil defense”, says  Ricardo Gattass. “Today there’re very few Brazilian states with adequate alert systems, which are mainly directed towards the prevention of mud slides”, he says.

The main reason for more study and managing to anticipate extreme climatic events are the indicators that, within the background of global warming, these phenomena tend to be set off with greater intensity. “There’s a pile of evidence that points in this direction”, says the botanist Carlos Joly, a professor at the State University of Campinas (Unicamp) and a member of the coordination team for the Biota-Fapesp Program. Recently FAPESP sponsored two workshops about climate change in order to analyze the research done in Sao Paulo on this theme. “Brazilian phenomena such as the Santa Catarina cyclone, which hit the south of the country in 2004, and the intense drought that the Amazon region lived through last year, could well make up part of a grouping of extraordinary occurrences without any linkage to global warming. But when we look to see what is happening in other regions of the globe, we find that the number of natural disasters has risen from 260 during 1990 to 337 during 2003, and the number of people hit by these disasters grew exponentially”, affirmed professor Joly. For both of the edictals the final date for remitting proposals is the 29th of September. The period for carrying out the projects will be 24 months.