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Forecasting system provides flood warnings to vulnerable residents of Bangladesh

aredness Center has established a network of governmental and nongovernmental organizations, as well as volunteers, to distribute the forecasts directly to people in five districts along the Brahmaputra and Ganges, including impoverished families living on islands known as river chars. The center's Ramasamy Selvaraju and A.R. Subbiah are overseeing the distribution efforts.

The project, which has received funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF), is supported by the U.S. Agency for International Development and the relief agency CARE.

Protecting lives and income

Almost every other year in recent decades, the Brahmaputra and Ganges rivers have flooded for periods ranging from a few days to a month or more, often with devastating results for local residents. Farmers and fishers can easily lose a year's worth of income in a single flood.

Residents of the largely impoverished districts in the forecast area have said that advance notice of floods could help them ward off some of the worst impacts of rising waters. If they had sufficient warning, they could harvest at least a portion of their ripening crops, move some livestock to safety, encircle fish ponds with nets to prevent fish from escaping, and stock food and other supplies.

"The goal here is to help very local, grassroots economies," Hopson explains. "The forecasts also alert relief agencies to prepare to bring in drinking water, cholera tablets, and other essentials in case of a major flood."

The European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts provides data and weather forecasts, which are fed into hydrological models of the Ganges and Brahmaputra river basins. The system also incorporates estimates of precipitation from two satellite-based systems developed at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and NOAA Climate Prediction Center, along with discharge measurements of rivers in Bangladesh.

The forecasting system emphasizes
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Contact: David Hosansky
hosansky@ucar.edu
303-497-8611
National Center for Atmospheric Research/University Corporation for Atmospheric Research
2-Aug-2007


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