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Greentech KIT: Early warning systems contribute to climate justice

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Greentech KIT: Early warning systems contribute to climate justice

The future of the global climate agreement will be discussed at the UN Climate Change Conference in Dubai (COP28) from November 30th to December 12th, 2023.

Researchers from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) want to use the opportunity to draw attention to the growing importance of early warning systems for weather hazards.

“Early warning systems are only inadequately developed, especially in the regions that are already most affected by the consequences of climate change.

Local institutions often do not have the necessary resources and the predictions do not correspond to current scientific and technical standards.”says Dr. Jörg Helmschrot from the Institute for Meteorology and Climate Research – Department of Tropospheric Research at KIT, who will take part in COP28.

“This is also why people in Southeast Asia, Central America or Africa have a 15 times higher risk of being killed by extreme weather events.”

“Today it is already technologically possible to predict hydrometeorological extremes such as heat waves and droughts weeks and months in advance”emphasizes his colleague Professor Harald Kunstmann, from the Institute for Meteorology and Climate Research – Atmospheric Environmental Research, the KIT Alpin Campus in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, who will also be on site in Dubai.

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“We are experiencing enormous technological progress here through machine learning but also through new approaches to software engineering. Here at KIT we are developing excellent decision support systems in close collaboration with local partners.”

Today, for example, it is possible to use data from cell phone towers to calculate rainfall amounts with unprecedented accuracy.

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“We now have data available here from the Sahel zone, where there have hardly been any measurements so far.”says Kunstmann.

All of this could help to improve local weather and climate forecasts and agricultural planning.

Both researchers agree: a timely warning of impending dangers and a well-developed infrastructure to protect the population can make a big difference. Kunstmann emphasizes: “We in the global North, as the main cause of the climate crisis, have a responsibility to support African research institutions and decision-makers in overcoming these challenges: through joint excellent research, technical cooperation and capacity development.

Better early warning systems for everyone are an important contribution to greater climate justice.”

In order to initiate change, KIT supports the initiative „Early Warning for all“ the World Meteorological Organization and is primarily involved in Africa. For example, through cooperation with the African climate service ICPAC and other local partners in order to build up the necessary expertise locally and ensure rapid knowledge and technology transfer.

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