PANGASINAN–Amidst a panoply of urgent issues left in the wake of Pepeng, whose rushing floodwaters submerged 90 percent of Pangasinan last month, the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services and Administration (PAGASA) convened its annual media seminar from November 13 to 15 at the San Roque Dam Guesthouse in San Manuel. The theme of the seminar was “Understanding Weather and Climate for a Better Future”.
“The media has the responsibility to convey and explain technical issues as they are. There is a need for better understanding of these issues among media practitioners,” said NAPOCOR Vice President Valdez.
“With the increase in sea surface temperature to 29 °C, we expect more intense rainfall events and disastrous typhoons because of global warming,” said HTMIRDS Officer-in-Charge Ma. Cecilia Monteverde during a session on basic meteorology. “Most of the tropical cyclones right now are already storms even before entering the Philippine Area of Responsibility, unlike before where these were but low-pressure areas before entering the country.”
The recent typhoons also confirmed the Japan Meteorological Research Institute’s forecast of a 15 % increase in moisture availability in the tropics and a 15 % decrease in moisture in arid regions. The result of this change will be an increase in the severity and frequency of extreme weather events like droughts, typhoons and floods. In addition, the El Niño phenomenon has exacerbated the effects of the South West Monsoon, helping to generate the recent super typhoons, according to PAGASA Senior Weather Specialist Daisy Ortega. “We are expecting it to peak in the months of December to February next year,” she said while pointing at the expanding distribution of rising sea surface temperature.
“The Php 1 billion calamity fund last 2007 could have been invested in development programs like classrooms, roads housing and water supply,” said Monteverde. According to her, the Php 16 billion in damage caused by Ondoy could have been reduced if more emphasis had been placed on Disaster Risk Reduction projects. “We cannot totally prevent disasters from happening but we can mitigate their impact through Disaster Risk Management, accurate weather forecasting and public awareness campaigns.”
Members of the media were briefed on a variety of topics ranging from the different instruments used in forecasting and basic concepts in meteorology to updates on climate change and flood forecasting for river basins and dam operations.
“Napakahalaga ng role ng media in disseminating the right information,” (The role of the media is very important in disseminating the right information) said PAGASA Administrator Frisco Nilo. “Information dissemination has improved when we started encouraging the active participation of the media.”