On March 23, 1950, a special organization in charge of meteorology called the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) was established, and that day is observed as World Meteorological Day (WMD) every year.
The commemoration serves as a reminder to the global community of climate change. The theme of the 73rd World Meteorological Day is “The Future of Weather, Climate and Water Across Generations.”
According to the head of the Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysics Agency (BMKG), Dwikorita Karnawati, the average global temperature is now 1 degree Celsius higher than the 1850–1900 pre-industrial average.
Increasing global temperatures have melted glaciers at Indonesia's highest point, Puncak Jayawijaya (Mt. Puncak Jaya), almost entirely, she pointed out.
Based on BMKG’s research, only one percent or about 2 square kilometers (sqm) of glaciers in Puncak Jayawijaya remain compared to the original 200 sq km.
BMKG has predicted that the ice on the peak of Mt. Puncak Jaya will be gone by 2025 due to hotter temperatures caused by the worsening greenhouse gas effect.
The greenhouse gases in the atmosphere include carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrogen dioxide (N2O), methane (CH4), and freon (SF6, HFC, and PFC), but CO2 contributes more to global temperature increases.
Rising temperatures in Indonesia have shortened the El Nino and La Nina re-occurrence interval from every 5 to 7 years in 1950–1980 to every two to three years in the period from 1981 until now.
The two weather phenomena increase the frequency, intensity, and duration of dry and wet extreme weather, which can impact national food security.
In addition, increasing and extended extreme weather conditions can also intensify hydrometeorological disasters, such as floods, landslides, flash floods, tropical cyclones, whirlwinds, and droughts.
The National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) has reported that 95 percent of all disasters in Indonesia are hydrometeorological and are caused by extreme wet seasons. BNPB has linked the heavy wet seasons to climatic anomalies.
Looking at the situation, BMKG has emphasized that the global community, including Indonesia, needs urgent and quicker actions to cut greenhouse gas emissions and ensure that future generations can live better.
Monitoring the atmosphere
There are only 33 Global Atmosphere Watch (GAW) stations in the world, and one of them is located in Bukit Kototabang, West Sumatra Province.
The station serves as a medium for observation, data collection, distribution, processing, and analysis of the atmospheric chemical composition, greenhouse gases, and physical parameters of the atmosphere.
In 1996, GAW Bukit Kototabang recorded the CO2 concentration level at 372 ppm (parts per million). The level rose to 413 ppm by 2022.
According to experts, breaching the 400 ppm mark is a record in human history, illustrating how fast human consumption has heightened gas emissions over the past century.
Indonesia needs to try and keep CO2 concentration in check so that it does not rise above 450 ppm. The reason: if the CO2 concentration exceeds 450 ppm, extreme weather conditions are expected to last longer and occur more often.
If greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase at the current rate, temperatures are expected to increase by 3.5–4.0 degrees Celsius, or three times the current level, by the end of this century.
Meanwhile, Indonesia's temperature has warmed by 1.1 degrees Celsius since 1990, slightly lower than the world average of 1.2 degrees Celsius. The rising temperatures in Indonesia cannot be separated from the effects of greenhouse gases and changes in land use.
Based on data from 91 BMKG observation stations, the average normal temperatures in Indonesia ranged from 21.3 degrees Celsius to 26.8 degrees Celsius in 1991–2020, while the average temperature in 2022 was recorded at 27 degrees Celsius.
BMKG has regularly issued early warnings, but proactive action on part of the public in accessing the warnings and related information, especially at the grassroots level, is still needed.
Fishermen must be able to access wind and wave height information independently to determine when to sail, and farmers must be able to check climate and weather information themselves to decide which crops are suitable for planting based on the weather.
To support better access to information, the BMKG has launched an innovation that can provide early warnings 30 minutes before an event.
Early warnings are issued in layers, starting from 6 months before the predicted event, then updated monthly, to the week before, every three days, to 30 minutes before the event.
The early warning system must consider Indonesia's position between the Asian and Australian continents, as well as the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean, in addition to the country's mountainous topography.
Indonesia's geography makes its weather highly dynamic in contrast with continental countries, where the weather is not as complex—meaning that the frequent missed forecasts in Indonesia are not always because of old and inaccurate devices.
The BMKG has been routinely holding training for countries in the Pacific, parts of Asia, and Africa, proving the institution's reliability in terms of its data quality, which is said to be on par with that of Australia and other developed countries in Asia and Europe.
For strengthening the community's response during emergency situations, the BMKG has launched some programs, such as the Climate Field School for farmers and the climate literacy program for the younger generation and communities.
Ahead of this year's World Meteorological Day, the BMKG said that it will keep improving services by strengthening observations, analysis, predictions, and numerical calculations.
The 2023 WMD is expected to cultivate vigilance of weather conditions and climate awareness in society and culture.
Related news: Network necessary for data synergy to handle extreme weather: BMKG
Related news: Need to optimize water resources to mitigate drought: BMKG
World Meteorological Day reminder for climate alertness
18th March 2023