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Vol. XXVI, 1st Quarter
January–March 2008
DOST prepares to lessen the impact of climate change

The past year has shown that climate change is real and even the most developed nations were not spared from the nature’s wrath. If even the most advanced nations, with all their advanced technologies showed helplessness at the strike of tsunami, flood, wildfire and other natural disasters, what of the country like the Philippines?

Secretary Estrella F. Alabastro of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) reported on the national government’s preparation and DOST intervention measures being undertaken to minimize the disastrous impact of climate change on the Filipino people.

“Although global warming evidence have been succinctly presented by the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), it is important that trend assessment of local climate change be done,” Secretary Alabastro said.

To help the country address climate change, the DOST come up with the following interventions: collection of more data; enhancement of local capabilities; and sharing of resources.

The DOST- Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), with its 85 synoptic and agromet stations has been monitoring and gathering data patterns as part of the government’s preparation to counter the effects of climate change. Data patterns show that since 1961 to 2003, there has been a decrease of cold days and an increase in the frequency of hot days in the country. The Philippines is also projected to experience stronger tropical cyclones, given the country’s vulnerability in the climate change affecting the Northwestern Pacific, the most active tropical basin in the world. Of the total 1,128 tropical cyclones that entered the Philippine Area of Responsibility in the period of 1948-2005, 56 percent reached typhoon intensity.

doppler radarData patterns show that since 1961 to 2003, there has been a decrease of cold days and an increase in the frequency of hot days in the country.

There are several S & T mitigation measures being pursued by the DOST. One is the R & D on Bio-fuel that involves feedstocks, processing and vehicle - testing. The plausibility of using electric vehicle has already been proven and eventually a hybrid of those vehicles will also be initiated. Also, in coordination with the national and local government units, improvements in agricultural methods in response to the changing climate are also being studied. The DOST also succeeded in reducing waste and deleterious emissions through its diffusion and implementation of cleaner production and environmental verification technologies. The adoption of energy efficient new technologies, being practiced by the SMEs, reduced the use of fossil fuel-based power sources.

Risk assessment and mapping of areas prone to weather changes and natural hazards has also been started, as part of the adaptation strategies, as well as launching of information campaigns focusing on the community-based early warning system from the grassroot level to the local chief executives. However, it has yet to improve its seasonal forecasting capability to ensure that agricultural productivity will increase.

The possibility of acquiring Doppler radars came to PAGASA late last year when it has received about P 3 billion worth of foreign grants to help rehabilitate and acquire the equipment needed in accurate observation, flood forecasting and agro-meteorology. Doppler radars are capable of determining the quantity of rainfall of a particular place and PAGASA aims to install 10 of these by 2010. PAGASA has also received about P 500 million worth of grants from the national government.