Your Partner in Planning Weather and Climate Disasters: UP Project NOAH

The American Chamber of Commerce’s Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) and Security Disaster Resources Groups (SDRG) Committee held its first monthly briefing of the year entitled “Your Partner in Planning for Weather and Climate Disasters: UP Project NOAH” on 18 January 2018 at University of the Philippines. Said event was graced by the presence of Dr. Mahar Lagmay, Executive Director of UP Project NOAH who talked about Project (Nationwide Operational Asssessment of Hazards) NOAH and its mechanisms to prevent hazards, and a brief discussion on typhoon and earthquake.

Dr. Lagmay emphasized its goal to enhance the preparedness and resilience of the Philippines relative to disasters and climate change impacts. He identified the core elements of Project NOAH, which are the warning and response. He stated that the public warning is the responsibility of the government to inform and make the citizens aware of the hazards that may lead to a disaster – causing disruption to daily life. On the other hand, response involves everyone to access public information; this will then lead to engagement to people who are in need by providing emergency aid for their well-being.

Dr. Lagmay also observed that forecast/ models are only 60-70% accurate and get lessened in the tropical countries since they are nearer the equator leading to more convection, which means weather condition is harder to predict. To address this concern, UP Project NOAH use real time data by installing 2,000 censors – funded by the government – to stream the weather condition in a 15-minute interval, thus, producing a more accurate and timely forecast.

Severe weather disturbance usually occurs for 60 minutes causing flooding due to sudden increase in water level. UP Project NOAH examines the intensity as it is the determinant that leads to severe and devastating effects of a disaster.

Dr. Lagmay also encouraged the attendees to consider installing acceleographs in buildings that detect the acceleration of the ground especially during earthquakes, thus, triggering the Rapid Earthquake Damage Assessment System (REDAS) to inform the people whether there is a need to evacuate the building.

Lastly, Dr. Lagmay mentioned that timely, accurate, coherent and immediate mechanisms are the instruments to ensure everyone’s safety during hazards before it become a disaster. To ensure that everything is recorded, hazard maps are used to plot the trend of hazards and disasters.