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September 5, 2009

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Climate forecasts to take global overview

THE World Climate Conference in Geneva had approved the creation of a new forecasting system to help countries adapt to climate change and enable them to better prepare for natural disasters, officials said yesterday.

Delegates from about 150 nations attending the conference adopted the declaration by consensus on Thursday, and the United Nations weather agency predicted the new Global Framework for Climate Services would be up and running by 2011 to improve climate forecasts and share that information around the world.

Rich countries such as the United States already had systems that provide climate forecasts, but only in the short term and not coordinated with the rest of the world, said Thomas Karl, director of the National Climate Data Center at the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The price of creating the new system was not given, but Karl said it would probably cost twice as much as the world currently spends on climate prediction.

The global framework would provide forecasts on weather patterns months or even years ahead, Karl said.

In the next few months, the UN's World Meteorological Organization's members will meet to set up a task force to help implement the framework.

African countries said yesterday they hoped the new system would help their farmers prepare for droughts and floods, and make agriculture more resilient to climate change.

Guinea's Transport Minister El-Hadj Mamady Kaba said the global framework would send climate information out faster to the people who needed it most.

John Njoroge Michuki, Kenya's environment minister, said: "Dried up water bodies and wetlands, and drastic changes to rainfall patterns, have resulted in flooding, rising epidemics and severe and prolonged drought and famine" in his country.

Of the 11 glaciers on Mount Kenya at the beginning of the last century, five had melted, Michuki told the conference.


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