Improving weather forecasting to bring Russia significant savings

Improving weather forecasting to bring Russia significant savings

Global warming is affecting our planet severely, and Russia is among many other countries hit by climate change and related disasters. According to the World Bank, more precise hydrometeorological forecasting and early emergency warning systems can result in considerable financial savings for the national economy.

Weather-related disasters cost the Russian economy between $1 billion and $2 billion each year, considers The World Bank. Recent floods in the Far East, Siberia and South of Russia caused economic losses and human casualties showing how vulnerable the country is to weather-related and climate change disasters.

The World Bank estimated that 2017 was the costliest year on record worldwide. Global economic losses caused by weather-related disasters from hurricanes and wildfires to droughts and floods totalled more than $330 billion that year.

Given that weather forecasts play a critical role in alerting authorities to potential disasters, improving hydrometeorological forecasting and early warning systems can cause significant financial savings and boost economic productivity at the same time. According to the World Bank, every dollar invested in the national hydrometeorological service can potentially generate at least three dollars' worth of socio-economic benefits.

Recent floods in the Far East, Siberia and South of Russia caused economic losses and human casualties. Photo:

Accurate and reliable weather forecasts are essential to many weather-dependent sectors, such as transport, agriculture, energy and tourism, while sufficiently early warnings for floods, high winds or extreme heat may save lives and property. Besides, public and private institutions need adequate forecasts to make timely and informed economic decisions to address climate challenges.

Since 2013, the Russian government in cooperation with the World Bank has been implementing RosHydromet-2, the national modernisation project aimed to strengthen the infrastructure and systems delivering weather, climate and hydrological data and information. The project's implementation will make it possible to have more accurate weather forecasts, which cover more cities and longer periods.

One of the goals is to modernise the hydrological network in the Volga River basin to help increase the reliability of forecasts of seasonal water flow into reservoirs. In case of success, the accuracy of forecasts will improve to around 85-95% in 2019 from 70-80% in 2011 bringing better protection from seasonal flooding. The project will also enhance Russia's contribution to the global meteorological system by providing greater access to reliable observation data and thus contributing to more accurate global forecasting.

By Anna Litvina