Press Release

Caribbean forecasters contribute to major international atmospheric and oceanic field study

Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, 10 February 2020 - For the first time, forecasters from across the Caribbean have been participating in a major international atmospheric and oceanic field campaign, entitled, "Elucidating the Role of Clouds-Circulation Coupling in Climate" (EUREC4A). The field campaign is focused on the areas east and south of Barbados, from 20 January to 20 February 2020.

EUREC4A aims to improve our understanding and prediction of regional and global weather and climate, especially the role of trade wind clouds, which are common across the Caribbean. In order to make more accurate predictions of climate, we need to know how these clouds behave and organize, as they circulate heat in the atmosphere and reflect sunlight back to space.

EUREC4A, which is led by Germany and France, includes 40 institutional collaborators from other European countries, the United States, and the Caribbean. The Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology (CIMH), is a lead institution in EUREC4A - the first time that a Caribbean institution has taken a lead role in a major international meteorological field research.

The Caribbean Weather Forecasting Initiative was proposed as part of EUREC4A by the University of Leeds and the Caribbean Meteorological Organization (CMO) Headquarters Unit and organized in collaboration with the CIMH, which is the technical organ of the CMO. The EUREC4A-UK-CMO Forecasting Initiative is developing capacity within the CMO and neighbouring Caribbean States. It has been promoting knowledge-exchange between forecasters and researchers, and comprises:

  • a Pre-EUREC4A training workshop that was held 2-6 December 2019 at CIMH;
  • a Forecast testbed where forecasters are contributing their local expertise to support research operations;
  • and a Post-field study workshop to summarize knowledge gained to help Caribbean weather and climate prediction.

The Pre-EUREC4A workshop brought together 16 forecasters from the National Meteorological and Hydrometeorological Services of 14 Caribbean states and territories, prominent international researchers, and Caribbean lecturers to participate in lectures and practical exercises. Through the workshop, Caribbean forecasters gained enhanced capability to monitor and forecast local weather, such as localized storms, with the use of state-of-the-art, high-resolution weather forecasting models and new satellite products; especially related to dry-season conditions. From the forecasters, the researchers gained knowledge of weather variability that will influence their research missions.

During the field study, forecasters have been collaborating via online communication systems to deliver weather and marine forecasts tailored to the day-to-day research mission of EUREC4A. Additionally, CIMH has arranged for some forecasters to participate in research missions on aircraft and ships. The follow-up workshop will consolidate knowledge gained during the testbed.

The EUREC4A-UK-CMO Caribbean Weather Forecasting Initiative also supports the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Severe Weather Forecast Programme (SWFP) in the Eastern Caribbean through education and by developing collaborative practice among regional forecasters for predicting non-tropical cyclone severe weather, which can occur any time of year. It is also helping forecasters understand the strengths and limitations of new high-resolution numerical weather prediction models. The SWFP Eastern Caribbean is co-chaired by Météo France Martinique and the CMO Headquarters, with CIMH contributing training support and regional models.

The involvement of national weather forecast offices across the Caribbean will help to translate the EUREC4A field study research into an improved regional early warning system for severe weather. The EUREC4A-UK-CMO workshops are supported by a grant to the University of Leeds, by the Natural Environment Research Council, United Kingdom, and a grant to the CMO, by the WMO Climate Risk and Early Warning Systems(CREWS) Caribbean Project.

Key Statements

Dr Alan Blyth
Dr Alan Blyth, National Centre for Atmospheric Science (NCAS), University of Leeds, and Principal Investigator for EUREC4A-UK, noted: "We found the forecasts to be extremely valuable because of the forecasters' local knowledge and their skill in producing succinct forecasts especially with respect to the synoptic influences on cloud formation in the region." Dr Blyth is a renowned scientist in the field of atmospheric physics, with decades of experience in field research. He was briefed by the forecasters during the EUREC4A -UK-CMO workshop and was "really pleased that the workshop was such a success."

Dr Douglas Parker
Dr Douglas Parker, Professor, University of Leeds, and Co-Investigator for EUREC4A-UK, said: "EUREC4A is all about the variations in clouds over the tropical oceans. Caribbean forecasters are among the best tropical forecasters in the world, and are bringing their insight, based on day to day weather prediction, into the scientific planning of the experiment. They are guiding the research scientists as to the effects of local weather patterns and the influences of North and South America, on the cloud fields which occur. In return, EUREC4A brings together some of the world's top researchers in this field, working with state of the art observing platforms and computational models. The Caribbean forecasters are getting the opportunity to work with the next generation of forecasting tools, which will help them to maintain their forecasting capability." Dr Parker brings to EUREC4A many years of experience with capacity development of scientists and forecasters in Africa and Southeast Asia, through research, field studies, and forecast demonstration projects.

Dr Arlene Laing
Dr Arlene Laing, Coordinator Director, Caribbean Meteorological Organization (CMO), Headquarters Unit, noted: "Many field projects have been based in the Caribbean, but EUREC4A is the first one in which forecasters from across the region have been actively engaged. Through EUREC4A, Caribbean forecasters have been interacting with well-known researchers, accessing the next generation of weather forecasting models, and expanding their scientific knowledge of the science of tropical clouds and their impact on climate. Forecasters also gained confidence from making meaningful contributions to an international project that will transform global and regional weather and climate prediction." Dr Laing further stated that "surveys found that most forecasters rated the workshop as excellent." Dr Laing brings to the project her experience in capacity development, education and training, and transitioning research to operations.

Ms Kathy-Ann Caesar
Ms Kathy-Ann Caesar, Chief Meteorologist, Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology (CIMH), added, "the experience has been fascinating, to see the regional forecasters, most of whom were trained at CIMH, get involved in the groundbreaking research and build on it." Ms Caesar also said of the forecasters that, "They are excited about the venture and gladly taking in the observations being gathered. A few had the opportunity to come to Barbados and not only interact directly with the researchers but also go on the research aircrafts and ships. So like the forecasters 'of ole' who took part in BOMEX some fifty years ago, when the study of tropical meteorology was in its infancy, they get the chance to collect data that will help formulate the forecasting tools and strategies going forward. And the Caribbean region will be all the better for it." Ms Caesar has many years of experience in meteorology education and training. She also forecasted for the Rain in Cumulus Over Ocean (RICO) field study.

Further information

Contact - Dr Arlene Laing,, +1(868)-622-4711.