First South West Indian Ocean Climate Outlook Forum Warns of Low Precipitation Forecasts

11 October 2012: The first South West Indian Ocean Climate Outlook Forum (SWIOCOF) was co-organized by Météo France, the Indian Ocean Commission (projet Acclimate) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). This first Forum built the capacity of meteorologists on the methods and tools used to develop seasonal climate outlooks, and tailoring them to the challenges faced by islands. 

SWIOCOF took place from 24 September-2 October 2012, in Reunion, at the request of the member States of the IOC, namely the Union of the Comores, Madagascar, Mauritius, Reunion/France and Seychelles.

It was based on the countries' desire to develop seasonal climate outlooks adapted to the challenges specific to small island developing States (SIDS), such as those outlooks that exist for the Caribbean or Pacific regions. The Forum was open to neighboring countries as well, including India, Sri Lanka and Tanzania.

The Forum followed a high-level meeting on the implementation of the framework for climate services in Africa, which led to the adoption of the Addis Ababa Declaration on 30 September 2012. In the Declaration, signatories express their conviction that the global framework defined in 2009 by WMO will "enable Africa to develop a climate risk management strategy that takes into account the specificities and vulnerabilities of small island States."

IOC underlines that seasonal climate outlooks bring together the producers of meteorological and climate data and their users. They enable the identification of the specific needs of the sectors that are vulnerable to climate change, anticipate potential risks, and adapt practices a few months ahead of time. During this first meeting, meteorologists presented a preview of their respective competences for the period October-December 2012. Regional consensus emerged that precipitations will be "below normal" for the countries located North of Madagascar, and "below seasonal averages" for the countries located to the East. However, some uncertainties exist for Madagascar, where no climate scenario was developed. These forecasts were discussed with representatives from the sectors in order to establish their relevance to the various activities. Participants found that the outlooks would be relevant for agriculture (including mango culture and the selection of the species of sugar cane), water resources management, and the fight against leptospirosis. [IISD RS Sources] [Forum Website (in French)]