What is it about?

With global warming and rapid climate change, extreme weather events are on the rise. Forecasting these events can better prepare countries to deal with their consequences. This article describes the advances in weather forecasting and reservoir operation in the Upper São Francisco River, Brazil. The Upper São Francisco River provides water to seasonally arid North-East Brazil and generates hydroelectricity from the Três Marias reservoir. However, this river is prone to floods and droughts. The paper suggests structural changes as well as development of better forecasting systems to battle the disruption caused by these discrepancies. Artificial reservoirs can preserve water runoff for use during droughts, while also controlling downstream flooding during extreme rainfall events. Rain-fall and water flow monitoring, hydrological forecasting, and establishment of early warning systems should augment these structural changes, in addition to the development of regional climate change projections that can predict long-term risks and climatic disasters.

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Why is it important?

Extreme weather events greatly impact developing countries. The 2009 Amazon River floods that resulted in damages of USD 165 million, or the drought of 2001 in Brazil that affected hydroelectricity generation ̶ leading to blackouts and energy shortages ̶ are only two examples. Additionally, a lack of availability of hydroelectricity increases the use of fossil fuels for energy, further harming the environment. Hence, developing resilient water disaster management policies ̶ and integrating these with long-term weather forecasting and comprehensive disaster risk assessment ̶ can safeguard humans, economies, and the environment, especially in developing countries. KEY TAKEAWAY: Current policies focus more on dealing with the aftermath of natural disasters, rather than reducing our vulnerability to them. Establishing a synergy between weather forecasting techniques and disaster reduction policies is critical to mitigate the consequences of natural disasters and safeguard us from them.

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This page is a summary of: Climate change, water-related disasters, flood control and rainfall forecasting: a case study of the São Francisco River, Brazil, Geological Society London Special Publications, January 2019, Geological Society, DOI: 10.1144/sp488-2018-128.
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