Dr Bhaski Bhaskaran, Climate Services Manager
4 April 2013
How can a small group of villages in India — where very little rain has fallen year after year for almost 40 years — adapt and plan for the future without knowing exactly how climate change will affect them? This is the kind of on-the-ground challenge that Dr Bhaski Bhaskaran and his team at the Met Office Hadley Centre are helping to tackle.
Planning for development
Recognised as a world authority on climate change research, the Met Office is often approached by representatives from developing countries looking to plan for the possible impacts of climate change. Using increasingly fine-resolution climate models, the Met Office is able to provide high quality climate projection information, but this is often only the beginning.
In collaboration with governments, local research institutions and donor agencies, Bhaski and his team use climate data to deliver services that help decision making in developing countries in Asia, South East Asia, Africa and South America. "We run workshops to discover the most important requirements for an area's climate change adaptation plan," says Bhaski, "We discuss what information is available, how we can help and why the Met Office is the right organisation to work with."
"We discuss what information is available, how we can help and why the Met Office is the right organisation to work with."
Once Bhaski and his team have established the local needs and capabilities, they develop and submit proposals to donor agencies, to start the process of making the projects a reality. They work with a range of donor agencies from around the world such as UKaid from the Department for International Development, DANIDA (Denmark), German Development Bank and Asian Development Bank.
Bhaski joined the Met Office as a Climate Prediction Scientist in 2005. He also worked at the Hadley Centre as a student ten years previously when he completed his research for his PhD in Regional Climate Modelling from the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi. In the intervening years Bhaski worked at the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research in Wellington, New Zealand. There, he was the founding member of a team that used the Met Office model as the basis to develop the country's climate modelling research.
Throughout his career, Bhaski has been motivated by using climate science to help improve people's quality of life. "I did my PhD because the climate was changing and people were being affected, but there wasn't credible climate prediction information available to help them." Since then, he has been involved in many advancements in computer science, climate science and climate models which have increased the quantity and quality of information available for decision making.
For Bhaski the most rewarding part of the job is also the most challenging - the need to ensure that the information he and his team provide is effectively applied so that the benefits can be fully realised. In recent years he has worked on several climate modelling and capacity building projects in Bangladesh, visiting the areas affected by flooding and witnessing the issues and solutions first-hand. In other countries, projects might focus on adapting to climate changes in 50 or 100 years' time but, in some regions of Bangladesh, communities have to adapt every year - especially where it's common to live on boats or to be reliant on fishing in summer and farming in winter.
"It's a good place to learn," Bhaski says. "You make suggestions based on predictions - a plan is put in place and the following year you can go back and see it in action. It's very satisfying."