Communicating Climate Data to the Grassroots

The Philippines is one of the countries that is most vulnerable to climate change. "Climate change is real. Climate resiliency is our challenge. We need to educate people about it and how to mitigate the impacts. We need to inform more stakeholders," said Jorybell Masallo, Senior Weather Specialist at the Climatology and Meteorology Division at PAGASA.

PAGASA, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration, is the national agency mandated to provide up-to-date information on the weather and climate. Jorybell has been with PAGASA since 1994, working with the division in charge of predicting extreme climate events such as the El Niño and La Niña.

Reporting data interactively

Her work in PAGASA has inspired her to act on climate change and her re-entry action plan (REAP) for Australia Awards Scholarships allowed her to pursue a project to make a difference.

Through Australia Awards, Jorybell earned her Master of Environmental Science from the University of Sydney in 2016. When she returned to the Philippines, she worked with PAGASA colleagues to create an Interactive Climate Information Display System, a video wonder wall for climate information.

"Australia is a benchmark for PAGASA in terms of equipment, experts, trainings, and weather information services. We can learn a lot from what Australia has been doing. My Master's degree in Environmental Science deepened my knowledge not only of the atmosphere-ocean interaction but also the social, economic and ecological impacts." she said.

With her Australian education, Jorybell designed her REAP to help climatologists access rainfall and temperature data for easier research and visualisation. In February 2019, her REAP was fully operationalised as the PAGASA Interactive Climate Information Display System or PCIDS, a multi-display video system used by PAGASA personnel daily.

As a result of her REAP, accessing and inputting data in PAGASA has become more efficient. This is valuable as it helps them explain important information on climate data to reporters in a more understandable way. The better they can visualise it to reporters, the better the data can be reported to the public.

"Our forecasts will be useless if they don't reach the grassroots," said Jorybell.

PAGASA also noted that PCIDS will help fulfill the agency's role in becoming the Lead Center for Climate Monitoring in Southeast Asia.

Reaching the farmers

Jorybell has recently been appointed as Officer-In-Charge for the Farm Weather Services Section of PAGASA's Climatology and Agrometeorology Division where she supports the country's agriculture and water sectors.

In a country that largely depends on agriculture, changes in seasonal temperatures have an effect not just on crop productivity and agricultural production but also on employment and food security.

Here, Jorybell leads the preparation of farm weather forecasts and advisories and monthly agro-climatic outlooks, among others. She and her team also work with Filipino farmers to forecast changes in the weather that could potentially make or break a harvest.

As Jorybell makes a difference in PAGASA, she considers the Australia Awards REAP as an effective force in continuously pursuing innovations. "REAP is forever. It does not stop after the evaluation report. It brought us this mindset to look for other ways on how to help more people."