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Vietnamese weather forecaster receives award for rain prediction research

Update: July, 08/2021 - 08:37

 

Dr Nguyễn Hoàng Minh works at the National Centre for Hydrometeorological Forecasting. — Photo Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment

HÀ NỘI — Dr Nguyễn Hoàng Minh from the National Centre for Hydrometeorological Forecasting has become the first Vietnamese weather forecaster to receive an award from the World Meteorological Organisation.

Minh was honoured for his work to develop a method for improving the capability of a coupled meteorological and hydrological model for rainfall and flood forecasts by generating ensemble precipitation predictions (EPPs) associated with radar-based rainfall prediction by considering spatial rainfall errors.

The EPPs are generated as a kind of Monte-Carlo simulation based on the performance of the numerical weather prediction (NWP) model in the previous time step window. The generated EPPs continue to be blended with radar-based rainfall predictions to produce hybrid rainfall forecasts that perform better than each system could perform individually.

His research focuses on some of the most frequent and damaging natural phenomenons in Việt Nam. Floods destroy hundreds of houses and cost the country millions of dollars in damage on a yearly basis. Being able to accurately forecast floods in a timely manner will give localities a head start in responding to natural disasters and help mitigate the damage. 

Climate change is among the biggest challenges of the 21st century, especially for developing countries. Việt Nam has been identified as one of the nations likely to be most affected by climate change by the Global Climate Risk Index due to its long coastline, vast deltas, floodplains and location on the path of typhoons. 

Minh said to forecast floods a lot of information was required, such as precipitation level, types of precipitation, types of terrain and man-made changes to nature. The most important factor to get right, however, is precipitation as other factors can often be anticipated. With the introduction of computers in weather forecasting, rainfall forecasting has improved in accuracy but to reliably forecast rainfall in the long term remains a daunting task. 

An accurate forecast of rainfall would be a tremendous help for localities to prepare as droughts severely hurt crops and livestock while floods devastate infrastructure and local communities. 

Minh's approach, which he developed during his studies in South Korea, is to combine a series of traditional forecasting methodologies with the advanced technology designed to forecast rainfall. His method was put to the test during Han River's flooding during 2013 and 2016 and produced positive results, improving accuracy from 32 per cent to 59 per cent and 15 per cent to 39 per cent across all categories.

Notably, Minh's prediction was able to produce an improved Nash–Sutcliffe efficiency and Average Relative Error Value by 63 per cent and 24 per cent in 2013's flooding, and 42 per cent and 53 per cent in 2016's flooding.

His research was published by the Journal of Hydrology, one of the most respected journals in the field, in 2019. 

WMO Awards recognise outstanding contributions in the field of meteorology, breakthroughs in scientific research, young scientists for their exceptional contributions to meteorology and climatology, and young engineers/scientists working on development hydrometeorology.

WMO Research Award for Young Scientists aims to encourage young scientists, particularly in developing countries, to undertake outstanding research work in all fields of meteorology and hydrology. The award has been granted to young scientists from more than 20 different countries. — VNS

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