Red Cross/ Red Crescent Climate Centre

New video guide to IRI-IFRC online map-room for global rainfall

18/09/2013 - by Erin Coughlan, Climate Centre
The International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI) has launched a new video guide to the online IFRC map room collection of digital forecast charts that are updated daily to aid humanitarian decision-making around the world.
 
In a guided tour intended to be of interest especially to Red Cross Red Crescent disaster managers, the IRI’s Ashley Curtis gives an overview of some new features of the recently redesigned map room.
 
The short presentation begins with the home-page map showing areas where heavy rain is expected over the next six days. Viewers can then see how to zoom in on their area of interest.
 
All the IRI map-room content is available in Spanish as well as English.
 
The new video is the first of a planned series of video “map-room minutes” on the use of forecasts to be made available online.
 
Mobile phones
 
The map room was extensively updated earlier in 2013 to incorporate five years’ worth of feedback from users, and make the climate information the maps display both more accessible. 
 
A set of new maps has been added with information about long-term climate change and El Niño.
 
The new map room also provides information on the types of early action that forecasts might trigger, such as the advance preparedness for floods in West Africa that was highly effective in 2008.
 
“We’ve improved usability by focusing each page on the question it’s answering, adding suggestions for early actions to reduce possible disaster effects and using tabbing to organize additional information,” says the IRI’s Benno Blumenthal, who led the redesign. 
 
“We also increased the functionality,” he adds. “The pages are compatible with smart phones and tablets, and the maps can be easily shared with other software, including Google Earth and social networks.”
 
First-responders
 
A row of easily accessible tabs take users to maps covering a full range of timescales and showing: 
 
Rainfall expected over the next three months
Rainfall patterns expected for El Niño, La Niña and average years
What rainfall has been like for the last 100 years.
 
If exceptionally heavy rain is expected, humanitarian first-responders are always advised to contact their local meteorological service, monitor forecasts closely, consider who may be most affected by heavy rainfall, and review contingency plans.
 
IRI is part of the Earth Institute at Columbia University in New York. The map room was first developed as part of its “partnership to save lives” with the IFRC that was facilitated by the Climate Centre in 2007.
 
The current IRI six-day forecast for Central America shows expected heavy rain – the darker blue area – over Mexico. All the IFRC-IRI map room content is available in both Spanish and English. (Source: IRI)