RP Signs Agreement with Japan to Put Up Radar System for Storms - BM

A STATE-of-the art meteorological radar system which has the capability to accurately predict the movement and strength of a brewing tropical depression as well as the amount of rainfall it is expected to create will soon be put up in three Philippine areas often visited by tropical cyclones.

Yesterday, the Philippine government and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) formally signed a grant agreement for a P1.6 billion project which aims to replace three existing meteorological radar Systems in Aparri, Cagayan, Virac, Catanduanes and Guian, Samar with Doppler (S-band) radar systems.

The country has existing radar systems in the said areas but they are "conventional" with limited capabilities, PAG-ASA Director Prisco Nilo said.

Unlike the existing meteorological systems that the government uses, the Doppler radar systems will have the capability to accurately detect the movement and strength of a tropical depression as far as 500 kilometers away, said Mr. Nilo.

"Aside from accurately measuring the strength and direction of the typhoon, the radar systems can also provide us with information such as intensity of the rain as well as the volume of rainfall it is going to produce," said Mr. Nilo.

PAG-ASA has recently been criticized for its failure to accurately predict the movement and strength of typhoons, particularly tropical storm Ondoy and typhoon Pepeng, that struck the country in September and October.

Acting National Economic Development Authority Augusto B. Santos said that the Doppler radar systems could be the solution to the country’s problems with typhoons.

"This is something that the country really needs," he said, adding that the country needs at least 12 Doppler radar systems to improve PAG-ASA’s capability to monitor typhoons.

JICA Philippine Representative Norio Matsuda, meanwhile, said that construction of the systems could start in the first half of 2010. He said the three radar systems are expected to be finished within three and a half years.

He said the first Doppler radar station will be put up in Virac, Catanduanes, to be followed by Aparri, Cagayan. The last one will be built in Guian, Samar.

Equipment to be installed in these stations, according to Mr. Matsuda, include meteorological radar systems, meteorological radar data display systems and meteorological data satellite communication systems. Also included in the JICA-funded project are training in data analysis, forecasting, operation and maintenance of the equipment for PAG-ASA’s technical staff.

The government is planning to put up Doppler radar stations in Tagaytay City, Cavite, Subic, Zambales, Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur, Tampacan, South Cotabato, and Mactan Cebu, said Department of Science and Technology Secretary Estrella F. Alabastro, who was also present during the signing ceremony.

She said, however, that the government is still looking for possible donors for the project. -- Benjamin V. Buco, Jr.

Source: http://www.bworldonline.com/main/content.php?id=1478