W ITHOUT a dose of El Nino black magic, the forthcoming rainy season is going to
be "normal, with big rains", predict experts. El Nino, the warming of the
Pacific ocean, was responsible of the devastating floods and drought that
occurred last year in Cambodia. "The climate in Cambodia is rapidly changing
because they are cutting down the trees, warns Andrew Duncan. "The trees have a
regulating effect on floods. They act like a fence stopping the rain from
rushing down into the valleys."
Last January, LWS started the gathering
of climatological data from 1906 to 1994. Amassing more and more information
about the climate in Cambodia over a hundred-year period will eventually allow
researchers and forecasters to predict flash floods. Forecasters will be able to
pinpoint the location and severity of tropical cyclones and thunderstorms
through increased forecasting accuracy.
In understanding how much the
climate has changed since the beginning of the century, meteorologists expect to
bring unprecended clarity to Cambodian weather maps. Forecasters hope to predict
variation in rainfall from one province to the next, which is important in
Says Duncan: "It's probably going to take one or two years
to input all these data that have been put down by hand. What we are doing is to
set up a data base called Climcom. This is a world meteorological package. At
the moment, very little of this information has been published. It will be very
valuable for any type of research regarding the construction of dams, bridges,
roads, and the prevention of floods which still handicap harvesting. After
looking at the rainfall, river's height, evaporation, wind, sunlight figures,
temperature, we can make an evaluation of what to plant."
He adds:"A lot
of these data were lost or destroyed during the Khmer Rouge. But we still have
the old data recorded by the French."
"But apparently," he says, "at the
National Meteorological Center at Pochentong, this data has been stored in an
unprotected area, exposed to sunlight, rain and... birds that take these records
for nesting." He adds: "We need to preserve these data. This is part of