Climate and Water in Sri Lanka and Maldives

Project Duration: June 1, 2012-2015


Climate fluctuations at intra-seasonal time scales (beyond a few days to a few months) have profound influences on management of water resources to generate hydroelectricity and irrigate agricultural lands. Any ability to anticipate these fluctuations is valuable. Recent, improvements in understanding of intra-seasonal (IS) climate variability and the availability of real-time satellite based observations have led to the emergence of methodologies for IS climate predictions from a few days up to a month. This project aims to bring to bear climate variability insights from a National Science Foundation-sponsored program called DYNAMO focused on the Western Equatorial Indian Ocean. Specifically, the researchers will test IS climate predictions and assess their use for water management in Sri Lanka.

The overall goal of the project is to promote better understanding of IS variability of rainfall around Sri Lanka and Maldives, refine prediction schemes, translate this information to support water management, and upgrade local capcity for climate science and climate services. Even modest improvements in IS predictions can lead significant social and economic consequences from anticipatory water management. Because of the principal investigator’s affiliation with the Mahaweli Authority of Sri Lanka, which is the nation’s coordinating agency for water management, the project has potential for near-term impact as improved prediction models are developed and tested.

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Project Link:

Partnerships For Enhanced Engagement In Research (PEER) Science


Investigators and Partners:

Principal Investigator: Dr.Lareef Zubair (FECT)

Co-Principal Investigator: Prof.P.Wickramagamage

PEER Supplemental Award Type:  Policy Impact / Program Impact

US Partner: Columbia University- Dr. Adam H. Sobel

University of Peradeniya (UOP)- Prof. P. Wickramagamage.

Mahaweli Authority of Srilanka (MASL)- Eng. Thilaka Samaratunga.

Male’ Water and Sewerage Company (MWSC)- Eng. Mohamed Rasheed.

Maldives Meteorological Service (MMS)- Dr. Zahid.

Project Briefs:

Climate and Water project flyer

Summary of Recent Activities:

During the third quarter of 2014, Dr. Zubair and his team continued to monitor, gather, and disseminate weather data and models. The team acquired a high-quality weather station for calibration purposes and updated their data sets in Sri Lanka and the Maldives up to 2012. Meteorological data was also obtained using a new web-scraper algorithm that was developed during this period and analysis was carried out in collaboration with the US partner.

The team also continued in its mission to share their models and information throughout Sri Lanka and the Maldives. Dr. Zubair presented “Climate Change Projections for Sri Lanka under a High Emissions Scenario” at the South Asia Biosafety meeting held in Colombo and organized by the International Life Sciences Institute with USAID and US Embassy sponsorship. Additionally, due to the extended drought and increasing information requests from regional stakeholders, the team distributed drought monitoring products throughout Sri Lanka and the Maldives.

In the last quarter, Dr. Zubair and his team plan to establish two additional monitoring stations in the Maldives to expand the data they publish in their weekly and monthly reports.

Goals and Objectives:

To understand Intra-Seasonal (IS) variability of rainfall around Sri Lanka and Maldives better, refine prediction schemes, translate this information to
Support water management and upgrade local capacity for climate science and climate services.

  • Characterize the IS variability of regional climate.
  • Develop, refine and assess IS rainfall prediction systems.
  • Develop protocols to translate IS predictions into hydrological variables for decision support for water management.
  • Incorporate IS predictions into hydro-climatic advisories being provided and evaluate its utility.
  • Develop capacity through improving research infrastructure, providing research opportunities, training for students, hydrologists and meteorologists.

Anticipated Development Outcomes:

  • Gains from improved  Water  Management  –  Confidence in  IS forecasts can lead to anticipatory management that improves irrigation, hydro-power, flood and drought risk management.
  • Expertise in Generation and Use of Climate Information –Demonstration of the use of IS climate predictions, and its translation into formats needed for water resources decision making.
  • Development of expertise, infrastructure, and IT resources for climate modeling.
  • Align the proposed work with USAID programmatic priority of climate directly and to food security and other priorities.

What has been done:

Climate Analysis and Tools:

  • Analysis of Impacts of El Nino on Climate by region and season.
  • Analysis of Impacts of Madden Julian Oscillation on Climate by region and season.
  • Developed Tools for Rainfall Monitoring from Satellite data.
  • Climate Prediction systems.

Water Resources:

  • Operational climate decision support for National Water Management by Mahaweli Authority Water Management Secretariat.
  • Small basin catchment management in Pinga Oya, a tributary of Mahaweli in Kandy.
  • Monthly Climate Analysis for Maldives.
  • Water Scarcity Assessment in Greater Male through Surveys.

Training, Education and Outreach:

  • Six staff members obtained in house training in Climate Research.
  • Contributed Course content for University of Peradeniya and Maldives National University on Climate and Water.
  • Sponsored and guided research of students in the Maldives and Sri-Lanka.
  • Had programs for school children on Climate, Water and Environment in Pinga Oya Catchment and in Male.

Conferences, Posters and Videos:


Conducted conference on Pinga Oya Conservation and Flood Management at University of Peradeniya.

Conducted conference on Climate and Water at Maldives National University.

Presented material at Sri-Lanka and International Conferences.


A Compilation of posters has been developed by FECT for (1) Maldives and (2) Sri Lanka.

It Contains

  • Cover and Contents.
  • Workshop on climate and water security in the Maldives.
  • Monthly climate advisories for the Maldives.
  • Availability of freshwater in greater Male.
  • Estimation of water scarcity in Maldives.
  • Annual, Seasonal, Regional and inter-annual dengue in Maldives.
  • Relationship of dengue incidence with climate in Maldives.
  • Seasonality of climate in Maldives.
  • Satellite based rainfall monitoring for Maldives.
  • Meteorology and predictability of tropical storm ARB-04in the indian ocean during November 2011.
  • El Nino & La Nina influences on the climate of the Maldives.
  • Impact of the Madden-Julian Oscillation on the Maldives.
  • Intra seasonal climate predictions for Sri Lanka for water resources management.
  • About Foundation for Environment, Climate and Technology in the Maldives.
  • FECT Projects in Maldives.



Recent Postings- Projects blog site

Blogs for Climate Advisories for the following




Annual Reports:


Other information resources

Solid waste Management- Flyer– On commemoration of the world environment day 5th of June 2017

Soil moisture and Temperature observations in Hulhule, Male, Maldives- Flyer

Weather station fixed at SIRC, Mathoda island in the Huvadhoo atoll, Maldives- FlyerBack to the table of contents