Forecasting Weather to Guard Indonesia

A story from Muhammad Arif Rahman

Muhammad Arif Rahman

A short experience may change our perspective in life. It is something I experienced when I joined the short course in regards of climate change and food security in the University of Twente, Holland in early 2013. The short course opened my eyes that I have to diligently enhancing my knowledge to every progress of the dynamic science. Studying is a lifetime process for me.

Since 2008, I am working at the Observation Station of Meteorological, Climatological, and Geophysical Agency (BMKG) Tjilik Riwut, Palangkaraya, Kalimantan Tengah. One of my job description is a forecaster, the man who gathered and processed data regarding the changes in weather for the public use.

The information given to the people should be closer to the actual weather to support the people’s activities and to reduce the risk of disaster. As an example, the region that has the potential of heavy rain for a few days long, BMKG must inform the people as soon as possible of the possibility of flooding as the result of the heavy rain. . It also occurs to the possibility of long term drought, the information should be regulated to the people as soon as possible to anticipate the worst effect of harvest failure and many more.

In order to enhance my knowledge in meteorology and climatology science, I applied an overseas scholarship program in 2014.I made it to the final interview stage at the time. I did not make it to move to the next stage. The delayed success has challenge me to do better in another opportunity.

Arif and friends from the American Meteorology Society in University of Massachusetts Lowell.

I evolved to a better me with the findings of I am still lacking with the subject I would like to enhance. My research focus is too broad and not focus. These points has strengthen me to try another scholarship opportunity.

In 2015, a second opportunity came right in front of me. I heard the information about USAID PRESTASI Scholarship from the communication forum in my office. I prepared the requirement and consulted my peers in the office who had the experience of getting foreign scholarship. . After getting my supervisor’s approval I applied the USAID PRESTASI Scholarship Program to pursue master degree in Atmospheric Science program

It is my opportunity to grow to be able to pass the administration and interview selection, I finally made it as the recipient of USAID PRESTASI Scholarship Program. For about six months of training, I enhance my English skills, the leadership, and statistic subject to completion before applying the master degree. I got accepted in the Atmospheric Science Program in the University of Massachusetts Lowel, United States. The trainings were useful for preparing me well toward the departure. During my stay in America from 2016 to the graduation in 2018, I grew maturely with no cultural gap. I was succeed to blend in and give my best in a supportive environment in my class. I learned diplomacy skills in delivering my ideas and facts. My peers were really open to our questions, quick to respond, and good in both face-to-face consultation or through email. It gave me the spirit to get my master degree as soon as possible.

Arif (left) along with his friends from Atmospheric Sciences program during graduation.

I joined the outside-the-class activities, such as the American Meteorologist Society (AMS) on campus and got updated with the latest information regarding climatology, meteorology, and geophysics. I also got information about various activities related to my study from AMS. They invited me to participate as a volunteer in Boston Marathon, one of the most famous marathon competition in the world. My job as a volunteer was to inform the participants regarding the weather forecast. An important lesson I learned from it was that all weather information was informed in a simple and understandable way for everyone, including for non-American.

Another unforgettable experience for life when I was a student in the U.S. was my time as an intern in NASA. During that time, I studied under Dr. Brent Holben, one of the famous researchers on aerosol robotics in the world. Aerosol robotics are robots tasked to observe particles on air or in the atmosphere, including dust, fog, smoke, and air pollutants. I also met many world-class experts in various field in NASA.

Studying in America also gave me another opportunity for self-development. On March 2019 for example, I was invited to Kyoto University, Japan as a speaker for a seminar about long range sensing. This event was a big opportunity for me to share and discuss with researcher from other countries.

My duty presently in BMKG is to coordinate with the Local Agency for Disaster Countermeasure for prevention steps to provide the weather forecast and climate information in a simple and understandable As an example, when there is wildfire occurring in a region, we observe the wind movement and potential region affected by the smoke. If the information can be given as soon as possible and near accurate, the risk prevention can be done well.

Right now, I also coordinating with farming socialization officers in Central Kalimantan routinely. It’s to the latest update on climate change and weather to farmers so that they can plant seeds timely and not get caught by drought or flood. Timely plantation can be the key to get the best harvest. Hopefully, this small effort may give positive contributions for the people.

For Indonesian youth, never give up when facing failure. Have faith, failure is merely a delayed success. Stay optimist and be the best generation for Indonesia. I would like to thank USAID PRESTASI Scholarship Program to trust me as one of the scholarship recipient and allow to grow as a person and as a professional in my office in BMKG.