Climate Modeling to Project Future Climate Change Across Indonesia

In 2013, Ganesha Chandrasa began working at the Indonesian government agency, Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysical Agency (BMKG) within the Center for Climate Change Information. There, he grew his passion for researching climate change and providing valuable information to the Indonesian public about weather and climate-related issues.

Then, in 2016 Ganesha decided to apply to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) PRESTASI 3 scholarship. When asked why he decided to apply for the scholarship, Ganesha responded, "Because the program offers the opportunity to do what I think is important: to increase the capability of my institution in producing relevant public information." Ganesha's application to the program was accepted and he began studying for his Master's degree in Atmospheric Sciences at Ohio State University in the Fall of 2016.

Ganesha spent much of his time while studying in the U.S. working on his thesis research project. He focused his research on testing the capability of a regional climate model to simulate past rainfall over Indonesia by utilizing a supercomputer. He decided to study this high-resolution climate modeling practice because he recognized the lack of the use of these models in Indonesia. The benefit of using high-resolution climate modeling is that it allows for more accurate future climate projections. Ganesha's goal with this research was to make an argument to implement more advanced, technical climate modeling practices in Indonesia to project future climate changes and for the use of this data in influencing national and regional long-term planning. After successfully completing his research, Ganesha's thesis was published in an international journal in the field of climate studies, the International Journal of Climatology.

While studying in the U.S., Ganesha also participated in learning opportunities outside of the classroom. He took advantage of the funds offered by the PRESTASI 3 scholarship to attend the American Meteorological Society Annual Meeting in 2018. This conference, held in Austin, Texas, gave Ganesha the opportunity to learn from and network with scientists, educators, students, and other professionals from across the weather, water, and climate community. In addition, Ganesha joined the Graduate Geography Organization at OSU, where he participated in meetings and discussions regarding climate and other geography-related topics with other OSU graduate students.

After completing his master's degree in the U.S., Ganesha returned to Indonesia excited to spread the knowledge he gained while in the U.S. Upon returning to his job at BMKG, he took on the responsibility of working on several new, interesting projects. One of these projects was the Joint Cooperation Programme (JCP). This cooperation is between the Indonesian and Dutch governments and it aims to provide data and tools for water and climate management in Indonesia. Ganesha created a web-based Climate Atlas for use in the program's Climate Field Schools. The Climate Field Schools offer workshops for Indonesian farmers to learn about climate change and mitigation strategies. The web-based Climate Atlas will be implemented in these schools to help create awareness about climate change among Indonesian farming communities.

Ganesha also took on the important role of preparing climate risk information based on his climate modeling activities for the Weather Index Insurance Program. This program, in cooperation with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), created basic guidelines for implementing weather index insurance in Indonesia. The concept of weather index insurance is to provide farmers with financial protection in the event of climate change and catastrophic weather events. Ganesha's work on this program is beneficial because the financial protection that weather index insurance provides can enhance the resilience of vulnerable farming populations in Indonesia.

On top of that, Ganesha had the opportunity to, once again, be involved with USAID. This time, however, it was with the USAID APIK program. This program supports the Government of Indonesia in strengthening climate and disaster resilience. Ganesha provided climate projection datasets for the Maluku and Papua regions which were utilized in several of the project's reports.

Ganesha took full advantage of his time as a PRESTASI 3 scholar in the U.S. by taking every opportunity he could to develop his skills in his passion. By being an avid learner in and outside of the classroom, Ganesha returned to Indonesia prepared to contribute all his new knowledge into important projects pertaining to climate change.

Ganesha is grateful for having had the opportunity to study in the U.S. under the USAID PRESTASI 3 Program. He said that if he could narrow down his experience as a PRESTASI 3 scholar into a few words, he would say that it was, "a journey to remember."

Ganesha, third from the left, participating in a panel discussion at JCP Day, an event held by the Joint Cooperation Programme
Ganesha standing next to his research project poster at the 2018 American Meteorological Society Annual Meeting