The United States will assist Vietnam in improving its flood and climate forecasts under an agreement signed Tuesday.
"Improved climate forecasting will help reduce some of the impacts Vietnam faces from floods and drought," Commerce Secretary Norman Y. Mineta said.
The agreement between the U.S. National Weather Service and Vietnam's Hydro-Meteorological Service will bring advanced computer weather models and other scientific expertise to help strengthen Vietnam's ability to predict and manage river and coastal floods caused by tropical storms and warn people about such floods.
"Vietnam's location along the South China Sea offers the U.S. scientific community a unique vantage point to study monsoon activity and help find answers to other weather-climatic questions," said D. James Baker, head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Weather Service's parent agency.
The $1.4 million coastal warning system will help alert fishing boats at sea and a use U.S. radio-based system to broadcast weather information to boaters listening on low-cost radios.
Flooding in the Red River, which flows into the Hanoi area from the mountains of China, is of particular concern for the Vietnamese, noted Martin C. Yerg Jr., chief of the Weather Service's International Activities Office.
He said Vietnamese forecasters will visit the United States to study U.S. flood forecasting systems and American forecasters will return with them to Vietnam to seek ways to adapt the U.S. procedures to improve forecasting there.
Hanoi's current warning system provides an average of 12 hours notice of a flood threat. Once Vietnamese forecasters incorporate the U.S. river forecast models, the warning lead time is expected to increase to 36 hours.
In addition, Yerg said, U.S. and Vietnamese will work on climate forecasts, long-range looks at the weather.
And an international exchange of weather data will be set up between the United States and Vietnam, he said.
Weather data from throughout the world is vital for use in the complex computer models that now assist in predicting weather, and the United States has been a leader in pressing for a free exchange of this information.
The move comes on the heels of a November 2000 White House announcement breaking down U.S. support for disaster readiness and precautions in Vietnam.
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