When it comes to climate change, much of the international negotiations, policy-making and funding concern themselves with long-term effects, on the scale of decades. Meanwhile, vulnerable communities in the tropics are faced with changes in climate from month to month, season to season or year to year.
In this article, which draws on experiences in Sri Lanka, Lareef Zubair argues that local communities have an urgent need for more information in order to cope with short-term 'climate variability'. Climate science and technology skills need to be developed locally, he says, through support for research institutes, basic scientific infrastructure and young scientists.
Zubair says a focus on short-term local variability would provide a valuable testing ground for adaptation to longer-term climate change.