Dr. Anond Snidvongs

color = "#83BFE9"; Dr. Anond Snidvongs On the Front Lines of Climate Change By Nantiya Tangwisutijit © Tatree Saengme-anuparb Dr. Anond Snidvongs is Thailand’s Al Gore. The hard-charging, 50-year-old director of Southeast Asia’s START program has arguably done more to advance regional climate science over the past decade than anyone else in Southeast Asia. An oceanographer by training, Dr. Anond recognized in

Nantiya Tangwisutijit
Jan 12, 2010

Dr. Anond Snidvongs

On the Front Lines of Climate Change

© Tatree Saengme-anuparb

Dr. Anond Snidvongs is Thailand’s Al Gore. The hard-charging, 50-year-old director of Southeast Asia’s START program has arguably done more to advance regional climate science over the past decade than anyone else in Southeast Asia.

An oceanographer by training, Dr. Anond recognized in the 1980s that changes in the ocean environment could only be understood with a solid grounding in climate science. As he began to familiarize himself with the discipline and with the intricacies of atmosphere–ocean modeling for the region, he discovered it was lonely work.

“Back then, only a few scholars ever mentioned climate change here,” he says. “The challenge was not only to get more scientists involved, but for policy makers, the media, and the public to recognize the gravity of the situation and to start formulating a response.”

Dr. Anond’s efforts finally gained...

© Tatree Saengme-anuparb

Dr. Anond Snidvongs is Thailand’s Al Gore. The hard-charging, 50-year-old director of Southeast Asia’s START program has arguably done more to advance regional climate science over the past decade than anyone else in Southeast Asia.

An oceanographer by training, Dr. Anond recognized in the 1980s that changes in the ocean environment could only be understood with a solid grounding in climate science. As he began to familiarize himself with the discipline and with the intricacies of atmosphere–ocean modeling for the region, he discovered it was lonely work.

“Back then, only a few scholars ever mentioned climate change here,” he says. “The challenge was not only to get more scientists involved, but for policy makers, the media, and the public to recognize the gravity of the situation and to start formulating a response.”

Dr. Anond’s efforts finally gained significant traction in 2002, when his team undertook the first regional downscaling of a global climate model. “It’s all well and good for global models to say it might get a bit warmer in Southeast Asia and rain patterns may change, but absent more localized forecasts, it’s difficult to garner people’s interest,” he says.

With higher-resolution results identifying specific areas where droughts and floods could be expected, public concern grew. In 2007, Dr. Anond was charged with aiding in the creation of initial climate change action plans for Thailand and the Bangkok metropolitan area.

What’s key, he stresses, is that both the public and private sectors engage fully to work toward mitigation and adaptation measures, including the application of biotechnology.

“You don’t have to look far to see the biotech gears grinding away on climate change problems,” he observes. “Climate-friendly bioenergy, increased food security, and public health advances are all accelerating here thanks to those in the biotech field.”

He notes that research on salt tolerance in rice by BIOTEC has yielded varieties that can thrive in saline areas of the country, which are expected to expand as a result of climate change. More productive agricultural yields also mean less farming area, reducing the necessary scale of climate adaptation in the future.

None of this would have been possible without Dr. Anond’s passion and influence, says Dr. Attachai Jintrawet, associate professor of Soil Science and Conservation at Chiang Mai University. “We can’t come up with solutions until we have a solid understanding of the problem,” he says. “Anond’s work has kindled the fire that’s got many of us bringing our resources to the table, and eventually, some products to market.”

Dr. Anond’s influence also spills beyond Thailand. He assists researchers in Vietnam, Lao PDR, Myanmar, the Philippines, and Cambodia in undertaking their own downscaling. He encourages the scientists to organize community consultations to create feedback loops that enhance the quality of both the forecasting and the response.

“This is not a linear equation working from the top down, but really two sides of a coin working together to improve our inputs and understanding of what’s actually happening,” Dr. Anond says. “Local communities can provide the indigenous data and knowledge to better constrain the regional models, and communities can utilize these results in their own scenario planning for development purposes.”

Like Al Gore, Dr. Anond recognizes the importance of using the media to stress the urgency of combating climate change to the public. Channel 3 TV documentary producer Jittima Bansrang notes that Dr. Anond is known for his accessibility to reporters. “So many researchers have little time for journalists…to help us understand the modeling and science behind the warnings,” says Jittima. “But for Anond, no question is too stupid and no request for an interview or public comment is denied, so his message gets out.”

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