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‘Time is right’ to boost capacity in Pacific ocean forecasting

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5 September 2016, Nadi

Weather forecasters, hydrographers, oceanographers, fisheries officers and maritime safety experts from around the Pacific region have gathered in Nadi, Fiji, today to take part in training to boost understanding, monitoring and forecasting of oceans and tides.

First Secretary of the Australian High Commission in Suva, Raymond Bojczuk opened the training, which is jointly organised by the Pacific Community (SPC) and the Australian Bureau of Meteorology under the Climate and Oceans Support Programme in the Pacific (COSPPac).

“The timing is right to boost regional capacity to monitor and forecast ocean conditions,” Mr Bojczuk noted, recognising the severe wave damage many coastal communities in Fiji experienced during Tropical Cyclone Winston and the numerous inundation events that have threatened low-lying atolls across the region in recent years.



According to meteorologists and oceanographers present at the workshop, strong El Niño conditions contributed to many of the ocean and climate extremes experienced in the Pacific in 2015 and early 2016.

An El Niño occurs when ocean temperatures in the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean become warmer than average, and this causes changes in the prevailing trade winds.

El Niño conditions typically last for about a year and are associated with noticeable changes in rainfall, sea level, and the frequency and severity of tropical cyclones.

“For a region that is 98 percent ocean, we have surprisingly little ocean data,” said Mr Bojczuk. “I can proudly say, however, that Australia has supported one of the most long-standing, high quality ocean monitoring systems in the region- the Pacific Sea Level Monitoring Project.”

A key component of COSPPac, the Pacific Sea Level Monitoring Project, is a network of 14 tide gauges across the region, providing continuous data on temperature, tides, and weather for more than 20 years.

The real-time data from this project is openly accessible online on the newly developed COSPPac Ocean Portal.

“The Ocean Portal also serves up near real-time Pacific Ocean data such as sea surface temperature, wave forecasts, surface current forecasts, coral bleaching alerts, and seasonal sea level variations as user-friendly maps and graphics,” SPC’s Manager of Oceans and Coastal Geoscience, Jens Kruger, said.

This information can be very useful to any public or private sector organisation that interacts with the ocean, including shipping, fisheries, tourism, disaster management, conservation, and coastal infrastructure development.

“Now that this information is available, it is our duty to ensure the right people know how to access and apply it to improve our preparation and resilience in the face of extreme events,” Mr Kruger said.


Media contacts
Molly Powers-Tora    COSPPac Regional Officer, [email protected] // or +679 3249250
Merewalesi Nailatikau   Australian High Commission Media, [email protected] // or +679 3388381

Photo: Tide guage, Tuvalu by Lily Frencham

Last Updated on Friday, 30 September 2016 14:54  

Newsflash

Thursday 19 September 2013, Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), Suva, Fiji – On Friday, 1 November 2013, the Secretariat of the Pacific Community’s Applied Geoscience and Technology Division (SOPAC) will recognize the outstanding service of eleven employees, all of whom have given more than twenty years to the organization. The contributions of such dedicated employees have made it possible for the SOPAC Division to meet its goal of supporting the sustainable development of Pacific communities, whilst building the reputation of a reliable and effective geoscience services provider.

SOPAC has a long history in the Pacific. First established in 1972 as a United Nations Development Programme Regional Project, the South Pacific Applied Geoscience Commission, or SOPAC, initially focused on exploring Pacific mineral and hydro-carbon potential. Over the years, SOPAC’s programme of work has shifted to include coastal protection and management, geohazard assessment, water resource management, and disaster risk management. In 1990, SOPAC became an independent regional organization. In 2011, the organization integrated with the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), becoming the newest division of SPC.

The eleven employees to be recognized on 1 November 2013 have witnessed firsthand many changes within the organisation, the region and, of course, technology over the years.