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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

Wednesday 22 October 2014 – Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) – Suva, Fiji: Last Friday was an important occasion for the governments of Fiji and Tuvalu as a maritime boundary agreement was signed by the Prime Minister of Fiji, Honourable Voreqe Bainimarama, and the Prime Minister of Tuvalu, Honourable Enele Sopoaga. This signing event concluded many years of negotiations between senior government officials of both countries.

The Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), through its Applied Geoscience and Technology Division (AGTD), assists member countries in the technical preparations of negotiations between neighbouring countries to legalise the extent of national areas of jurisdiction under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). The Regional Maritime Boundaries Unit within AGTD coordinates this support to member countries, working closely with its partners, which include the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency, Geoscience Australia, the Commonwealth Secretariat, the United Nations Environment Programme GRID-Arendal Centre, the Australian Attorney General’s Office and the University of Sydney.

The Pacific Islands region has approximately 48 shared maritime boundaries, where neighbouring exclusive economic zones overlap. Counting the treaty signed between Fiji and Tuvalu last week, 33 of these boundaries are subject to a formal treaty.

During the signing ceremony, PM Bainimarama stated, 'As Pacific small island developing states, we have proven to the international community that we are no strangers to concluding highly technical and complex negotiations under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.'