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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

Delegations from Pacific governments, along with international donors and prominent scientific organisations will meet in the Cook Islands during the second week of October to investigate and discuss aspects of mineral resources development in the Pacific region.

This will be during the Third meeting of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community's (SPC) Applied Geoscience and Technology Division (SOPAC), whose running theme will be 'Opportunities and challenges of developing natural resources in large ocean states'.

The meeting will be held in conjunction with the 2013 Circum-Pacific Council (CPC) meeting, along with 2013 STAR* (Science, Technology and Resources Network) Session.

Professor Michael Petterson, SOPAC Division Director, expressed his gratitude to the Cook Islands Government for hosting the meetings, and further added that 'As a new Director attending my first Divisional meeting, I am very excited to be able to meet and discuss one of the key aspects of development for the Pacific: sustainably and inclusively developing mineral resources. The advent of Deep Sea Minerals could bring many changes to the Pacific and we all need to prepare and be informed. I will also be presenting my new vision for where I would like to take SOPAC Division during my tenureship. Let us also not forget STAR and the very last year of it's chair, Professor John Collen who has, again, produced a very exciting programme for us to learn from and contribute to. I look forward to seeing everybody and extend a very warm welcome.'

Circum-Pacific Council is an association of earth scientists, engineers, and oceanographers in the Pacific region, while STAR was founded in 1985 to facilitate the continuing provision of advice to SOPAC by the international geoscience community.

The main theme of the STAR Conference is 'Large ocean states: challenges, opportunities and risks in developing non-living marine and onland natural resources', and papers on renewable energy and deep sea minerals will be presented.

For further information, please go to: http://www.sopac.org/index.php/sopac-3