Tuesday, 12 November 2013, Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), Suva, Fiji – On the old main wharf in Funafuti, Tuvalu, few passers-by normally stop to take note of the tall white hut that juts out over the lagoon. For the last two weeks, however, this hut- one of 14 similar dockside huts across the Pacific that monitor sea level and weather conditions- has been buzzing with activity as regional technicians work to upgrade the sensors, power, and data communications systems housed within.
The completion of this work in Tuvalu represents the successful conclusion of a 2-year project funded by the Australian Government to improve sea level and climate monitoring across the region.
‘The sea-level stations always collected data continuously, but only transmitted the data every hour,’ explains Stamy Criticos, logistics and installation manager from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology. ‘With the upgrade, the network of 14 stations are now transmitting every minute and will soon be able to provide real-time data to meteorologists around the Pacific. It will also be used to enhance tsunami tracking and warning systems.’
Known as the Observation Network Upgrade Project (ONUP), this project is boosting the capability of the Pacific Sea Level Monitoring Project, which has collected data from 14 sites across the Pacific since 1991. This data is used to understand sea-level changes and is frequently referenced for coastal development work, urban planning, tidal predictions, formulation of maritime boundaries, wave modelling and for navigational purposes.