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Climate Change Resilience

The staff of the Kiribati Meteorological Service are in a better position to warn residents of the remote island of likely natural hazards thanks to the opportunity to improve their understanding of various climate and weather prediction tools.

This week, the Kiribati Meteorological Service staff took part in a Climate Tools and Science Communication in-country training, designed to enhance the capacity of the participants to better analyse and communicate weather, climate and climate change data.

The training was conducted by the staff of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) through the Republic of Korea-Pacific Island Climate Prediction Services (ROK-PI CliPS) Phase II project and Climate and Ocean Support Programmes for the Pacific Project COSPPac project Phase II.

Kiribati consists of 33 islands with the highest point only 3 to 4meters above mean sea level with an estimated 95,000 population. The combination of its geographic location and economic situation makes Kiribati one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change. 

Global temperature increase affects coral growth and sea level. In Kiribati, coastal erosion, sea water from storm surges inundating the land, coral bleaching and saltwater intrusion are only some of the impacts faced by I-Kiribati communities. 

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing border closures and travel restrictions across the Pacific, the in-country training could not be held face-to-face. 

However, using the Zoom virtual platform, a team based at SPREP which consists of Mr Tile Tofaeono, Climate Prediction Services Coordinator, Mr Philip Malsale, COSPPac Climatologist, and Ms Azarel Maia’i, COSPPac Capacity Development Officer, were able to deliver the virtually.

It will also address how the Kiribati Met Service is currently accessing and assessing the available guidance making them nationally relevant, tailoring them to specific end-users, and dissemination.

 It also aims to strengthen the capacity of KMS staff in communicating the science to various target audience, which will include updating their climate communication strategy. 

Director of SPREP’s Climate Change Resilience Programme, Ms Tagaloa Cooper, said, “Strengthening capacities of National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs) in the Pacific is one of the key priorities of SPREP, its donors and technical partners. As the sole provider of weather and climate information, NMHSs play a pivotal role in ‘early warning and early action’ of our communities.”

“The training this week will therefore equip our Kiribati Meteorological Services with enhanced knowledge and skills on using climate forecasting tool like RoK PI-CLIPS, PICASO and ACCESS-S. These forecasting tools will enable the KMS to predict the climate months ahead, like the status of the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO)  which causes changes in rainfall pattern, sea level and temperatures.” 

“These models for instance are predicting more than 50% chance of a weak La Niña event (phase of ENSO) to occur in the upcoming months, for Kiribati this means less rainfall thereby warning the communities and sectors (like agriculture, water supply) of likely impacts is important. Taking for example models predict rain deficiency which consequently mean water availability in the coming month to 3-months might be limited, as an atoll nation this information is very important,” Ms Cooper concluded. 

The training was funded by the Government of the Republic of Korea through the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat and implemented by the Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH) and SPREP, with support from the APEC Climate Centre (APCC). 

Staff of the Kiribati Met Service expressed their gratitude to SPREP for the opportunity for new staff to learn from expert assistance but also provide those who have been with the service longer with a refresher training. 

For more information, please contact the Pacific Meteorological Desk Partnership team, at [email protected].