Warmer temperatures and increased rainfall can pose threats to our livelihoods and health by impacting the quality of water we drink, the food we consume, and the weather we experience.
But there are also vector-borne diseases (carried by mosquitoes and other insects), and water-borne bacteria and viruses, that become prevalent during periods of high and low rainfall, which pose great health risks to local populations. For example, increased risks of contracting dengue fever, chikungunya, malaria, and other diseases.
These extreme changes in the rainfall and temperature impact all sectors, and affect food security (agriculture and fisheries), water security, health, energy, tourism and disaster risk reduction. In an effort to help governments and local communities prepare, avert or respond to these impacts, Pacific National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHS) generate national seasonal climate outlooks, and tailored sector specific products.
A few countries presented on one of their tailored products, the participants of the Fourth Pacific Islands Climate Outlook Forum (PICOF-4) were able to learn about what other Pacific NMHS were doing at the national level.
In Solomon Islands, participants heard about their MalaClim, or Malaria Early Warning System, which provided insight into how the Solomon Islands National Meteorological Services works with the country’s Ministry of Health to predict and prepare for outbreak of malaria that can affect the local population.
In Kiribati, their Ocean Outlook provides information to the Ministry of Fisheries, small fishing communities and coastal dwellers.
This provides information on tide, coral bleaching and sea surface temperatures that are useful for the marine sector.
In Fiji, their Early Action Rainfall – EAR Watch is tailored towards the national Disaster Management Office (DMO), Red Cross and other disaster response organisations. This product enables organisations to plan their activities depending on the rainfall current status and the outlook.
In Samoa, the Tourism Outlook provides weather and climate forecasts for tourism operators keeping them regularly informed of the risks to their operations in order to ensure the safety of their guests. These are some of the examples of Pacific NMHS tailored products which are produced regularly for key stakeholders.
But what are some of the challenges they face in producing these tailored products? A panel discussion after presentations allowed NMHS officers to share their experiences and advice for fellow counterparts in other Pacific islands.
“These tailored products are extremely important for Pacific island countries, and the PICOF is a great opportunity for all Pacific NMHS to come together and share their products, and also discuss the challenges they face in order to hopefully find ways to overcome them together,” said Philip Malsale of SPREP.
Use of social media, staff shortages, the simplification of information, user friendly products, and how to ensure information is understood and valued by stakeholders, were some of the other challenges discussed. Overall, Pacific NMHS agreed there was a strong need for the production of better outlooks for their stakeholders and target audiences, especially in this digital age.
The PICOF-4 Technical Meeting will continue until 12 October, and it brings together Pacific NMHS in order to ensure consistency in the access to, and the interpretation of, climate information for all our Pacific island countries.
One of the key outcomes of the PICOF is a Regional Statement on the state of Pacific regional climate outlook for the next six months, and tropical cyclone outlook for the 2018/19 tropical cyclone season. This climate outlook statement will inform Pacific governments and communities on how to prepare for the risks and impacts associated with the upcoming tropical cyclone and climate seasons.
The PICOF-4 Technical Meeting is being held in Nadi, Fiji from 10 to 12 October, and is coordinated by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) with its Technical Partners, made possible with funding by RESPAC Project through UNDP, COSPPac Project through SPREP & BOM and CREWS Project through WMO and Canada. At the conclusion of this meeting a Using Social & Digital Media Workshop, funded by SPREP with assistance from PACMAS, will be held for participants to assist national Meteorological Offices to better engage and communicate with domestic audiences.
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