Climate Change Resilience

24 May 2019, Rarotonga, Cook Islands - SCOPIC is a common term heard when mixing within Meteorological circles, yet given its crucial role in how we plan our lives, it should be one that is common amongst many Pacific communities.

The Seasonal Climate Outlook for Pacific Island Countries (SCOPIC) is a software that was developed by Australian Bureau of Meteorology to provide Pacific island nations with an accessible, stand-alone seasonal climate prediction system. It is a decision support tool which generates seasonal outlooks for rainfall, temperature or other climate factors. 

It uses a statistical method to determine forecast probabilities based on historic data and for the Pacific it focusses specifically on rainfall.  The software is used by 11 Pacific island Meteorological Services, to provide information such as rainfall forecasts that is then shared through a range of products such as the Climate Outlook Bulletin.

This is where the SCOPIC is of particular relevance to our Pacific island communities and people.

“The National Meteorological Services take the information and data provided by SCOPIC to generate forecasts for the next three and six months to the  climate outlook bulletin,” said Ms Azarel Maiai the Climate and Ocean Support Program in the Pacific (COSPPac) Capacity Development Officer at the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP).

“It helps to inform decisions, say for example the agriculture sector will use the climate bulletin to inform the local farmers  of the likely climate in the coming three months. This will consequently lead to farmers to plan their harvesting or planting if they are expecting above normal rainfall or or start preparing irrigation support if less rainfall is predicted.  SPREP supports National Meteorological Services to tailor this information so that it is relevant and useful for different sectors and stakeholders.”

The Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), through the COSPPac project has supported the installation and training on SCOPIC, helping to make it available in 11 different Met Services across the Pacific islands region – Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

Regular technical training support is provided for these Met Services to enhance their use of the SCOPIC, as is communications training to assist the Met Services in developing national climate bulletins.  SPREP also helps to develop a Pacific wide climate outlook bulletin in collaboration with Bureau of Meteorology.
“SCOPIC became a part of the Pacific Met Services in the early 2000’s and is still the main statistical forecasting platform for the Pacific,” said Mr Philip Malsale, Climatologist of SPREP.

“Before this we had to seek information from outside sources, with the SCOPIC we are now able to provide this information ourselves in our own Pacific Met Services in a wide variety of ways – through graphs, scatter plots and statistical analyses for example.  We continue to look forward to strengthening the SCOPIC and the support it provides our Pacific communities.”

In the last 12 months SPREP and Bureau of Meteorology provided support for SCOPIC Drought monitoring training in in the Cook Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

It provides climate forecasts which are those for a longer time period, as opposed to weather forecasts which are within a one week period and while the SCOPIC is used for information on rainfall, temperature and other climate information in the Pacific, it is possible to expand this to other specific needs or information required.

The opportunities for SCOPIC supporting Pacific island communities to prepare and enhance resilience are vast.

“We are hopeful the SCOPIC will be expanded to all our Pacific island Met Services as we strive to ensure the information generated from SCOPIC will be communicated and shared to our Pacific communities in a way that is effective and helpful – through our Climate Outlook Bulletins,” said Mr Malsale.

“If you haven’t seen them yet, we highly recommend that you subscribe to those developed by your national Met service!”

An update on the SCOPIC work undertaken by SPREP was presented during the COSPPac2 Annual Program Performance Review and Planning Meeting hosted in Rarotonga, the Cook Islands from 22 – 24 May, 2019.

For further information on the SCOPIC or Climate Outlook Bulletin please email Philip Malsale at [email protected]

For further information on the Climate Bulletin please email Azarel Maiai at azarelm@sprep