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Pacific Islands Climate Outlook Forum

Pacific Islands Climate Outlook Forum focuses on strong El Niño event and regional impacts to the freshwater sector

The Pacific RISA participated in the first session of the Pacific Islands Climate Outlook Forum (PICOF-1) that was held from October 12-16, 2015 in Suva, Fiji, with a special focus on the water resources management sectors of the Pacific islands region. Co-sponsored by the Secretariat of Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), NOAA, and more, the PICOF was hosted by the University of the South Pacific in Suva to bring together national, regional, and international experts on climate services and the water management sector.

Special focus was on what has now been classified as a “strong” El Niño event for the remainder of 2015 and into 2016, which is anticipated to bring drought and shifting sea levels throughout much of the Pacific islands region. Some of the main impacts are:

  • Frequency of tropical cyclones is above normal. Islands in Micronesia in particular will have a one in three likelihood of experiencing high winds, large waves, and/or extreme rain due to a typhoon.
  • Below normal rainfall is anticipated, with drought persistence and expansion to continue into next year
  • Sea levels in the western Pacific will be below or well below normal, and may even continue to fall in the coming weeks
  • Higher than normal sea surface temperatures and coral bleaching events are widely reported, and low sea levels further increase coral bleaching

Country and territory-level outlooks were presented to illustrate the diverse needs that different islands and regions of the Pacific face when it comes to linking forecasts and sectoral response in a timely and adequate manner. Participants in the Forum explored common approaches and best practices for applying climate information to the water sector that can be extended throughout the entire region. By timing the Forum in October, which normally marks a transition into a drier period for the northern Pacific islands and the start of the tropical cyclone season for the southern Pacific, the Forum provided an ideal setting for contrasting north-south features and highlighting opportunities for the different sub-regions. Other Regional Climate Outlook Forums are organized by the WMO to engage climate scientists and researchers with socio-economic sectors and managers to discuss what climate information means in practice, encouraging greater interaction and learning among information providers and the end users.

 

For more information on the Regional Climate Outlook Forums, click HERE

 

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