When rain becomes secondary: the new role of meteorology
As the effects of climate change accelerate and touch every corner of the globe, the world’s meteorological services have been thrust into the limelight and taken on new importance.
Countries are realising just how important their meteorological services are to predict extreme and unseasonable weather events, as the earth warms and sea levels rise.
Outgoing chair of the Pacific Meteorological Council, the Solomon Islands’ Meteorological Service director David Hiba said he has seen changes in his industry since he first started.
“When I started working with the Met Service, the mind-set was on the rain in the sky,” he said.
“We don’t bother about what is happening after the rain hits the ground.
"Now, we are trying to change the mind-set to ‘the role of the met service continues after the rain hits the land.’”
The Met Services, not only in the region but globally are being asked to provide not only the weather forecast for the evening news but also detailed climate predictions for policy and government planning.
Mr. Hiba said his department receives weekly requests for meteorological data, from local and regional organisations.
“This week and last week we have been working with the Japanese Meteorological Agency trying to get a research permit within the Solomon Islands,” he said.
“People are now realising the importance of the services we provide in the region. It’s not only about cyclones, it’s more than that.”
The Pacific Meteorological Council was formed in 2011 and is a body of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Program designed to coordinate meteorological services in the region on shared priorities: climate services, education training and research, marine and oceans services, communications and infrastructure, aviation weather services and most recently, hydrology.
At its fifth council meeting in Samoa, Samoa and French Polynesia were appointed the new chair and vice chair.
Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment Ulu Bismarck Crawley accepted the leadership from outgoing chair Mr. Hiba, who gifted him a traditional Solomon Island's chiefly adornment.
New Caledonia’s Meteo France representative accepted the deputy-chair position from Fiji.
For the next two years, Mr. Hiba hopes the organisation can do more sectoral work, helping all parts of government adapt to climate change and make financially sound policy decisions.
He also wants the council to focus on communication and infrastructure, especially for remote islands and atolls thatwill need emergency communications and early warnings in the event of an extreme weather event.
Samoa will be leading Thursday’s session on communication and infrastructure, which will open with a presentation from council’s panel on the topic.
The American National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (N.O.A.A) will present on Rural Communications using Radio and the Internet (R.A.N.E.T) systems in the Pacific and Samoa’s office of the Regulator will present on the National Emergency Telecommunications Plans.