Professional surfers often know more about the big waves that threaten our coasts than our own Pacific Meteorological Services and communities.
This was a concern raised by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) at the Third Meeting of the Pacific Meteorological Council in Nuku’alofa last week.
“World-class surfers like Kelly Slater have the technology and expert knowledge to track waves days in advance, so they can travel to Pohnpei, Fiji, or Cook Islands in time to catch those waves,” said Jens Kruger, a senior SPC oceanographer.
“Meanwhile, our own Pacific Island coastal communities are often unaware and unprepared when large waves are rolling in, due to the poor telecommunications infrastructure, especially in remote locations,” Mr Kruger said.
SPC called for increased resources for National Meteorological Services to enable them to generate and communicate impact-based early warnings for extreme wave and coastal inundation events, to better protect lives, livelihoods and property in the Pacific Island region.
In response, the Pacific Meteorological Council has agreed with SPC’s recommendation to establish a working group on coastal inundation and marine weather forecasting, to be named the Pacific Islands Marine and Ocean Services (PIMOS) Panel.
The new panel, with about 13 founding members, is composed of several Pacific country and territory governments, Pacific regional organisations, the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) and other experts in oceans and waves. It will investigate options and advise the Pacific Meteorological Council on how best to improve their marine observations, forecasting and early warning in the context of coastal hazards.
The PIMOS Panel is due to meet for the first time and draft a work plan this October at the 1st Regional Pacific Islands Climate Outlook Forum in Suva, Fiji.