Better relaying weather information
14 October, 2018, 5:00 am
SEVERAL Pacific meteorological authorities are changing the way they communicate technical information in order to reach a wider cross section of the community.
Fiji and Solomon Islands meteorologists attending a meeting of regional weather forecasters in Nadi last week presented evidence of concerted efforts they were making to reach more people.
The weather services say users of their media products have expressed a need for information which is easier to read and therefore easier to understand.
While presenting details of the Early Action Rainfall (EAR) Watch Jasneel Chandra, a climate scientist at the Fiji Meteorologic Services described the process of making their weather information products more user friendly.
“There was a lot of feedback from stakeholders that our climate outlook (report) were very technical and there is a need for something that lay people should understand and be able to use,” Mr Chandra said.
“That’s why we are simplifying our climate outlook and designed something that is very easy and not too technical for our customers to understand and make decisions.”
Mr Chandra said the Fiji Met Service sought feedback and found there was a lack of awareness and understanding of seasonal climate outlooks.
Users said the climate outlooks, normally produced monthly by weather services, were very technical and so there was limited understanding of weather and climate jargon.
“The aim of EAR watch is to provide disaster managers (NDMO, Red Cross and NGOs) with a concise and simple monthly bulletin which presents the status of ENSO, status of rainfall in the last 12 months and seasonal rainfall outlook for the upcoming three months,” Mr Chandra said.
The EAR Watch is distributed to three main target audiences which are humanitarian actors, women’s organisations, divisional administrators, key climate sensitive sectors such as farmers, health, energy and water supply and the final target audience is the media.
Max Sitai of the Solomon Met Service described the MalaClim, a monthly bulletin which targets the prevention of Malaria.
Funded by the Climate and Oceans Support Program in the Pacific (COSPPac), the bulletin is researched based.
“It was a collaboration with the Met service and Ministry of Health for the malaria outbreak,” Mr Sitai said.
“We were fortunate that through the COSSPAC programme we got funding for research and from its findings we realised there was a possibility there for a tailored product for a Malaria early warning system.”
Key to the success of the initiative Mr Sita told fellow Pacific meteorologists ,was continuous collaboration that ended up in the designer for tailored product.
“Other ministries and divisions within the ministries also are looking forward to having tailored products,” Mr Sitai said.
“As we all know when we come up with tailored products, research has to come first then we design the products.”
The two were part of a panel discussion at the 4th Pacific Islands Climate Outlook Forum which ended in Nadi over weekend.
PICOF4 is an annual meeting of meteorologists and climate science providers usually held ahead of the Pacific Tropical Cyclone season.
The weather forecasters are currently in a social media skills training program implemented by the South Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) which ends on Monday.
*Lice Movono is a freelance multimedia journalist and a founding member of Pacific Environment Journalists Network.