Pacific weather forecasters turn to social media

Tuvaluan and Samoan meteorologists work on graphic designs for their social media platform during the SPREP Social Media training event conducted by David Bathur. Picture: SUPPLIED/PEJN

WEATHER information must be made simple because every member of the community has to understand it and yet it must also contain official jargon which retains credibility.

Representatives from 15 meteorologic authorities in the Pacific islands are grappling with this and other communications dilemma at a training event currently taking place in Nadi.

Organised by the South Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), the event equips pacific met officers with skills which will turn their communications efforts onto social media.

The two day training is part of a larger regional meeting of climate scientists and meteorologists who form the Pacific Islands Climate Outlook Forum (PICOF).

The PICOF which ended Friday is normally held ahead of the tropical cyclone which begins next month.

Given the impact that climate change is expected to have on the severity of cyclones in the region, meteorologic services Pacific wide have been the subject of several SPREP initiatives funded by a range of international partners, to improve disaster preparedness in the islands.

“There will be a lot of barriers that you will find and encounter in your work as meteorologists and often you will have to walk a fine line in the language you use,” Mr Bathur told participants.

During the two day media skills training portion of the PICOF, meteorologists and in the case of Fiji, communications officers have learnt the basics of each social media platform used in the Pacific.

While a large part of the training programme involved basic use of social media, the participants are also exploring the influence of each platform and how widely used they are in the region.

In addition, Mr Bathur is giving the weather forecasters a crash course in graphics design so weather communications will include infographics which are better understood by the public.

The public can expect more dynamic media content in the coming weeks as each country represented at event is expected to produce media products.

Each Met services must produce a country specific press release social media graphics which detail how current weather systems and expected events will impact their countries.

SPREP hopes the training program will improve media engagement between the Met Service and the public.

More Stories