Oral Presentation AMOS Annual Meeting and International Conference on Tropical Meteorology and Oceanography

Weather and Climate Forecasts – Community Preferences (#31)

Ofa Fa'anunu 1 , Lynda Chambers 2 , Siosinamele Lui 3 , Rossylynn Pulehetoa-Mitiepo 4 , David Hiriasia 5 , Lloyd Tahani 5 , Noel Sanau 5 , Albert Willy 6 , Seluvaia Finaulahi 1 , Falosita Loloa 1 , Roan Plotz 2 7 , Moleni Tu'uholoaki 1
  1. Tonga National Meteorological and Coastal Radio Services, Nukualofa, Tonga
  2. Australian Bureau of Meteorology, Melbourne, VIC, Australia
  3. SPREP, Apia, Samoa
  4. Niue Meteorological Service, Alofi, Niue
  5. Solomon Islands Meteorology Services, Honiara, Solomon Islands
  6. Vanuatu Meteorology and Geo-Hazards Department, Port Vila, Vanuatu
  7. Institute of Sustainable Industries and Liveable Cities, College of Engineering and Science, Victoria University, Melbourne, VIC, Australia

Throughout the Pacific, national meteorological services (NMSs) routinely issue weather and seasonal forecasts and warnings. However, many local communities also have access to forecasts based on observations of their environment, i.e. built on traditional knowledge, and this can influence the uptake of NMS forecasts. To better understand the type of forecast information their communities use, and how this information is received, community surveys were conducted across four Pacific countries (Niue, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu).  Throughout the region, there was a tendency for community members to rely on forecasts based on either traditional knowledge alone or in combination with contemporary (NMS) forecasts. Survey results indicated that when individuals were able to access both forms of forecasts, they tended to only consult the contemporary forecasts when an extreme event, such as a cyclone, was forecast. The lower uptake of contemporary forecasts may be, in part but not entirely, due to ease of access. For example, in more remote communities, it can be difficult for messages from the NMS to reach community members, as communication media, such as internet and radio, are often limited. Therefore, the mechanism used to deliver the forecast can make a difference as to whether it is received and acted upon. However, having access to a forecast is no guarantee that it will be accepted and used. Our study highlights the need for a better understanding of local community forecast usage and shows that the consideration of both contemporary and traditional forecasting systems is likely to lead to more effective risk reduction and community resilience to extreme events.