Fifth Symposium on Policy and Socio-economic Research
Second AMS Conference on International Cooperation in the Earth System Sciences and Services


Ua afa le aso; stormy weather today; traditional ecological knowledge of weather and climate forecasting, the samoa experience

Penehuro Fatu Lefale, MetService New Zealand, Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand

This paper examines traditional ecological knowledge of weather and climate in Samoa, a Polynesian community in the South Pacific. The research found Samoans have their own unique seasonal calendar. The Samoan seasonal calendar is predominantly based on the observations of local environmental changes, which are in turn influenced by weather and climate. Monitoring changes in plants and animal behaviour, for example, are key indicators used by the Samoans to forecast changes in weather and climate. In addition, their communal and family social activities like hunting, fishing and feasting are driven by the seasonal calendar. The Samoans knowledge of cloud formation, conditions conducive to the formation and onset of severe weather systems and seasonal changes in climate, helped them anticipate, plan and adapt to extreme weather and climate events. The ability and knowledge of the Samoans to forecast the onset of extreme weather and climate events, relying predominantly on local environmental changes are vital tools that should be incorporated in the formulation of human induced climate change adaptation strategies.

Joint Session 10, Ways of Knowing: Traditional Knowledge as a Key Insight for Dealing with a Changing Climate I
Tuesday, 19 January 2010, 3:30 PM-5:30 PM, B213

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