Pacific Climate Services Capacity building in cooperation with Pacific Island Country Meteorological Offices and NOAA, a case study in the country of Vanuatu
26th Conference on Climate Variability and Change
Mark L. Morrissey University of Oklahoma
Philip Malsale Vanuatu Meteorological Service
Christopher Fiebrich Oklahoma Climate Survey
Susan E. Postawko, and J. Scott Greene University of Oklahoma
Tropical Pacific climate data are particularly important to the understanding of our climate system as a whole. Most research projects dealing with climate change, whether dynamical or statistical require sufficient and accurate data to reach useful conclusions. For example, since rainfall is a tracer of latent heat, it is vital to the understanding of ocean properties, changes in climate-scale latent and sensible heat flux, salinity changes and attendant local ocean circulation changes all which can lead to enhanced global climate variability. Thus, networks of climate scale observations of, particularly, rainfall in the Pacific region are crucial for climate research. In addition, climate data observations of all types are required from low-lying atolls and islands to augment and conduct verification exercises of nearby TAO/TRITON buoy-mounted meteorological instruments, funded by NOAA's Office of Climate Observations (OCO). Tropical island meteorological climate data is also required for verification work by satellite algorithm programs funded by NASA, NOAA and various international programs.
Our project supports the effort to “build and sustain the global climate observing system that is needed to satisfy the long-term climate observational requirements of the operational climate forecast centers, international research programs, and major scientific assessments”. Our current and future efforts include expanding our mission to collect, analyze, verify and disseminate global rainfall data sets and products deemed useful for Operational Forecast Centers, International Research Programs and individual researchers in their scientific endeavors. Housed at the University of Oklahoma, the Comprehensive Pacific rainfall Database (PACRAIN) and the Schools of the Pacific Rainfall Climate Experiment (SPaRCE) have built upon work from past NOAA-supported projects to become a unique location for scientists to obtain scarce Pacific climate data and to conduct research into climate variability. These data are continually analyzed to produce error-assessed climate products and are easily assessable via our web page (http://pacrain.evac.ou.edu/). We're also actively involved using PACRAIN data in assessing the quality of other NOAA OCO supported projects (e.g. Morrissey et al. 2012).
We will present an update of our latest work with the Vanuatu Meteorological Service which has established an in-country climate network consisting of approximately 88 meteorological observation stations throughout the country. A large percentage of the equipment was donated by the Oklahoma Mesonet, a joint project of the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University. This work demonstrates that given dedicated in-country climate officers a useful, workable and accurate climate network can be set up in Pacific island countries, and maintained and owned by local government agencies, on a relatively low budget through effective collaboration with US state and federally projects.