Australian climatologist helps the Pacific assess climate change

APIA, Samoa — A climatologist from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, Professor Yuriy Kuleshov is visiting Apia to take forward work on climate change in collaboration with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment.


He is the leader of an international team of scientists developing seasonal climate prediction capability for the Pacific region.


According to Professor Kuleshov, “Climate change is one of the biggest problems faced by humanity.  Urgent adaptation measures to climate change are required to address issues of warming temperatures, rising sea levels and increasing frequency of climate extremes such as floods and droughts”.


Thanks to the Australian Government’s “International Climate Change Adaptation Initiative”, the first comprehensive scientific report on the Pacific’s climate was published in 2011. The report, which brought together research by Australian science agencies and National Meteorological Services across the Pacific, included a chapter on Samoa’s past, current and likely future climate.


To complement the report, a range of web-based information tools are now in place.  These web tools, freely available on the internet, make climate projections more accessible and applicable to specific risk assessments in Pacific island countries.


At present, climate science and adaption policy for the region is being taken forward by the Pacific-Australia Climate Change Science and Adaptation Planning Program (PACCSAP).


“PACCSAP is a key part of Australia’s International Climate Change Adaptation Initiative. This initiative, to a cost of A$328.2 million over five years, is helping the most vulnerable countries adapt effectively to climate change impacts”, said Dr Stephen Henningham, the Australian High Commissioner to Samoa.


Professor Kuleshov and his team have developed a seasonal climate prediction model for Pacific Island Countries, including Samoa.  The model is based on the state-of-the-art dynamical climate model POAMA (Predictive Ocean Atmosphere Model for Australia).


Climate scientists are able to use data from this new and sophisticated Pacific model to predict rainfall, atmospheric and ocean temperatures three to six months ahead for the coming season.  The National Meteorological Services in 15 countries in the Pacific can now use this information to prepare monthly seasonal climate outlooks.

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