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The Seventh Pacific Island Climate Outlook Forum (PICOF-7) was held virtually last week bringing together Pacific meteorological services, technical institutions, media and stakeholders from around the Pacific region and the world to review the climate and ocean observations of the last six months, and discuss the model outlooks for the next three to six months.
PICOFs have been held annually in the Pacific since 2015 and are traditionally convened in October to coincide with the beginning of the southwest Pacific tropical cyclone and tropical north Pacific dry season. However, a recent review found that one PICOF a year is not sufficient to provide much needed information on the state of the climate.
As a result, the Pacific Islands Climate Services (PICS) panel of the Pacific Meteorological Council (PMC) agreed to convene two PICOFs in 2020 – the first of which was conducted in April this year.
The current Chair of PMC, the Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of Samoa, Ulu Bismarck Crawley, delivered the keynote address to officially open the two-day meeting.
“This year is unique as we struggle with the COVID-19 pandemic, but we must also ensure that we continue our services to our stakeholders and communities. That is why this forum is organised virtually so that we continue to inform our Pacific peoples of looming extreme events such as the La Niña which has been declared, coupled with the Southern Pacific countries now entering into the Tropical Cyclones Season next week (November),” said Ulu.
Over the past few weeks, scientific organisations such as the Australia Bureau of Meteorology , the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) in New Zealand, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the United States and APEC Climate Centre declared the La Niña in the Pacific.
“The PICOF provides a platform for technical institutes and Pacific meteorological services to share information about the La Niña, tropical cyclones, and its likely impacts, and subsequently communicate this information through the assistance of the media to reach the last mile,” Ulu added.
Tagaloa Cooper, Director of SPREP’s Climate Change Resilience programme acknowledged the work of the Pacific Island Climate Services (PICS) panel members who organised the event and commended the Co-Chairs for their stewardship.
“On this note, I would like to also acknowledge the contribution of the former Chair of the PICS panel, Dr Andrew Tait, who has provided great leadership in this panel since it was established. Dr Tait is with us virtually this morning and I would like to acknowledge his presence and recognise his work in climate services in the Pacific,” Cooper said.
Dr Tait, who is now the Chief Scientist at the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) in New Zealand, received the Outstanding Individual Award for his role as the first Chairman of the PICS Panel from 2014 – 2019, and for championing various activities in the region, including the establishment of the first Pacific Island Regional Climate Centre and the PICOF to name a few.
A recognition award was also presented to Ulu Bismarck, to acknowledge his chairmanship of the PMC from 2019-2020.
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