Thirteenth Pacific Islands Climate Outlook Forum focusses on food security as Pacific braces for El Niño

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105 participants representing seventeen Pacific Islands convened the thirteenth Pacific Islands Climate Outlook Forum (PICOF-13), which was centred on the theme of ‘Improving food security in the Pacific with customised climate services.’

The PICOF-13 enabled the region’s National Meteorological and Hydrometeorological Services (NMHSs) to present and discuss monthly and the 2023/2024 seasonal climate, as well as present the ocean and tropical cyclone outlooks.

It presented the opportunity for the meteorological (met)community to discuss and determine how monthly and seasonal outlooks are produced in terms of accuracy, utility, weaknesses and strengths. NMHSs were also able to discuss how they’re accessing and assessing the available guidance, making them nationally relevant, tailoring the outlooks for specific end users and disseminating them.

During the forum, it was reported as of October 2023, the Pacific Regional Climate Centre ENSO Tracker indicated that the Pacific is experiencing an El Niño event (APCC, BoM, NIWA, and NOAA).

The PICOF-13 was a platform used by the met community and representatives from the agriculture and fisheries sector to discuss the potential impacts of El Niño on food security, and further explore how information from NMHSs could be packaged to better inform the wider community.

Droughts, increase in pests and diseases (for both livestock and human health), migration of fishes, coral bleaching and saltwater intrusion were identified as just some of the potential adverse impacts that would be experienced across the Pacific as a result of El Niño.

Opening the event, Salesa Nihmei, the Meteorology and Climatology Advisor of the Secretariat for the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) said: “In the Pacific, we are all fishers and farmers. It is crucial that we come out of this meeting with information that we all can understand, and use to make decisions to ensure food security, especially since we are nearing the traditional cyclone season.”

An initiative of the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), this forum brought together national, regional and international climate experts, on an operational basis, to produce regional climate outlooks based on climate predictions. By bringing together countries with common climatological characteristics, the forum ensures consistency in the access to, and the interpretation of, climate information.

PICOF-13 is a joint event supported by the EU-funded Intra-ACP Climate Services and Related Applications Programme (Intra-ACP ClimSA) SPREP and the Australian and New Zealand Aid funded Climate and Ocean Support Programme in the Pacific (COSPPac).

SOURCE: SPREP/PACNEWS