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Suva, Fiji Islands

Press Release October 19, 1999



A Regional Workshop for Water Managers, Disaster Managers and Meteorological Services on ENSO (El Niño Southern Oscillation) Response and Mitigation Planning is being held October 19-23 at the Tanoa Hotel in Nadi, Fiji Islands.


Water system managers, disaster managers, and meteorological service staff from throughout the Pacific Islands region are meeting in Nadi to assess the value of climate forecast information to reduce the impact of natural disasters in the Pacific Islands.

The South Pacific Applied Geoscience Commission (SOPAC) is hosting the workshop and the funding for the workshop is being provided by the United Kingdom through the British High Commission to Fiji, the UN Environment Programme and the U.S. Global Program of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The workshop is building on recent advances in climate forecast capability developed at universities and research centers in the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, France, the UK and other countries in the past decade, and the experience of the Pacific ENSO (El Niño Southern Oscillation) Applications Center based in Hawai‘i and Guam that issued experimental forecasts to the U.S. affiliated Pacific Islands during the 1997-1998 El Niño.

It is also building on pilot projects in Fiji and Tonga to assess the impact of the 1997-1998 droughts and identify strategies for reducing the impact of future droughts.

The workshop being held in Nadi this week will introduce national water managers, disaster managers, and meteorological services to the use of climate information and ENSO forecasting in developing response and mitigation plans reduce the impact of future droughts in the Pacific Region.

The workshop will result in:

§ Assessment of climate variability impacts on water resources;

§ Identification of users of climate forecasts and recognition of their needs;

§ Identification of adaptation and mitigation strategies;

§ Strengthening of links between the producers and users of climate information.

For further information contact the South Pacific Applied Geoscience Commission workshop office at the Tanoa International Hotel in Nadi: TEL: (679) 725-702.

The program will include:

§ An introduction to ENSO cycles and the climate impacts of ENSO events in the Pacific Islands. Resource people from the Pacific ENSO Applications Center (PEAC) and NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center (CPC) will present education and briefing materials on climate cycles and climate forecasting;

§ Methods for conducting assessments of the impacts of storms and droughts associated with ENSO illustrated by case studies from the U.S. affiliated islands and Fiji;

§ An overview of ENSO forecast information currently available for the Pacific Islands, from PEAC, U.S. Climate Prediction Center, the International Research Institute for Climate Prediction (IRI), and other sources.

§ Methods for using climate analysis to anticipate the timing and intensity of droughts associated with ENSO events. Climate analysis currently being done by WERI will be presented;

§ Procedures for developing ENSO response plans and long-term mitigation plans. Working groups on climate forecasting, drought response, and water management will identify information resources and requirements to deal with an ENSO-associated drought.

The Workshop brings together three distinct groups who each have well-established arrangements for regional collaboration.

Water Resource managers are served by SOPAC's Water Resources Unit and meet as part of the Water, Sanitation and Energy Working Group of SOPAC's Science, Technology and Resources Network (STAR).

Disaster Management is coordinated through the South Pacific Disaster Reduction Programme administered by SOPAC's Disaster Management Unit.

Meteorological Services within the region coordinate their activities through the SPREP annual meetings of Regional Meteorological Services Directors under the auspices of WMO.

To be most productive the Workshop will require a blending of these various networks.

The Workshop will be held in conjunction with SOPAC's 1999 Annual Session. This year the STAR meeting will focus on the theme "Natural Hazards: Scientific Understanding, Assessment and Mitigation Planning."

The final day of the Workshop will include a joint session with STAR on El Niño impacts to be followed by a session to report on the outcomes and recommendations. Where appropriate these will be reported to the SOPAC Annual Session or referred to another appropriate body.

For more information, contact: Dr. Russell Howorth ENSO Regional Workshop Tanoa Hotel Nadi, Fiji Islands TEL: (679) 725-702

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