Source: Japan International Cooperation Agency
Weather observation began in Nauru, an island country in the South Pacific, on Dec. 22, 2018. The moment observation data was reported around the world through the telecommunications network of the World Meteorological Organization, applause broke out in the Nauru Meteorological and Hydrological Service. Graymea Ika of the meteorological service renewed his determination to “take on the responsibility of the country’s weather service.”
Graymea Ika of the Nauru Meteorological and Hydrological Service checks a rain gauge installed there.
Mr. Ika is the first Nauru Meteorological and Hydrological Service employee to acquire skills and knowledge for weather observation through a JICA project to develop meteorological human resources in Oceania.
This project, which ended in December 2018, is expected to not only strengthen meteorological services in Oceania, including Nauru, but also to lead to more reliable weather forecasts on a global scale, including in Japan. It is also expected to facilitate climate change countermeasures and preparations for climate disasters in countries throughout the world.
Filling in the gaps of data-sparse areas
For four years beginning in 2014, JICA worked to educate meteorological personnel in ten countries in Oceania with the Fiji Meteorological Service (FMS) as a base. While carrying out the observation works with limited budget and manpower, national weather services in this region are faced with the lack of skills and experience. Project Chief Advisor Koji Kuroiwa, a JICA expert, said the following about Nauru, the only country that lacked a meteorological service: “Though the government wanted to begin meteorological work as awareness grew of the need to address climate change, it lacked expertise and human resources and had to start from scratch.” For some 30 years, Mr. Kuroiwa has been involved in improving weather observation and forecasting systems and developing meteorological human resources in Oceania, including Fiji.
Based in Fiji, the project is supporting the development of meteorological human resources in Fiji, Kiribati, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Nauru, Tonga, Niue, the Cook Islands, Samoa and the Solomon Islands (the area in green).
Researching observation methods used at the Fiji Meteorological Service
Mr. Graymea Ika, who was appointed an employee of the Nauru Meteorological and Hydrological Service by the government of Nauru, has participated in almost all training put on at the service. He learned about various meteorological work such as weather analysis and forecasting, and observation of atmospheric pressure, temperature and humidity using world-standard equipment.
Accumulating fine-grained weather-observation data in Nauru will not only serve as a preparation for disasters and climate change, it will also lead to improved agricultural productivity through the prediction of appropriate crop planting times.
Moreover, there are no national borders when it comes to weather phenomena. National meteorological services cannot perform weather forecasting without collecting and analyzing observation data from across the world. The more accurate observations there are, the more reliable the forecasts. Oceania, which is made up mostly of ocean, has been considered one of the most data-sparse regions. The beginning of weather observation in Oceania and Nauru will improve forecasting and warnings, and by strengthening meteorological work in the region, it will make possible the provision of meteorological information to improve the safety of aviation and shipping.
Fiji plays an important role as a base for weather observation and forecasting in Oceania
The main building of the Fiji Meteorological Service, which was built with Japanese assistance
This project focuses on improving the meteorological service of target countries and also has an objective of strengthening the training function of the FMS to serve as a base for capacity development activities in this region. In the second half of this project, employees of the FMS will be in charge of most training to meet the needs of participating countries. Sajiva Sharma of the Fiji Meteorological Service gave technical instruction in Nauru for the launch of weather observation. “Being able to contribute to the launch of another country’s meteorological service gave the FMS a lot of confidence,” he said proudly. Mr. Sharma also worked with JICA experts to prepare curricula and educational materials.
JICA Expert Koji Kuroiwa, left, gives instruction in weather satellite analysis at the Fiji Meteorological Service.
Looking back on the four-year project, Mr. Kuroiwa said that not a few donor agencies and countries approach Fiji Meteorological Service for collaboration in Oceania, which proves that it is increasingly recognized in the global meteorological community. “Oceania is an extremely important region for the prediction of weather and climate on a global scale. The importance of developing meteorological human resources in the countries of Oceania grows year by year to catch up with the rapid progress of the international observation network and the increasing sophistication of observation technology,” he added.
Conscientious human resource training of the sort Japanese assistance makes possible
A JICA expert, left, gives instruction in analytical
methods at the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration.
To date, JICA has carried out meteorological assistance in Oceania countries including the Philippines, Myanmar, Vietnam and Mauritius, for both hard infrastructure, such as installing weather radar, and soft infrastructure, including the training of weather forecasters.
“JICA’s assistance is characterized by in-depth investigation of the needs and situations of developing countries, prescribing the optimal equipment and technology, and long-term, direct instruction in the field by technicians with the cooperation of the Japan Meteorological Agency,” said JICA Senior Advisor Kunio Akatsu, who is responsible for the meteorological field at JICA.
Japan is one of the leading countries in predicting weather and climate. Japan’s meteorological assistance is steadily growing with its state-of-the-art technology as demonstrated by the Japan Meteorological Agency’s meteorological satellite Himawari, which provides essential data for meteorological services of many developing countries.