New computer model strengthens tsunami and climate change planning for Tongatapu
Last Updated on Wednesday, 19 June 2013 15:40
Monday 17 June 2013, Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) – The Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), with Geoscience Australia, has developed a computer model to help the Government of Tonga see what the impact of a tsunami would be on Tongatapu. Part of an AusAID funded project, the model makes use of high resolution data, the collection of which was made possible by Australia, the European Union, and the New Zealand Ocean Sciences Grant.
The new Tsunami Inundation Model shows that an 8.7 magnitude earthquake in the Tonga Trench would create a wave that would hit the eastern coast of Tongatapu within ten to twenty minutes, inundating most of Nuku’alofa. Leveni ‘Aho, Director of Tonga’s National Disaster Management Office, says the new computer model has enabled the Government of Tonga to consider how the public would need to respond in a range of possible scenarios.
‘Nuku’alofa has, perhaps, the biggest urban population in the Pacific living in a very low-lying area. We can talk about Japan’s earthquakes but if we can present something that shows what is going to happen to us here at home, the message is much more effective. For us, it’s an excellent opportunity to help communities to be aware of what could possibly come and what they will need to do if a significant event occurs,’ he says.
After the model was presented to the cabinet and the National Emergency Management Committee, the Hon. Prime Minister Lord Tuʻivakanō indicated that the government would need support to construct access ways to some parts of Nuku’alofa so that the local community can quickly get to safe areas.
Mr ‘Aho says the model is also helping the Government of Tonga to design emergency response measures and improve long-term urban planning for Nuku’alofa and its surrounding villages.‘The tsunami computer model given by SPC has provided the government with a wonderful tool to help us really understand the risks of different scenarios and to prepare in the best ways we can,’ he says.
Mosese Sikivou, Deputy Director of SPC’s Disaster Reduction Programme, says this project is part of SPC’s assistance to Tonga in connection with its Joint National Action Plan for Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Management, approved by Cabinet in July 2010. The work to develop the model is part of an integrated approach that SPC and other partners are taking right across the Pacific to try and maximise scarce resources and minimise duplication of effort and potential conflict in policy development.
SPC divisions collaborate to develop local pilot training tool
Last Updated on Tuesday, 04 June 2013 14:46
Tuesday 3 June 2013, Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) Suva, Fiji – Local pilots play an important role in the safe passage of container ships and other large vessels into and out of Pacific ports. Foreign shipmasters rely on pilots for their local knowledge of depths, currents, locations of wrecks, reefs, navigation aids, and other potential obstacles. And now, updated oceanographic studies of Suva Harbour’s sea floor and currents are being used to localise and improve a computer-simulated training for ships’ pilots in the Pacific region.
A recent collaboration between two divisions – the Economic Development Division (EDD) and the Applied Geoscience and Technology (SOPAC) Division – of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) has produced the first simulation of a Pacific Island port.
According to SPC Shipping Advisor John Rounds, the computerised simulator is a critical training tool because it can test a pilot’s ship-handling competence under a variety of challenging wind and sea conditions without the expenditure and risk of practising on actual vessels. ‘It’s like a blown up computer game,’ he says.
Work to Protect Kiribati’s Vulnerable Coastline Uncovers Potentially Explosive Secrets from Tarawa Lagoon
Last Updated on Thursday, 23 May 2013 08:52
16 April 2013 - A survey of the South Tarawa lagoon has revealed some potentially explosive secrets from its past as one of the major battlegrounds of WWII. The survey was designed to identify battle debris that still litters the floor of the lagoon seventy years after the infamous Battle of Tarawa in 1943.
Funded by the New Zealand Regional Ocean Sciences Grant, the survey was undertaken as part of the Government’s work to reduce the atoll’s damaging reliance on beach mining by identifying potential sources of construction aggregate on the floor of the Tarawa Lagoon. The widespread practice of beach mining has been weakening the atoll’s vulnerable shoreline along with Government efforts to protect communities from the worsening impacts of climate change and rising sea levels.
The Government turned to SOPAC, the region’s Applied Geoscience & Technology Division of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, for guidance on safe methods to dredge an alternative source of sand and gravel from Tarawa’s southern lagoon. Before dredging can begin, as part of the European-Union funded Environmentally Safe Aggregate for Tarawa (ESAT) project, SOPAC first needed to identify any potential problems that might be posed by any unidentified and unexploded ordnance.
During WWII, the islands of Kiribati saw some of the Pacific’s bloodiest encounters. From 20-24 November 1943, an invasion flotilla of 18,000 US Naval and Marine Corps troops attacked the fortified Japanese garrison on Betio in Southern Tarawa. The 4,600 Japanese defenders fought almost to the last man, and more than 1,000 Americans lost their lives.
SOPAC’s Survey Leader, Geophysicist Robert Smith, is still analysing the data but he has already identified two previously unknown vessel wrecks and unearthed numerous artillery remnants. Of the vessels, Smith says, “These may be sunken Higgins boats, which would have carried 20-30 marines each.” The US government has already expressed a keen interest in Smith’s findings.
Interest in deep sea mining grows in the Pacific
Last Updated on Wednesday, 03 April 2013 12:32
Pacific countries are being urged to protect their deep sea mineral resources as commercial interest rapidly grows in the region.
One company is planning to undertake the world's first deep sea mining project in Papua New Guinea and there's growing interest elsewhere.
Jonathan Lowe from Nautilus Minerals told ONE News their initial focus is on copper, gold, zinc and silver.
However extracting it from 1-2 kilometres below sea level, has always been the issue - until now.
Commercial groups are currently starting to sign up exploration licences around the region and Pacific governments are being urged to protect themselves and negotiate the best deal with interested companies
"They are making heavy investments. They are going to push very hard to get as much of the proceeds as possible," said Dr Jimmie Rodgers, Director of General South Pacific Community.
"Governments need to be very clear on what it is they want to get out of this. They have to have definite milestones that are not negotiable."
The Prospect - Issue 1: May 2013
Last Updated on Wednesday, 19 June 2013 15:15
Welcome to the first newsletter from the SPC-EU Pacific Deep Sea.
The SPC-EU Pacific Deep Sea Minerals Project is helping Pacific Island countries to improve the governance and management their deep-sea minerals resources. The Project is helping the countries to improve legal frameworks, increase technical capacity and to develop effective monitoring systems.
The Pacific Deep Sea Minerals Project is funded by the European Union and managed by SOPAC, the Applied Geoscience & Technology Division of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, on behalf of 15 Pacific Island Countries: the Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Timor Leste, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.
The 4-year (2011-2014) SPC-EU Pacific Deep Sea Minerals Project is the first major initiative designed to regulate this new activity in a coordinated way within the Pacific Region. The national €4.4 million governments EU-funded develop project the is designed legal, fiscal to help and environment management frameworks needed to ensure that any exploitation of deep sea minerals will directly support national economic development while also minimizing any negative impacts on the environment and local communities.
In This Issue:
- Tonga Workshop Builds Vital Contract Negotiation Skills
- SPC Director, Dr Jimmie Rodgers talks Deep Sea Minerals
- Tonga Workshop Highlights Need for Greater Integration between Government & Civil Society Organisations
- Staff Profile: Akuila Tawake
- Project Highlights
- Upcoming Events
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SOPAC Awarded 2013 DigitalGlobe Asia Pacific Innovation Trophy
Last Updated on Thursday, 23 May 2013 10:45
Tuesday, 21, May, 2013 - The Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) accepted the 2013 DigitalGlobe (Asia Pacific) APAC Innovation Award. This award is recognition of the systems and approaches SPC has taken in the adoption and introduction of DigitalGlobe imagery.
SPC has taken the raw imagery and applied the world class enhancement techniques that allow for users in Pacific Island Countries to utilize the images for climate change, food security, forestry and land management.
The image enhancement takes the special conditions of the Pacific environment into consideration. Products now include correction for humidity, haze and other atmospheric conditions. This improves the confidence in the information derived from the image data.
The award (see photo) was presented to Deputy Director General Fekitamoeloa K. ‘Utoikamanu in the Nabua SPC office in Suva, Fiji. “This has been a real stepping stone to improving the service to the Pacific Island Countries. Already we are seeing economic and social benefits and I am looking forward to these benefits being realised throughout the Pacific and a closer partnership with DigitalGlobe”, said DDG Fekitamoeloa.
Caption (L-R): Wolf Forstreuter, Senior GIS Specialist, SPC Deputy Director General Fekitamoeloa K. ‘Utoikamanu, Peter Kinne (DigitalGlobe)
Pacific Islands GIS/RS Newsletter, March 2013
Last Updated on Thursday, 04 April 2013 12:25
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World Water Day 2013 - Building water partnerships for the Pacific Island Countries and Territories
Last Updated on Thursday, 21 March 2013 15:54
Suva, 22 March 2013: The Pacific joins the rest of the world today in celebrating World Water Day 2013 in a spirit of cooperation and partnership. This occasion provides a moment to reflect on our precious water resources and on our role in their management and protection.
World Water Day is celebrated on 22 March each year to help focus the world’s attention on water and sanitation. This year is also the International Year of Water Cooperation –the global theme for World Water Day this year. This theme has enormous significance for the Pacific, a region where water management is a critical development issue with profound implications for economic growth, human rights, public health and the environment. To put the scale of the issue in context, it has been estimated by UNICEF and WHO that little more than half the population of our region has access to improved drinking water and sanitation.
The Pacific theme for World Water Day is Building Water Partnerships for the Pacific Island Countries and Territories. Water issues and concerns, such as the inequitable distribution and unsustainable use of water resources, cross many boundaries, communities and levels of governance. Furthermore, resource management in the Pacific also needs to account for traditional and cultural approaches often tied closely to land and nearshore coastal area management. These approaches also extend to the management of water and sanitation. Navigating through all this can be challenging and achieving any lasting success requires effective cooperation between multiple actors across many levels.
Dr Jimmie Rodgers, Director-General of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), said that cooperation is crucial not only to ensure the sustainable and equitable distribution of water but also to foster and maintain peaceful relations within and among communities. He further reinforced the need to strengthen water partnerships already in place across the region to help secure safe water and sanitation for all.