Climate Watch

Significant Decline In Pacific Island Climate Data And Metadata

Experts at the launch highlighted that unless urgent action is taken, data availability will continue to decline and limit their ability to understand the Pacific specifically in climate change.
06 Feb 2023 10:34
Significant Decline In Pacific Island Climate Data And Metadata
Pacific Community (SPC) and Fiji Meteorological Service team marking the launch of the report. (From L-R) Molly Powers-Tora (SPC), Bipen Prakash (FMS), Terry Atalifo (FMS), Merana Kitione (SPC), Zulfikar Begg (SPC), Nileshni Maharaj (SPC), Arieta Baleisolomone (FMS), Ana Degei (FMS) and Salesh Kumar (SPC). Photo: Fiji Met Service

Climate experts have noted a significant decline in the availability of high quality Pacific Island data and metadata.

This was revealed during the virtual launch of the Climate Change in the Pacific 2022: Historical and Recent Variability, Extremes and Change Report on Wednesday.

Though the analysis is limited geographically and historically, the findings do not compromise the quality of the 2022 report.

Experts at the launch highlighted that unless urgent action is taken, data availability will continue to decline and limit their ability to understand the Pacific specifically in climate change.



The report was launched and hosted by the Climate and Oceans Support Program (COSPPac) of the Pacific Community (SPC).

COSPPac’s Technical Science Lead, Dr Simon McGree said understanding and adapting to climate change in the Pacific requires being able to differentiate between climate variability and long-term change.

“It is being able to correctly attribute extreme events to climate variability or anthropogenic climate change,” Dr McGree said.

He is also a coordinating lead author of the report to which the report provides climate change science information for the region and individual Pacific Island countries or territories.

It also highlights the regional summary of rainfall records, air temperature, tropical cyclones, sea (ocean) surface temperature, sea level, ocean waves and extreme ocean waves.



The Fiji Meteorological Service (FMS) role is to observe and understand regional weather, Fiji’s climate and hydrological patterns, and provide meteorological and hydrological services in support of the wellbeing of communities, economic growth, environmental sustainability and international obligations.

With the report being launched, it places the department in a spot to highlight the challenges currently faced by national meteorological services around the region.

FMS Acting Director, Terry Atalifo acknowledged the efforts of stakeholders in compiling such a report to benefit national climate departments around the region.

He said one of the real challenges faced across national meteorological services is to maintain the quality of data available and produce it in a timely report.

Fiji Meteorological Services Acting Director, Terry Atalifo. Photo: Fiji Met Service

“I think the biggest challenge was to convince our own governments to invest a lot more in the data space and to showcase to them the value of investments in the nation’s meteorological services,” Mr Atalifo said.

“One thing that we at Fiji Met service has been trying to do is to provide better services so that the government can use those services to make key decisions, and therefore understand the value of the national service.”

He added that writing scientific reports was also a challenge that needed more investment and improvement.

“I like to put forth to this forum to not only to provide scientific reports at a regional level, but I suggest we, come down to the national level and support this national met services, so that they can sell their case better to their own governments, so that their governments can invest a little bit more to be able to sustain scientific report in the future,” he said.



Coordinator Applied Ocean Science at the Pacific Community (SPC), Zulfikar Begg said having up-to-date observed and projected changes in Pacific climate and ocean information readily available is vital in their line of work.

“We note the demand from Pacific countries for National State of Climate reports to be a priority and be regularly produced,” Mr Begg said.

As one of the lead authors of the report, Mr Begg and his team echoed a regional call for the international community to increase support and assistance for Pacific-led science-based initiatives.

These initiatives were intended to improve the understanding of risk, vulnerability and capacity-building support for evidence-based decision-making and project development.

This report complements existing Pacific climate change science reports such as the: 

  • IPCC Sixth Assessment Report, Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis, and World (2021)
  • WMO RA-V Pacific Regional Climate Centre Network Pacific Climate Change Monitor: 2021 (2022)
  • CSIRO/SPREP Next Generation Climate Projections for the Western Tropical Pacific country reports (2021)

COSPPac Climate Change in the Pacific 2022 Report.



With a population of approximately 885,000, changes in air temperature from season to season are relatively small and strongly linked to changes in the surrounding ocean temperature.

According to the report, under the Climate summary, the number of severe tropical cyclones has declined over the same period and region in the Southwest Pacific since 1981/82.

It also recorded that the ocean temperature by the Lautoka tide-gauge from 1002 to 2021 reached on average a mazimum of approximately 30 degrees Celsius from December to March.

However, individual months have risen to as high as 32 degrees Celsius.

Also, Fiji has been experiencing semidiurnal tidal cycle. Meaning two high and two low tides per day. This too is evidence that the sea level threshold of 2.39m has exceeded per month across the entire sea level records in Lautoka.

With this, waves have changed from year to year with climate oscillations.



It is an Australian-Aid-funded programme, COSPPac aims to enhance the capacity of Pacific Islands to manage and mitigate the impacts of climate variability and tidal events.

They work with stakeholders to build tools that can forecast and report on climate, tides and the ocean and help determine how best to communicate this information to Pacific communities, businesses and governments.



The report has country-specific chapters for the:

  • Cook Islands
  • Federated States of Micronesia
  • Fiji
  • Kiribati
  • Marshall Islands
  • Nauru
  • Niue
  • Palau
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Samoa
  • Solomon Islands
  • Tokelau
  • Tonga
  • Tuvalu
  • Vanuatu


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