Climate change information can be complex and difficult to access
Pacific island nations are among the most vulnerable to our changing climate, with many already experiencing higher temperatures, shifts in rainfall patterns, rising sea levels and changes in the frequency and intensity of extreme climate events. Further changes on top of an existing, naturally variable climate are expected long into the future because of global warming.
These changes in the climate have far-reaching consequences that will affect communities and the built and natural environment.
While there is credible scientific information available about climate change in the Pacific, applying the information to decision-making for sectors including health, infrastructure, water, energy, tourism, food (fisheries, agriculture) and natural resources (forestry, biodiversity) is not straightforward. As a result, climate change information can be used incorrectly in decision making, if it is used at all.
A framework for finding and applying climate change information
In the Pacific, national meteorological and hydrological services are one of the key providers of climate change services on behalf of local stakeholders.
We prepared guidelines to assist the national meteorological services to jointly undertake climate change impact and risk assessments with their sector-based stakeholders. The guidelines broadly outline steps for identifying, developing and applying climate change information as part of a staged risk assessment process, and provide advice and resources for undertaking each step.
We also worked with the Solomon Islands Meteorological Service and Ministry for Agriculture and Livestock to use the guidelines to conduct a rapid assessment of future climate change on the cocoa industry on the Guadalcanal Plain. As well as providing important information for Guadalcanal Plain cocoa farmers, this assessment serves as a useful demonstration of the process to apply climate change information in real-world settings.
Climate-smart sectoral decision-making
Together with existing climate change science knowledge and products developed by the Pacific-Australia Climate Change Science and Adaptation Planning program, the guidelines are a key resource for Pacific adaptation planning.
By providing national meteorological services and their stakeholders with a roadmap for developing sector-specific climate change information products, the guidelines ensure that planning and adaptation decisions are informed by climate change science. These 'climate-smart' decisions are essential for building resilient communities, industries and countries.