SPC maritime experts reflect on their experience in Remote Sensing Summer School

Using our earth to understand the impact climate change and disasters have on the Pacific and its islands is critical.  At the Pacific Community’s (SPC) Geoscience, Energy and Maritime Division (GEM) this understanding and knowledge underpins all of the work of the division.

Recently, the Climate and Oceans Support Program in the Pacific (COSPPac) sponsored ocean scientists from SPC to attend a Remote Sensing Summer School training, which provided practical instruction on visualisation, ocean forecasting, wave models, coastal vulnerability assessments, and surveying.

We caught up with two of participants, SPC’s Senior Technical Officer, Judith Giblin and Ocean Science Officer, Zulfikar Begg, to ask about their experience in program.

Why is it important for you to be part of such classes/trainings?

Giblin: Participating in this two-week training has provided me more guidance and knowledge of the database locations and the procedures to access and download them. It has also provided a much easier and quicker way of obtaining this information. There is no question that I will use this information for future projects and ocean modelling.

Begg: I really appreciated being able to better understand the various datasets that come from different satellites and how these datasets can be used to monitor the ocean. I also learned about new tools developed by remote sensing scientists, which could be used to harness various datasets and easily produce local scale maps.

How will you apply lessons learnt into your daily work?

Giblin: The sea surface temperature and altimetry data are just a few of datasets plan we work with what we have learned in the program. I also appreciated the focus on training in country focal points as we plan to have further outreach training activities across the Pacific. And of course it was a great way to network with individuals of similar research interests.

Begg: We know that National Meteorological Services and their stakeholders around the region use the SPC Pacific Ocean Portal and after coming out of this training, I think we could incorporate additional datasets into the Ocean Portal and at the same time improve resolution of existing datasets. This will come in handy for our users from the various sectors such as tourism, fisheries, researchers and ship operators to name a few.

How will this benefit the region in terms of science and development?

Begg: I think this will greatly assist decision makers with planning or developing resilience and adaptation plans given that we are surrounded by the ocean. We don’t yet have precise ocean observations, so these global datasets will help bridge the knowledge gap when it comes to understanding what is happening in our oceans. Scientists or researchers in the region could use these products to investigate any specific conditions occurring around their islands such as fish kills, algal blooms or bleaching events.

Giblin: These datasets will be invaluable in creating multi hazard models that have outputs turned into maps. For example, Tsunami inundation models are given to National Disaster Management Offices to develop maps of evacuation zones and determine which infrastructures are in hazardous zones and can be used in risk assessments. Better data will mean more accurate maps, and could save lives.

Begg: Ensuring the region and its upcoming scientists and technical teams are supported to increase their knowledge is critical.  Pacific people understand their environment more than most so this kind of support will ensure Pacific challenges like climate change can be overcome by the strength and breadth of local expertise in our region.

The 2 weeks summer school was hosted through the Pacific Centre for Environment and Sustainable Development at the University of the South Pacific. Study areas included developing models for communities around tsunami risk or swell inundation so effective evacuation plans and future town zoning can be developed based on solid scientific evidence. Participants received certificates at the end of the course. 

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Geoscience, Energy and Maritime Division (GEM)

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