This week saw the 175th session of the Ocean and Climate Outlook Forum (OCOF) take place as climate and ocean officers from Pacific National Meteorological Services gathered for what was a milestone meeting in the history of the Forum.
Since its establishment in 2007, OCOF has trained and supported more than a 100 Climate and Ocean Officers across the Pacific region. It is one of the longest serving platforms in the region hosting technical meetings on critical ocean and climate issues for 12 Pacific countries.
The milestone was being marked with a cake cutting ceremony before the Climate and Ocean Officers met for their monthly discussion and exchange of information on the state of El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO), past rainfall and outlooks for the upcoming season. The discussions are crucial to support their climate and oceans priorities for their respective countries.
“I am able to experience a different perspective from the southern hemisphere on climate monitoring, outlooks and discussions on ENSO while interacting with colleagues from other Met offices and partners from SPREP, BOM, and SPC,” said Ms. Kikuko Mochimaru, Staff Meteorologist, NOAA NWS Office, Palau.
For the Tuvalu Meteorological Service, it has helped climate staff in developing specific products such as climate outlooks.
“Our participation in the OCOF has really improved our services while strengthening our contribution to the Government decision making process, as well as to individual families in their future plans, especially with regards the impact of climate change," said Mr Nikotemo Iona, Climate Scientific Officer, Tuvalu Meteorological Service.
In recent years, OCOF has included an extensive ocean discussion as part of the ENSO update.
“OCOF is a platform I have used to build confidence in presenting on Fiji’s monthly climate bulletin and gather as much information and understanding on the various climate drivers and weather conditions in the Pacific region,” said Ms. Arieta Baleisolomone, Acting/ Principal Scientific Officer (Climatology), Fiji Meteorological Service.
“It’s great to see that ocean related elements are now included into the OCOF product. These include sea surface temperatures, sea level and also on coral bleaching alert. Information gathered have also assisted in our compilation of Ocean Outlook product.”
The SPC Deputy Director for Ocean and Maritime Programme, Jens Kruger highlighted that “the OCOF has evolved over time to now include ocean related elements, with the re-naming of its current title to the Ocean and Climate Outlook Forum. Currently we have 7 countries in the region producing ocean outlooks. We recognise that although the ocean science capacity in the region is limited, through the OCOF platform you are able to access, analyse and interpret ocean conditions which is a notable progress in itself”.
In 2016, COSPPac transitioned the operations of OCOF to SPREP with support from SPC and Bureau to ensure NMS continues to access quality information in a timely manner to support decisions of countries in the season ahead.
“The vision of Directors of NMS at the time is to continue to develop regional organisation and NMS to take lead in this service with Partners supporting with the scientific and financial resources. Since its transition, I am glad to say the monthly teleconference continue to provide the latest ENSO status and climate outlook for the region but at the same time provide training to old and new climate officers which is vital for continuation of this service” says, Ms. Tagaloa Cooper, SPREP Climate Change Resilience Programme Director.
Over 30 participants from Pacific National Meteorological Services and technical partners attended the celebration. The OCOF is a platform that provides an opportunity for Pacific islands Meteorological Services to discuss the status of the El Nino Southern Oscillation – which is one of the main climate drivers in our region and to share climate outlook of the season ahead. The OCOF is supported by SPREP, SPC and Australia Bureau of Meteorology through the Climate and Oceans Support Programme in the Pacific (COSPPac) project funded by the government of Australia.
The Ocean and Climate Outlook Forum (formerly known as the Online Climate Outlook Forum) is a virtual monthly forum that supports Pacific climate and ocean officers to discuss status and outlook for the climate and ocean, and possible impacts in each of the 12 Pacific Island countries.
Established in 2007 under the Pacific Islands Climate Prediction Project (PI-CCP) and the Climate and Ocean Support Program in the Pacific (COSPPac) the OCOF was intended to support Pacific officers with analysis, forecasting and reporting of climate and oceans outlooks.
For more information on OCOF https://www.pacificmet.net/products-and-services/online-climate-outlook-forum