The Republic of the Marshall Islands Climate Change Website:SEAFRAME

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National Activities - SEAFRAME

The South Pacific Sea Level and Climate Monitoring Project developed as an Australian response to concerns raised by members of the South Pacific Forum countries over the potential impacts of the Greenhouse Effect on climate and sea levels in the region. In 1991, the National Tidal Facility (NTF) of the Flinders University of South Australia was awarded the contract to undertake the management of the project.

Eleven monitoring stations were established in the Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, and Western Samoa, to provide a wide coverage across the Pacific Basin. Each of theses SEA Level Fine Resolution Acoustic Measuring Equipment (SEAFRAME) stations in the Pacific region are continuously monitoring the Sea Level, Wind Speed and Direction, Wind Gust, Air and Water Temperatures and Atmospheric Pressure. The SEAFRAME station for the Marshall Islands was installed on the main wharf in Uliga and opened by the Australian and Marshall Islands Governments in 1993. Data has been collected from the Uliga, Majuro station for five years now.

Phase I of this project which ended on 30 June 1995, was mainly -devoted to installation and commissioning of the eleven monitoring stations. Phase II, the operational phase of the project, began on 1 July, 1995 and ends on 30 June, 2000.

The Project aims to help Pacific Island Countries and their Governments understand the scale and implications of changing sea levels and climate. The task is challenging since climate is only one part of the problem of changing sea levels. Others include the movement of the Earth's crust due to movements of continental plates, active volcanoes, and earthquakes all of which occur in the region.

The South Pacific Sea Level and Climate Monitoring Project was established to:

  • set up high resolution monitoring stations to measure the relative motions of land and sea at each station;
  • help identify changes to sea levels with reference to a similar network of stations in Australia and elsewhere in the world, and whether these changes are due to thermal expansion of the ocean, contributions from land ice, or changing properties of water from different ocean zones;

and the geodetic component of the Project was established to carry out the following:

  • to carry out a supplementary survey and geodetic programme to measure movements of the crust at other strategic sites in each country with respect to the reference station. In this way, these measurements can be used to identify localised problems from changes to sea level and movements of the Earth; and
  • to collaborate with on-going international geodetic programmes, which may be incorporating satellite altimetry and radio astronomy, to provide a measure of regional vertical control, and exchange information and data with national, regional and international Climate Change centres. This will help the understanding of the complex problem of measuring changes in sea levels.

In addition to serving the South Pacific Forum interests, the project is an important link in international endeavours to collate and interpret data on global atmospheric and oceanographic systems. The project will provide Australia and Pacific Island Countries (PICS) with access to regional and global research on climate variability and the impact of the enhanced greenhouse effect. In particular, it will enable social and economic planners to forecast and develop strategies in the key areas of agricultural development and coastal management.

The results from this project will provide various benefits to the Forum region, such as increased knowledge and immediate input for local meteorological services, for harbour operations, and for planning of coastal development. Other benefits include public safety issues during extreme sea level events such as storm surges and tsunamis, agriculture, fish farms, coastal erosion and exclusive economic zone problems. There are also benefits to the international scientific community in terms of timely and accurate data.

Computer models are also being developed and run at the NTF. Scientific personnel from the PICs will participate in the usage of these models through short-term attachments to the NTF. Eventually, these models will be gradually transferred to the PICS.

Monthly Data Reports containing time series plots and some brief notes on the data are produced to distribute the latest information that is gathered by each of the stations. Quarterly newsletters describing project activities and yearly tidal prediction based on the data obtained by the project are also distributed in calendar and booklet form.

NTF firmly believes that the South Pacific Sea Level and Climate Monitoring Project is a. unique programme to fulfil the urgent needs of the Pacific region and to provide a more balanced view on the enhanced greenhouse effect and sea level rise, based upon observed data. It is also necessary to strengthen networks among scientific institutions for the supply of information on coastal oceanography, meteorology, hydrology and marine ecology order to properly assess the greenhouse and sea level issues.

Much of this section has been taken from a paper prepared by T.H. Aung of the National Tidal Facility titled A Brief Highlight on Information and Training Programme (The South Pacific Sea Level and Climate Monitoring Project) for the 3rd SPREP Meeting on Climate Change, 18 - 22nd August 1997, Noumea, New Caledonia.

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