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Lynda E. Chambers

In the 2001 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Third Assessment Report numerous studies of processes and species associated with regional temperature change were listed for the Northern Hemisphere (107 in North America, 458 in Europe, and 14 in Asia), but only a handful of studies for the Southern Hemisphere and, sadly, none for Australia were included. This article looks at the progress that Australia has made in addressing these knowledge gaps during the last three years. The article highlights the need for a national approach to the study of the associations between climate change and natural systems and suggests ways in which this could be achieved.

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Wasyl Drosdowsky and Lynda E. Chambers

Abstract

An operational system for the prediction of Australian seasonal rainfall variations using sea surface temperature anomaly (SSTA) patterns over the Indian and Pacific Oceans is described. The SSTA patterns are represented by rotated principal components, with individual monthly values at 1- and 3-month lead times used as predictors;for example, November and January SSTAs are used to forecast March–May seasonal rainfall. The historical seasonal rainfall is also represented by rotated principal components of a gridded 1° rainfall dataset, with the principal component loadings used as weights to project the forecasts back to the original 1° grid points.

Forecasts of seasonal rainfall in two (above/below median) or three categories (terciles) are produced using linear discriminant analysis. Hindcast skill, measured by the linear error in probability space (LEPS) skill score has been assessed using cross validation. Experiments were also performed using a double or nested cross-validation procedure to select the best model or combination of predictors. The model chosen for operational seasonal forecasts uses the first two rotated SSTA components lagged by 1 and 3 months as predictors for every season and location, to maintain continuity of forecast probabilities between the overlapping 3-month seasons.

Current values of the principal component amplitudes are calculated by projecting either the Bureau of Meteorology’s or the National Centers for Environmental Prediction’s SST analysis onto the set of SST principal components. The hindcasts and experimental real-time forecasts over the 5-yr period from January–March 1994 to December–February 1998/99 indicate improved skill over parts of southern Australia during the autumn period using the SST-based schemes when compared with forecasts using the Southern Oscillation index alone.

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Roan D. Plotz, Lynda E. Chambers, and Charlotte K. Finn

Abstract

In most countries, national meteorological services either generate or have access to seasonal climate forecasts. However, in a number of regions, the uptake of these forecasts by local communities can be limited, with the locals instead relying on traditional knowledge to make their climate forecasts. Both approaches to seasonal climate forecasting have benefits, and the incorporation of traditional forecast methods into contemporary forecast systems can lead to forecasts that are locally relevant and better trusted by the users. This in turn could significantly improve the communication and application of climate information, especially to remote communities. A number of different methodologies have been proposed for combining these forecasts. Through considering the benefits and limitations of each approach, practical recommendations are provided on selecting a method, in the form of a decision framework, that takes into consideration both user and provider needs. The framework comprises four main decision points: 1) consideration of the level of involvement of traditional-knowledge experts or the community that is required, 2) existing levels of traditional knowledge of climate forecasting and its level of cultural sensitivity, 3) the availability of long-term data—both traditional-knowledge and contemporary-forecast components, and 4) the level of resourcing available. No one method is suitable for everyone and every situation; however, the decision framework helps to select the most appropriate method for a given situation.

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Savin S. Chand, Lynda E. Chambers, Mike Waiwai, Philip Malsale, and Elisabeth Thompson

Abstract

Indigenous people in Pacific Island countries (PICs) often use their knowledge of the environment, acquired through generations of holistic observational practices and experimental learning, to make meteorological forecasts. Such knowledge systems are now recognized by several institutions, including the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, as an important participatory forecast approach for decision making, particularly at a farm level. In this article, the authors show that indigenous knowledge of weather and seasonal climate forecasting is a crucial component of a potential strategy for making farming-related decisions and reducing vulnerability to environmental hazards.

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Philip Malsale, Noel Sanau, Tile I. Tofaeono, Zarn Kavisi, Albert Willy, Rossy Mitiepo, Siosinamele Lui, Lynda E. Chambers, and Roan D. Plotz

Abstract

Traditional knowledge (TK) on weather and climate is an important aspect of community life in the Pacific. Used for generations, this knowledge is derived from observing biological and meteorological variables and contributes to building community resilience to weather extremes. Most of this knowledge is passed on orally and is in danger of being lost due to generational changes, leading communities to seek to preserve the knowledge in other ways.

This paper provides guidance on the successful collection and documentation of weather and climate TK in the Pacific by considering four key components: the legal and national context, in-country partnerships, the role of community, and national and community protocols. At the regional level legislation focuses on the protection of culture/TK and intellectual property, which are linked to national policies and laws. Within the national context consideration of the governance structure is critical, including obtaining approvals to conduct the studies. The next consideration is developing partnerships to establish and implement the projects, including working with appropriate ministries, media, donor organizations, and community groups. Community involvement in all aspects of the projects is critical, built on trust between partners and ensuring outputs are aligned with community needs. Following community protocols and procedures allows for effective sharing of TK. We document common protocols that were piloted and tested across four Pacific Island nations, illustrating similarities and differences between cultural groups, including recognizing cultural sensitivities and ensuring custodian rights are protected.

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Lynda E. Chambers, Roan D. Plotz, Siosinamele Lui, Faapisa Aiono, Tile Tofaeono, David Hiriasia, Lloyd Tahani, ‘Ofa Fa’anunu, Seluvaia Finaulahi, and Albert Willy

Abstract

Traditional calendars document seasonal cycles and the communities’ relationships to their biophysical environment and are often used by communities, particularly subsistence farmers, to synchronize their livelihood activities with the timing of ecological processes. Because the timing of these ecological processes is not always consistent from year to year, the use of traditional seasonal calendars can help communities to cope with climate variability, particularly when biophysical phenomena become less predictable in relation to the Gregorian calendar, as has been observed in relation to climate change. Although the structure and content of seasonal calendars vary across the Pacific Ocean region, for many indigenous communities, knowledge of seasonal calendars can increase their capacity to cope with climate variability and change. To increase the effectiveness of their products and enhance their relevance to and uptake by the community, several Pacific meteorological services are now using traditional seasonal calendars in their climate communication and education, including in forecasts and warnings. The use of a participatory approach resulted in strong relationships and improved dialogues. Local communities appreciated assistance in enabling their knowledge to become available to future generations, and its inclusion in meteorological service products makes these products more accessible and relevant to community members.

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Cher M. Page, Neville Nicholls, Neil Plummer, Blair Trewin, Mike Manton, Lisa Alexander, Lynda E. Chambers, Youngeun Choi, Dean A. Collins, Ashmita Gosai, Paul Della-Marta, Malcolm R. Haylock, Kasis Inape, Victoire Laurent, Luc Maitrepierre, Erwin E.P. Makmur, Hiroshi Nakamigawa, Nongnat Ouprasitwong, Simon McGree, Janita Pahalad, M.J. Salinger, Lourdes Tibig, Trong D. Tran, Kaliapan Vediapan, and Panmao Zhai
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