Traditional Tongan knowledge about the climate and knowledge could contribute to improving seasonal forecasts.
Tonga Meteorological Director ‘Ofa Fa’anunu ran a session on traditional knowledge during a recent ocean science training workshop.
The session discussed traditional weather indicators such as fish and marine animal behaviour, astronomical and weather events, traditional proverbs, and other ocean-related phenomena.
“Tonga Meteorological Service recently kicked off an initiative to collect traditional climate and ocean-based knowledge from the older generations, before this knowledge is lost,” Fa’anunu said.
“Where we can, Tonga Met can use some of these indicators to better engage with communities around seasonal forecasts and also to teach young people some of the valuable traditional knowledge of our elders.”
The ocean science workshop was held in Tonga by the Australian-funded Climate and Oceans Support Program in the Pacific.
Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Meteorology, Information, Disaster Management, Climate Change, Environment, and Communications Lēveni ‘Aho, said ocean conditions played a key role in the economy and in the lives of Tongans.
He said being able to give early warnings for ocean-based hazards was critical.
‘Aho said there was a growing demand from people who depended on the sea for the livelihood for more information on a range of factors, including sea surface temperature forecasts, sea level forecasts, chlorophyll and nutrient data, tide predictions for secondary ports, and seasonal wave forecasts in Tonga.
Much of this information is available on the Pacific Ocean Portal, an online tool developed by the Australian Bureau of Meteorology and hosted and maintained by the south Pacific Commission.