Vanuatu, a country you might have trouble finding on a map, has helped to develop an innovation that manages data about a worldwide concern: planet overheating and its impact.
The result is a portal that could be a boon for farmers, land developers, and other industries operating on a warmer globe.
The South Pacific island nation is dealing with evident environmental changes from planet overheating, including a sea level rise since the 1990s, as documented by a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Tropical cyclones are also intensifying, according to CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency. That’s part of the reason why officials from Vanuatu, CSIRO, and elsewhere developed the Vanuatu Climate Futures Portal.
“With no time to waste, we’ve worked closely with end-users to understand what information they need to put their adaptation plans into action,” Sunny Seuseu, an acting manager with the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Program, said in the report.
The portal is a smorgasbord of information about weather and climate-related data, including case studies, mapping tools, and other information.
“Regardless of where you live in Vanuatu, or where you work, the new portal can help answer questions such as for the agriculture sector … ‘how will the growing region contract or expand over time for different crops?,’ ‘what should be grown where and when,’ ‘where should we build new infrastructure?,’ and ‘what practical steps can our community take now to adapt?’” Seuseu said in the CSIRO report.
Vanuatu is made of a chain of islands in the southwestern Pacific Ocean, with a population of about 324,000, according to Britannica.
In addition to facing storms and rising and warming ocean water, Vanuatu’s “average annual temperature” has risen about 1.3 degrees Fahrenheit since 1850-90, CSIRO reports. Climate experts warn that a global increase of more than 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit from preindustrial temperatures will result in a severe, “potentially irreversible” impact, according to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
The portal provides a resource for people living in worsening conditions.
“We’ve learnt a lot through this unique collaboration with our partners in Vanuatu about how we develop, apply, and deliver tailored and targeted climate information,” CSIRO project lead Geoff Gooley said in his agency’s report.
The collaboration is an example of how governments and citizens can work together to navigate our changing weather, often by leveraging data. Experts in South Korea, for example, are using data to predict flash floods, offering up to an hour’s warning.
In Vanuatu, the portal has a tool that predicts the extent of sea level rise through the next 100 years. It could be a key resource for developers. Another section provides information about projected marine heat waves, sea levels, and rainfall for locations throughout the island-chain nation.
“This is a game changer for planners in Vanuatu and will help farmers, fishers, tourist operators, infrastructure managers, and the whole community plan ahead and adapt to the realities of climate change,” Seuseu said in the CSIRO story.
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