The Solomon Islands Meteorology Services is able to provide weather information from Tikopia Island again after the Automatic Weather Station (AWS) was fixed during the recent Prime Minister’s tour to the Island.
Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management Dr Melchior Mataki and Chief Technical Officer Mr. Barnabas Tahunipue who were part of PM’s delegation managed to repair the AWS and have it operational from 10 June.
The AWS was down since 2018 after water breached its main control box and has since been unserviceable given the challenges with access to the island.
Tahunipue said the last visit and maintenance done on the AWS was in 2016.
“The Automatic Weather Station was installed in 2015 and last visited in 2016. In 2018, it went down and was unserviceable.
“But due to the remoteness of Tikopia Island and transport difficulties we are not able to fix it,” Tahunipue said.
He said the recent Prime Minister’s tour has given the opportunity to do the repairs.
“I have to work tirelessly during the very short time and managed to replace the AWS. My preparations prior to departure have helped to bring the right equipment and complete the work on time,” said Tahunipue.
Dr Mataki said it is a huge achievement for the Meteorology Services to fix the AWS up and to have it operating again given that it is the only AWS that cover the far-eastern part of the country, and the disposition of Tikopia to extreme weather events such as tropical cyclones and depressions.
“This is all part of the Ministry’s efforts through the Meteorology Services to increase the weather observation network in the country which helps out our early warning systems to safeguard lives and properties, and to inform and safeguard development activities including the aviation industry in the country,” said Dr Mataki.
He added the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management and Meteorology is committed through the Meteorology Services to further expand the observation network in terms of having Automatic Weather Stations and Automatic Rain Gauges in the country using both national resources, and support from development partners through projects.
The AWS is an important weather observation equipment that remotely and automatically measures and record weather parameters such as rainfall, temperature wind speed and direction, and atmospheric pressure and relays them via satelite link to the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) in New Zealand and eventually to SI Meteorological Service for its use in weather forecasting and climate services.
Geographically, Tikopia Island is a strategic location for weather observations for cyclone monitoring purposes, given the southern waters is a hotspot for cyclone formation and monitoring which is important for Solomon Islands and the region as well.