South Pacific environments: Their interactions with weather and climate
A recent international conference examined the interactions between atmospheric, marine and terrestrial systems in the South Pacific in order to identify the role of weather and climate in environmental change within the region. The weather and climate of the South Pacific is characterised by large variability, with significant impacts on both natural and human environmental components as a consequence of the sizable extremes in atmospheric and the related oceanic conditions. In many cases it is a combination of weather or climate extremes which bring about the most rapid and detrimental changes. The large uncertainties in future weather and climate make it difficult to develop appropriate response strategies. Moreover, i n the immediate future, impacts of climate change are likely to come from policy responses rather than from the physical changes themselves. To help ensure that the most fitting action is taken in the face of extreme weather or substantial shifts in climate conditions, more attention needs to be given to increasing the skill in both short- and long-term forecasts, and to equipping decision-makers and the public with the ability to comprehend the information and act appropriately. Thus increased knowledge is seen as a means by which the impacts of weather and climate can be ameliorated. This can be achieved through information exchange, education, and training, and through improved predictions of weather and climate conditions in the South Pacific.