NOAA Workshop Increases RMI Preparedness

The Marshall Islands welcomed Charles Guard and Reggie White of the National Oceans and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to lead the Annual National Weather Service Tropical Cyclone, Disaster Preparedness, and Climate Workshop.  Participants of the workshop included 22 Marshallese counterparts representing multiple government ministries.

The NOAA workshop, which covered a multitude of topics, came at an appropriate time.  With the drought continuing to affect the northern Atolls, and weather events like the high tide inundation that damaged the Majuro Airport a few weeks ago, the Marshall Islands is one of the most vulnerable countries with respect to climate change.  Workshops like these help prepare the government to better serve the people now and in the future.  This is especially important to a country whose land is just a few feet above sea level.

Day one focused on the technical aspects of tropical weather patterns.  Discussions presented a complete overview of typhoons, from how and why they form, to the proper manner in which to track and study them.  Other important areas covered included tides, currents, rising sea levels, and the threat from the Pacific Ring of Fire.  New technology and communication, along with the technical skills related to tracking and recording weather patterns were also covered.

Day two took on a much more Marshallese focus, concentrating on the specific challenges and threats to the Marshall Islands.  With the impact of climate change, the Marshall Islands faces new threats from typhoons and prolonged droughts.  The workshop focused on the reasons these new challenges are coming about, and strategies on how to prepare for, and respond to, the extreme weather conditions.

At the end of the week, Marshallese participants received a certificate from NOAA and a token from the Embassy acknowledging their completion of the workshop.  The knowledge taken from this workshop will no doubt be extremely beneficial, not only to the participants, but the government agencies they represent.  While the challenges ahead are daunting, workshops such as this one help to make the Marshall Islands that much more prepared.