Kiosks - Tropical Wester Pacific

A Manus High School teacher is interviewed for the TWP kiosks.
A Manus High School teacher is interviewed for the TWP kiosks.

In July 2003, ARM Education and Outreach set out to develop interactive kiosks for ARM's host communities in the Tropical Western Pacific. Once again, the objective was to provide educational tools that blend scientific information from ARM researchers with the traditional knowledge of indigenous peoples from the host communities. As with the development of the Alaska kiosk, ARM Education and Outreach worked closely with leaders from each community to facilitate interviews with elders. The TWP kiosks feature several interviews with ARM scientists and research partners from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology which explain the complex relationships between the earth, ocean, and atmosphere and weather phenomena such as El Niño. The scientific content is shared across all three TWP kiosks.

Manus Island, Papua New Guinea

The kiosk film crew goes out on the water to interview a fisherman from Manus Island.
The kiosk film crew goes out on the water to interview a fisherman from Manus Island.

Manus Island is located in the heart of the Pacific warm pool, a body of water which spans the western waters of the equatorial Pacific to the eastern Indian Ocean and holds the warmest seawaters in the world. Because these waters are hot enough to drive heat and moisture into the atmosphere, the warm pool has a large effect on the climate of surrounding lands and may be linked to the El Niño phenomenon. While ARM has been doing research on Manus Island since 1996, the people who inhabit the small island have a memory of climate change that dates back several generations. The islanders' major concerns are related to drought, rising sea level, coastal erosion, and long-term sustainability.

The table below shows a sampling of the type of traditional knowledge shared by local community members.

Elder Observation
Kevin Pangih I have noticed that the sun is stronger. It is killing our coral and fish. When I go swimming, the corals look like rocks. The sun is stronger, and it is killing the coral reefs.
Jeanette Moia On the shoreline, I have noticed that the sea is washing away the beaches. When we have big winds and high waves, they break away the shoreline like never before. The island is getting smaller and smaller.
Wep Kanawi I have three major concerns about the future of Manus Island. First, our food supply is impacted by changing weather. Some crops do not grow as they need to. Secondly, we need to educate our children better about weather and climate because their lives depend on the environment. And lastly, I am concerned about the population growth and whether our island can sustain a fast-growing population (food, water, and land).
Tjamei Lawrence We are very confused by the changes in weather. When will the north-west winds come? When will the south-east winds come? We used to know this but now our local knowledge is being affected by changes in weather patterns. Also, the atolls are experiencing changes in water levels - some beaches are being washed away.
Dominica Numan People are no longer sure when the wet and dry seasons will come. We are not sure when it will be hot and dry and when the rains will come. Also, some of our roads are now covered by the sea and some people are moving their homes further inland because the beaches are being washed away.
Kevin Luana From the time I was a small boy until now, I hate noticed small challenges in the climate. The sea has moved closer to our houses and people are concerned about sea level rise because it is a direct impact of climate change. There will be economic impacts of climate change in PNG, especially agricultrally. We have a lot of cash crops, especially up in the highlands where the temperature changes are very noticeable.

In July 2007, the Manus kiosk will be installed at a small convenience store in village of Lorengau.

Nauru Island, Republic Nauru

Children gather around as elders from Manus Island discuss observations of climate change.
Children gather around as elders from Manus Island discuss observations of climate change.

Approximately 1,200 miles northeast of Papua New Guinea, inhabitants of the small island of Nauru are observing impacts of climate change similar to those observed on Manus Island. ARM selected Nauru as a research location because it is on the eastern edge of the Pacific warm pool under La Niña conditions, which affect weather patterns across the Pacific. Kiosk interviews with Nauruan elders reveal serious concerns about rising sea level and possible impacts of climate change on certain types of trees that Nauruans have relied upon for generations. The need for environmental education is another common thread found in the Nauru kiosk, which further emphasizes the need for educational tools such as these kiosks.

The following table shows a sampling of the type of traditional knowledge shared by Nauruan elders.

Elder Observation
Ruby Toma We used to have a definite wet and dry season. The westerly winds would come in November and December and we'd get plenty of rain. Now I have noticed long stretches of drought and no wet season. We now have to depend a lot on ground water. Coconut trees are impacted when we tap into the ground water - they tend to die off.
Paul Aingimea Before, when there was a high tide, it was no problem, but now the water comes onto our roads. On any given day, you have to stop on the road because there is a lots of debris left behind after high tide. It was never like this before.
Nicholas Duburiya For my parents, climate wasn't so much of an issue. In the 60s, there were plenty of coconut and pandanus trees. Now many of the coconut and panda nus trees are dying because there is not enough water. Coconut is part of our daily diet, so we have started to plant trees.
Lima Uera We only have this one island, we are not like other Pacific Island communities who have more than one island to migrate to if there is a problem. Because of the phosphate mining here on Nauru, we only have the coast for our future generations. I want our young people to take care of what we have and look at things like weather and sea level rise in a global sense because where will they go if there is no more Nauru?
Joy Heine The women of Nauru use pandanus leaves for weaving. We no longer have a good supply because many of the pandanus trees have dried up and the leaves are brittle. In the old days, coconut and pandanus trees grew like crazy. The coconuts would drop and grow, and drop and grow. Now we have to plant them ourselves.
Juanita Ika We need to plant salt-bust to hold the soil together so that we can protect our houses from the high tide and stop the waves from flooding the roads.
Students give the Nauru kiosk a
Students give the Nauru kiosk a "thumbs up."

In October 2006, the Nauru kiosk was installed in the departure lounge at the Nauru International Airport. The airport is a public venue where teachers can take their students to see the kiosk, and visitors to the island can learn more about Nauru's weather and climate. ARM Education and Outreach staff is currently working with the Nauru Department of Education to incorporate the kiosk material into a new curriculum that is currently being developed for public schools across the island.

Darwin, Australia

Victor Cooper talks about impacts of climate change in the Kakadu National Park, located in Australia's Northern Territory.
Victor Cooper talks about impacts of climate change in the Kakadu National Park, located in Australia's Northern Territory.

With a dry continental regime from May to September and a wet monsoonal season from December to March, Darwin, Australia, provides atmospheric scientists with a unique set of climate regimes that are not seen at the other TWP research sites. In April 2002, ARM established the Darwin climate research facility to further its research capabilities in this region. In collaboration with scientists and technicians from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, the Darwin facility also serves as the technical support center for the other two TWP facilities in Manus and Nauru. Darwin is not only a premier research location, it is also a place rich in traditional knowledge of the environment. In collaboration with the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory in Darwin, ARM Education and Outreach interviewed several members of the Darwin community to incorporate perspectives from Darwin's prominent Aboriginal population as well as the bush fire council and seafood industry. The unpredictable timing of the wet and dry seasons is a concern for the Aborigines who still hunt and live off the land; fishermen who make their livings in the seafood industry; and bush fire managers who help organize the traditional bush fire practices of the Aborigines.

The following table shows a sampling of observations shared by each of these groups.

Elder Observation
Victor Cooper I've noticed that the wet season is falling shorter and the country is drying up quicker. It makes the season patterns hard to follow. Seasons indicate to us (the Aborigines) which animals are fat and ready to hunt. We are finding that the animals just aren't there or are not ready to hunt.
Goldie Tybell (Barramundi fisherman) It is critical to barramudi fishing that we get an early rain and that the rain is consistent. We don't want gaps in the rainfall nor long periods of drought.
Neville Gill There is a correlation between weather and fish catches. Mackerel fishing relies on cold water because mackerel are a cold water species. I've noticed the temperature is consistently warmer nowadays and the mackerel are not migrating, so we are catching less.
Donna Jackson Over the past 5 to 10 years, I have noticed a difference in the fruiting of bush tucker plants such as red and black plums. They seem to blossom a few months early or a few months late. This affects the times at which we traditionally collect bush tucker.
Brent Williams In terms of fire management, if the rain patterns change, we may see larger and more intense fires. More rainfall would mean that weedy plant species would grow more heartily, which would cause more intense fires in the dry season. On the other hand, a longer wet season would mean far less fires overall.