The Study Area

The study area for this book is the tropical South Pacific Ocean. This is an enormous expanse of water, stretching across over 20 million square kilometres. Within this area lie thousands of islands belonging to more than 15 developing island nations, states and territories. From west to east these include Solomon Islands, New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Nauru, Kiribati, Tuvalu, Fiji, Wallis and Futuna, Tonga, Tokelau, Samoa, American Samoa, Niue, Cook Islands and French Polynesia, as shown in Fig. 1.1.

140°E

160°E

180°

• 160°W

140°W

_

* V

20°N -

Hawaii

North Pacific

Ocean

Micronesia

Marshall

Islands

I

Kiribati

L SUin^v Solomon

SvIslands

Tuvalu Tokelau

Wallis and

Equator

Papua New Nauru

L SUin^v Solomon

SvIslands

Tuvalu Tokelau

Wallis and

Coral Vanuatu*'! American Cook

Sea Fiji .. Samoa Islands

Caledonia km 2000

New V Zealand

Equator

French Polynesia

South Pacific Ocean

Fig. 1.1. The South Pacific Islands.

Conveniently, most of the study area falls under the responsibility of the Fiji Meteorological Service (FMS) for recording and archiving tropical cyclone activity. The FMS area of coverage extends from the Equator to Latitude 25°S and from Longitude 160°E to 120°W (Fig. 1.2). The FMS functions as a department under the Government of the Republic of the Fiji Islands (Fiji Meteorological Service 2006). The FMS headquarters is located in the compound of Nadi International Airport, in the town of Nadi on the western coast of Viti Levu island. Viti Levu is the main island in the Fiji group.

The FMS has two main output divisions, namely the Forecast Services Division and the Climate Services Division. The Forecast Services Division operates the Regional Specialized Meteorological Centre-Nadi Tropical Cyclone Centre (RSMC-Nadi TCC). The authority to operate as the RSMC for the tropical South Pacific region is granted by the World Meteorological Organization. The RSMC-Nadi is one of six Regional Specialized Meteorological Centres and an additional five Tropical Cyclone Warning Centres around the world. The areas of control and boundaries of these centres are shown in Fig. 1.2. The RSMC-Nadi provides weather forecasts, issues tropical cyclone warnings and other severe weather bulletins, and gives advisory meteorological information for the region. The RSMC-Nadi has the responsibility of naming and monitoring all tropical cyclones originating or moving into its region, and to issue warnings for the safety of all communities, including marine and aviation users.

20«W 0 20°E 40°E 60°E 80°E 100°E 120«E 1« 160°E 180" 160»W 140°W 120°W 100°W 80°W «0=W 40°W 20°W

Fig. 1.2. Location of Regional Specialized Meteorological Centres (RSMC) and Fropical Cyclone Warning Centres (named), showing the geographical extent and boundaries of their regions of responsibility. Source: World Meteorological Organization WMO (2006a).

20«W 0 20°E 40°E 60°E 80°E 100°E 120«E 1« 160°E 180" 160»W 140°W 120°W 100°W 80°W «0=W 40°W 20°W

Fig. 1.2. Location of Regional Specialized Meteorological Centres (RSMC) and Fropical Cyclone Warning Centres (named), showing the geographical extent and boundaries of their regions of responsibility. Source: World Meteorological Organization WMO (2006a).

The second division of the FMS, the Climate Services Division, provides climate expertise and consultative services. It also serves as the national repository for climatological data and regional tropical cyclone activity records. The Climate Services Division of the FMS maintains the most comprehensive archive of historical tropical cyclone events and associated meteorological information (weather charts, satellite imagery, track data, wind speeds, barometric pressures, etc.) for the South Pacific region. It is this archive which has been utilised for the investigation of tropical cyclone characteristics presented in this book.

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