Australia through the Pacific Community (SPC) gifted new Tide Gauge for Tonga
A new tide gauge worth AUD $600,000 was officially commissioned yesterday at Tanoa International Dateline Hotel, the Prime Minister of Tonga Hon. Samuela ‘Akilisi Pohiva.
The new station at Vuna Wharf was built to withstand cyclone conditions and can last up to 20 years or longer with good maintenance. The equipement expected to record tides, weather and land movement.
Prime Minister of Tonga Hon Samuela ‘Akilisi Pohiva said that this is not Tonga’s first sea level monitoring station but it is a big expansion from the former station in terms of location and in monitoring technology.
“Some of you may be familiar with its predecessor, the sea level monitoring station on Queen Salote Wharf, which was first installed in 1993 with Flinders University and the Australian National Tidal Facility.”
Minister for Internal Affairs Hon. Losaline Ma’asi on behalf of the Prime Miniser of Tonga Hon. Samuela ‘Akilisi Pohiva, unveiled the plaque at its site at Vuna Wharf.
“The old station was overdue for an upgrade, but given the heavy vessel traffic on Queen Salote Wharf, we recommended to relocate the station to this site following the renovation of the Vuna Wharf.”
He said that the two stations are running side-by-side for data consistency but the old station will be decommissioned in a few months’ time.
The new station has “ongoing utilities, maintenance and calibration costs which are generously supported by the Australian government and the Pacific Community through the Climate and Ocean Support Program in the Pacific (COSPPac).”
It also features traditional acoustic sensor to monitor sea level and two radar sensors and a pressure sensor to simultaneously measure changes in water level. The station also includes an in-built Automatic Weather Station which provides real-time data on sea level, wind speed and direction, pressure, temperature and sea surface temperature via direct link to Fua’amotu Weather Forecasting Center located at the airport.
“The data is also sent to the Bureau of Meteorology in Australia for quality assurance, and is available to the region through online tools such as the Real-Time Data Display and the Pacific Ocean Portal.”
Hon Pohiva also acknowledged the Australian Government through the Pacific Community for its ongoing support and all the partners who helped with the installation.
Director of Tonga Met Service Mr. ‘Ofa Fa’anunu said these services are “critical for the development of the blue economy and are essential for the people of Tonga.”
“Our nation is one of the most vulnerable to natural hazards including earthquakes, tsunami, coastal inundation from waves and from storm surge from severe weather events.”
He stated that in the wake of TC Gita the operational Automatic Weather Station attached to the Pacific Sea Level Monitoring Station at Queen Salote Wharf was still standing and it provided wind and weather data.
“There will always be natural disasters and hazards in our region, but we can only prepare for and respond to these if we have accurate local information to rely on. That is why the importance of stations like this one cannot be overstated.”
“We are so very grateful for the real-time environmental intelligence that the new tide gauge and earth-monitoring station brings to Tonga. The data gathered and shared via these systems will continue to make a difference in the years ahead to our communities, businesses and government initiatives.”
The installation of the new station was done by a team of technicians from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, Geoscience Australia and the Pacific Community from May 14 – June 7.
Minister for Internal Affairs Hon. Losaline Ma’asi, on behalf of the Prime Minister Hon. Samuela ‘Akilisi Pohiva unveiled the plaque for the system at its site at Vuna Wharf in front of the cheerful participants, including the Secretary General of WMO Professor Peteri Taalas.