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Geography, Earth Science and Environment


Mr. Robson Tigona

Contact Information

Email: s95005515(at)
+679 323 2734
Room 20, SGESE Building, Lower Campus

Degree: PhD

Research project: The seasonal relationship between El Niņo-Southern Oscillation and rainfall in Vanuatu and neighbouring countries

Supervisors:  Dr. Mark Stephens (University of the South Pacific), Dr. Tony Weir (Adjunct fellow, University of the South Pacific) and Associate Professor Neil Holbrook (University of Tasmania)

Aims:  El Niņo Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is a tropical equatorial Pacific Ocean-based climate phenomenon with global significance. It is known to affect climatic variability, particularly rainfall, especially in the Pacific basin but also in other regions of the world. The project aims to:

  1. Determine the variation throughout the seasonal cycle of the relationship between ENSO indices (SOI and Niņo 3.4, El Niņo Modoki (EMI)) and seasonal (three-monthly) rainfall in Vanuatu and neighbouring countries.
  2. Investigate the lag correlation between ENSO and seasonal rainfall and identify the leading predictor of seasonal rainfall.
  3. Compare individual past weak, moderate and strong El Niņo and La Niņa events and their associated rainfall variability, and explore the potential influence of physical parameters such as local Sea Surface Temperature, Sea Level, Mean Sea Level Pressure, Outgoing Longwave Radiation, number of tropical cyclones, and movement of the South Pacific Convergence Zone and frontal systems.
  4. Compare the results of this study with the performance of the Predictive Ocean Atmospheric Model for Australia (POAMA) and Seasonal Climate Outlook in Pacific Island Countries (SCOPIC) in predicting seasonal rainfall in Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands and Fiji, and to suggest ways of improving model prediction, especially for strong El Niņo and La Niņa events.



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Geography, Earth Science and Environment
Faculty of Science, Technology & Environment
The University of the South Pacific
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