The ocean and atmosphere are inextricably linked. As they are both dominated by fluids, similar forces are acting to produce the patterns we see in both. To see these patterns, we must observe and measure. For weather, such observations have been systematically made for hundreds of years using “weather stations,” which provide us with data on atmospheric factors that allow us to predict short term conditions (the “weather”) and longer values and trends (the “climate”). Most weather stations are on land. Weather data in areas dominated by the ocean are far fewer, but of critical importance to understanding shallow water marine environments. CRRF and our collaborators have devoted much effort to filling this weather void for Palau through autonomous weather measuring equipment all over the Republic.
Globally there are far fewer “ocean weather stations”, what we might call “ocean observation stations.” This is particularly true for remote areas in the vast ocean like Palau, far from land and population centers. Located in the middle of the western Pacific “warm pool,” areas such as Palau are often where global ocean/atmosphere events, such as El Niño and La Niña, are “born”. In addition to atmospheric weather stations, CRRF has focused much effort on gathering ocean observation data, monitoring physical parameters such as water temperatures, salinity and sea levels to compliment and be comparable with atmospheric data. Our collaborators bring a whole new suite of ocean data collections through advanced technology – currents, light, pH, nutrients, and biological factors such as phytoplankton or zooplankton. All this information feeds into the global view of climate variation and change.