Aldabra becomes part of a region-wide tropical cyclone forecasting system


As part of a region-wide tropical cyclone forecasting system, in November Aldabra Atoll received its first GPS ground station. The equipment was installed by a team of researchers led by Dr Olivier Bousquet from University of La Réunion, with assistance from Theron Moncherry from the Seychelles Meteorological authority, together with the help of the Aldabra team. The GPS sends a repeated signal, and the time it takes for the signal to be received indicates the water vapour concentration in atmosphere. The water vapour concentration in the atmosphere will be useful in measuring and predicting tropical cyclones. This new data will improve weather forecasts, allow monitoring of the distribution of water vapour in different areas over time, helping to measure climate change, and evaluate climate simulations. Similar GPS equipment will be installed throughout the South West Indian Ocean and Aldabra received the first instalment.

This activity is part of a project entitled the ‘ReNovRisk-Cyclones’ project. The main goal of the project is to study the meteorological and oceanographic impacts of cyclones on the territories of the South West Indian Ocean at present and in the future. The overall project is funded by the European Union and will include several other south western Indian Ocean countries such as Madagascar, La Reunion, Mozambique and Mayotte.

The ReNovRisk-Cyclones project team will also potentially be developing an exploratory approach to use seabirds to measure sea surface temperature and currents near tropical cyclones or areas of heavy convection. As Aldabra has a breeding population of tropicbirds, the atoll might be included as part of this component in which case the project team may potentially visit again during the next few years. Green turtles could also be a potential source of information. Although the project will run for three years, the GPS is to remain in place indefinitely for data collection.

Installation started on the night of arrival! © SIF

Commemorative plaque © SIF