Robson S Tigona

RobsonName: Robson S Tigona

School: School of Geography, Earth Science and Environment (SGESE)

Faculty: Faculty of Science, Technology and Environment (FSTE)

Degree of Enrolment: PhD

Research Area: Improving Seasonal Rainfall Prediction in the Southwest Pacific (Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji and Tonga)

Supervisors: Dr.Michelle Mckeown (USP), Prof. Elizabeth Hollan (USP), Associate Prof. Neil Holbrook (University of Tasmania), Dr. Tony Weir (Adjunct fellow, USP)

Current Research Summary:

This PhD research project will focus on seasonal rainfall in Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Fiji and Tonga and its relationship with the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO). ENSO is a tropical equatorial Pacific Ocean based climate phenomena with global significance. It is known to affect climatic variability, particularly rainfall, especially in the Pacific basin but in other regions of the world. For example, 47% of annual rainfall variability at Anelgauhat climate station in Southern Vanuatu is attributed to ENSO (Tigona and de Freitas, 2012). The state and strength of ENSO can be measured by the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI), which is a measure of monthly atmospheric pressure differences between Darwin in the western Pacific and Tahiti in the eastern Pacific. It can also be measured by the Sea Surface Temperature (SST) in the central Pacific (Niño 3.4).

This thesis aims to analyse data over the past 30 years or more from several stations in Vanuatu and neighbouring countries to gain a better physical and statistical understanding of the connection between various physical parameters related to rainfall or ENSO, particularly in the extremely dry or extremely wet years, and to thereby to improve the prediction of such extreme events several months in advance. The outcome of this research will be beneficial to Vanuatu and the Solomon islands because it may help in the management of fresh water, agricultural production and other rain-dependant economic sectors. ENSO is also known to affect the location of tuna fishing, which is of great economic importance to the Pacific islands.

Testimonial- Graduate Assistant Scholarship Scheme:

I chose to do my PhD research here because USP is increasingly involved in researches that are relevant in the Pacific Islands. The USP strategic plan 2013-2018 also aim to transform USP from a good to an excellent university, so I wanted to be part of and involve in the process, so I have choose my research topic that is relevant to the Pacific islands. Fiji is also a great place to live because of the multicultural environment, and friendly people. I did my undergraduate studies here, postgraduate studies at Auckland University, and decided to return to USP for PhD studies for the reason I have stated above. The challenges I had was changes of my principal supervisors as two of the previous ones had move on from USP. Despite that, the friendly staffs at the research office and at the school have helped a lot to get things going. I am encouraging more students to pursue postgraduate studies at USP and be part of the success that is going on. Vinaka Vaka Levu.