Building an observatory

Over the course of the last two days, staff members at Selwyn College and I set up the first ACoM Environment Observatory at the school. The observatory is the first of four pilot sites for the project, which brings together science and the church to create scientific evidence for climate change in the Solomon Islands.

Five enthusiastic teachers and the new principal of the school, Naphtali Lakwolly, took part in the set up and training for the observatory. They learned how to conduct simple measurements of temperature, rainfall, water levels and shoreline position and how to adequately document their observations.

As part of the training, we built a pole structure at Selwyn Bay to record water levels, set up a thermometer and rain gauge at the school and conducted GPS measurements of the position of the vegetation and low water line along the beach. The incoming tide, high waves, and the discovery of World War II bombs along the shore last year slowed down our efforts a bit, but Solomon Islanders are very practical and creative: we used coconuts and our hands to dig holes along the shore and combined our shoreline position measurements with a small swim in the sea.

At the end of the two days, we can proudly say that we have successfully set up the first ACoM Environment Observatory. Big thanks to all participants, ACoM, Melanesian Mission UK and my collaborator, Dr Adam Bobbette! All the data collected as part of the observatory will be made available on an open-access platform. So stay tuned for more updates!

Unfortunately, the completion of the observatory also meant that I also had to say goodbye to the community of the Sisters of Melanesia. I had a wonderful time with them – an experience that I will never forget. I can just say: Tanggio tumas!

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