Any views expressed in this article are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Scientists are turning to animation to raise awareness of weather patterns and climate change amongst Pacific islanders and encourage early action to prepare for extreme events such as El Niño andLa Niña.
The Red Cross and the Australian government's Pacific-Australia Climate Change Science and Adaptation Planning Program is working with a team of climate scientists, humanitarians, artists and film-makers from several organisations to create short animated films that simplify complex science topics, such as climate variability and extreme weather.
Earlier this month (2 July), they released The Pacific Adventures of the Climate Crab, a short film using the escapades of a humorous and highly resilient hermit crab to explain what drives El Niño and La Niña (the periodic warming and cooling, respectively, of the Pacific Ocean that have an impact on regional weather patterns), and to encourage people across the Pacific to listen for early warnings of severe weather and make preparations.
The project comes after research by the found there were very few simple materials available, particularly in the Pacific region, that link information about climate variability and climate change, or that suggest pre-emptive action.
"There is high quality climate and weather information produced and distributed across the Pacific," says Philip Malsale, from the Vanuatu Meteorological and Geo-hazards Department, who was one of the animation team.
"However, there is a critical need for resources that communicate the impact of climate events to communities and key stakeholders. Scientific concepts like El Niño and La Niña are often very difficult to present to audiences using inanimate descriptions and photographs."
The team's next release will be an animation called Cloud Nasara, on 5 August. It features a cast of colourful characters, including a reggae-obsessed parrot, a string band and cameo appearances from climate scientists at the Vanuatu Meteorological and Geo-hazard Department.
"Both animations would encourage discussions around how Pacific island countries can access forecast information to take early action to prepare for future El Niño and La Niña events. Addressing the ups and downs of these events contributes to community resilience to human-induced climate change," says Malsale.
Both animations come with a resource tool kit to help facilitators working with groups to link the information in the films with decision-making and preparedness measures on the ground.