Region's Climate Super Observatory in the Maldives

  • Can detect, measure earthquakes
  • Researching brown clouds
  • Lack of trained Maldivians key issue

"There are only two Super Observatories in the world for Climate. This is the only one in South Asia. The other is in South Korea,"

The Maldives Climate Observatory in Hanimaadhoo is small and inconspicuous. The Observatory, located just outside the inhabited area in island, consistently supplies collected information and data to Universities and other agencies, both local and international, for the past 10 years.

An observatory is a facility, either on land or sea, with instruments and equipment for measuring atmospheric conditions to provide information for weather forecasts and to study the weather and climate as well as earthquakes.

Technical Assistant Sharafullah said the Center can detect, monitor and measure earthquakes and other tectonic tremors. The Center is equipped with various instruments that are placed across the Observatory grounds.

"We can measure all large and small tremors in this region. We can even detect [tremors caused by] construction work," he said.

The small observatory is equipped with machinery that can measure acidity levels in rain, particles in rain and can run tests by equipping flights with their machinery. Sharafullah said the Observatory provides hourly data to NASA as well as housing some equipment provided by NASA for their research.

"Right now we're researching on the appearance of the seasonal brown clouds over Maldives. How they appear, how they progress. Sometimes we see clouds above the country, that are not localized emissions. We're running investigations into this as well. We're also studying why sometimes visibility drops in some areas in the country," Sharafullah said.

The Observatory employs locals with a foreign consultant assisting in the process.

"Maldivians are engaged in data collection. One foreigner is always attached to the Observatory. We have a team of eight employees. The biggest issue rises from HR, there are no trained Maldivians in the field. What I want to see is that the Observatory is run by Maldivians, no foreigners. Foreigners are at PhD levels," Sharafullah said.

Sharafullah said that Maldives was the ideal location for the Super Observatory, in spite of the lack of resources. He said Observatories have to be placed in areas that are not industrialized.