GEMS was part of a study funded by AUSAID which aimed to provide ocean prediction and risk assessment software to four South Pacific Islands. This was a five-year project during which time GEMS was carrying out storm surge and wave induced coastal flooding risk assessment studies for Vanuatu, Tuvalu, Samoa and Fiji.
At the end of the project each country was provided with, and trained to use, tidal prediction software and atmospheric and ocean modelling software for real-time prediction of severe storms.
Erosion of bank and over-topping at Port Vila during Tropical Cyclone Beni.
A recent example of the vulnerability of Pacific Island coastlines to storms occurred during Tropical Cyclone Beni which formed some 240 nautical miles south of the Solomon Islands on 24 January 2003. It initially tracked southwards and then deepened as it turned moves towards the southeast. The cyclone is estimated to have reached its maximum intensity of 920 hPa at about UTC on 30 January.
Beni passed well to the west of Efate, causing notable inundation of exposed coastlines on 30 January. Reporting of the effects of Beni referred to significant inundation which was consistently described as resulting from a storm surge. Impacts at Port Vila were pronounced.