The Borneo Marine Research Institute of Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) will be hosting a major symposium on ‘Natural Hazards and Changing Marine Environment in the Western Pacific’ at Sutera Harbour Resort on May 21-25. The symposium, to be co-organized by Western Pacific (WESTPACT) chapter of the Intergovernmental oceanographic Commission (IOC), will be attended by leading scientists from 20 countries in the Western Pacific who will be discussing essential topics on natural disasters caused by oceanic process. UMS Vice Chancellor Prof Datuk Dr Mohd Noh Dalimin told a press conference yesterday the symposium, which is sponsored by the National Oceanography Directorate of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI), represents a significant event in the context of collection of valuable scientific opinion vis-a-vis a major issue that affects the Western Pacific region. Topics to be discussed will include effects of climate change on the Western Pacific, its coastal and offshore .processes and their measurements, marine environmental forecast and data management and marine ecosystem health. “Climate change is mounting a serious challenge. Natural Hazards are growing in frequency and strength. Tangible solutions are needed to save human lives, scarce land resources and properties,” said Mohd Noh. “Natural disasters involving oceanic processes - torrential rains, tropical storms, tsunamis, storm surges, bloom of toxic algae and so on - are influenced by long-term climate variability, and therefore, this variability should be given due attention,” said the Vice Chancellor in a joint statement with Mosti in conjunction with the symposium yesterday. Numerous natural hazards ranging from rip currents to rogue waves and generalized coastal erosion are affecting our coastline and with human population continuing to migrate towards coastlines, the societal impacts of hazards are expected to grow, he said. “Many countries are affected by events such as El Nino and La Nina which are perhaps the most powerful phenomenon on earth that alter the climate across more than half of the planet. “We need accurate modeling and prediction as to be able to take steps to protect the people from floods and drought. Attention will be given to such topics in this symposium,” he added. In inviting participation from oceanographers and those who can contribute to the symposium, Mohd Noh said the event is expected to produce a very intense and thought provoking discussions among the participants.