The East-West Center’s Pacific Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments (Pacific RISA) program provides interdisciplinary research and partnerships with local, national, and regional decision-makers to help Pacific island communities adapt to climate variability and change. Its work translates climate data and projections into meaningful information for specific island locations. The program’s research, assessment, education, and training activities meet critical information needs and support the development and implementation of sound climate adaptation strategies.

Map showing Pacific RISA action areas

Pacific RISA is one of 11 regional research grants funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Research and outreach activities focus on Hawai‘i, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Republic of Palau, and American Sāmoa.

Among other activities, the Pacific RISA team coordinates the Pacific Islands Regional Climate Assessment (PIRCA), a collaborative effort designed to assess climate change indicators, impacts, and adaptive capacity. In 2012 and again in 2018, PIRCA brought together nearly 100 scientific experts and practitioners to produce regional contributions to the Third and Fourth U.S. National Climate Assessment. Up-to-date climate assessment summaries for each U.S.-Affiliated Pacific Island country and territory are currently being developed with partners throughout the region.

Sustaining Water Supplies

One key area of concern in the region is the sustainability of island water supplies. In American Sāmoa, for example, Pacific RISA has launched a project to improve information about climate trends and water resources. Since 2014, the American Sāmoa Power Authority and a team from Hawaiʻi have installed weather stations, stream gauges, and water level-monitoring sites throughout Tutuila Island to help the Power Authority predict and prepare for periodic droughts.

Pacific RISA researchers also generate climate and fresh-water projections for Hawaiʻi’s Maui Island. This work includes developing a set of future land- and water-management scenarios to inform Maui County planning agencies. To help predict future water needs and availability, Pacific RISA solicited input from policymakers, land managers, community members, and an array of watershed management partners, rangeland managers, and conservation practitioners. The information obtained has been analyzed and shared widely in maps showing a range of possible future scenarios for the island community.

Explore all of Pacific RISA’s projects and the East-West Center’s climate work in the Pacific on the Pacific RISA website.

As part of their commitment to the project, American Samoa Power Authority created a full-time hydrologic technician position to develop and maintain monitoring instruments. Here, technician Matt Erickson checks a weather station in Eastern Tutuila.

Recent Posts