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The Pacific RISA emphasizes integrated research that addresses real-world problems. Our work includes the downscaling of climate projections for specific island locations. Unavailable to date, this is critical for island climate adaptation planning. Utilizing these projections, hydrological researchers will assess the sustainability of ground water resources in island settings. We will also assess the human dimensions of drought vulnerabilities in the region.… Read the rest

Pacific Islands Region


At 63.8 million square miles (165.25 million square kilometers), the Pacific Ocean is the largest ocean in the world, covering approximately 33% of the Earth’s total surface [1]. The vast ocean contains approximately 30,000 islands divided between the Polynesia, Melanesia, and Micronesia regions [3]. Pacific RISA works only in Pacific Islands associated with the United States (U.S.-Affiliated Pacific Islands or USAPIs), which include the State of Hawaiʻi, the Territory of American Samoa, the Territory of Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), the Republic of Palau, the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI), and the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM).… Read the rest

Education & Outreach

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The Pacific Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments (Pacific RISA) program strives to enhance Pacific Island communities’ abilities to understand, plan for, and respond to a changing climate. We do this by emphasizing the engagement of communities, governments, businesses, and scientists by translating scientific research into information and materials that are valuable for stakeholders in key sectors such as water resources, coastal and marine resources, fisheries, agriculture, tourism, public health, and disaster management.… Read the rest

Featured News

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    Innovative tools for Water Supply Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) a priority for Fiji schools

    Pacific island nations are among the most vulnerable to a changing climate as threatened natural resources, like water, are increasingly linked to social and economic development. Climate impacts on fragile freshwater resources, such as extended drier seasons and increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, are just some of the exacerbated risks the Pacific is facing, in addition to achieving its own aspirations toward sustainable livelihoods and development.… Read the rest

  • Local knowledge of climate and winds contributes to building of a Visitor Center at Puʿukohola Heiau National Historic Site

    Na makani paio lua o Kawaihae.

    The two conflicting winds of Kawaihae: the mumuku wind from the uplands, and the naulu wind, which brings the rains to Kawaihae (Pukui 1983)

    • Project goals: to provide a modern, structurally-sound, long-term visitor’s facility at Puʿukohola Heiau National Historic Site that would improve the cultural and historic landscape for local community members and practitioners while taking into account the local climate and mumuku winds
    • One of the key aspects of the project was an in-depth value analysis process that included broad stakeholder engagement with a number of groups and agencies representing the state and local community and Native Hawaiian interests
    • Variables which were considered included visitor satisfaction, cultural resources, local archaeology, cost, and cultural and physical landscape including the local mumuku winds
    • Climate issues were one of the key drivers throughout the process and the local winds were taken into consideration for practically every decision – this example of community engagement and local climate knowledge illustrates how climate information is used in everyday decision-making
    Figure 1: Pu’ukohala Visitor Center (foreground) and heiau, Kawaihae Bay, Hawai’i. Photo by Laura Brewington.

    Figure 1: Pu’ukohala Visitor Center (foreground) and heiau, Kawaihae Bay, Hawai’i.

    Read the rest
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    Preserving Freshwater Resources and Minimizing the Impacts of Drought in American Samoa

    Pacific RISA Research Fellow Laura Brewington and Project Assistant Krista Jaspers recently attended the “Preserving Freshwater Resources and Minimizing the Impacts of Drought” workshop in Pago Pago, American Samoa. The workshop was held on July 17 and 18, 2014 at the Tauese P.F. Sunia Ocean Center, which houses the visitor’s center for the National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa. The U.S.… Read the rest

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    Preserving Freshwater Resources and Minimizing the Impacts of Drought in the Republic of the Marshall Islands

    Pacific RISA research assistant Duncan McIntosh recently attended the “Pacific Islands Climate Services Dialog: Preserving Freshwater Resources and Minimizing the Impacts of Drought” workshop which was held 23 to 25 April, 2014 in Majuro, Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI). The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), is conducting a series of activities to enhance scientific and technical capacity to support climate change adaptation in the Pacific Small Island Developing States (PSIDS). … Read the rest

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    Coral loss, water supplies, increased temperatures top Hawai‘i and Pacific Region Concerns in 3rd U.S. National Climate Assessment.

    HONOLULU (May 6th, 2014) – Among major climate change concerns and challenges already being felt in Hawai‘i and the U.S.-Affiliated Pacific Islands are damage to coral reefs, decreasing freshwater supplies, increasing temperatures and greater stresses on native marine and terrestrial ecosystems, according to the 3rd U.S. National Climate Assessment released by the White House today.


    Several authors of the Hawai‘i and Pacific Islands section of the national report discussed the regional concerns in a special briefing this morning at the East-West Center in Honolulu.… Read the rest

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    Invasive species removal in the Ko‘olau Mountains, Hawai‘i.

    This November, East-West Center Fellows and Pacific RISA researchers Victoria Keener (third from top right) and Laura Brewington (bottom, right) worked with the Ko‘olau Mountains Watershed Partnership on Oahu Island to remove invasive species and replant endemic kawelu grass at Konahuanui, the highest region of the Ko‘olau mountain range.


    In Hawai‘i, freshwater and forest resources are inextricably intertwined. Rainfall and fog drip captured by forests supply surface stream water and groundwater from the ridge to the reef, along natural geographic boundaries.… Read the rest

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    Climate Change and Pacific Island Leadership.

    The emphasis on leadership in the Pacific region is fast becoming highlighted at many regional meetings, not only on the topic of Climate Change but also across areas such as Governance, Economics, and suchlike. The Pacific RISA team had the opportunity to share information on climate change impacts in the region with professional associates of the Pacific Island Leadership Program (PILP), run by the East-West Center on October 15th, 2013. … Read the rest

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    Coastal, social and ecological vulnerability – Lessons from the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador.

    During her postdoctoral fellowship with the Center for Galapagos Studies at the University of North Carolina, Pacific RISA Fellow Dr. Laura Brewington conducted field research in the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador, using a methodology that is relevant to Hawaii and other Pacific islands that are vulnerable to climate change and other factors. Mixed methods were used to assess social and ecological vulnerability of coastal environments, and form the baseline for future change detection.… Read the rest

  • Congressional Briefing by Pacific RISA on Capitol Hill.

    Drs. Melissa Finucane and Victoria Keener were a part of a congressional briefing on Capitol Hill, Washington DC yesterday where the topic of the day were the impacts of climate change in the Pacific and what the implications of these would be for policy and decision makers. The discussions were centered around the East-West Center led Pacific Islands Regional Climate Assessment (PIRCA), which is also to be included as part of the regional input to the federal government’s forthcoming National Climate Assessment.… Read the rest

  • Pacific RISA’s Network Analysis at the 2013 American Psychological Association Convention.

    The American Psychological Association (APA) is the largest professional and scientific organization of psychologists in the United States made up of more than 134,000 members. The most recent APA Convention was held in Honolulu, Hawaii from July 31st to August 4th. Pacific RISA was represented by Dr. Kati Corlew, Research Fellow, who presented a poster on the continued network analysis research of climate change professionals in the region.… Read the rest