Pacific Islands Regional Climate Assessment (PIRCA)

What is PIRCA?

PIRCA Fact Sheet

Click to download the PIRCA Fact Sheet

The Pacific Islands Regional Climate Assessment (PIRCA) is a collaborative effort aimed at assessing climate change indicators, impacts, and adaptive capacity of the Hawaiian archipelago and the US-Affiliated Pacific Islands (USAPI). PIRCA engages federal, state, and local government agencies, non-government organizations, academia, businesses, and community groups to inform and prioritize their activities in the face of a changing climate.

Together over 100 scientific experts and practitioners contributed to the 2012 PIRCA, an integrated report that serves as a regional contribution to the Third National Climate Assessment (NCA). The 2012 PIRCA examines climate change impacts in Hawai‘i and the USAPI and also assesses the adaptive capacity of Pacific Island communities. Primary responsibility for the PIRCA is shared by the Pacific Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments (RISA) program, funded by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and supported through the East-West Center; NOAA’s National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service (NESDIS) National Climatic Data Center (NCDC); Pacific Climate Information System (PaCIS); and the Pacific Islands Climate Change Cooperative (PICCC), funded by the Department of Interior’s US Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, and US Geological Survey.

PIRCA held three technical workshops Nov 2011-Jan 2012 to provide a foundation for the assessment and additionally convened two subregional fora after the report’s release. These dialogues facilitate sharing, analyzing, and reporting on scientific consensus, knowledge gaps, sectoral needs, and adaptive capacity for addressing the changing climate.

The 2012 PIRCA report represents the beginning of a sustained process of assessment and information exchange among scientists, businesses, governments, and communities in the Pacific Islands region. In conjunction with other regional and national assessments, we anticipate the 2012 PIRCA will provide guidance for decision makers seeking to better understand how climate variability and change impact the Pacific Islands region and its communities.

Download the 2012 PIRCA and supplementary documents here:

PIRCA 2012 Full Report
9.4 MB

PIRCA 2012 Executive Summary
14.0 MB

PIRCA 2012 Case Studies
9.9 MB












What is the National Climate Assessment (NCA)?

The NCA informs the nation about already observed climate changes, the current status of climate, and anticipated trends for the future. Conducted under the auspices of the United States Global Change Research Act of 1990, which requires a report to the US President and the Congress every four years, the NCA:

  • Evaluates the effectiveness of climate mitigation and adaptation activities
  • Identifies economic opportunities that arise as the climate changes
  • Integrates scientific information from multiple sources
  • Highlights key findings and gaps in our knowledge

For more on the NCA:

Final versions of all NCA3 chapters, summaries, handouts, figures, and presentations can be downloaded from this link.

The data for figures created by the Technical Support Unit (TSU) of the NCA is available at the link below:

Hawaii-Pacific Highlights Briefing of the 3rd U.S. National Climate Assessment, May 6th, 2014

On May 6, 2014 the East-West Center and Pacific RISA hosted a briefing for the release of the Pacific Islands Regional chapter of the Third National Climate Assessment. A video of the briefing can be found here.

Hawaii and Pacific Islands Regional Town Hall Meeting, Dec. 11, 2012

The first in a series of regional town hall meetings for the 2013 NCA was held in conjunction with the Pacific Islands Regional Climate Forum at the East-West Center in Honolulu on December 11, 2012.  The NCA presentation slides are available for download here (PDF, 1.75 MB).

What topics does PIRCA focus on?

Three regional focus areas for PIRCA were established at the March 2011 Pacific Climate Information System (PaCIS) Steering Committee meeting: (1) Preserving fresh water resources and minimizing the impacts of drought; (2) Fostering community resilience to the impacts of sea-level rise, coastal inundation, and extreme weather; and (3) Sustaining marine, freshwater, and terrestrial ecosystems.

The PIRCA examines climate change impacts and adaptive capacity of communities regarding the water-energy nexus; cultural resources and indigenous environmental knowledge; regional and community economies; policy; urbanization and infrastructure vulnerabilities; ecosystem services; ocean resource sustainability; and coastal zone management. Specific topics of interest include:

  • Climate variability and change science, including historical observations, trends and climatologies.
  • Freshwater resource sustainability; flow trends; groundwater recharge; demographic stresses.
  • Sea level rise and coastal inundation projections and scenarios; current and projected coastal hazards and impacts.
  • Ecosystem assessments including climate effects on ocean acidification and coral health; SLR impacts on ecosystems; saltwater intrusion; and species/habitat responses to precipitation and temperature changes.


The PIRCA Process

PIRCA Partners

Primary responsiblity for PIRCA is shared by:

  • Pacific RISA, funded by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and supported through the East-West Center
  • NOAA’s National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service (NESDIS) National Climatic Data Center (NCDC)
  • Pacific Climate Information System (PaCIS)
  • Pacific Islands Climate Change Cooperative (PICCC), funded by the Department of Interior’s US Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, and US Geological Survey.

Other key contribu­tors include the NOAA National Ocean Service; NOAA Pacific Services Center; NOAA Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center; NOAA Center for Operational Ocean­ographic Products and Services; NOAA Coastal Storms Program; NOAA Coastal Services Center; the Pacific Risk Management Ohana (PRiMO); National Marine Fisher­ies Service; United States Geological Survey Pacific Islands Water Science Center; United States Fish and Wildlife Service; University of Hawai‘i School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology department of Oceanography; UH International Pacific Research Center; UH Sea Level Center; UH Sea Grant and the Center for Island Climate Adaptation & Policy; Water and Environmental Research Institute, University of Guam; and the Western Regional Climate Center.

External Evaluation of the Reach of the PIRCA

Dr. Susi Moser completed an external evaluation in 2012 of the Pacific RISA program’s success in reaching and influencing different audiences in Hawai‘i and the Pacific region. Dr. Moser conducted key informant interviews, deployed an online survey, and analyzed event, website, and media data to 1) ascertain the perceptions of interest in and usefulness of the Pacific RISA-led 2012 Pacific Islands Regional Climate Assessment (PIRCA; Keener et al. 2012); 2) determine the geographic spread and reach of different types of stakeholders and capture interest in PIRCA information; 3) identify indicators of how the PIRCA was received; and 4) identify future information needs and ways to improve future assessments. The evaluation revealed that the PIRCA has done extraordinarily well in its outreach and influence, with several indicators illustrating that the Pacific RISA has been instrumental in achieving exceptional results.

 Dr. Moser’s final report was delivered in December 2013 and shared with Pacific RISA partners, the RISA program office, and NCA/USGCRP partners (Moser 2013). Recommendations from the evaluation suggest opportunities for future directions of PIRCA and NCA outreach and sustaining regional assessment efforts.

For more information, please contact:

Dr. John Marra, Regional Climate Services Director, Pacific Region

Dr. Victoria Keener, Lead Principal Investigator & Research Fellow, Pacific RISA

Dr. Melissa Finucane, Senior Behavioral & Social Scientist, RAND Corporation; Senior Fellow, East-West Center

Deanna Spooner, Coordinator, Pacific Islands Climate Change Cooperative


Pacific RISA