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Education & Outreach

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. Education and outreach therefore comprise a major focus in Pacific RISA’s core mission.

Climate Matters Documoments

Dr. Melissa Finucane interviews Ka‘u rancher Michelle Galimba for the “Climate Matters for Ranchers in Hawai‘i” documoment. (Source: Victoria Keener)

Pacific RISA created a series of climate-themed “Documoment” videos about how climate matters to different people and industries in the Pacific Islands. Each video clip focuses on a different aspect of how climate information matters to people of different professions around the region. For more information, see the Climate Matters Documoments page.

  • On the Big Island, we spoke to independent cattle rancher Michelle Galimba about how drought on her Ka‘u ranch affects both her livelihood and locally-produced food.
  • In Nānākuli, O‘ahu, at the PVT construction landfill, Vice President Steve Jacobs proudly showed us how PVT responded to a climate forecast of a strong La Niña event by upgrading its storm drains, thus avoiding potential catastrophe when a 100-year storm dropped over 10 inches of rain in 24 hours.
  • On the famous beaches of Waikiki, O‘ahu, the president of Kyo-Ya Company, Greg Dickens, told us about the changes in the Waikiki shoreline he has observed over the last 50 years, and how potential sea-level rise effects on Waikiki beaches could be devastating for the local tourist economy.

Workshops and Meetings

On July 8 and 15, 2011, the East-West Center hosted workshops organized by Pacific RISA on “Climate Change Impacts on Freshwater Resources in Hawai‘i.” The workshops sought to understand decisions about how to manage freshwater resources sustainably in the face of a changing climate. As part of Pacific RISA’s efforts to promote dialogue among key decision makers, the two workshops brought together academics, policymakers, technical specialists, and community and non-profit leaders to answer four key questions:

  • What impacts will climate change have on freshwater resources in the next 10–50 years?
  • What do we need to know to effectively prepare for these impacts?
  • What organizational, capacity, political, and other challenges do we face when gathering and using climate information to address these impacts?
  • How can we best confront these challenges?
Participants at the July 15, 2011 Pacific RISA workshop at the East-West Center. (Source: Pacific RISA)

In February 2011, ICAP and the University of Hawai‘i Kamakakūokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies convened a roundtable of natural resource specialists and decision makers to review current trends affecting the water supply and explore approaches to improve resiliency in Hawai‘i’s freshwater systems. The event was second in the ‘O Ke Au I Kāhuli: Pehea Lā Ka Hawai‘i E Pono Ai’ series of traveling forums.

  • Over 70 members of the campus and broader community were in attendance. Speakers included William Aila, Jr., Director of the State of Hawai‘i Department of Land and Natural Resources, and Dr. Tom Giambelluca, Professor of Geography at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa.

In September 2011, Project Assistant Rachel Miller and EWC Fellow and RISA Project Manager Dr. Victoria Keener spent five days in Majuro, the capital of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, meeting with representatives from government, academia, and business about fair representation and contributing inputs to the National Climate Assessment and the PIRCA report.

  • Meetings included stakeholders from the Majuro National Weather Service; the University of the South Pacific; the Marshall Islands Journal; the College of the Marshall Islands; Namdrik Atoll Local Government; Ministry of Resources and Development; Marshall Islands EPA; Marshall Islands Conservation Society; Office of Environmental Planning and Policy Coordination; Robert Reimers Enterprises and Pacific Pure Water; Martina Enterprises; and the US Embassy.

In September 2010, Pacific RISA Project Assistant Rachel Miller participated in two dialogues conducted by the Pacific Climate Information System (PaCIS) in Guam and American Samoa, entitled “Dialogue with Local Decision-makers about Water Resource and Drought-related Issues in Light of a Changing Climate.” Miller traveled with a team of five researchers from various branches of NOAA and the Pacific ENSO Applications Climate Center (PEAC), as well as the Pacific Islands Climate Change Cooperative (PICCC). The team conducted meetings in both places with diverse stakeholders to discuss local needs, capacity, and decision-making capabilities in regard to water resources and climate change more broadly.

  • Meetings in Guam included stakeholders from the Telecommunication and Distance Education Operation (TADEO)/PeaceSat; US Senator B.J. Cruz’s office; University of Guam Water and Environmental Research Institute (WERI), Marine Lab, and Center for Island Sustainability; the US National Park Service; National Weather Service Weather Forecast Office Guam; Bureau of Statistics and Planning; and the Department of Agriculture.
  • Meetings in American Samoa included stakeholders from American Samoa Community College Land Grant Office; National Weather Service Weather Forecast Office Samoa; Department of Marine and Wildlife Resources; Haleck Enterprises; Pago Pago Pure Water; Department of Homeland Security; National Park Service; American Samoa Power Authority; Island Breeze Water; Department of Agriculture; Department of Commerce; Pacific Energy; Coral Reef Advisory Group; Department of Health; Department of Public Works; Department of Education; Bluesky Communications; Department of Parks and Recreation; American Samoa Visitors Bureau; and American Samoa Environmental Protection Authority.
Pacific RISA Project Assistant Rachel Miller participated in PaCIS stakeholder dialogues in 2011 on Guam (left) and American Samoa (right). (Source: Charlene Felkley)
Local stakeholders at a community meeting during PaCIS stakeholder dialogues in 2011 in American Samoa. (Source: Charlene Felkley)


A press release was distributed highlighting the International Pacific Research Center’s findings on the impacts of global warming on marine boundary-layer cloud dynamics in the Pacific, which was published by Lauer et al. in the Journal of Climate. This paper served as the basis for interviews with Drs. Kevin Hamilton and Axel Lauer, resulting in articles in the Discovery Channel News, New Scientist, Japan Herald, Tehran Times, and China’s Yeeyan News.

Pacific RISA team members and partners have been featured on various local news media outlets, including Hawai‘i Public Radio’s “The Conversation”, and PBS “Insights”. For more information on Pacific RISA in the media, see the Media page.


Dr. Melissa Finucane gave a public presentation on “Pacific RISA: The Climate Adaptation Partnership for the Pacific” at the SOEST (School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology) workshop on the Science of Climate Change in Honolulu, Hawai‘i, January 20, 2011. Dr. Finucane also presented a poster on “Climate Adaptation by Pacific Islanders: Integrating Physical and Social Sciences to Support Decision Making about Complex Systems on Multiple Timescales” at the annual meeting of the Society for Judgment and Decision Making, St. Louis, Missouri, November 19–22, 2010.

At a meeting hosted by the Pacific Islands Climate Change Cooperative (PICCC), Dr. Melissa Finucane met with Department of Interior Assistant Secretary Thomas Strickland and Department of Commerce Assistant Secretary Dr. Larry Robinson in December of 2010. PICCC and Pacific Climate Information System (PaCIS) representatives discussed effective interagency communication, coordination, and collaboration on climate change issues in the Pacific Islands region.

Dr. Axel Lauer gave a public presentation on the “State of Regional Atmospheric Modeling for the Hawai‘i Climate Prediction Problem” at the SOEST workshop on the Science of Climate Change in Honolulu, Hawai‘i, January 19–20, 2011.

Pacific RISA Project Manager Dr. Victoria Keener attended the NOAA/Sea Grant Climate Adaptation Workshop during April 18–21, 2011, in Kihei, Maui. Dr. Keener informally discussed downscaling of climate information for island-specific water resource planning with County of Maui Water and Planning representatives, in preparation for Year Two research activities linking climate and hydrological simulation models.

In May 2011, Drs. Melissa Finucane and RISA collaborator John Marra presented a paper entitled “The Challenge of Understanding and Communicating Climate Change” to local business leaders at the AsiaPacific Breakfast Briefing.

Dr. Melissa Finucane presented a briefing, “Managing Climate Risks Facing Pacific Islanders: Why Science Alone Won’t Solve the Climate Crisis,” at the Hawai‘i State Legislators Briefing at the East-West Center on June 29, 2011.

Pacific RISA Principle Investigator Dr. Melissa Finucane presenting at a meeting in 2010. (Source: Pacific RISA)

Dr. Melissa Finucane and collaborators Dr. John Marra, Maxine Burkett, and Deanna Spooner attended and participated in the Futures and Visioning Workshop for Developing a Statewide Climate Change Policy, August 22–23, 2011, organized by the State of Hawai‘i’s Department of Business Economic Development and Tourism, Office of Planning. The workshop included public, private, and community stakeholders, who engaged in a series of discussions and small group activities facilitated by Drs. Jim Dator and Donna Ching. Outputs from this meeting were used to inform the drafting of a Hawai‘i State Climate Adaptation Policy in the State Planning Act (HRS §226–101) that was introduced to the legislature in early 2012.

East-West Center Fellow and Pacific RISA Project Manager Dr. Victoria Keener presented a guest lecture at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa Department of Geography’s Climatology Seminar on September 28, 2011, entitled “Use of Spectral Methods for Extracting Non-Stationary Hydro-Climatic Oscillations.”


The Pacific RISA has been heavily involved in organizing and providing support to the National Climate Assessment (NCA) with focused involvement in the Pacific Islands Regional Climate Assessment (PIRCA), a collaborative effort that assesses the state of climate knowledge, impacts, and adaptive capacity in three subregions: (1) the Western North Pacific, (2) the Central North Pacific, and (3) the Central South Pacific.

PIRCA activities include dialogs, workshops, and a regional forum to facilitate sharing, analyzing, and reporting on scientific consensus, knowledge gaps, sectoral needs, and adaptive capacity for addressing the changing climate. The most immediate focus is on bringing together scientific experts and practitioners to generate an integrated report that will provide a regional contribution to the National Climate Assessment (NCA). The report is now in publication. The PIRCA engages federal, state, and local government agencies, non-government organizations, businesses, and community groups to inform and prioritize their activities in the face of a changing climate. The PIRCA relies on the regional culture of communication and collaboration to support a sustained climate assessment process, as well as regional Climate Impacts Fora to be held in late 2012 and 2013.


In June 2011, the Pacific RISA hosted representatives from the NOAA Climate Program Office. RISA National Program Manager Adam Parris and Sea Grant Knauss Fellow Chelsea Friedman visited Honolulu for three days, and were treated to presentations from and strategic meetings with Pacific RISA principal investigators. One of the highlights of the visit was a tour into the Waihe‘e Tunnel, where Honolulu Board of Water Supply Hydrologist Geologist Glenn Oyama gave participants an inside look at the mountain from which much of O‘ahu’s drinking water comes. After braving the tunnel, participants hiked to a waterfall and pumping station farther up the mountain.

RISA National Program Manager Adam Parris and Sea Grant Knauss Fellow Chelsea Friedman join Pacific RISA team members and partners on a Waihe‘e Tunnel tour. (Source: Victoria Keener)
Honolulu Board of Water Supply’s Glenn Oyama prepping Pacific RISA visitors and team before the Waihe‘e Tunnel tour. (Source: Victoria Keener)

In August 2011, Dr. Wendy Lin Bartels (post-doctoral researcher, University of Florida and the Southeast Climate Consortium RISA) met with Pacific RISA researchers to provide input and post-workshop data evaluation. As an agricultural anthropologist and ecologist in the southeast, Dr. Bartels was interested in visiting a small farm to view local practices. We spent the day visiting with the Reppuns at their family farm in Waiāhole, O‘ahu, discussing freshwater policy and local hydrology and agriculture, sharing a meal, and helping with farm duties such as weeding the taro patches and harvesting corn.

Other visitors to the Pacific RISA have included Peggy Denny, Program Administrator, i*recycle Program, Guam; Sam Walker, Institutional Researcher, Center for Island Sustainability, University of Guam; Taylor Savusa and Danielle Mauga, American Samoa Power Authority; and Dan Ferguson, Program Manager, CLIMAS (the southwest region’s RISA). These visitors participated as observers in the Climate Change Impacts on Freshwater Resources in Hawai‘i workshops. The visitors offered critiques of the methods and data, as well as assessed if similar workshops would be helpful or feasible in their own locales.

Header image: Chip Guard, WFO Guam Warning Coordination Meteorologist and Pacific RISA collaborator, presents to officials in Chuuk State, Federated States of Micronesia. (Source: Pacific ENSO Applications Climate Center)


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