UOG co-authors ‘Climate Change in Guam’ report with guidance for leaders
A new climate change assessment posits that Guam may be in for some hotter days, less rainfall, and higher sea levels, but proper risk management planning at the local level can help mitigate damage to the environment, public health, and the economy.
The University of Guam worked with Hawaii counterparts, local scientists, and natural resource managers to produce the Pacific Islands Regional Climate Assessment’s latest report for Guam’s outlook on climate change impacts. The report, released Nov. 9, detailed the major challenges Guam is facing or will face if current climate conditions persist. These impacts are perceived to be not only a threat to natural resources, but to the community’s social and economic welfare.
“With this resource, we can plan effective risk management practices to mitigate threats to the environment, public health, food security, and other sectors crucial to our community. I am honored to participate in a key report that will be helpful to decision-makers, developers, and natural resource managers,” said Romina King, UOG assistant professor of geography and co-author of the report.
The main issues the report raises for managers and policymakers include:
“The key concerns raised in the PIRCA report are based on the best available data, technical reports, and peer-reviewed journal articles. We should not despair, but rather, approach this as a pivotal opportunity for Guam to consider innovative solutions that protect our environment and our infrastructure while also growing the local economy so that we increase our resilience,” King said.
King serves as UOG’s lead for the Pacific Islands Climate Adaptation Science Center and as vice chairperson of the Guam Climate Change Resiliency Commission, working alongside Guam Waterworks Authority’s Evangeline Lujan. The two organizations participated in an October 2019 workshop with the Hawaii-based Pacific Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments to exchange knowledge and expertise that informed the report. While it paints a grim picture for what is to come, it also provides guidance as to what stakeholders should expect and what they can do to lessen these effects. For instance, water resource managers can be proactive in monitoring the quality and availability of the island’s freshwater sources, while public health and safety officials can develop plans to help combat more frequent wildfires, floods, and typhoons
Co-author Zena Grecni, a sustained climate assessment specialist with the Pacific RISA, said the contributions of Guam experts were crucial in identifying key issues and considerations to better inform the public on these growing concerns.
“University of Guam scientists spotlighted key findings from local climate research, and managers described the ways that climate change affects their resource areas. The knowledge they helped build is a strong foundation for Guam in developing effective, locally appropriate options for climate adaptation and resilience,” Grecni said.
Wendy Miles, Victoria Keener, and Abby Frazier, all from the East-West Center in Hawaii, are also co-authors of the PIRCA report, along with more than 30 technical contributors from local government, non-governmental organizations, and research entities.
The PIRCA is funded and supported by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s RISA Program (through the Pacific RISA), the East-West Center’s Research Program, the PI-CASC, and the U.S. Global Change Research Program. In conjunction with other regional assessment efforts, the PIRCA provides guidance for decision-makers seeking to better understand how climate variability and change impact the Pacific Islands region and its peoples.