A multinational research initiative, the CARIB-COAST project, is involving the University of Puerto Rico in a shared undertaking to capture and share data about climate change in the Caribbean.
The CARIB-COAST project is funded by the European Regional Development Fund and the Bureau of Geological and Mining Research in Guadeloupe. The CARIB-COAST project last year included Puerto Rico’s Caribbean Coastal Ocean Observing System as a research partner. Other partners include The University of the West Indies (UWI) St Augustine and the Institute of Marine Affairs in Trinidad and Tobago, UWI Jamaica, and the Association of Caribbean States. This year, the University of Puerto Rico’s CARICOOS (Caribbean Integrated Coastal Ocean Observing System) is joining in.
CARIB-COAST has three priorities:
- Observation and modeling of coastal hydrodynamics, including development of instruments for the purpose
- Monitoring coastal erosion, including the development of a network to share information being gathered and standardizarion of the protocols for data collection
- Decision support and risk management tools, including storage and dissemination of gathered information
There is a plan to create a website which can archive all the information about storms, erosion, and the effects of climate change. The project plans to make this website available for comments and modeling as well as information pooling.
Climate change and its effects on Puerto Rico have been concerns for over a decade. A 2018 report from the U.S. Global Change Research Program highlighted issues such as coastal erosion, declining amounts of arable land for agriculture, threats to fresh water, and increasing chances of “extreme events” such as hurricanes.
The report pointed out that Puerto Rico doesn’t have the economic strength of coastal states of the U.S., and is therefore less able to take action to mitigate the effects of climate change. The economic impact of changes which could affect tourism were also discussed. Water safety and sanitation issues are also particularly concerning for Puerto Rico, since the Island’s infrastructure has not kept pace with new technologies over the years.
The government of Puerto Rico has undertaken new initiatives to address these concerns. Governor Rossello says that these plans put Puerto Rico “at the forefront of climate resiliency” and call on governors of States to join Puerto Rico in taking action.