Pacific Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments (Pacific RISA)

Overview

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments (RISA) program was created in 1995 to pioneer innovative mechanisms for enhancing the value of climate information and products for understanding and responding to a variety of challenges associated with climate variability and change at the regional scale. Currently, there are eleven region-specific RISA teams (see box) working in sustained partnerships with local decision-makers.

At the core of the RISA philosophy is the observation that climate variability and change are global phenomena, but impacts primarily manifest at regional scales in issues related to changing hydrologic cycles, increasing vulnerability to natural hazards, agricultural disruptions, environmental disturbances, and sea level rise. Often, these climate challenges combine with and exacerbate other stressors, such as population growth, energy development, and transitions in local economies, culture, and social relationships. The types of products and management efforts undertaken by the RISAs vary widely, but share the common feature of emerging from real-world challenges faced by stakeholders.

The “RISA model” of climate services that has emerged relies heavily on participatory approaches featuring two-way dialogues between researchers and user groups, uses iterative and sustained relationships to build mutual understanding and trust, and is implemented through collaborative, multi-disciplinary and multi-partner teams delineated by decision-relevant contexts shaped by geography, sector, and timing. Additionally, the approach is evolutionary and opportunistic, adapting to the influx of new constituencies—many of which are actively “cultivated” by the RISA teams—new advances in science and technology, an improved understanding of decision contexts, and responsive to the opportunities associated with climate events (e.g., droughts) and emerging policy initiatives.

The Pacific RISA mission includes the following objectives:

  • Meet critical climate information needs in the Pacific Region through multidisciplinary climate research, assessment, education, and training;
  • Provide integrated, locally relevant climate information to decision makers and communities in the Pacific Region;
  • Enhance regional and local capabilities to manage climate risks, build resilience in key sectors, and support sustainable development;
  • Promote collaboration among Pacific regional, U.S. national, and international institutions and programs providing climate information products and services.

Our Vision: Resilient and sustainable Pacific communities using climate information to manage risks and support practical decision-making about climate variability and change.he approach is evolutionary and opportunistic, adapting to the influx of new constituencies—many of which are actively “cultivated” by the RISA teams—new advances in science and technology, an improved understanding of decision contexts, and responsive to the opportunities associated with climate events (e.g., droughts) and emerging policy initiatives.

Adaptation work

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. Fresh water is critical for all islands, and the Pacific is no exception.

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