Informing Pacific Islands Adaptation Decision Making Using Coastal Models

Using lessons learned in Louisiana, The Water Institute of the Gulf is working with communities in the Pacific to determine how best to stabilize eroding shorelines and provide more resiliency from ocean forces.

Aug 27, 2017

Pacific Island Home

The Institute’s focus is to provide technical support for the Pacific communities’ work on addressing coastal erosion issues.

Using lessons learned in Louisiana, The Water Institute of the Gulf is working with communities in the Pacific to determine how best to stabilize eroding shorelines and provide more resiliency from ocean forces. The Institute’s Director of Coastal Ecology Tim Carruthers and Director of Physical Processes and Sediment Systems Mead Allison are heading the project, called “Informing Pacific Islands Adaptation Decision Making Using Coastal Models.”

This project is being done in partnership with the Pacific Ecosystem Based Adaptation to Climate Change (PEBACC) being implemented by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) in the countries of Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, and Fiji. The Institute is specifically working with the communities on Taveuni Island, Fiji.

The Institute’s focus is to provide technical support for the Pacific communities’ work on addressing coastal erosion issues.

Carruthers traveled to Fiji in late March to set up prioritization of adaptation needs, meet with communities to discuss their coastal erosion, and find sites to gather data to inform models currently being created at the Institute. In June, Carruthers and Allison brought an Institute team back to Fiji to collect data, focusing on the Somosomo and Naselesele villages in Taveuni Island. The Institute team measured land elevation using a Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) sensor, a remote sensing method that uses a laser to create a visual image of the land’s elevation.

 Along the coastal shoreline, concrete was used to weigh down the wave monitoring instruments designed to take detailed measurements including wave period, length, height, and depth while the Institute team was in Fiji.

Equipped with batteries that will allow them to log data over the next three months, the wave instruments are still on the ocean floor until Carruthers returns to collect them in September. The data showing how waves move across the area will not only allow for validation of the Institute’s model, but it will also inform model runs the communities requested. The validated model outputs will then be made available to the communities and local managers. Once the Institute has provided technical support and discussed the options the communities are considering, the communities will decide which solutions would best fit their needs.