Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced on October 7 the establishment of the Pacific Islands Climate Science Center, a consortium led by the University of Hawaii at Manoa, the University of Hawaii at Hilo, and the University of Guam. Together with two other new regional climate science centers, the Pacific Islands Climate Science Center will be part of a network of eight regional centers being established by the Department of the Interior. The centers will serve to provide land managers in federal, state and local agencies access to the best science available regarding climate change and other landscape-scale stressors impacting the nation's natural and cultural resources.
"Selecting the locations for the final three of our eight Climate Science Centers is a major milestone in our efforts to implement our department-wide climate change strategy," Secretary Salazar said. "The nationwide network of Climate Science Centers will provide the scientific talent and commitment necessary for understanding how climate change and other landscape stressors will change the face of the United States, and how the Department of the Interior, as our nation's chief steward of natural and cultural resources, can prepare and respond."
"The University of Hawaii is conducting groundbreaking research in the area of climate change, and we're excited to be recognized for our expertise in this area with the establishment of this climate science center," said UH President M.R.C. Greenwood. "Together with the University of Guam and other government and institutional partners, we will continue our efforts to understand the nature of climate systems and improve the predictability of climate change and variations, particularly as it affects the Asia Pacific region."
The university consortium for the Pacific Islands Climate Center will be led by Kevin Hamilton, director of the International Pacific Research Center (IPRC) at UH Manoa; Donald Price, director of the Tropical Conservation Biology and Environmental Science (TCBES) graduate program at UH Hilo; and Frank Camacho, executive director of the Center for Island Sustainability at the University of Guam. Key contributions to the development of the successful proposal were provided by Charles "Chip" Fletcher, associate dean of UH Manoa's School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), UH Manoa Professor of Geography Thomas Giambelluca, and Samuel Walker, institutional researcher for Renewable/Alternative Energy Management at the University of Guam.
"The new climate center will serve as a resource for federal agencies and other stakeholders in providing the necessary science input into policy decisions. It will also support research and graduate student training on a variety of environmental concerns with a primary scientific focus on understanding the effects of climate change and variability on island ecosystems," said Hamilton.
Hamilton noted further that he is "particularly excited to see the new center closely linked with the long-established climate research center at Manoa, the IPRC. The IPRC focuses principally on basic research in climate variability and change as manifested in the physical properties of the atmosphere and ocean, while the new center will facilitate study of a broader range of fundamental and applied topics related to climate."
The center will also expand on the partnership between the federal, state and non-government agencies and the Tropical Conservation Biology and Environmental Science graduate program at UH Hilo.
"This partnership will focus on the impact of climate change on the unique biodiversity in the Pacific region," said Price.
The Pacific Islands Climate Science Center will directly involve both university and federal personnel. The university consortium anticipates initial funding exceeding $3 million over five years. Over time, the Department of the Interior will station several federal scientists to work at the center. Additional funding may also become available to provide competitive grants for which researchers at the consortium may apply.
University of Hawaii ‑ SOEST