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CCCCC adds LiDAR to boost Caribbean’s Climate Change Fight

Credit: Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre. Not for use without written permission.

Belmopan, Belize; November 30, 2018 – The Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) through the USAID-funded Climate Change Adaptation Program (USAID CCAP) is about to launch its most recent initiative to significantly boost the Caribbean’s ability to limit the ravages of climate change by improving its capability to monitor and plan for physical changes to the land and marine environments.

On Monday, December 3, the Centre will launch a US$2million Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) System, acquired through the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) three-year CCAP Project.

The acquisition of an Airborne LiDAR system by the Centre – also known as the 5Cs – is possibly the most significant achievement for data capture in the Caribbean. For decades, countries of the region have clamoured for LiDAR produced data the high cost all but prohibited its application; and the use of  LiDAR was made more difficult since such services had to be sourced from outside the region, adding to costs. At the same time, the requirement for more accurate data to provide evidence of climate change impacts has grown and is rapidly becoming the standard for climate financing.

The purchase of the LiDAR system was made possible through funds provided by the Barbados-based USAID Eastern and Southern Caribbean Office through the 5Cs executed Climate Change Adaptation Program (USAID CCAP).  The use of an airborne LiDAR is the result of a collaboration with Maya Island Air (MIA), a locally-owned Belizean airline company. These critical developments also influenced the Caribbean Development Bank and the Government of Italy to provide financial support for the LiDAR system, which is soon to become operational in a region-wide exercise to map some 10,000 square miles of vulnerable coastal areas in the region.

Dr Kenrick Leslie, the Executive Director of the Centre welcomed the launch of the Centre’s latest tool in building climate resilience.  The system enhances the Centre’s capacity to provide the region with critical data essential for building climate resilient communities. He noted that with the LiDAR system, “Caribbean leaders will now have access to the data set necessary for the development of tools for use in vulnerability and capacity assessments and early warning systems, and tangible adaptation and disaster risk reduction initiatives.  The documentation of the state of the current coastal bathymetric and topographic environment will allow for the development and implementation of appropriate sustainability policies.”

The technology is capable of simultaneously gathering topographic and bathymetric (depth of the seafloor) data, which are to be used to provide detailed information of the region’s coastal areas, reefs and seafloor to produce flood and inundation maps and other products.

Christopher Cushing, Mission Director of the USAID Eastern and Southern Caribbean is expected to formally hand over the equipment to the 5Cs at the launch. This is the Agency’s latest contribution to the regional data enhancement capability under the USAID CCAP. In addition to the LiDAR, five data buoys have been added to the regional Coral Reef Early Warning System (CREWS) network, and 50 Automatic Weather Stations (AWS) have been added to the regional climate and weather monitoring and data collection efforts in the Eastern and Southern Caribbean.

The project has also provided a computer server that will enhance the input, processing and sharing of the vast amount of data generated from the equipment acquired under the project. The information will ensure that the CCCCC, its partners and regional Universities are able to provide accurate and country-specific climate and climate change data to help countries improve their countries abilities to protect their citizens from the effects of climate change.

Dr Leslie has expressed gratitude to USAID,  the Caribbean Development Bank, the Government of Italy and his own staff for the commitment to the Centre and the region.  The Executive Director also commended Maya Island Air for collaborating with the Centre to outfit a plane with the LiDAR.

With a brand new Cessna aircraft fully customised to fly LiDAR missions, the partnership between the 5Cs and Maya Island Air also represents a new era of public-private partnerships and corporate social responsibility for the benefit of resilience building to the impacts of climate change in the Caribbean.

“Their support will help us to provide a system that was otherwise prohibitive.  It is the tangible demonstration of the Airline’s corporate contribution to the Region’s Climate Change initiative”, said Dr. Leslie.

The USAID CCAP Project is helping to build the capacities of regional, national, and local partners to generate and use climate data for decision-making in government and other sectors. The project is also working to strengthen the ability of beneficiary countries to develop successful proposals to access international climate financing.

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The Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre coordinates the region’s response to climate change. Officially opened in August 2005, the Centre is the key node for information on climate change issues and the region’s response to managing and adapting to climate change. We maintain the Caribbean’s most extensive repository of information and data on climate change specific to the region, which in part enables us to provide climate change-related policy advice and guidelines to CARICOM member states through the CARICOM Secretariat. In this role, the Centre is recognized by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the United Nations Environment Programme, and other international agencies as the focal point for climate change issues in the Caribbean. The Centre is also a United Nations Institute for Training and Research recognised Centre of Excellence, one of an elite few. Learn more about how we’re working to make the Caribbean more climate resilient by perusing The Implementation Plan.

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