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Caribbean at Annual Meeting of the AMS

Dr Leonard Nurse, Chairman of the Board and Mr Carlos Fuller, International and Regional Liaison Officer of the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) attended the 99th Annual Meeting of the American Meteorological Society (AMS) in their personal capacities. Other participants from the Caribbean at the meeting held in Phoenix, Arizona, USA from 6 to 10 January 2019 included Dr David Farrell, Principal of the Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology (CIMH), Mr Glendell de Souza, Deputy Coordinating Director of the Caribbean Meteorological Organization (CMO) and representatives of the national Meteorological Services of the Antigua and Barbuda, Guyana and Suriname.

There were several presentations by scientists from the CIMH. Shawn Boyce presented on “Impact-Based Forecasting and Assessment in the Caribbean”.  Lawrence Pologne delivered a presentation on “The Potential, Viability and Co-benefits of Developing Wind Energy to Mitigate Climate Change in the Caribbean” based on his University of the West Indies (UWI), Cave Hill doctoral thesis. Branden Spooner, an Intern at CIMH, presented on “Using Virtual Reality Technology as a Tool in Disaster Risk Reduction”.

There were several presentations of interest to the region. Kristie Ebi delivered on “Building Resilience of Health Systems in Pacific Island Least Developed Countries”. She also worked with Cory Morin of the University of Washington who delivered a presentation on, “Use of Seasonal Climate Forecasts to Develop an Early-Warning System for Dengue Fever Risk in Central America and the Caribbean”. They expressed an interest with collaborating with the CCCCC in developing this warning system.

The CIMH, and the national Meteorological Services of Belize and Jamaica were used in Catherine Vaughan’s, “Evaluation of Regional Climate Services: Learning from Seasonal Scale Examples across the Americas”. She is working out of the International Research Institute for Climate and Society at Colombia University.

Belize may find the presentation by Jorge Tamayo of the State Meteorological Agency, Spain, on “New Projects on Iberoamerican Meteorological Cooperation” of special interest. One project is on the development of a lightening detection network for Central America. They are also collaborating with the Regional Committee of Hydrological Services (CRRH) and the Central American Integration System (SICA) on a meeting in 2019 on the delivery of climate services.

In an interesting session on Communicating Climate Change, Mike Nelson of KMGH-TV in Denver Colorado, presented on “Communicating Climate Change – Be the Expert in the Living Room”, and Hank Jenkins-Smith of the University of Oklahoma delivered a presentation on “Stability and Instability in Individual Beliefs about Climate Change”. Jenkins-Smith noted that based on polling trends, conservatives were more likely to change their beliefs on climate change while liberals were more likely to retain their opinions on climate change.

In a session on Climate Extremes in the Tropical Americas: Past, Present and Future, Derek Thompson of Louisiana State University (LSU) presented on “Spatiotemporal Patterns and Recurrence Intervals of Tropical Cyclone Strikes for the Caribbean Islands from 1901 to 2017”, and Prashant Sardeshmukh, CIRES presented on “Can We Trust Model Projections of Changes in Climate Extremes over the Tropical Americas?”. He noted that dynamics played a more important role than atmospheric temperature in explaining extreme weather events. Current climate models were not capturing this aspect accurately and more work was required in this area. Kristine DeLong of LSU presented her work on “Last Interglacial Sea Surface Temperature Variability in the Tropical Atlantic Warm Pool: A Comparison of Model and Coral-Based Reconstructions”, which focused mainly on paleoclimatic reconstructions based on coral samples in the Caribbean. She noted the importance of collaboration with Caribbean institutions.

The 100th AMS Meeting will be held in Boson, Massachusetts from 12 to 16 January 2020. Caribbean meteorologists, hydrologists and climate change experts are encouraged to attend these meetings to be appraised of the most recent research on these subjects.

Central American professionals learn about farmer citizen science for climate adaptation

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Central America Training

In August and September 2016, agricultural professionals in three Central American countries, Nicaragua, Honduras and Guatemala, learned about an exciting methodology to involve farmers as citizen scientists.

The methodology – called ‘tricot’ as an abbreviation from ‘triadic comparisons of technologies’ – has been designed by Bioversity International with the aim of reaching a large number of farmers with participatory trials for climate adaptation.

By involving a large number of farmers working in different production environments, the tricot methodology allows scientists to collect more data and increase their understanding of climate adaptation. It also serves as a bridge between research and development practice, by putting technologies to the test directly on the farm.

The trial format is simple: each farmer tests three agricultural technologies and judges the best and worst for different aspects of performance. These data are then matched with environmental data to be analyzed. So far, we have done trials to test crop varieties, but this methodology can be used to study also other agricultural technologies.

During the course, participants learned about the theory behind the new approach and had the opportunity to do practical exercises. One of the main tools they learned about is the ClimMob platform, which provides digital support throughout the testing process. ClimMob supports trial design, data collection with mobile phones, and data analysis and report creation.

Participants – 79 professionals representing 33 organizations including farmer organizations, development NGOs, agricultural research institutes and universities – did an example trial, designed their own project and discussed how this new methodology fits into new and ongoing activities.

In Nicaragua, participants decided to go for a larger trial than originally planned, now that they fully understood the methodology. In Honduras, participants discussed about how the new methodology fits in ongoing varietal testing schemes and decided to apply it to a wide range of crops. In Guatemala, the national agricultural research institute, ICTA, sent a large delegation of young researchers to learn about the new methodology. Brandon Madriz and Jacob van Etten of Bioversity International served as course instructors.

Course participants rated both the course and the platform. In each country, the course was rated as excellent. The platform, still in beta version, was rated by course participants as ‘good’ according to the widely used System Usability Score. During the course, participants provided many useful suggestions to improve the digital platform.

The course also served as the kick-off meeting of a new project on agrobiodiversity management for climate adaptation and food security, implemented by the Collaborative Program on Participatory Plant Breeding in Mesoamerica. The project, coordinated by the Guatemalan farmer organization Asocuch, is financed by the Benefit Sharing Fund of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture.

The tricot methodology will be used in this project, but the course participants also identified a large number of opportunities to use the platform beyond this particular project.

This research is part of the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security and supported by CGIAR Fund Donors.

Credit: Excerpt taken from the Agriculture in the News: issues affecting Caribbean agriculture 11-17 September 2016 

5Cs explores partnership with universities

CCCCC partnership with Universities

CCCCC Deputy Director and Science Advisor Dr Ulric Troz with the USF delegation

Christy Prouty, a Ph.D. student in Environmental Engineering at the University of South Florida, reflects on her recent visit to Belize and the 5Cs offices in Belmopan, Belize. Her area of research includes systems dynamics modeling which is used to understand the behavior of complex systems over time.  She also enjoys internationally-focused research in water and sanitation.

Climate change, sea level rise, community perceptions, drinking water, sanitation, coastal erosion, water quality monitoring, coral reef degradation, nutrient management, STEM education, and community capacity building— these were some of the topics discussed last month (June 6, 2014) during a meeting between the Caribbean Community Climate Change Center (5Cs) and a team of researchers affiliated with the University of South Florida’s Partnership for International Research and Education (USF PIRE) grant. During the introductions, the 5Cs shared insights about their field data and the ways it informed climate change models for predicting impacts across Central America and the Caribbean; the USF group gave an overview of the themes, interdisciplinary nature, existing international partners, and plans for future collaborations within the PIRE grant.

Dr Maya Trotz and Dr Rebecca Zarger of USF articulately described the PIRE themes in Belize as they discussed the integrated anthropology and engineering research that is underway throughout the Placencia Peninsula. One activity, in particular, was highlighted because it demonstrated a way for a University of Belize (UB) student to work alongside USF’s team in the field. The UB student studies sustainable tourism whereas the USF students are working in local schools to build capacity around issues of water and sanitation.  Synergies exist as each group seeks to connect with local partners on issues concerning sustainability. In addition, the 5Cs and USF researchers discussed the Monkey River area, a decade-long field site for the University of the West Indies (UWI) Cave Hill’s CERMES program. The 5Cs’ own Mr. Earl Green, project officer, and Dr. Ulric Trotz, science advisor and deputy director, actually took some of the USF team there the next day to explore connections with the Placencia research site. Angel Navidad, the 2013 Sagicor Visionaries Challenge winner and his teacher Mrs. Shakira Gonsalez also joined the meeting.

The group brainstormed ideas about potential ways to collaborate (5Cs, USF, and UB) for future proposals so as to leverage the skills of each institution, foster knowledge sharing among partners, and build a holistic/well-rounded research team.  Between the 5Cs’ expertise (an understanding of climate change impacts and modeling), USF’s best attributes (interdisciplinary work between engineering and anthropology), and the skills unique to the UB students and faculty (in-depth expertise of resources management/local contexts and access to research data), a cohesive partnership seems to be on the horizon. Should this combined research happen, all of the university students would benefit from the opportunity to work alongside their peers from different backgrounds, cultural identities, and academic fields, thus building their global and professional competencies. The 2014 Sagicor Visionaries Challenge also provides an opportunity for all of these institutions to connect with secondary school students in Belize as mentors for their innovative projects.

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