Pacific RISA (Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments) Program


Pacific RISA, the Pacific Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments Program, supports Pacific island and coastal communities in adapting to the impacts of climate variability and change. Pacific RISA strives to enhance Pacific communities’ abilities to understand, plan for, and respond to changing climate conditions.

This work is conducted through interdisciplinary research and partnerships with local, national, and regional stakeholders. As one of 10 RISA programs sponsored by the US National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Pacific RISA emphasizes the engagement of communities, governments, and businesses in developing effective policies to build resilience in key sectors such as water-resource management, coastal and marine resources, fisheries, agriculture, tourism, disaster management, and public health.

The Pacific RISA program has been awarded a second five-year research grant from NOAA to support its Phase-3 projects and research, which commenced on 1 September 2015. Phase-3 projects will assess the impact of predicted climate variability and change throughout Hawai‘i and the U.S.-affiliated Pacific Islands, link and communicate mid-range projections with end-of-century downscaled projections, conduct stakeholder-inclusive, place-based science to establish sector-relevant decision thresholds, and help decision-makers assign different kinds of value to resources across sectors and islands to facilitate choosing adaptation strategies. This grant designates sustained support for communities and research in Hawai‘i, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Republic of Palau, and American Samoa.

New projects that will commence in Phase 3 include dynamical seasonal prediction of precipitation for the Hawaiian Islands, a comparative analysis of statistical and dynamical downscaling projections, the use of climate data to estimate recharge and sustainability of freshwater resources in American Samoa, and an assessment of economic impacts of climate change and variability planning and adaptation.

Collaborating scholars

  • Hariharasubramanian Annamalai, Senior Researcher, International Pacific Research Center, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology, University of Hawai'i
  • Maxine Burkett, Associate Professor, Richardson School of Law, University of Hawai'i
  • Aly El-Kadi, Professor, Department of Geology and Geophysics; Associate Director, Water Resources Research Center, University of Hawai'i
  • Thomas Giambelluca, Professor, Department of Geography, University of Hawai'i
  • John J. Marra, Director, NOAA NESDIS NCDC Regional Climate Services, Pacific Region
  • Kirsten Oleson, Assistant Professor, Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Management, University of Hawai'i

Selected publications

Annamalai, H., Victoria Keener, Matther J. Widlansky, and Jan Hafner (2015). El Niño strengthens in the Pacific: Preparing for the impacts of drought. AsiaPacific Issues No. 122. Honolulu: East-West Center.

Brewington, Laura, Victoria Keener, Melissa Finucane, and P. Eaton. (2016, in press). Participatory scenario planning for climate change adaptation using remote sensing and GIS. In S.J. Walsh (ed). Remote sensing for societal benefits. Amsterdam: Elsevier.

Corlew, Kati (2015). Disaster and climate change preparedness in American Sāmoa: A handbook for communities. Honolulu: East-West Center.

Corlew, Kati (2015). Disaster and climate change preparedness in Maui: A handbook for communities. Honolulu: East-West Center.

Corlew, Laura Kate, Victoria Keener, Melissa Finucane, Laura Brewington, and Rachel Nunn-Crichton  (2015). Using social network analysis to assess communications and develop networking tools among climate change professionals across the Pacific Islands region. Psychosocial Intervention, doi:10.1016/j.psi.2015.07.004.

Ferguson D.B., Melissa L. Finucane, Victoria W. Keener, and G. Owen (2016). Evaluation to advance science policy: Lessons from Pacific RISA and CLIMAS. In Adam S. Parris, Gregg Garfin, Kristin Dow, Ryan Meyer, and Sarah L. Close, eds. Climate in context. West Sussex, England: Wiley.

Finucane, Melissa L., and Victoria W. Keener (2015). Understanding the climate sensitive decisions and information needs of island communities. Journal of the Indian Ocean Region, DOI: 10.1080/19480881.2015.1021181.

Helweg, David A., Victoria Keener, and Jeff M. Burgett (2016). Report from the Workshop on Climate Downscaling and its Application in High Hawaiian Islands, September 16-17, 2015. US Geological Survey Open-File Report 2016-1102. Reston: US Geological Survey. DOI:10.3133/ofr20161102.

Leta, Olkeba Tolessa, Aly I. El-Kadi, Henrietta Dulai, and Kariem A. Ghazal (2016). Assessment of climate change impacts on water balance components of Heeia Watershed in Hawai‘i. Journal of Hydrology: Regional Studies. 8:182–97.

Moser, Susanne (2015). Supporting Hawai'i's adaptation efforts: The role of the Pacific RISA. Santa Cruz, California: Susanne Moser Research & Consulting.

Johnson, Adam G., John A. Engott, and Maoya Bassiouni (2014). Spatially distributed groundwater recharge estimated using a water-budget model for the Island of Maui, Hawai‘i, 1978–2007. US Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2014–5168, 53 pp., DOI: 10.3133/sir20145168.

Keener, Victoria W., Scott K. Izuka, and Stephen Anthony (2012). Freshwater and drought on Pacific islands. In Victoria W. Keener, John J. Marra, Melissa L. Finucane, Deanna Spooner, and Margaret H. Smith, eds. Climate change and Pacific islands: Indicators and impacts: Report for the 2012 Pacific Islands Regional Climate Assessment (PIRCA) . Honolulu: Island Press.

Keener, Victoria W., John J. Marra, Melissa L. Finucane, Deanna Spooner, and Margaret H. Smith, eds. (2012). Climate change and Pacific islands: Indicators and impacts: Report for the 2012 Pacific Islands Regional Climate Assessment (PIRCA) . Honolulu: Island Press.

Wallsgrove, Richard, and David Penn (2012). Water resources and climate change adaptation in Hawai‘i: Adaptive tools in the current law and policy framework. Honolulu: Center for Island Climate Adaptation and Policy.

Burkett, Maxine (2011). In search of refuge: Pacific Islands, climate-induced migration, and the legal frontier. Asia-Pacific Issues No. 98. Honolulu: East-West Center.

Wallsgrove, Richard, and Zena Grecni (2016). Water resources in American Sāmoa: Law and policy opportunities for climate change adaptation. Honolulu: East-West Center.

Zhang, Chunxi, Yuqing Wang, Kevin Hamilton, and Axel Lauer (2016). Dynamical downscaling of the climate for the Hawaiian Islands. Part I: Present-day. Journal of Climate. 29:3027–48.

Zhang, Chunxi, Yuqing Wang, and Kevin Hamilton (2011). Improved representation of boundary layer clouds over the Southeast Pacific in ARW-WRF using a modified Tiedtke cumulus parameterization scheme. Monthly Weather Review 139:3489–3513.

Lauer, Axel, Kevin Hamilton, Yuqing Wang, Vaughan T.J. Phillips, and Ralf Bennartz (2010). The Impact of global warming on marine boundary layer clouds over the Eastern Pacific- A regional model study. Journal of Climate 23(21): 5844-63.

Finucane, Melissa L. (2009). Why science alone won't solve the climate crisis: Managing climate risks in the Pacific. AsiaPacific Issues No. 89. Honolulu: East-West Center.


See all current East-West Center Research Projects.