C L I M A T E C H A N G E
What is Climate Change?
Climate change is a significant and lasting change in the distribution of weather patterns over periods ranging from decades to millions of years.
Climate change will impact American Samoa through:
- Higher Air Temperature
- Higher Sea Temperature
- Sea Level Rise
- Coral Bleaching
- Ocean Acidification
- Extreme Weather
What is causing climate change?
Human Activities that increase Carbon Dioxide in the atmosphere, including.
- Burning of fossil fuels
What are we doing?
Through the Territorial Climate Change Adaptation Framework, American Samoa is working to adapt to climate change by:
- Increasing the knowledge and awareness of climate change.
- Improving the planning and management of natural resources.
- Prioritizing actions and collaboration to better adapt to climate change.
Territorial Integrated Geospatial Framework to enable coordinated planning and response to the emerging threats from climate change impacts, led by the American Samoa Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Commerce
This project will develop a centralized database and geospatial infrastructure which can enable enhanced information exchange, analysis, visualization and utilization to support the Territory’s activities to adapt to a rapidly changing planet. This project supports infrastructure and training to ensure all agencies have access to the most relevant and up to date information for decision making.
Developing a Territorial Climate Change Adaptation Strategy and Implementation Plan, led by, Department of Marine and Wildlife Resources
This project will create a Climate Change Adaptation Strategy, which is essential for identifying and prioritizing immediate actions American Samoa needs to take to best adapt to climate change impacts. The strategy is intended to identify and prioritize management actions to improve adaptive capacity and reduce vulnerability. This project includes a Climate Change Adaptation Strategy, creation of a climate change portal and database.
Vulnerability Assessments of Urban Systems and Infrastructure, led by Department of Public Works
Essential urban infrastructure will be increasingly compromised by interrelated climate change impacts. The Territory’s economy and security depend on the resilience of urban infrastructure systems. Of particular relevance to American Samoa are the coastal impacts of climate change such as sea level rise and storm surges which will threaten transportation infrastructure including both temporary and permanent flooding of airports, ports and harbors, and roads. This project proposes to incorporate climate change planning into American Samoa’s adaptation strategy by conducting vulnerability assessments of critical infrastructures in the Territory. The sensitivity to, and exposure of these infrastructure and the adaptive capacities of these systems will be evaluated to help prioritize elements of the Territory’s long-range adaptation plan.
Improving Capacity to Respond to Emerging Mosquito Born Disease, led by Department of Health
Due to climate change there has been an increase in frequency and severity of mosquito-borne diseases, these health hazards have been linked with the rising temperatures. In efforts to respond to the emerging Mosquito-borne diseases in American Samoa, this project is proposing the need for funds to assist solid waste partners by providing tools needed to remove and mitigate accumulated mosquito breeding sites in the community such as tires, old abandoned cars and other scrap metal.
Outlook Reporting to Inform Resilience-based Management of Coral Reef Ecosystems to Reduce Climate Vulnerability in American Samoa led by, Department of Marine and Wildlife Resources
This proposed project involves scientist-manager collaboration to achieve these two outcomes for American Samoa's Coral reefs: 1) increase the extent to which resilience and vulnerability are included in management planning and decision-making, and 2) raise awareness among reef stakeholders of vulnerability to climate change and support for resilience-based management actions.
Focus Group Guiding Questions led by, Department of Marine and Wildlife Resources
A research project with fisheries biologists to try to better understand the potential effects of climate change on fisheries in American Samoa. The fisheries biologists will be looking at what species of fish are most vulnerable to climate change (from coral bleaching and warmer water temperatures), and we are looking at the ways in which local villages rely on local coral reef fisheries. The purpose of this meeting is to help us learn from fishermen about what species they rely on the most in [Faga’alu / Vatia] village, as well as how flexible local fishermen are to switch to other types of fish or other livelihoods if the fish and other species that they generally target become more or less abundant in the future.
American Samoa Climate Resilience Summit 2019
The American Samoa Climate Resilience Summit took place February 5-7, 2019. It was a collaborative effort from Territorial, Federal, and International organizations - funded by the Department of Interior and organized by the Department of Marine and Wildlife Resources.
The theme of the Summit was; Enhancing Climate Resilience through Community Awareness. The summit was open to the public and was well attended by students from every local high school, the community college, village mayors, legislative representatives, local government agencies, and faith based groups. The total number of participants reached nearly 200.
During the three day summit, participants learned about the importance of preparing their communities for a changing climate. Each day participants attended workshops focused on topics related to building climate resiliency. The four main topics for the workshops were Food Security, Disaster Preparedness, Health, and Energy/Infrastructure. Experts on each topic gave presentations and demonstrations to the participants.
The following agencies and organizations provided the informative presentations; American Samoa Environmental Protection Agency (AS-EPA), Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), American Samoa Community College-Agriculture Community Natural Resources (ASCC-ACNR), Department of Marine and Wildlife Resources (DMWR), NOAA-National Weather Service, Office of Disaster Assistance and Petroleum Management (ODAPM), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Department of Commerce (DOC), Department of Health (DOH), American Samoa Power Authority (ASPA), Department of Public Works (DPW), TANK Guy Pago Pago INC., and the RED CROSS.
Participants were surveyed at the completion of the summit regarding their level of satisfaction with the summit and their understanding of Climate Resiliency - all reacted with positive feedback and satisfaction.
Image (Right): Participants of the American Samoa Climate Resilience Summit (not all participants are pictured here)
Director of AS-EPA - Fa’amao Asalele, Director General of SPREP - Kosi Latu, Miss American Samoa -Magalita Johnson, Director of DMWR - Va’amua Henry Sesepasara, Director of Land Grant –ACNR - Aufa'i Apulu Ropeti Areta, Director Climate Change Resilience of SPREP -Tagaloa Cooper- Halo
Village Mayors attending workshops focused on building climate resiliency.
Students from various high schools engage in discussion regarding climate and weather.
Students from various high schools learn about intensifying storm systems.
Rainwater Harvesting Systems
The Department of Marine and Wildlife Resources (DMWR) was tasked with finding ways to increase American Samoa's Climate Change resilience. With Climate Change comes an increased likelihood of cyclones and other natural disasters. We must prepare our island with a reliable source of clean water when faced with difficult circumstances. Whenever there is a cyclone, electricity is usually lost. American Samoa's current clean water system is highly dependent on electricity to pump water up from the water wells. DMWR partnered with the American Samoa Power Authority (ASPA) to find an attainable solution for the challenge. Upon learning about the success of Rainwater Harvesting Systems in other Pacific islands, DMWR and ASPA turned to the expertise of the company Tank Guy Pago Pago to design and install Rain Water Harvesting Systems in 25 schools across American Samoa. With the Rain Water Harvesting System tanks, electricity is not required to pump the water out for people from the community to use. These tanks filter and store clean rainwater in the event that water from ASPA wells are not accessible due to loss of electricity. This project was made possible through Climate Resilience funding from the Department of Interior.
Village Based Shoreline Protection
Partnerships formed by the Department of Marine and Wildlife Resources (DMWR) with mayors from the Office of Samoan Affairs continue to support the protection of shorelines through the planting of trees and maintaining the cleanliness of integral freshwater streams that lead to the ocean. The co-management of natural resources around the Territory is vital for survival and sustainability.
American Samoa is committed to standing with our Pacific island brothers and sisters as we face the alarming impacts of climate change. Together we can identify and implement the best solutions for our communities and generations to come.