Interior funds atmospheric and wave forecasting program for US territories


WASHINGTON—The U.S. Department of the Interior gave a $497,738 grant last week to the University of Hawaii Joint Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research School of Ocean and Earth Science for a project to improve atmospheric and wave-forecasting through the Pacific Islands Ocean Observing System.

“Protecting people and the border is a shared priority between [Interior] Secretary [Ryan] Zinke and myself,” said Doug Domenech, U.S. Department of the Interior Assistant Secretary – Insular and International Affairs, “which includes protection from atmospheric hazards and storms for those who live in vulnerable island areas.

“Recent experiences with Tropical Cyclone Gita and Typhoon Soudelor in the Pacific and Hurricanes Irma and Maria in the Caribbean remind us of the ongoing vulnerability islands and their inhabitants face during extreme weather.”

The funds will help improve data collection about rainfall; change in typhoon patterns; availability of fresh water; and flooding and wave action from severe weather events, including high winds for American Samoa, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands.

In addition to collaborating closely with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Weather Service forecasting offices, the project will also respond to the needs of local, regional, and federal government agencies; emergency responders; scientists; resource managers; planners; various academic pursuits; professional consultants; marine engineers; marine operators; ocean users such as fishermen and surfers; and the general public.

All U.S.-affiliated Pacific Islands served by the PacIOOS include the State of Hawaii; the territories of Guam, American Samoa, and the CNMI; and the Freely Associated States of the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, and Palau.

Funding for this program is provided through the Office of Insular Affairs’ Technical Assistance Program. (PR)

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