Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2017VI269B

The USVI-Climate Monitor: Unifying Precipitation Monitoring Across the St. Thomas Microclimates

Institute: Virgin Islands
Year Established: 2017 Start Date: 2017-03-01 End Date: 2018-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $23,650 Total Non-Federal Funds: Not available

Principal Investigators: David Morris, Roy Watlington, Norton Orange, William Wilson

Abstract: Accurate and precise water cycle data with high spatial and temporal resolution are critical to a broad spectrum of public sector, private sector, and academic projects of great interest to Caribbean prosperity. The need for these data has been made critically evident due to recent drought in the territory and difficulties in efficiently communicating the USVI drought severity to entities like the US Drought Monitor (USDM), the national meteorological service responsible for providing data to policymakers responsible for the disbursement of federal drought relief funding. Moreover, the USVI has undertaken a territorial climate change mitigation study, funded through the US Department of the Interior, to study the potential impacts of climate change in the USVI and to plan intervention strategies to limit deleterious effects on the territory. Good work is already underway, e.g., in understanding potential changes to community health patterns due to climate change. Missing, however, is a reliable, regularly maintained, and portable climate database for the USVI that can provide critical data regarding the USVI climate patterns and climate change to policymakers and scientists. Through our ongoing work to track micro-climatological conditions in the USVI (see previous funded VI-WRRI grants, “High-Resolution Mapping of Rainfall Rates Across the St. Thomas Micro-climates” and “Correlating Precipitation Patterns and Erosion Indicators Across the St Thomas Micro-climates”) we have deployed a network of low-cost weather stations across the region. Data from these stations can be the “missing link” for the USVI to the USDM to inform US drought relief funding policy about conditions in the USVI while simultaneously tracking changing climate conditions in the USVI to inform local climate change mitigation strategies. To strengthen the robustness of our database and work toward unifying climate science assets in the region, we will join our USVI-WRRI precipitation monitoring network with the well-established USVI CARICOOS meteorological network, and augment our existing, high-density, low-cost weather station network with 3, new, high-precision precipitation monitors mounted on existing CARICOOS meteorological stations. We will merge the efforts of the USVI-WRRI precipitation monitoring group and CARICOOS to provide a stable, high-quality, and reliable climate database both to national drought relief policymakers and to local climate researchers.