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Impact on a freshwater lens in atoll environments under different climate and abstraction scenario

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Project Description

Groundwater on atolls is often described as a ‘lens’ of freshwater ‘floating’ on more dense brackish water. This very thin and fragile freshwater resource relies on being regularly recharged by rainfall. Concerns over the salinisation of these fragile water sources due to rises in sea level and changes in climate variability and extremes are increasingly raised by atoll communities and governments.

Whilst rises in sea level pose a longer term threat to freshwater lenses, the more immediate threats are from over abstraction and inappropriate land use activities, including poor sanitation practices, intensive cropping or animal husbandry in unsuitable locations. It is expected that population pressure and climate impacts will place the limited groundwater resources of atoll countries under an ever increasing threat.

Assessing and quantifying what will be the likely impacts under different climate and abstraction pumping scenarios is not well known. The successful development of behavioural and technological adaptation options will rely on an improved understanding of the unique freshwater lenses and quantifying the impacts on these lenses under a range of projected scenarios.

Improving the general understanding of the impacts on these resources, coupled with developing the concept of a sustainable yield for freshwater lenses for improved water resource management under the predicted climate and abstraction pressures, will improve the resilience of communities that rely upon these important water sources. The project will help address specific problems associated with the following:

  • Poor understanding of atoll hydrology;
  • Applying the concept of a sustainable yield for groundwater resources in atoll environments;
  • Quantifying the impacts associated with projected climate and abstraction scenarios;
  • Access to relevant information on practical, technical and management techniques, and to options to improve the sustainability of freshwater resources.

For more information, contact:
Peter Sinclair
Water Resources Assessment Coordinator
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Partners

The Programme is co-funded
by the European Union

Links

EuropeAID Cooperation office
http://ec.europa.eu/europeaid/index_en.htm

Delegation of EU for the Pacific:
http://eeas.europa.eu/delegations/fiji/

ACP Group of States:
http://www.acp.int/

The University of South Pacific:
http://www.usp.ac.fj/

Last Updated on Wednesday, 14 January 2015 10:25  

Newsflash

Dr. Russell Howorth has been elected Chairman of the Legal and Technical Commission of the International Seabed Authority (ISA).

With the election of Dr. Howorth, the Pacific continues to play a prominent role at ISA; its President, Peter Thomson, is Fiji’s permanent representative to the United Nations, while ISA’s first Secretary General, Satya Nand, is a former Fiji Ambassador.  Dr. Howorth is the Director of SOPAC, a division of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC).

ISA was established by the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and currently has 162 member states. It is an autonomous international organization, to which state parties to the Convention are given the responsibility of organising, controlling and administering the resources of the international seabed beyond the limits of national jurisdiction.

In his capacity as chairman of the Legal and Technical Commission, Dr. Howorth presides over a 25-member council that is entrusted with functions relating to activities in the international seabed.

Included in these are the review of applications for plans of work, supervision of exploration or mining activities and the assessment of the environmental impact of such activities.

The Commission also provides advice to the International Seabed Authority’s Assembly and Council on all matters relating to exploration and exploitation of non-living marine resources (such as polymetallic [manganese] nodules, polymetallic (sulphides and cobalt crusts).

While Dr. Howorth’s term on the Legal and Technical Commission is for five years, his chairmanship is for the coming year.