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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

A recent initiative could have a major influence on how Pacific Island countries deal with natural disasters. Pacific Disaster Risk Assessment is an ambitious 20-month-long project that has included the Pacific island countries of Fiji, the Cook Islands, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Niue, Nauru, the Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, Palau, Kiribati and Timor Leste.

It also involved a team of 15 researchers who began last February to gather information on the precise number of natural disasters that have taken place in each of the participating countries, based on records collected since 1830.

Earthquakes, tropical cyclones, tsunami, severe local storms, floods, storm surges, and landslides, totaling 448 natural disasters, all feature in the inventory. The research team also used the countries’ most recent census figures, key for estimating human casualties and displacement.