Sustainable Water Management under Climate Change in Small Island States of the Caribbean
In the Caribbean islands, climate change is affecting freshwater availability and other ecosystem services in complex ways. For example, freshwater supply is diminished by droughts and affected by saline intrusion due to sea level rise and more intense storms. These impacts are further influenced by human demand for water that frequently surpasses the available supply, thus reducing the water available for proper ecosystem function. This research will investigate the interaction between human activity and ecosystem services, and consider how this affects water availability under projected climate change scenarios. The project will advance our understanding of how a changing climate affects the frequency and intensity of floods and droughts, along with water availability and use, including sanitation needs for vulnerable communities in small island states. Researchers will develop assessments of future climate change, water scarcity, and vulnerability in representative watersheds in three Caribbean countries - Barbados, Jamaica, and Trinidad. A combination of natural and social science research methods will be employed, such as climate modelling and downscaling, and an analysis of secondary census and economic data will be conducted. Results will be used to inform the development of national water resource adaptation strategies, building on the University of West Indies' work on climate change adaptation. The project will build the capacity of at least a dozen graduate students. Peer-reviewed publications will be produced to disseminate research findings, and training and educational modules will be created for external stakeholders. Policy outreach to national governments and the Organization of the Community of Caribbean States will also be a priority.