The impact of climate changes, such as those occurring with the El Nino and La Nina phenomena, will be discussed at meetings here this week.
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About 150 government, business, science and community representatives from the Pacific and Caribbean are expected at the sessions today through Wednesday at the East-West Center.
The center has organized the Workshop on Climate and Island Coastal Communities as part of an 18-month Pacific Islands Regional Assessment Project.
The National Science Foundation is funding the effort on behalf of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Aeronautics and Space Administration and U.S. Department of Interior.
"Recent experiences with the 1997-98 El Nino and subsequent drought conditions in Hawaii and elsewhere in the Pacific provide a vivid reminder of the vulnerability of island communities and businesses to year-to-year fluctuations in climate conditions," said Eileen L. Shea, Climate Project coordinator at the East-West Center.
She said recent studies suggest climate change could alter the pattern of rainfall and tropical storms and result in increased ocean temperatures and circulation changes that could affect important commercial fisheries and valuable natural resources.
Sea level changes also could create erosion and storm surge problems.
The meetings will open at 9 a.m. with a cultural perspective on climate by Kumu John Ka'imikaua and Halau Kukunaokala.
Speakers will include Shea, Ricardo Alvarez of Florida State University, deputy director of the International Hurricane Center for Engineering and Applied Sciences, U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie and Anthony Barnston, director, Experimental Forecasting Division, International Research Institute for Climate Prediction.
Working groups will discuss issues tomorrow, and findings and recommendations will be summarized at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday.
The results will be included in the final report of the first National Assessment of the Consequences of Climate Variability and Change for the U.S.
The report is being organized by the U.S. Global Change Research Program under the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.