University of South Florida

USF College of Marine Science


USF CMS joins NOAA’s Caribbean Climate Adaptation Network

Hurricane Maria image from NOAA

Hurricane Maria image. Photo credit NOAA.

The USF College of Marine Science (USF CMS) is one of nine institutions in a five-year NOAA-funded program that will work directly with communities in the Caribbean region to work on how best to prepare for and “adapt” to higher risks of disasters that come with a changing climate. CMS Professor Frank Muller-Karger leads the USF CMS effort as a co-principal investigator on the team, called the Caribbean Climate Adaptation Network (CCAN).

The USF CMS will collect and analyze satellite data to provide a bird’s eye view of how communities in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands have been impacted by natural hazards and extreme environmental conditions in the past. The work with local vulnerable communities will help them prepare for future hazards such as hurricanes and landslides.

The satellite data help scientists visualize extreme air and ocean temperatures, flooding, excessive rainfall, African Dust, and other hazards to human health and property, said Muller-Karger. His team will create new maps that will include social science data layers such as population, access to health care, and infrastructure.

“When this information is overlaid on a map, we can see which communities have been impacted the most by which combination of hazards,” he said. “This is an opportunity for natural scientists and social scientists to work directly with local communities to identify solutions to future threats.”

The University of Puerto Rico leads the effort, which also includes the University of the Virgin Islands, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez, University of Texas, Austin, University at Albany/SUNY, New York University, the US Forest Service, and the Caribbean Coastal Ocean Observing System in addition to USF. The team is funded by a $6,037,468, five-year cooperative agreement.

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Our blue planet faces a suite of challenges and opportunities for understanding and innovation. Our mission is to advance understanding of the interconnectivity of ocean systems and human-ocean interactions using a cross-disciplinary approach, to empower the next workforce of the blue economy with a world-class education experience, and to share our passion for a healthy environment and science-informed decision-making with community audiences near and far.