Project

Collecting Elevation Data to Understand Climate Change Effects in the Marshall Islands

Project Summary

Affiliation(s): Pacific Islands CSC

Principal Investigator(s):
  • Jeffrey J Danielson (USGS Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center)

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports that low-lying atolls (ring-shaped islands or island chains made of coral) in the Pacific Ocean are extremely vulnerable to high tide events (“king tides”), storm surge, tsunamis, and sea-level rise. The Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) spreads over 29 atolls and has a population of over 50,000 people with homes and communities that may be threatened by these climate change-related events.

Policy makers, planners, and others within RMI are faced with decisions about how to prepare for the future and need scientific data and information about the vulnerability of Pacific Islands to potential climate change impacts like sea-level rise. Topographic and bathymetric data are needed to map out the overland and underwater formations that comprise RMI.  These maps can then be used to calculate and visualize potential effects and damage from wave inundation and other coastal hazards.

To help address this need, the Pacific Islands Climate Science Center is collaborating with the USGS Coastal National Elevation Database (CoNED) program to collect topographic and bathymetric data and develop a Digital Elevation Model (a 3D representation of the terrain) for the southern half of Majuro Atoll (home to the capital city and largest population of RMI) that can be used to visualize and project climate change impacts. Data collection and field work will occur in September 2016. 

Satellite view of Majuro Atoll. Public Domain.

Affiliation(s): Pacific Islands CSC

Principal Investigator(s):
  • Jeffrey J Danielson (USGS Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center)
Co-Investigator(s):
  • Monica Palaseanu-Lovejoy (USGS Eastern Geographic Science Center)
  • Cindy Thatcher (Cooperative Data Acquisition, NGPO)
  • Dean B Gesch (Geographic Science Team, EROS)
  • Matthew Barbee (University of Hawai'i)
  • Romina King (University of Guam)
  • Maria Kottermair (University of Guam)

Start Date: September 2016

End Date: September 2016

Project Status: In Progress

Tags: CSC, Pacific Islands CSC, 2016, Topography, Bathymetry, Elevation, Sea-Level Rise, Coastal, Insular, Pacific Islands, Water and Ice, Education, Modeling and Tools, Sea-Level Rise and Coasts, Other Tools

Fiscal Year: FY 2016 Projects