The project called CARIBSAVE, led by the University of Oxford and the Caribbean Community Centre for Climate Change, aims to raise US$35 million over the next 3-5 years to tackle the challenges of climate change and its effect on tourism in the Caribbean region.
Part of the seed funding from the UK Department for International Development (DFID) will be spent on a six-month pilot study of two Caribbean destinations, Eleuthera in the Bahamas and Ocho Rios in Jamaica. Eleuthera is famed for its coral reefs and pink sandy beaches; while Ocho Rios attracts visitors keen to experience the island's lush, verdant scenery and tropical waterfalls. In a matter of weeks, climate change scientists will start monitoring the islands as test cases for the entire region's tourism industry.
By analysing destinational climate models of data collected between 1961 and 2008, the researchers will calculate the islands' likely climate until 2100. They will predict likely levels of rainfall, wind-speed, the rate of rising sea temperatures and sea levels, as well as the frequency of extreme weather events like hurricanes or monsoons. They will also assess the particular vulnerabilities of each island to physical impacts, such as coral bleaching or beach erosion. The climate science and physical impacts will be linked with socio-economics and other factors such as health, for instance whether rising sea levels could contaminate water supplies, and the increased risks of dengue fever and malaria posed by more frequent flooding.
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