Pacific Drought Knowledge Exchange

Drought in Hawaiʻi and the Pacific

A very dry landscape with brown grassy hills and brown, dead trees

Climate change, climate variability, and drought will exert a growing impact on landscapes, watersheds, and nearshore areas in the Pacific Islands. Droughts in the Pacific Islands can be extremely severe, causing drinking water shortages, extensive crop damage, and increases in the size, severity and extent of wildfires that burn large percentages of island land areas. A recent analysis of historical drought in Hawai‘i found that drought duration, magnitude, and frequency have all increased significantly, consistent with trends found in other Pacific Islands. While land managers are tasked with using the “best available science,” they are often confronted with data products that are difficult to access, and there is no established process of facilitated communication between managers and researchers to meet the needs of island communities.

The Pacific Drought Knowledge Exchange (PDKE) seeks to facilitate the exchange of usable information and knowledge about drought and precipitation, and enable collaborative relationships among managers, researchers, and government agencies in Hawai‘i and in Pacific Island Nations. The PDKE works to co-produce site-specific, customized drought data and products based on the needs of manager partners. Through active engagement between researchers and managers, the PDKE strives to make drought and climate data products more accessible and usable to end users for improved drought planning and management.

Through information, training, and tools, the PDKE aims to support:

  • easier access to information sources
  • better and more comprehensive information
  • improved technical assistance
  • a more collaborative information transfer environment.

The initial phases of the PDKE have worked with a small number of pilot partners to explore knowledge co-production, assess drought-related management needs, and co-produce site-specific climate and drought products, including factsheets and portfolios using available data (now automated). These phases have successfully demonstrated how this knowledge exchange process can improve drought management and planning in the Pacific.  All results to date are now available on a PDKE website along with information about ongoing efforts and other drought tools and resources.