Developing the American Samoa climate and GIS data portal: A collaborative approach to enhancing data availability and adaptation capacity

The territory of American Samoa is highly vulnerable to the negative effects of climate change and there are many local agencies working towards adapting to this problem. These efforts often require organization, interpretation, or presentation of large amounts of data and information. However, those who directly need these data often do not have the time or experience to synthesize them in a form that meets their needs.

To help climate adaptation and natural resource managers in American Samoa meet this challenge, this project aims to build a system of open-access, web-based tools to help managers and community members collect, download, and view GIS and climate related data thereby supporting a wide range of adaptation and management activities. To build this system researchers will compile GIS data, climate information, and links to useful tools from a large group of resource management and educational agencies in American Samoa. These resources will then be stored in a way that is easily searchable and downloadable in a web-based data portal. The portal website will also include customized plugins and a GIS web-viewer to allow users to directly interact with GIS and climate hazards data for use when applying for building permits.

The project team will work with an extensive group of partners and collaborators to ensure the data portal is widely known and used across the territory. Training of climate-aware future resource managers, policy makers, and community members will also be a major project goal, which will be achieved through providing numerous internship opportunities to students from American Samoa Community College and University of Hawaiʻi-Mānoa. The team will promote peer-to-peer mentoring relationships between campuses and will also work to place interns with staff mentors at American Samoa agencies, thereby contributing to a pipeline for native Samoan students to build the skills needed to become future stewards of their island resources.

Scenic view towards low waves pushing onto a tree-lined beach
American Samoa is characterized by steep interior highlands with narrow, low-lying coastal zones at great risk from climate change-induced sea-level rise. (Photo: USGS)




Christopher Shuler
Assistant Hydrologist, Water Resources Research Center, UH Mānoa


Annie Chien
Earth and Planetary Sciences, UH Mānoa