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Rory Walshe

Ground-truthing the assumptions of climate change impacts on small island states by cross-referencing multiple methods

Project Description:It is accepted that the impacts of climate change on small islands are already being experienced in a range of manifestations. However, recent research (Webb and Kench, 2010; Ballu et al., 2011) suggests that some assumptions, such as the impact of sea-level rise, are problematic. There is limited empirical data available to delineate anthropogenic climate change impacts from either cyclic/baseline changes or other factors (other human activity), a significant limitation for climate change attribution. As well as better defining baseline characteristics, there is also a need to understand how climate change is being experienced, both for improving projections and the implications this has for how communities are responding and will respond.

This research will investigate current and long-term environmental change in two case study locations using an innovative combination of methods with new data generated from multiple sources. This will include mining archival records, photographic evidence, existing survey/remote sensing data, and in-depth interviews gathering perceptions of change. It will cross-reference these sources together in order to ground-truth the assumptions surrounding climate change impacts and community response. The proposed field sites are the understudied small islands of Mauritius and Tobago, allowing for a comparison between the Indian Ocean and Caribbean.