White sandy beaches, integral to the Caribbean way of life, are being engulfed by Sargassum, transforming these pieces of paradise into a repugnant state, with rotten stenches and unsightly piles of algae that not only release toxic fumes but are also highly efficient at trapping waterborne solid waste litter. The precarious nature of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) is exacerbated by Sargassum inundation as it is highly disruptive to both fishing and tourism sectors, two of the region’s major contributors towards Gross Domestic Product (GDP). With climate change, pollution and natural climatic systems continuing to drive the influx of seaweed into the region, the harsh truth is that Sargassum is here to stay. Caribbean nations will have to find innovative and preemptive measures to reduce the impact of the seaweed on livelihoods.
DE has worked with Caribbean partner MGI since 2013 developing environmental information systems in the Caribbean region. Our team has worked at the regional level and also with the national governments of Saint Lucia and Antigua & Barbuda on developing their National Environmental Information and Data Systems for Multilateral Environmental Agreement (MEA) reporting. The latest project was launched in Antigua & Barbuda in October of 2021. See platform here:
Saint Lucia Climate Vulnerability Assessment of School Buildings and Sites.
Mona GeoInformatics Institute (MGI) recently wrapped up our work on the Education Quality Improvement Project aimed at assessing and identifying educational establishments at risk of climate change conditions in Saint Lucia. This project was most timely as the country continues to make quality adjustments and transformations of its education system by making it responsive to the needs of all learners and more aligned with the requirements of the 21st-century labour market. The Project which commenced in September 2020 was funded by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and led by UK-based IMC Inc.
A Climate Vulnerability Assessment (CVA) of areas where four educational establishments, as well as the site of a newly proposed Special Needs Education facility,
What is ‘“Monitoring a large Sargassum bloom subject to a major volcanic eruption”, (MONISARG)?
The Mona Geoinformatics Institute (MGI) has partnered with the University of Southampton (UoS) and The Centre for Resource Management and Environmental Studies (CERMES) on an environmental project, MONISARG, which aims at understanding variations in Sargassum inundation within the Caribbean region following the eruption of the La Soufrière volcano in St. Vincent.
Figure 1 Sargassum beaching on Long Bay, eastern Jamaica during June 2021 Photo credit: Darren Fletcher
The eruption has had widespread impact across the region including deposition of significant quantities of Sulphur Dioxide across the region. The large Sulphur Dioxide plume seen across the Caribbean coincides with a substantial Sargassum bloom situated around the Lesser Antilles which encapsulates a remarkable combination of natural events across the region.
What is ‘More than Maps’?
The Mona Geoinformatics Institute (MGI) has partnered with the University of Southampton (UoS), The University of Western Australia (UWA), and the University of Ghana (UoG) on a capacity-building project “Managing Climate Change Adaptation at the Coast through More than Maps” or “More than Maps”, which aims to develop the essential research skills of university students and Early Career Researchers (ECRs) through online workshops in January 2022. These diverse workshops will empower aspiring and established scientists alike in both the physical and social sciences with skills that will assist them in formulating solutions to some of the Caribbean Region’s most pressing problems.
MGI, the leading organization in Jamaica providing advanced Geographic Information Systems solutions,
Figure 1: The National Environmental Data and Information System home page.
Policymakers, government officials, and residents of Antigua and Barbuda now have access to a wealth of national environmental data and information thanks to a pioneering online platform developed by the Mona Geoinformatics Institute (MGI) in partnership with Design + Environment Inc. (DE)
Figure 3: An infographic explaining the many benefits of the National Environmental Information System.
Figure 2: Representatives from various government ministries, agencies, and other stakeholders gather for the launch of the Antigua and Barbuda EIS at the Trade Winds Hotel.
MGI and DE are pleased to announce the official launch by the Government of Antigua and Barbuda (GoAB) of its national Environmental Information System (EIS).
The KHEAM Project is well underway and MGI has so far completed Phase A of the fieldwork activities. State-of-the-art equipment and technology were utilized to obtain data critical to understanding conditions experienced in the environment and how they influence the movement of buoyant solid waste litter within the harbour. The Implementation of Ecosystem Adaptation Measures for Kingston Harbour communities “KHEAM” is an environmental project which aims to bolster the defence of vulnerable, low-lying areas of the city of Kingston against the climate risks of flooding, storm surges, and hurricanes through mangrove restoration, rehabilitation, and conservation within the Kingston Harbour.
Various loggers were deployed between May and June 2021 and retrieved within a 3-week window.
Figure 1: a) Preparing the ADCP for transport by boat to deployment site in Kingston Harbour
The Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler,
What is ‘Teleconnected SARgassum risks across the Atlantic: building capacity for TRansformational Adaptation in the Caribbean and West Africa’ (SARTRAC)?
The Mona Geoinformatics Institute (MGI) has partnered with the University of Southampton (UoS), The Centre of Marine Sciences (CMS), The Centre for Resource Management and Environmental Studies (CERMES) and The University of Ghana (UoG), on an environmental project which aims to understand global and local scale drivers of Sargassum across the Atlantic basin, whilst identifying transformational opportunities for vulnerable communities affected by the holopelagic seaweed. Key outputs of the project will assist stakeholders and marginalized communities impacted by Sargassum in achieving equitable resilience. SARTRAC is a 3-year programme of research funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF).
The Kingston Harbour Marine Basin, approximately 50 km² (5,000 hectares) – part of a protected RAMSAR wetlands site – hosts mangrove ecosystems that provide key sustenance to Kingston Harbour marine and fish life, birds, mammals and reptiles, in addition to shoreline stabilisation for key infrastructure such as airports, shipping ports, real estate and manufacturers located in these coastal areas. The livelihoods of 3,000+ fisherfolk from eight artisanal fishing villages also depend on the Harbour’s ecosystem. These mangroves also provide vital protection against storm surges and coastal flooding through buffering of wave action and absorption of excess water. Mangroves can play an important defensive role to the effects of these climate risks but over the last quarter-century, mangrove forests have declined in Jamaica,
Meet The MGI Team
MGI, along with its partners, are excited to begin work on an environmental project which aims to bolster the defence of the vulnerable, low-lying areas of the city of Kingston against the climate risks of flooding, storm surges, and hurricanes through mangrove restoration, rehabilitation, and conservation within the Kingston Harbour. The KHEAM Project has kicked off and MGI is happy to report our progress on mobilising for the ‘Implementation of Eco-System Adaptation Measures for the Kingston Harbour Communities’. MGI team consists of researchers, project coordinators and fieldwork officers from MGI, led by Dr Ava Maxam and Dr Christopher Daly. Dr Maxam is currently Deputy Director of MGI, where she manages the Natural Hazards & Environment Division,