Climate change

Hurricane Effects on Critically Endangered Reptiles

Caribbean flora and fauna have always coped with the destructive forces of hurricanes. However, climate change leading to an increase in their frequency and strength, and because many species have declined in abundance due to anthropogenic causes, a better understanding of how hurricanes effect local populations is essential.

The Quill before and after Hurricane Irma. Photo credit: Hannah Madden

2017 Hurricane Season

The 2017 Caribbean hurricane season was the most intense recorded to date. Both Irma and Maria, category-5 hurricanes, closely passed Sint Eustatius and caused major destruction on the island; reported in this Nature Today article. Although immediately after the storms it was clear that trees were heavily affected and mostly defoliated, understanding which species were affected and to what extent requires time for data collection and comparison. Since 2017, several studies have provided pieces of information in order to understand how local populations coped, or not, with the 2017 hurricane season.

Since 2017, researchers found that >90% of all trees were defoliated by more than ¾, and that especially trees at higher elevations (such as on the Quill volcano) were affected more severely. Another study that focused on the Bridled Quail-dove (Geotrygon mystacea), demonstrated that the population declined by 77% in 2019 compared to pre-hurricane levels. A follow-up study in 2021 (not yet published) recorded a further decline to just 125 individuals, and the Bridled Quail-dove will likely be re-assessed by the IUCN.

Reptiles

Focusing on reptile species, a novel study further aids our understanding of the ecosystem-wide impact that the 2017-hurricane season had on Statian biodiversity:

The new study, focusing on the Critically Endangered Lesser Antillean iguana (Iguana delicatissima), shows that its population decreased by at least 20% during 2017. Comparing sighting and survey data from 2017–2018, the authors found a decrease in both the occupancy and population size of the iguana species. Importantly, no recovery was observed in 2019, suggesting that this already small population needs multiple consecutive years without major hurricanes to recover. Interestingly, similar to Statia’s forests, iguanas at higher elevations were found to have been affected more severely.

 

Letter Antillean Iguana. Photo credit: Philippa King

Importance

Small islands such as Sint Eustatius are home to declining populations of rare and endangered species. In many cases, these isolated populations are unable to migrate between islands and thus populations can only increase in size locally. These new studies highlight the need to improve habitat quality and lower anthropogenic threats to optimize the natural recovery of these species. Ideally, at least for population increase could be aided by a local head-starting project where baby iguanas are nourished in temporary captivity and released once they are larger and more likely to survive.

You can find the full study here entitled “Hurricane-induced population decrease in a Critically Endangered long-lived reptile” using the DCBD link below.

 

 

More info in the Dutch Caribbean Biodiversity Database
 

Downloads & links >

 

Published in BioNews 54

Date
2022
Data type
Media
Theme
Research and monitoring
Geographic location
St. Eustatius

Powerpoint- https://www.dcbd.nl/document/%E2%80%98nature-based-solutions%E2%80%99-zijn-noodzakelijk-om-caribische-nederland-te-behoeden-voor-de

Veerkracht tegen klimaatverandering verloren door stapeling van drukfactoren

- stijgingen in de lucht

- en zeewatertemperatuur

- zeespiegelstijging

- verzuring van de zee

- toenemende verdroging van het klimaat

- woekerende invasieve soorten en tropische ziekten

- afname in biodiversiteit

- toenemend frequentie en kracht van orkanen

 

 

See also https://www.dcbd.nl/document/%E2%80%98nature-based-solutions%E2%80%99-zi...

 

Date
2022
Data type
Media
Theme
Governance
Education and outreach
Legislation
Research and monitoring
Geographic location
Aruba
Bonaire
Curacao
Saba
Saba bank
St. Eustatius
St. Maarten
Author

‘Nature-based solutions’ zijn noodzakelijk om Caribische Nederland te behoeden voor de gevolgen van klimaatverandering

Achtergrond

Caribisch Nederland (Bonaire, Saba en St. Eustatius) en de Koninkrijkspartners Aruba, Curaçao en Sint Maarten worden nu en in de komende decennia met toenemende mate geconfronteerd met zware nadelige effecten van klimaatverandering. Die effecten zijn onder andere: - stijging van de zeespiegel - stijgingen in de lucht- en zeewatertemperatuur - toenemende verdroging van het klimaat - woekerende invasieve soorten en tropische ziekten - afname in biodiversiteit - toenemend frequentie en kracht van orkanen. Laaggelegen delen van historische steden zoals Willemstad (Curaçao) en Philipsburg (St. Maarten) en overige aan de kust gelegen infrastructuur zullen zonder ingrijpen uiteindelijk aan de zee moeten worden prijsgegeven. De eilanden beschikken over een rijke biodiversiteit met veel soorten en ondersoorten die niet of nagenoeg nergens op andere plekken voorkomen. Deze soorten zijn vaak bijzonder kwetsbaar voor invasieve soorten en veranderingen in het milieu, waaronder ook die veroorzaakt door klimaatverandering. Omdat de natuur slecht in stand is gehouden, is er sprake van een sterk verminderde veerkracht bij klimaatverandering.

In het verleden is menigmaal gewezen op de noodzaak om een actief klimaatbeleid en een adaptatiestrategie te ontwikkelen en implementeren voor Caribisch Nederland. Helaas heeft het daar tot nu toe aan ontbroken. Deze noodzaak is onlangs opnieuw benadrukt door recente standpunten van de Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA, 2020) en Greenpeace Nederland (2022), en door een uitgebreide analyse de Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (2022) van de te verwachten gevolgen van klimaatverandering voor Bonaire.

 

See also https://www.dcbd.nl/document/powerpoint-httpswwwdcbdnldocumente28098natu...

Date
2022
Data type
Research report
Theme
Governance
Education and outreach
Legislation
Geographic location
Aruba
Bonaire
Curacao
Saba
Saba bank
St. Eustatius
St. Maarten
Author

The Hydrogeology of Curaçao: an electrical resistivity study

Abstract

Worldwide, coral reef health is declining rapidly due to both global stressors (climate change) and local stressors (pollution). Reef maintenance on Curaçao focusses on reducing local stressors including terrestrial pollution. One f low path for terrestrial pollution is via submarine groundwater discharge (SGD). Yet, on the island of Curaçao these hotspots of submarine groundwater discharge have not yet been located, let stand quantified. With this research we aimed to increase our understanding of groundwater flow on the island. This will serve as a foothold for future SGD research. To do so, we have conducted 9 electrical resistivity tomography (ERT) measurements to understand (1) the heterogeneity of the lava formation, the main aquifer, (2) the saltwater-fresh water interface at the coast, and (3) the groundwater flow at geological interfaces. To assist in the interpretation of the data we measured groundwater levels and the discharge of Hato spring, in addition to observing local geological outcrops. We discovered that the lava formation is a very heterogenous aquifer due to variety in degree of weathering of the pillow basalt. As a result of the heterogenous permeability, the extent of seawater intrusion in the coastal lava formation is strongly variable. Yet, the lava formation does form a better barrier for sea-fresh water mixing than the limestone terraces. The midden formation (sedimentary rock) forms a thin aquifer near the surface. And, at the interface of lava and midden formation, the groundwater flow is hampered. As a result, the groundwater is confined within the lava formation until the lava formations reservoir “overflows”. The same occurs at the interface of the lava formation and the diorite intrusion. The next step in SGD research is quantifying the seaward groundwater flux where the lava formation is in direct contact with the sea or limestone formation. Here seaward groundwater flow is not hampered by the midden formation or the intrusion and thus forms hotspots of Submarine (polluted) Groundwater Discharge.

Date
2022
Data type
Research report
Theme
Research and monitoring
Report number
MSc Thesis
Geographic location
Curacao

Household resilience to climate change vulnerabilities -a case study of Bonaire - RAW DATA SET

Abstract

Small Islands (SIs) often have a small capacity to resist or recover from the increasing impacts of climate change and, therefore, increasing climate resilience is necessary. However, knowledge and research on climate resilience, especially in the context of (Caribbean) SIs are limited in number and quality, although imperative for increasing it. Additionally, research, while proven beneficial, often overlooks the household-level. Therefore, this study researched household climate resilience (HCR) in Caribbean SI-context –in this case Bonaire. Since the aspects determining HCR depend on geographic context, this contextwas first studied for Bonaire. Through 13 key-informant interviews, complemented by desk research, the main climate vulnerabilities, their impact on Bonaire and its households, and the aspects making Bonairean households resilient for these were identified. These aspects were used as indicators to form a composite score measuring HCR through online household surveys. Hereby, the barriers to HCR and differences in HCR between socio-demographic groups were identified. Results showed an average HCR-score for the sample (N=183) of .455 out of 1 (SD=.11) –indicating HCR is not low, but also not high. The following aspects negatively contributed to HCR: expected damage to homes, amount of savings, insurance covering damage from climate change (vulnerabilities), incomes, dependent income sources, vulnerable neighbourhoods, alternatives to electricity, water, and food, social resilience, community response, government response, awareness of climate change, information and education on climate change impacts, and steps to prepare for this. Furthermore, the following households are less inclined to be climate resilient: bigger households, households with high kid ratios, households with younger household heads, households speaking fewer languages, households not fluently speaking English, and households with a higher level of obtained education.This study knows limitations that possibly impacted these results, like the limited representativeness of the household sample. Although this study adds to the knowledge base of SI-context HCR, additional research is beneficial. Therefore, recommendations forfurther research are provided. The same goes for policy recommendations.

 

 

For more information, please contact Nina Zander nina.p.zander@gmail.com.

Please also see:

Nina Zander's Masters Thesis https://www.dcbd.nl/document/household-resilience-climate-change-vulnerabilities-case-study-bonaire

DCNA Policy Brief https://www.dcbd.nl/document/small-islands-%E2%80%93-large-climate-change-challenges-household-resilience-climate-change

Date
2022
Data type
Raw data
Theme
Governance
Education and outreach
Legislation
Research and monitoring
Geographic location
Bonaire
Author

Small Islands – Large climate change challenges. Household resilience to climate change vulnerabilities - a case study of Bonaire

Main Findings

The main climate change vulnerabilities for Bonaire are: an increase in the intensity of hurricanes and tropical storms, an increase in the number and extent of flood events, and an increase in the occurrence of extreme weather

• These impact Bonaire’s natural systems (e.g., destruction of coastal and marine ecosystems and terrestrial environments) and socio-economic systems (e.g., health, income, and food availability) – and thus negatively impact households.

• The average score of the household sample indicates that HCR in Bonaire is not particularly low, but also not high.

• Especially the following drivers of household climate resilience seem to be limited in Bonaire: expected damage to homes, amount of savings, insurance covering damage from climate change (vulnerabilities), dependent income sources, incomes, vulnerable neighbourhoods, alternatives to electricity, water, and food, social resilience, community response, government response, awareness of climate change, information and education on climate change impacts and steps to prepare for this, and steps taken to prepare for this.

• The following households are less inclined to be climate resilient: (possibly) bigger households, households with high kid ratios, households with younger household heads, (possibly) households speaking fewer languages, households not fluently speaking English, and households with a higher level of obtained education.

 

Recommendations

• Create an action plan in which policy directly aimed at increasing (household) climate resilience is formulated. This should at least include policy to:

>Keep investing in the protection and recovery of Bonaire’s nature

>Create awareness >Increase the availability of insurance covering damage from climate change (vulnerabilities)

>Provide financial assistance to help households prepare for climate change (vulnerabilities)

>Provide income generating opportunities and diversify the economy.

 

• Incorporate climate change (resiliency) in the design of policy on other themes.

• Increase cooperation• Involve the local community

• Conduct additional research

 

 

For more information, please contact Nina Zander nina.p.zander@gmail.com.

Please also see:

Nina Zander's Masters Thesis https://www.dcbd.nl/document/household-resilience-climate-change-vulnera...
Raw data set https://www.dcbd.nl/document/household-resilience-climate-change-vulnera...

Date
2022
Data type
Research report
Theme
Governance
Education and outreach
Legislation
Research and monitoring
Geographic location
Bonaire
Author

Impacts of Climate Change on Public Health on Bonaire

Part of the larger The impacts of climate change on Bonaire (2022-present) report available here.
 

Summary

Climate change is the biggest “global health threat facing humanity” in the 21st century. Climate change will very likely affect public health on Caribbean small islands, as small island developing states are highly vulnerable to the climate change impacts on health. Currently, small island developing states already “carry heavy burdens” in the form of non-communicable diseases, malnutrition, and obesity. The Caribbean region is especially vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and this project investigates the impacts of climate change on Bonaire’s public health situation.  

The effects of climate change on various aspects of Bonairians’ health conditions are determined by focussing on the impacts on vector-borne diseases, non-communicable diseases, and mental health, among others. In order to explore the current health situation on Bonaire and the possible impacts on public health associated with climate change, desk research is combined with expert interviews.

Although climate change induced floods can result in increased injury and accidental mortality (WHO, 2021), such physical trauma only makes up a minor part of the health climate change impacts. In reality, many more impacts can be seen in terms of vectorborne diseases, non-communicable diseases, mental health, and other health problems. The results indicate that Bonaire’s public health is vulnerable to climate change affecting vector-borne diseases, malnutrition and food insecurity, noncommunicable diseases, heat-related stress and mortality, and mental health issues, among others. Decision-makers should take their responsibility to support Bonaire’s adaptation to the expected impacts accordingly. 

Date
2022
Data type
Research report
Theme
Education and outreach
Research and monitoring
Geographic location
Bonaire

Impacts of Climate Change on Cultural Heritage on Bonaire An assessment of the impacts of climate change on Bonairians’ Cultural Heritage

Part of the larger The impacts of climate change on Bonaire (2022-present) report available here.
 

Summary

Climate change causes many problems, including non-economic loss and damage. However, non-economic damages are often overlooked as they are hard to measure and not felt by the wider society. The Caribbean region is especially vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. This project investigates the impacts of climate change on cultural heritage on Bonaire.

Expert interviews, participatory mapping, and social media analysis were applied to identify Bonaire’s most important cultural heritage. Overlaying the resulting cultural heritage maps with inundation and flood maps from the different climate change scenarios for 2150 showed the predicted impacts of climate change on tangible cultural heritage. The inundation maps show that the southern tip of the island, with its lighthouse, slave huts, and salt pans, will most likely be flooded in 2150, as well parts of Kralendijk under climate scenarios SSP5-8.5 and SSP5-8.5 LC. The climate change impacts on intangible cultural heritage was predicted by means of expert interviews. Climate change is predicted to impact fisheries, agricultural practices, art, and festivities on Bonaire, even though these results are more exploratory and uncertain. Bonaire’s cultural heritage is at risk and the island will be disproportionately affected by climate change. Decision-makers should take their responsibility to support Bonaire’s adaptation to the expected impacts accordingly.

Date
2022
Data type
Research report
Theme
Education and outreach
Research and monitoring
Geographic location
Bonaire

The Vulnerable Future of Bonaire A direct climate damage assessment of the built environment of Bonaire

Part of the larger The impacts of climate change on Bonaire (2022-present) report available here.
 

Summary

This study aims to identify the extent to which Bonaire’s buildings and critical infrastructure will be directly impacted by future climate change, focusing on floods and storms. To do so, we combine open-source information on exposure and vulnerability with locally acquired detailed information through interviews and fieldwork. We introduce a new method, called neighbourhood sampling, to produce accurate local data on building values to overcome data scarcity. The results show that in 2050 a 1/100 flood event may affect at least 54 buildings, depending on the climate scenario, most of which are residential along the southern coastline, leading to a maximum of 14.4 USDm in damages. In 2050, no critical infrastructure other than roads will be hit by a flood. Using our approach, we find no damages due to storm hazards, which can be attributed to the limited availability of knowledge on wind vulnerability for Bonaire. The results are assumed to be underestimated due to inaccuracy in the applied hazard intensity maps, which can significantly impact the estimated flooding damages and associated costs. This research is anticipated to serve as a foundation for more sophisticated local climate hazard research on scarce data locations, and Bonaire specifically. Moreover, it provides a starting point for further research on adaptation measures on Bonaire, as it shows which areas are most vulnerable to flooding.

Date
2022
Data type
Research report
Theme
Education and outreach
Research and monitoring
Geographic location
Bonaire

Reef Degradation and Tourism The macroeconomic costs of climate change on Bonaire

Part of the larger The impacts of climate change on Bonaire (2022-present) report available here 

 

Summary

This paper studies the macroeconomic consequences of climate-induced reef degradation for Bonaire. Bonaire’s coral reefs progressively face the unavoidable reality of climate change, with its effects increasing in severity. Degradation of the island’s reef ecosystems may affect annual tourism arrivals as the reefs form one of the main attractions for visitors to Bonaire. Consequently, the industries that rely on tourist expenditures will suffer and thus the local economy. Coral reef-based tourism creates a unique opportunity to investigate the impacts of global warming on the macroeconomic performance of Bonaire. This paper employs the emission scenarios SSP1-1.9, SSP2-4.5, SSP3-7.0, and SSP5-8.5 of the AR6 IPCC 2021 to study the effects of coral reef degradation on the social carrying capacity of the coral reefs. Subsequently, the potential effects of reduced dive tourism and the induced effects of a change in tourism demand are translated into changes in sectoral outputs by employing input-output analysis. Coral reef degradation is expected under all scenarios, except the SSP1-1.9 scenario where a slight recovery of coral reefs is possible.

This study finds a contraction in GDP between 25 USDm and 173 USDm by 2050 (between 2 to 18 percent of GDP in 2050), depending on the applied climate scenario. Moreover, a tourism income multiplier of 0.85x is found, which indicates a strong interlinkage between tourism income and the local economy, as from every dollar of tourism income 85% enters the local economy. This indicates that any losses in tourism demand will significantly result in macroeconomic damages for Bonaire. It can thus be expected that climate change will have a substantial impact on coral reefs as a vital tourism asset on Bonaire, with more extreme emission scenarios leading to stronger negative effects on the local economy.

Date
2022
Data type
Research report
Theme
Education and outreach
Research and monitoring
Geographic location
Bonaire