American Samoa

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Country Overview

Capital: Pago Pago (26,017 pop)
Land: 123 sq mi (199 sq km)
EEZ: ,000 sq km
Population: 64,000 (2010)
Language: English, Samoan
Currency: United States Dollar
Economy: Fisheries and tourism 

Along with Tutuila, the principal islands are Aunu'u and the Manu'a islands (a cluster of three islands, Ta'u, Ofu and Olosega, located about 65 miles east of Tutuila). Swains Island, a small island with a population of less than 25 and Rose Atoll, an uninhabited atoll about 120 miles east of Tutuila, make up the remainder of the territory. The population of the territory is approximately 65,000, of which about 97% live on the island of Tutuila.American Samoa is an unincorporated and unorganized territory of the United States, and administered by the U.S. Department of Interior. It consists principally of five volcanic islands and two coral atolls, for a total area of 76 square miles. It is located approximately 2,300 miles southwest of Hawaii. The largest and most populated island is Tutuila, on which are located the territory's historic capital (Pago Pago), and the seat of the legislature, judiciary, and the office of the Governor.

The per capita income of American Samoa is only $8000, by far the lowest in the United States. American Samoa faces significant environmental and public health challenges:

  • Almost 10% of residents do not have adequate indoor plumbing (piped water, a toilet or both)
  • 17% had tested positive for leptospirosis, a serious waterborne disease associated with improperly managed pig waste.
  • Heavy metals and other toxics in the inner portion of Pago Pago Harbor make fish unsafe to eat.

American Samoa has a tropical climate moderated by southeast trade winds. There is minimal variation in seasonal temperature. American Samoa has a rainy season from November to April and a dry season from May to October. Typhoons are common from December to March, and it is predicted that these will increase as a result of climate change. Climate Change, specifically sea-level rise, directly impacts American Samoa by increasing flooding or drought conditions. There are limited natural freshwater resources in American Samoa and these may be adversely affected by a rise in the level of saltwater penetration under the island caused by sea level rise.

The Samoa archipelago, which includes the Independent State of Samoa, lies within a region that is annually threatened by hurricanes. Although American Samoa is not regularly affected by hurricanes, five powerful hurricanes have struck the Territory’s islands in the last forty years (1966, 1979, 1987, 1990 and 1991). Each have passed over at least one of American Samoa’s islands.

Several factors contribute to American Samoa’s high vulnerability to the impacts of climate change. The Territory’s limited size reduces adaptation options.   Communities have been established in available coastal zones – re-establishing these villages on the limited higher ground may not be feasible, especially when accounting for high population density and continued population growth. In addition, American Samoa is quite isolated and endures high transport costs for imported goods and services, upon which American Samoan communities may heavily rely in the future. The limited available natural resources, including  potable  water,  result  in  supplies  that  are  heavily  stressed  and  degraded  from  historic  overexploitation.   Stressed  ecosystems  are  less  resilient  to the  kinds of  environmental  changes expected with  the  continued  onset  of  climate  change.    Limited available funding and trained personnel also exacerbate the situation.

In light of  these vulnerabilities, American Samoa has taken an active role in researching, analysing, and predicting  risks  for  the  Territory  in  terms  of  climate  change.    Climate change is recognized   as a real threat  in  American  Samoa.   Adaptation  and  mitigation  opportunities  continue  to  be  developed and implemented  throughout  the  island.   The  Department  of  Commerce’s  Coastal  Zone  Management Program and Coral Reef Advisory Group co-hosted a  Climate Change  Summit  in February 2011  that led to numerous adaptation initiatives.

For more information, visit American Samoa Department of Commerce website.

Date updated: March 2016 

National Climate Change Priorities

American Samoa developed a Territorial Climate Change Framework (TCCF) with the aim to capture projects, goals and strategies that increase its local capacity to develop and implement adaptation strategies to reduce vulnerability to impending adverse climate change impacts.  The Framework acts as a guide for resource managers to steer future climate change-related management strategies for the Territory of American Samoa.

The climate change priorities are:

  1. Coral Reefs and Mangroves
  2. Human Health
  3. Forestry, Water and Agriculture
  4. Education
  5. Coastal Hazards
  6. Development
  7. Energy

The objectives and adaptation options or recommendations to address each priority are summarised in the table below.

Climate Change Priority

Objectives

Adaptation Options / Recommendations

1. CORAL REEFS AND MANG ROVES

Support research, analysis, and evaluation of climate
change and its evolving implications for coral reefs and mangroves.

  1. Enhance research and monitoring of coral bleaching impacts
  2. Support research testing ways of reducing coral bleaching by cooling or shading corals, and research on reducing coral diseases which are enhanced by higher temperatures
  3. Enforce local environmental laws and regulations related to chemical pollution, sedimentation, nutrification, overfishing and other local non-climate impacts to coral reefs
  4. Support resilience of local communities to climate change
  5.  Increase awareness and educational opportunities regarding climate change impacts on coral reefs 
  • enhancing the research and monitoring of local coral bleaching impacts, the Territory will be able to better prepare for any impacts that will occur over the next century
  • Supporting research to reduce coral bleaching improve the enforcement of local environmental Executive Orders, laws and regulations including – prohibition of sand mining, prohibition of phosphate detergents
  • Improve the enforcement of local laws and regulations affecting non-climate impacts such as chemical pollution, sedimentation, nutrification, overfishing and more
  • Enhance the resilience of local communities to climate change, in order to improve stewardship for the local coral reefs
  • Increase awareness and educational opportunities regarding impacts on coral reefs

 

2. HUMAN HEALTH

Improve collaboration regarding overall health and safety while
increasing outreach and education regarding climate change
impacts on health

  1. Create and implement a Strategic Health Plan to improve planning and avoid redundancy
  2. Institute an Environmental Health Taskforce to improve collaboration between agencies
  3. Improve access to medical care, with increased treatment and medications available in villages instead of relying solely LBJ hospital
  4. Improve safety monitoring and surveillance of food and water resources
  5. Improve education/outreach regarding health impacts of climate change, as well as factors influencing overall health and well-being
  • A Strategic Health Plan is essential to improve overall public health infrastructure, including planned and calculated reactions to climate change impacts on human health
  • Environmental Health Taskforce established to improve collaboration between agencies
  • Improving access to medical care will be vital in the face of climate change
  • Improve the overall safety and quality of food and water resources
  • Implement education and outreach regarding the impacts of climate change upon health, in addition to improving education and outreach regarding general nutrition and the danger of non-communicable diseases

3. FORESTRY, WATER, AND   AGRICULTURE 

Ensure the sustainability of forestry and freshwater resources, while
also improving food security.

  1. Improve knowledge of  sea-level-rise impacts on drinking water, water storage, and agriculture
  2. Introduce new methods of water collection and storage
  3. Encourage best practice techniques in agriculture and water safety
  4. Increase monitoring and testing of water and food supply systems
  5. Invest in the improvement of existing Village Water Catchments Systems
  6. Improve education/outreach regarding farming techniques, food safety and other health information
  • Enhance research being done locally to improve knowledge of the ways in which sea -level-rise will impact resources in American Samoa
  • Introducing new methods of water storage will also help the Territory prepare for increased impacts of climate change including the possibility of drought and saltwater intrusion into freshwater resources
  • Surveying and investing in existing village water catchments system infrastructures is another essential project.
  • Encouraging best practice techniques in agriculture throughout American Samoa  will improve the ability of individuals and communities to adapt to climate change
  • Increasing and improving the testing of food and water systems is essential to improve overall resilience of communities throughout American Samoa.
  • Improve education and outreach regarding the  impacts of climate change upon forestry, water and agriculture

4. EDUCATION AND OUTREACH

Enhance education and understanding of:

(1) the factors that contribute to global climate change,

(2) the climate change impacts relevant to the Pacific islands, and,

(3) Knowledge of applicable mitigation and adaptation options.

  1. Encourage increased coordination and collaboration between natural resource agencies and teachers
  2. Improve and increase use of climate change curriculum for primary and secondary schools, while refining and developing new climate change curriculum resources
  3. Improve outreach to the community regarding the science and impacts of climate change
  4. Improve outreach regarding nutrition and food security  to improve overall resilience in the face of climate hazards and impacts
  5. Increase scientific and climate-related research opportunities and career choice knowledge for high school and college students in American Samoa
  • Increased coordination and collaboration is recommended between agencies and teachers in order to improve knowledge of climate change science and impacts across the Territory
  • Refine current and develop new climate change and general science curriculum in primary and secondary schools across the Territory
  • Improving outreach through newspapers, radio and television, the Territory will ensure that communities are more prepared to be as resilient as possible to the impacts of climate change
  • Improve overall resilience and health on the island, increased outreach regarding nutrition and food security
  • Increased presentation of science-based career choices for high school and community college students, including careers focused on marine science and climate change

5. COASTAL HAZARDS

Enhance ability of local communities to prepare for, adapt to,
and withstand the environmental changes brought about by the
effects of climate change.

  1. Increase capacity for planning in response to local impacts
  2. Increase the enforcement of rules and regulations serving to protect and improve areas of American Samoa that are susceptible to damage from climate change threats:

a.  Enforce building codes

b.  Enforce National Flood Insurance Program

c.  Enforce fines for sand mining

d.  Implement and enforce new setback rule

  1.  Improve knowledge and familiarity with emergency plans
  2. Create an adaptation assessment, to examine the technical aspects of potential climate impacts
  3. Create and implement a plan to prepare for 1 foot of sea level rise by 2050
  • Increase the local capacity for planning and responding to local impacts such as storms, flooding, and other impacts exacerbated by sea-level rise
  • Improve local planning and community capacity through the expansion of village resiliency plans for disaster and climate change modelling.
  • Increase the enforcement of rules and regulations that serve to protect and improve areas susceptible to damage from climate change threats
  • Improve overall knowledge and awareness of emergency plans
  • Government create a technical adaptation assessment, examining the scientific aspects of potential sea-level-rise, combined with the projected increased extreme weather and accompanying storm surge
  • Plan for 1 foot of sea-level-rise by 2050** to guide all actions in terms of development

**from the amouli village resilience plan: “approximately one foot of sea level rise is predicted for american samoa by the year 2050.”

6. DEVELOPMENT 

Encourage sustainable infrastructural and agricultural
development throughout the Territory

  1. Incorporate climate change into all territorial and emergency plans
  2. Create time-tables for re-evaluation of infrastructure and planning documents, continuously updating with regard to the progression of climate change impacts
  3. Institute green building design throughout Territory, allowing for sustainable development
  4. Encourage recycling and methods to reduce pressure from land-based sources of pollution and increase resilience of communities
  • Incorporate sound science and projections regarding climate change into both territorial planning and emergency management plans
  • Create specific time-tables (every five years) for re-evaluating and updating planning documents with regard to the progression of climate change impacts
  • Local infrastructure must be continuously monitored and evaluated for impacts of climate change
  • Pursuing a reduction in local greenhouse gas emissions while also implementing buildings that are better able to withstand any impacts of climate change will allow communities throughout American Samoa to become more resilient to climate change threats.
  • By encouraging recycling and other methods of reducing land-based sources of pollution, pressure will be reduced on communities and coastal environments

7. ENERGY 

Encourage government, industries, private sector, villages,
individuals, and other organizations to reduce carbon emissions and improve present energy infrastructure to move towards a sustainable energy future.

  1. Reduce fossil fuel reliance while developing local renewable energy sources to improve energy diversification
  2. Improve energy generation infrastructure and energy efficiency
  3. Preserve, restore, and enhance resources to avoid wasted energy use
  4. Train and educate public regarding energy efficiency and conservation
  5. Implement Territory’s Energy Master Plan and   Strategic Energy Assurance Plan
  • By reducing reliance on fossil fuels, American Samoa has the opportunity to achieve increased energy security, which in turn will allow the Territory to adapt to the threats of climate change.
  • Improving energy generation infrastructure and efficiency will also serve to improve energy security throughout American Samoa, creating a Territory more resilient to any impacts of climate change
  • Pursue resource preservation, restoration, and enhancement of resources.
  • Increase training and education surrounding energy efficiency and conservation
  • Establish an organizational structure to appropriately adopt and implement the Territory’s Energy Master Plan and the Strategic Energy Assurance Plan for the Territory

Date updated: March 2016 

<p>Governance American Samoa developed a Territorial Climate Change Framework (TCCF) with the aim to capture projects, goals and strategies that increase its local capacity to develop and implement adaptation strategies to reduce vulnerability to impending adverse climate change impacts. The Framework acts as a guide for resource managers to steer future climate change-related management strategies for the Territory of American Samoa. As a result, American Samoa established an associated Advisory Group to facilitate the implementation of the TCCF, mandated via the Executive Order-002 by Governor Togiola Tulafono on 17 June 2011. The Group, with guidance of the TCCF aims to: (1) Understand American Samoa’s critical climate change adaptation needs; (2) Identify and develop strategies to address these needs; (3) Increase awareness of the adverse implications of climate change; and (4) Continue to build local capacity to actively address climate change and its impending impacts. The goal and objectives of the TCCF Advisory Group (AG) is to ensure that the Territory of American Samoa is properly prepared to endure environmental changes as brought about by global climate change. The Group developed a TCCF template that identifies and prioritizes specific procedures to reduce American Samoa’s contribution to climate change as well as the vulnerability to climate change impacts. The TCCF AG are made up of the following stakeholders (13): (1) The Department of Commerce; (2) The Department of Marine and Wildlife Resources; (3) The American Samoa Environmental Protection Agency; (4) The American Samoa Power Authority; (5) The Department of Health; (6) The Department of Public Works; (7) The Territorial Energy Office; (8) American Samoa Community College; (9) A member of the Senate; (10) A member of the House; (11) A village mayor representing the Eastern District; (12) A village mayor representing the Western District; and (13) A village mayor representing Manu’a. The AG established subcommittees to carry out thematic-based activities of the AG as follows: (1) Coral reefs and mangroves – developing project plans related to enhancing coral reef and mangrove conservation and preservation with respect to climate change impacts; (2) Human health – developing project plans associated with improving human health issues that may be impacted by the effects of climate change. Examples of such issues include, but are not limited to, increased spread of disease and increased health problems resulting from changes in weather patterns; (3) Forestry, agriculture, and water resources – addressing issues related to enhancing the quality and sustainability of forest and water resources, as well as promoting sustainable agricultural practices; (4) Education and outreach – developing project plans related to improving climate change education and outreach opportunities throughout American Samoa communities. This may include school curriculum, specific events, and other recommendations; (5) Coastal hazards – developing project plans to enhance American Samoa’s resilience to climate change related hazards. Examples of hazards include sea level rise, increased coastal inundation, intensified storm systems, and others; (6) Development – developing project plans related to encouraging sustainable development throughout the territory. This will include addressing economic and business impacts expected from climate change; (7) Energy – addressing issues related to American Samoa’s energy system, developing projects that encouraged energy independence and sustainable energy use, and identifying options for alternative energy sources American Samoa’s Environment Protection Agency office is supporting the following initiatives as part of its duty to respond to the impacts of climate change on its people and environment: • Using “Green Building” technology for Government projects. • Using Hybrid vehicles within the Government fleet. • Exploring the use of tax and importation incentives to encourage private industry to be more eco-friendly and to bring “green” technologies to our Territory. • Using alternative energy sources such as Wind Farms and Solar Arrays. • Restricting the importation of older less efficient vehicles. • Educating the public about why it is important we fight climate change and how they can help. American Samoa’s Economic Plan 2014-2017, entitled Economic Development Implementation Plan for American Samoa Fiscal Years 2014 – 2017 (EDIPAS) does not explicitly address climate change nor is climate change, climate change adaptation or climate change mitigation highlighted, including in any of its seven focus areas. These areas are Transportation Services and Infrastructure, New Business and Industry, Federal Government Constraints and Business Climate, Agriculture, Tourism, Fisheries, and Workforce Development. The EDIPAS, however, mentions climate change only once, and this is under the third of three actions identified for Swains Island Goal #1 under Sea Wall and Wharf Construction component of Workforce Development focus area. Goal #1 for Swains Islands is: improve wharf for Swains Island and ensure that it is on list for periodic maintenance. The third action is to: conduct study to evaluate the effects of climate change and sea level rise. The timeframe is from financial year 2015 to financial year 2019 with funding to be approved. For more detailed information, go to: [Portal team – provide link of the American Samoa TCCF] For more information on EDIPAS, go to: http://doc.as.gov/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/FINAL_EDIPAS_NOV_2014-1.pdf Date updated: March 2016</p>

Adaptation

American Samoa developed a Territorial Climate Change Framework (TCCF) with the aim to capture projects, goals and strategies that increase its local capacity to develop and implement adaptation strategies to reduce vulnerability to impending adverse climate change impacts.  The Framework acts as a guide for resource managers to steer future climate change-related management strategies for the Territory of American Samoa.

The climate change adaptation priorities are:

The objectives and adaptation options or recommendations to address each priority are summarised in the table below.

Climate Change Priority

Objectives

Adaptation Options / Recommendations

1. CORAL REEFS AND MANG ROVES

Support research, analysis, and evaluation of climate change and its evolving implications for coral reefs and mangroves.

  1. Enhance research and monitoring of coral bleaching impacts
  2. Support research testing ways of reducing coral bleaching by cooling or shading corals, and research on reducing coral diseases which are enhanced by higher temperatures
  3. Enforce local environmental laws and regulations related to chemical pollution, sedimentation, nutrification, overfishing and other local non-climate impacts to coral reefs
  4. Support resilience of local communities to climate change
  5.  Increase awareness and educational opportunities regarding climate change impacts on coral reefs 
  • enhancing the research and monitoring of local coral bleaching impacts, the Territory will be able to better prepare for any impacts that will occur over the next century
  • Supporting research to reduce coral bleaching improve the enforcement of local environmental Executive Orders, laws and regulations including – prohibition of sand mining, prohibition of phosphate detergents
  • Improve the enforcement of local laws and regulations affecting non-climate impacts such as chemical pollution, sedimentation, nutrification, overfishing and more
  • Enhance the resilience of local communities to climate change, in order to improve stewardship for the local coral reefs
  • Increase awareness and educational opportunities regarding impacts on coral reef

2. HUMAN HEALTH

Improve collaboration regarding overall health and safety while increasing outreach and education regarding climate change impacts on health

1.  Create and implement a Strategic Health Plan to improve planning and avoid redundancy

2.  Institute an Environmental Health Taskforce to improve collaboration between agencies

3.  Improve access to medical care, with increased treatment and medications available in villages instead of relying solely LBJ hospital

4.  Improve safety monitoring and surveillance of food and water resources

5.  Improve education/outreach regarding health impacts of climate change, as well as factors influencing overall health and well-being

  • A Strategic Health Plan is essential to improve overall public health infrastructure, including planned and calculated reactions to climate change impacts on human health
  • Environmental Health Taskforce established to improve collaboration between agencies
  • Improving access to medical care will be vital in the face of climate change
  • Improve the overall safety and quality of food and water resources
  • Implement education and outreach regarding the impacts of climate change upon health, in addition to improving education and outreach regarding general nutrition and the danger of non-communicable diseases

3. FORESTRY, WATER, AND   AGRICULTURE 

Ensure the sustainability of forestry and freshwater resources, while also improving food security.

1.  Improve knowledge of  sea-level-rise impacts on drinking water, water storage, and agriculture

2.  Introduce new methods of water collection and storage

3.  Encourage best practice techniques in agriculture and water safety

4.  Increase monitoring and testing of water and food supply systems

5.  Invest in the improvement of existing Village Water Catchments Systems

6.  Improve education/outreach regarding farming techniques, food safety and other health information

  • Enhance research being done locally to improve knowledge of the ways in which sea -level-rise will impact resources in American Samoa
  • Introducing new methods of water storage will also help the Territory prepare for increased impacts of climate change including the possibility of drought and saltwater intrusion into freshwater resources
  • Surveying and investing in existing village water catchments system infrastructures is another essential project.
  • Encouraging best practice techniques in agriculture throughout American Samoa  will improve the ability of individuals and communities to adapt to climate change
  • Increasing and improving the testing of food and water systems is essential to improve overall resilience of communities throughout American Samoa.
  • Improve education and outreach regarding the  impacts of climate change upon forestry, water and agriculture

4. EDUCATION AND OUTREACH

Enhance education and understanding of:

(1) the factors that contribute to global climate change,

(2) the climate change impacts relevant to the Pacific islands, and,

(3) Knowledge of applicable mitigation and adaptation options.

1.Encourage increased coordination and collaboration between natural resource agencies and teachers

2.  Improve and increase use of climate change curriculum for primary and secondary schools, while refining and developing new climate change curriculum resources

3.  Improve outreach to the community regarding the science and impacts of climate change

4.  Improve outreach regarding nutrition and food security  to improve overall resilience in the face of climate hazards and impacts

5.  Increase scientific and climate-related research opportunities and career choice knowledge for high school and college students in American Samoa

  • Increased coordination and collaboration is recommended between agencies and teachers in order to improve knowledge of climate change science and impacts across the Territory
  • Refine current and develop new climate change and general science curriculum in primary and secondary schools across the Territory
  • Improving outreach through newspapers, radio and television, the Territory will ensure that communities are more prepared to be as resilient as possible to the impacts of climate change
  • Improve overall resilience and health on the island, increased outreach regarding nutrition and food security
  • Increased presentation of science-based career choices for high school and community college students, including careers focused on marine science and climate change

5. COASTAL HAZARDS

Enhance ability of local communities to prepare for, adapt to, and withstand the environmental changes brought about by the effects of climate change.

1.  Increase capacity for planning in response to local impacts

2.  Increase the enforcement of rules and regulations serving to protect and improve areas of American Samoa that are susceptible to damage from climate change threats:

a.  Enforce building codes

b.  Enforce National Flood Insurance Program

c.  Enforce fines for sand mining

d.  Implement and enforce new setback rule

3.  Improve knowledge and familiarity with emergency plans

4.  Create an adaptation assessment, to examine the technical aspects of potential climate impacts

5.  Create and implement a plan to prepare for 1 foot of sea level rise by 2050

  • increase the local capacity for planning and responding to local impacts such as storms, flooding, and other impacts exacerbated by sea-level rise
  • local planning and community capacity be improved through the expansion of village resiliency plans for disaster and climate change modelling.
  • increase the enforcement of rules and regulations that serve to protect and improve areas susceptible to damage from climate change threats
  • improve overall knowledge and awareness of emergency plans
  • government create a technical adaptation assessment, examining the scientific aspects of potential sea-level-rise, combined with the projected increased extreme weather and accompanying storm surge
  • plan for 1 foot of sea-level-rise by 2050** to guide all actions in terms of development

**From the Amouli Village Resilience Plan: “Approximately one foot of sea level rise is predicted for American Samoa by the year 2050.”

6. DEVELOPMENT 

Encourage sustainable infrastructural and agricultural development throughout the Territory

1.   Incorporate climate change into all territorial and emergency plans

2.  Create time-tables for re-evaluation of infrastructure and planning documents, continuously updating with regard to the progression of climate change impacts

3.  Institute green building design throughout Territory, allowing for sustainable development

4.  Encourage recycling and methods to reduce pressure from land-based sources of pollution and increase resilience of communities

  • Incorporate sound science and projections regarding climate change into both territorial planning and emergency management plans
  • Create specific time-tables (every five years) for re-evaluating and updating planning documents with regard to the progression of climate change impacts
  • Local infrastructure must be continuously monitored and evaluated for impacts of climate change
  • Pursuing a reduction in local greenhouse gas emissions while also implementing buildings that are better able to withstand any impacts of climate change will allow communities throughout American Samoa to become more resilient to climate change threats.
  • By encouraging recycling and other methods of reducing land-based sources of pollution, pressure will be reduced on communities and coastal environments

 

For up to date information on actions taken by American Samoa on adaptation, visit American Samoa EPA Climate Change.

Current Climate

Temperature

Average air temperatures in American Samoa are tropical, ranging from about 70-90°F.  There is general warming trend since the 1950s in average, minimum and maximum temperatures within the Central South Pacific region where American Samoa is located. 

Precipitation, ENSO and Tropical Cyclones

American Samoa is warm, humid, and rainy all year.  The summer season is long and wet, lasting from October to May, and the winter season is only slightly cooler and drier, from June to September.  Annual mean rainfall at Pago Pago Airport is about 3,048 mm (120 inches), although other areas can receive as little as 1,800 mm or as much as 5,000 mm (about 71-200 inches),  due to orographic effect (Izuka et al. 2005 in NOAA 2013).  ENSO effects in American Samoa and the Central South Pacific region climate vary by the strength of the particular anomaly event.  During strong El Nino events, the monsoon trough is pulled northward and the SPCZ moves east-northeast of the Samoan region, making it significantly drier.  In moderate El Nino events, the CSP is more susceptible to tropical cyclone formation and passage, and the rainy season tends to initiate earlier and end later.  During weak El Nino events, the monsoon trough and SPCZ are west of the Samoa region.  This causes reduced tropical storm activity and conditions that are drier than average.  In Apia, Samoa (about 80km or 50 miles west of American Samoa), long-term records from 1890 to 2005 show no trend in daily , monthly, or annual precipitation (Young 2007; Australian Bureau of Meteorology & CSIRO 2011 in NOAA 2013).

Extremes in Precipitation

Data from Pago Pago Airport rain gauge[1]  show no trend in annual or winter one-day amounts of precipitation above the 95thpercentile since 1965, and summer one-day amoutns show a slight downward trend that is not statistically significant (Kruk and Marra 2012 in NOAA 2013). Extreme events are associated with ENSO and tropical cyclones in the South Pacific Islands.  For the Central South Pacific sub-region, tropical cyclones occur between November and April; the number of cyclones varies widely from year to year but they tend to occur more frequently during moderate-intensity El Nino years and less frequently during weak El Nino events.  Additionally, Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO) propagation, the major source of intraseasonal variability in the tropical atmosphere, intensifies and increases the frequency of tropical cyclones during moderate El Nino events.  Lastly during strong La Nina events, the SPC lies far southwest of the Samoan region, and the risk of tropical cyclone development is moderate to high.  The frequency of extremely high rainfall events per year as remained consistent since 1965 (Kruk and Marra 2012 in NOAA 2013).

 

[1] The Pago Pago Airport rain gauge has the longest period of record and the least missing data in American Samoa

Source: NOAA 2013

For more information, go to www.nesdis.noaa.gov

Future Climate

Temperature

The largest observed increase has been in minimum air temperatures, while average temperature increase range from 0.27°F to 0.45°F per decade, depending on the island (Australian Bureau of Meteorology and CSIOR 2011).  Regional analysis of air temperature in Samoa are highly variable, but also show a rising trend in maximum air temperatures since 1950 (Young 2007).

The future climate scenario for Samoa is shared here as Samoa (13º 35S, 172º 20W) and American Samoa (Pago Pago 14° 16' S, 170° 42' W) belong to an archipelago with only 50 miles apart from each other.

Over the course of the 21st century (for the period to 2100), the Global Climate Model Projections and climate science findings for Samoa (and American Samoa) indicate:

  • El Niño and La Niña events will continue to occur in the future (very high confidence), but there is little consensus on whether these events will change in intensity or frequency;
  • Annual mean temperatures and extremely high daily temperatures will continue to rise (very high confidence);
  • The CMIP5 models project little change in mean annual rainfall (low confidence), with more extreme rain events(high confidence);
  • Incidence of drought is projected to decline or stay approximately the same (low confidence);
  • Ocean acidification is expected to continue (very high confidence);
  • The risk of coral bleaching will increase in the future (very high confidence);
  • Sea level will continue to rise(very high confidence); and
  • A reduction of wave period in December–March is projected with no change in wave height (low confidence). No change is projected in June–September (low confidence)

Source: Australian Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO, 2014.

Date updated: March 2016 


[1] The Pago Pago Airport rain gauge has the longest period of record and the least missing data in American Samoa

Knowledge Management & Education

American Samoa currently does not have an education plan that is directed towards incorporating climate change into the territory’s curricula for schools and colleges.  American Samoa developed a Territorial Climate Change Framework (TCCF) with the aim to capture projects, goals and strategies that increase its local capacity to develop and implement adaptation strategies to reduce vulnerability to impending adverse climate change impacts. Key priorities of this TCCF, however, address actions that promote and encourage climate change actions through education.  The Framework acts as a guide for resource managers to steer future climate change-related management strategies for the Territory of American Samoa.

Education is the fourth climate change goal or priority addressed under the TCCF. The objective statement, key objectives and recommendations for education are:

Climate Change Priority

Objectives

Adaptation Options / Recommendations

EDUCATION AND OUTREACH

Enhance education and understanding of:

(1) the factors that contribute to global climate change,

(2) the climate change impacts relevant to the Pacific islands, and,

(3) Knowledge of applicable mitigation and adaptation options.

1.Encourage increased coordination and collaboration between natural resource agencies and teachers

2.  Improve and increase use of climate change curriculum for primary and secondary schools, while refining and developing new climate change curriculum resources

3.  Improve outreach to the community regarding the science and impacts of climate change

4.  Improve outreach regarding nutrition and food security  to improve overall resilience in the face of climate hazards and impacts

5.  Increase scientific and climate-related research opportunities and career choice knowledge for high school and college students in American Samoa

  • Increased coordination and collaboration is recommended between agencies and teachers in order to improve knowledge of climate change science and impacts across the Territory
  • Refine current and develop new climate change and general science curriculum in primary and secondary schools across the Territory
  • Improving outreach through newspapers, radio and television, the Territory will ensure that communities are more prepared to be as resilient as possible to the impacts of climate change
  • Improve overall resilience and health on the island, increased outreach regarding nutrition and food security
  • Increased presentation of science-based career choices for high school and community college students, including careers focused on marine science and climate change

 

Other priorities of the TCCF also invest into education to address climate change adaptation and mitigation under those particular priorities.  These are summarised in the below table:

Climate Change Priority

Objectives

Adaptation Options / Recommendations

1. CORAL REEFS AND MANG ROVES

Support research, analysis, and evaluation of climate change and
its evolving implications for coral reefs and mangroves.

Increase awareness and educational opportunities regarding climate change impacts on coral reefs 

  • Enhancing the research and monitoring of local coral bleaching impacts, the Territory will be able to better prepare for any impacts that will occur over the next century
  • Supporting research to reduce coral bleaching improve the enforcement of local environmental Executive Orders, laws and regulations including – prohibition of sand mining, prohibition of phosphate detergents
  • Increase awareness and educational opportunities regarding impacts on coral reefs

 

2. HUMAN HEALTH

Improve collaboration regarding overall health and safety while
increasing outreach and education regarding climate change impacts on health

 Improve education/outreach regarding health impacts of climate change, as well as factors influencing overall health and well-being

  • Implement education and outreach regarding the impacts of climate change upon health, in addition to improving education and outreach regarding general nutrition and the danger of non-communicable diseases

3. FORESTRY, WATER, AND   AGRICULTURE 

Ensure the sustainability of forestry and freshwater resources, while also
improving food security.

Improve knowledge of  sea-level-rise impacts on drinking water, water storage, and agriculture

Improve education/outreach regarding farming techniques, food safety and other health information

  • Enhance research being done locally to improve knowledge of the ways in which sea -level-rise will impact resources in American Samoa
  • Surveying and investing in existing village water catchments system infrastructures is another essential project.
  • Improve education and outreach regarding the  impacts of climate change upon forestry, water and agriculture

5. COASTAL HAZARDS

Enhance ability of local communities to prepare for, adapt to, and withstand the environmental changes brought about by the effects of climate change.

Increase capacity for planning in response to local impacts

Improve knowledge and familiarity with emergency plans

 

  • increase the local capacity for planning and responding to local impacts such as storms, flooding, and other impacts exacerbated by sea-level rise
  • Improve local planning and community capacity through the expansion of village resiliency plans for disaster and climate change modelling.
  • improve overall knowledge and awareness of emergency plans
  • government create a technical adaptation assessment, examining the scientific aspects of potential sea-level-rise, combined with the projected increased extreme weather and accompanying storm surge

6. DEVELOPMENT 

Encourage sustainable infrastructural and agricultural development throughout
the Territory

Encourage recycling and methods to reduce pressure from land-based sources of pollution and increase resilience of communities

  • Incorporate sound science and projections regarding climate change into both territorial planning and emergency management plans

7. ENERGY 

Encourage government, industries, private sector, villages, individuals,
and other organizations to reduce carbon emissions and improve present energy infrastructure to move towards a sustainable energy future.

Train and educate public regarding energy efficiency and conservation

Date updated: March 2016 

Mitigation

American Samoa currently does not have a national or territory climate change mitigation plan that specifically aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  American Samoa developed a Territorial Climate Change Framework (TCCF) with the aim to capture projects, goals and strategies that increase its local capacity to develop and implement adaptation strategies to reduce vulnerability to impending adverse climate change impacts. Key priorities of this TCCF, however, address actions that contribute to removing barriers that allow the abatement of greenhouse gas emissions and thereby contributing to mitigation.  The Framework acts as a guide for resource managers to steer future climate change-related management strategies for the Territory of American Samoa.

The climate change priorities that are relevant to mitigation are:

The objectives and relevant mitigation options summarised in the table below.

Climate Change Priority

Objectives

Adaptation Options / Recommendations

ENERGY 

Encourage government, industries, private sector,
villages, individuals, and other organizations to reduce carbon emissions and improve present energy infrastructure to move towards a sustainable energy future.

1.  Reduce fossil fuel reliance while developing local renewable energy sources to improve energy diversification

2.  Improve energy generation infrastructure and energy efficiency

3.  Preserve, restore, and enhance resources to avoid wasted energy use

4.  Train and educate public regarding energy efficiency and conservation

5.  Implement Territory’s Energy Master Plan and   Strategic Energy Assurance Plan

  • By reducing reliance on fossil fuels, American Samoa has the opportunity to achieve increased energy security, which in turn will allow the Territory to adapt to the threats of climate change.
  • Improving energy generation infrastructure and efficiency will also serve to improve energy security throughout American Samoa, creating a Territory more resilient to any impacts of climate change
  • Pursue resource preservation, restoration, and enhancement of resources.
  • Increase training and education surrounding energy efficiency and conservation
  • Establish an organizational structure to appropriately adopt and implement the Territory’s Energy Master Plan and the Strategic Energy Assurance Plan for the Territory

DEVELOPMENT 

Encourage sustainable infrastructural and agricultural
development throughout the Territory

1.   Incorporate climate change into all territorial and emergency plans

2.  Create time-tables for re-evaluation of infrastructure and planning documents, continuously updating with regard to the progression of climate change impacts

3.  Institute green building design throughout Territory, allowing for sustainable development

4.  Encourage recycling and methods to reduce pressure from land-based sources of pollution and increase resilience of communities

  • Incorporate sound science and projections regarding climate change into both territorial planning and emergency management plans
  • Create specific time-tables (every five years) for re-evaluating and updating planning documents with regard to the progression of climate change impacts
  • Local infrastructure must be continuously monitored and evaluated for impacts of climate change
  • Pursuing a reduction in local greenhouse gas emissions while also implementing buildings that are better able to withstand any impacts of climate change will allow communities throughout American Samoa to become more resilient to climate change threats.
  • By encouraging recycling and other methods of reducing land-based sources of pollution, pressure will be reduced on communities and coastal environments

EDUCATION AND OUTREACH

Enhance education and understanding of:

(1) the factors that contribute to global climate change,

(2) the climate change impacts relevant to the Pacific islands, and,

(3) Knowledge of applicable mitigation and adaptation options.

1.Encourage increased coordination and collaboration between natural resource agencies and teachers

2.  Improve and increase use of climate change curriculum for primary and secondary schools, while refining and developing new climate change curriculum resources

3.  Improve outreach to the community regarding the science and impacts of climate change

4.  Improve outreach regarding nutrition and food security  to improve overall resilience in the face of climate hazards and impacts

5.  Increase scientific and climate-related research opportunities and career choice knowledge for high school and college students in American Samoa

  • Increased coordination and collaboration is recommended between agencies and teachers in order to improve knowledge of climate change science and impacts across the Territory
  • Refine current and develop new climate change and general science curriculum in primary and secondary schools across the Territory
  • Improving outreach through newspapers, radio and television, the Territory will ensure that communities are more prepared to be as resilient as possible to the impacts of climate change
  • Improve overall resilience and health on the island, increased outreach regarding nutrition and food security
  • Increased presentation of science-based career choices for high school and community college students, including careers focused on marine science and climate change

For information on up to date specific actions taken by American Samoa on mitigation, visit American Samoa EPA Climate Change.

Date updated: March 2016 

Focal points - Climate change & Disaster Risk Management

Climate Change
Mr Ameko Pato
Director
American Samoa Environmental
Protection Agency (AS-EPA)
PO Box PPA
PAGO PAGO,
American Samoa 96799
Telephone: (684) 633 2304
Fax: (684) 633 5801
Email: ameko.pato@epa.as.gov
    
Mr. Neil Pilcher
AS-EPA, PAGO PAGO
Email: neil.pilcher@epa.as.gov  
    
    
Disaster Risk Management    
Mr Faamao O. Asalele Jr.

Deputy Director
American Samoa Environmental
Protection Agency (AS-EPA)
PO Box PPA
PAGO PAGO,
American Samoa 96799
Email: faamao.asalele@epa.as.gov

Date updated: March 2016  

References

The following references have been used to develop the country profile.  It is important to note that contributions are from local, regional and international agencies.  The profile is reviewed by the national focal point for accuracy.   We encourage you to contact the country contacts (focal points) if any documents cannot be accessed through the links.

  1. American Samoa, 2012.  Territorial Climate Change Adaptation Framework. American Samoa Governor’s Coral Reef Advisory Group. Department of Commerce. Accessed on 18 March 2016 on: http://data.nodc.noaa.gov/coris/library/NOAA/CRCP/other/grants/NA11NOS48...
  2. NOAA, 2013. NOAA Technical Report NESDIS 142-8, Regional Climate Trends and Scenarios for the U.S. National Climate Assessment. Part 8. Climate of the Pacific Islands. National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information service. Accessed on 18 March 2016 on: http://www.nesdis.noaa.gov/technical_reports/NOAA_NESDIS_Tech_Report_142-8-Climate_of_the_Pacific_Islands.pdf.
  3. Australian Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO (2014). Climate Variability, Extremes and Change in the Western Tropical Pacific: New Science and Updated Country Reports. Pacific-Australia Climate Change Science and Adaptation Planning Program Technical Report, Australian Bureau of Meteorology and Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Melbourne, Australia
  4. American Samoa EPA Climate Change
  5. American Samoa Department of Commerce
  6. American Samoa  National Weather Service Forecast Office
  7. American Samoa Observatory
  8. American Samoa EPA website
  9. NOAA website
  10. NOAA Satellite and Information Service
  11. Coral Reef Advisory Group 
  12. Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, United Nations, July 2007.
  13. Pacific Disaster Net
  14. http://www.worldatlas.com/webimage/countrys/oceania/as.htm
  15. http://data.nodc.noaa.gov/coris/library/NOAA/CRCP/other/grants/NA11NOS4820008/ClimateChange_Adapt_Framework.pdf
  16. https://www.doi.gov/sites/doi.opengov.ibmcloud.com/files/uploads/1.%20American-Samoas-Climate-Change-Initiatives.pdf
  17. http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/obop/smo/

Date updated: March 2016