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The University of Southampton
Geography and Environmental Science

Research project: Teleconnected SARgassum risks across the Atlantic: building capacity for TRansformational Adaptation in the Caribbean and West Africa (SARTRAC)

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SARTRAC identifies new transformational developmental opportunities that build resilience equitably, for people affected by changing biomes/ecosystems in developing countries. Specifically, we identify the adaptation opportunities that can be generated through the management and re-use of the invasive Sargassum seaweed found across the Caribbean, Central America and West Africa since 2011.

Start Date: 1/11/2019

End Date: 31/10/2022

To address the massive sargassum beaching events in the Caribbean and West Africa, we have four objectives:

1. GOVERNANCE. Given the resource costs and capacity limits in small islands and developing countries, we ask whether an integrated inter-state governance network to co-ordinate policy, administrative, technical and legal aspects of Sargassum responses would improve Sargassum outcomes in the Caribbean and West Africa. We also consider the developmental concerns of impacted communities, and perceived barriers to developing resilience to Sargassum events, especially within poor and marginalised communities.

2. DISTRIBUTION. Using drones, remote sensing and GIS, we plan to monitor and map (local to regional) intra-Caribbean and West African Sargassum flows, impacts and adaptations, to identify the social and economic distribution of gains and losses from Sargassum impacts as well as to adaptations used to manage the invasion.

3. TRANSFORMATION. We will evaluate the biotechnological and political economy potential for Sargassum re-use, to inform transformational adaptation pathways for Sargassum-receiving communities.

4. DRIVERS. We will look into sources of Sargassum, and evaluate large-scale drivers, oceanic transport, frequency and predictability of Sargassum events. Most of our fieldwork will occur in the Caribbean, with lessons learned transferred to West Africa.

Fore more information about SARTRAC please visit our project website.


University of Southampton

  • Professor Emma Tompkins: Principal Investigator of SARTRAC, and co-lead of research on re-use of sargassum (WP3)
  • Professor Jadu Dash: Co-Investigator, leading research on sargassum early warning system and risk management strategy development (WP2)
  • Professor Jack Corbett: Co-Investigator, leading research on sargassum governance (WP4)
  • Professor Bob Marsh: Co-Investigator, leading research on the drivers of sargassum in the Tropical Atlantic Basin (WP1)
  • Dr Niklaos Skiliris: Senior researcher for WP1
  • Dr Sien van der Plank: Senior researcher for WP2, 3, and 4.
  • Ms Yanna Fidai: PGR researcher on sargassum monitoring in West Africa
  • Ms Lucy Graves, project support officer

University of West Indies

  • Professor Hazel Oxenford (University of the West Indies, Cave Hill), co-lead on sargassum distribution in the Eastern Caribbean (WP1)
  • Dr Janice Cumberbatch (University of the West Indies, Cave Hill), country lead for UWI, Cave Hill campus (Barbados), co-lead stakeholder engagement (WP4)
  • Ms Bethia Thomas (University of the West Indies, Cave Hill), PGR researcher on vulnerability to sargassum in St Lucia (WP3 and 4).
  • Ms Catrina Hinds (University of the West Indies, Cave Hill), project support officer
  • Professor Mona Webber (University of the West Indies, Mona), Co-Investigator for biochemical re-use of sargassum (WP3)
  • Ms Danielle Haye (University of the West Indies, Mona), PGR researcher on sargassum composition (WP3)
  • Dr Ava Maxam (MGI), country lead for UWI, Mona campus (Jamaica), Co-Investigator for sargassum monitoring and distribution (WP2)
  • Mr Romario Anderson (MGI), biogeographer responsible for social data collection (WP2, 3)
  • Dr Kerrine Senior (MGI), social science data collection and policy analyst (WP2, 3, 4)
  • Ms Ajani Bissick (MGI), GIS / remote sensing specialist (WP1 and 2)
  • Ms Kaodi McGaw (MGI) project coordinator

University of Ghana

  • Professor Kwasi Appeaning-Addo (University of Ghana), country lead for Ghana, co-lead on use of satellite imagery for sargassum detection in West Africa (WP1 and 2)
  • Dr Philip-Neri Jayson Quashigah (University of Ghana), Senior researcher on social data collection and remote sensing analysis (WP2, 3, and 4)

University of York

  • Dr Thierry Tonon (University of York), Lead investigator at University of York, and co-investigator on sargassum biochemistry for re-use4 (WP3)
  • Dr Carla Botelho Machado (University of York), Technician on biochemical analysis of sargassum (WP3)

Related research groups

Environmental Change and Sustainability (ECaS)
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