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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.


Related research groups

Environmental Change and Sustainability (ECaS)
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