International Tropical Islands Water Conference

Tropical Island Water Futures: Water for People and Ecosystems in the Face of Change

April 12-15, 2021

You are invited to engage with tropical island water scientists, managers, and community members from around the world. 


This virtual event will be held April 12-15, 2021 from 11 am – 3 pm Hawaiʻi Standard Time*, and is organized by the Water Resources Research Center (WRRC, Hawaiʻi) and Hawai‘i EPSCoR ʻIke Wai at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, in collaboration with our partner water centers: the Water Environmental Research Institute of the Western Pacific, University of Guam (Water and Environmental Research Institute) and the Virgin Islands Water Resources Research Institute, University of the Virgin Islands (Water Resources Research Institute), and the Water Resources Research Act Program of the United States Geological Survey (USGS).

*see time zone converter here 

Need help or have questions?

Conference attendees can send an email to: with any questions or help requests during the conference.


Registration Fees

Registration now open!

General Registration:

  • $40 for early bird registration before April 1st 2021
  • $50 regular registration April 1st to 15th  2021

Student Registration:

  • $10 student registration before April 1st 2021
  • $15 student registration April 1st to 15th  2021
  • Scholarships available for students interested in volunteering with the event.

Conference Schedule & Abstract Book

Virtual Field Trips

Conference Goal


The conference will provide a platform for discussion among scientists, resource managers, and community members from across the world to share cutting-edge research and learn from each other’s experiences managing and understanding water resources across a broad range of tropical island settings.

Conference Themes


  1. Watershed management Watershed management plays an important role in the quantity, regulation, and quality of water supply and presents an array of challenging research questions.  Research is critically important to guide efforts to protect watersheds from the impacts of land cover change, species invasion, and biological and chemical contamination. In this theme, we encourage contributions from managers, community members, and scientists that will further understanding of the key problems, promising scientific advances, and pathways to integrating nature-based solutions and sound watershed management. We especially encourage contributions that allow for identification of areas of concern common to different jurisdictions. 
  2. Climate change and other drivers of change This theme covers the impact of global environmental and climate changes on water resources. This includes hazards and environmental and social consequences of changes in forcing factors (precipitation, temperature, sea-level rise) and watershed functioning consequences (streamflow, brown water events, amount of infiltration vs. inundation, landslides). Additionally, the impact of compounding challenges and stressors will be discussed. Examples are the compounding, simultaneous stress of climate change, rapid population growth, aquatic invasive species, COVID-19 related economic stresses, sea-level rise, and increasing urbanization on water availability and sustainable water use or water shortages. We encourage contributions from management and policy perspectives, community perspectives, and research frontiers.
  3. Indigenous and local knowledge, perspectives, and management Indigenous and local knowledge and perspectives are critical for effective and equitable water resources management. This session seeks to convene practitioners and researchers from multiple Tropical Islands to discuss historical and contemporary management systems and the opportunities and challenges in decolonizing water management on Tropical Islands. We envision indigenous and other local community perspectives across all topic areas, but seek to utilize this session to exchange experience, challenges, and successes in elevating and including indigenous and local communities in water management decisions across Tropical Islands. 
  4. Leading-edge technological advances in Water Science This theme covers a wide range of leading-edge technological advances in water science. It distinguishes itself from the scientific frontier sections of the other themes by being primarily focused on methodological advancements and improvements that are applicable to and transferable across themes. This includes, but is not limited to, technological and methodological advances in surface water data collection and modeling, climate modeling, groundwater modeling, uncertainty quantification, fast numerical models, geophysical data acquisition, processing, inversion, and interpretation, remote sensing, laboratory analyses, and the role of cyberinfrastructure, big data, and machine learning in water science. 
  5. Securing water for people and ecosystems now and into the future This theme focuses on key water security challenges faced Tropical Islands, particularly in regards to balancing water supply for drinking, agriculture, and ecosystems. As the most isolated places on Earth, island populations have few opportunities for water substitutions beyond desalination (ie. water cannot be easily imported from other areas). We seek a range of talks from managers, communities, and researchers on challenges and opportunities to ensure water security for people and ecosystems now and under climate change. This includes, but is not limited to: infrastructure and drinking water, sustainable aquifer yield, in-stream flow standards, ecological responses to changes in streamflow, economics of water management, challenges of sea-level rise and the social, cultural, and economic values of stream and groundwater dependent ecosystems.
  6. Managing wastewater for healthy coastlines and people Tropical Island land and marine ecosystems are tightly connected, and decisions on land have critical impacts on marine water quality and linked human and ecological health. Many island systems face critical challenges around managing wastewater; for example, in Hawaiʻi high concentrations of cesspools threaten groundwater and nearshore recreational waters and valued coral reefs and fisheries. This theme seeks a combination of talks from managers, communities, and researchers on key wastewater challenges and solutions, including on-site disposal system upgrades, sea level rise challenges, and links between water quality and human and ecological health. We are especially interested in policy and community responses that have been successful and that could inspire lessons learned for other locations.
  7. Water education and outreach Global efforts to understand and protect water resources on tropical islands recognize the important role of place-based education and outreach in achieving these goals. Water resource educational programming and outreach efforts may take many forms as the needs, values, and cross-cultural settings of Tropical Islands differ. This theme seeks to celebrate, share, and learn from the diverse educational programs and outreach efforts operating in different Tropical Islands settings. This theme invites presentations that share challenges, successes, and innovations in water education and outreach, from formal and informal water educators, from a range of Tropical Islands settings.
  8. Integrated urban water management in tropical environments Cities are increasingly turning to water-sensitive urban design, low impact development, or sustainable urban drainage strategies to improve water management. This theme covers the multiple facets of urban water management in tropical islands, focusing on stormwater, flood risk, and groundwater management (also see Theme 6 for a focus on wastewater management). Examples of challenges that tropical islands face include: technical knowledge gaps about green infrastructure, dealing with compound flooding, dealing with space constraints, and managing water in informal settlements. We encourage contributions presenting case studies and practical solutions to challenges uniquely faced by tropical islands. 

Conference Organizing Committee


Thomas Giambelluca – Water Resources Research Center, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa

Leah Bremer – Water Resources Research Center and University of Hawaiʻi Economic Research Organization, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa

Christopher Shuler – Water Resources Research Center, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa

Niels Grobbe Water Resources Research Center, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa

Michelle Choe – University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, Information Technology Services 

Henrietta Dulai – Earth Sciences and Water Resources Research Center , University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa

Maria Dumanlang – University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa,  Information Technology Services 

Aly El-Kadi – Earth Sciences and Sciences & Water Resources Research Center, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa

Earl Greene – United States Geological Survey 

Barbara Guieb – Water Resources Research Center, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa

Kristin Wilson Grimes – University of the Virgin Islands

Perrine Hamel – Nanyang Technical University, Asian School of the Environment

Patricia Hirakawa – Water Resources Research Center, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa

Aurora Kagawa-Viviani – Hawai‘i Cooperative Studies Unit, University of Hawai‘i – Hilo & Water Resources Research Center, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa

April Kam – Water Resources Research Center, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa

Delwyn Oki – USGS Pacific Islands Water Science Center 

Kelley Anderson Tagarino – American Samoa Community College and Hawaiʻi Sea Grant

José Virgílio de Matos Figueira Cruz – University of the Azores

Chris Yeo – University of Guam

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