The Kwajalein Atoll Sustainability Laboratory
Our most active project for 2023-2026 is our support of the Kwajalein Atoll Sustainability Laboratory (KASL) in the Marshall Islands, located in the western equatorial Pacific. Their research in climate adaptation science and engineering for highly vulnerable populations is ambitious, multi-sectoral, integrative, inclusive, and accessible.
The KASL concept, now supported for the Marshallese by the US Office of Naval Research, arose through the work of Dr. Gregg Nakano. His doctoral thesis at the University of Hawai'i described his educational concept of TIPAR (Transdisciplinary Intergenerational Participatory Action Research) in light of climate adaptation for highly vulnerable populations.
The Marshall Islands have already witnessed more sea-level rise than the global average. They now face a near-future very likely to force their abandonment of islands they've occupied for more than 2,000 years.
AHF has joined the efforts at KASL. We want to help the Marshallese identify technical, cultural, social, and educational opportunities for adapting to climate change. It's a daunting task of enormous scope, but done in full partnership with the Marshallese.
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1. Cultural preservation
2. Information Transfer / Communication
11. Job creation
12. Ecosystem Regeneration
Climate Security Research Station
Dan Kenney, our lead engineer, designed and built (with a remarkable local team) this Research Station on Ebadon Island in the far northwest of Kwajalein Atoll. The Marshallese named it a "Jebake Nest", after a story in Marshallese mythology about "Ji-Jebake", a goddess in the form of a rare hawksbill turtle, plus using the term "Nest" to reflect the building form Dan had created for those displaced by the war in Ukraine. In creating this Nest Dan used modern materials and robust engineering, but echoed the shape of a 19th century Marshallese dwelling.
The final result is a useful building assembled by hand in just six days by a small group of newly-trained people with no special skills, many of whom were Ebadon villagers. This Nest was christened the Irene Paul Memorial Climate Security Research Station, and it's now collecting and broadcasting LORA environmental data from a growing list of sensors installed on Ebadon (land, ocean, reef, soil, crops, aquifer, atmosphere, and weather).
It's a strong, safe, simple, and cheap building intended as both (1) a science station and (2) a community shelter that can be secured against severe storms, enclosing the entire population of the island for a few hours if needed.
Total cost of materials is less than $9,000 (nine-thousand dollars), and it will last decades.
This Research Station had several criteria in the construction. No wood to rot, minimal metal to rust, and it had to be manufactured on-site with minimal waste. At the request of the Marshallese, we sited the station on the grounds of the elementary school on Ebadon so that our satellite uplink wifi cloud could be available to the students.
For the construction we used sheets of expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam that we cut by hand with a hot wire, then we applied a thin cement skin, also mixed and applied by hand. We chose to fasten everything using an insulating adhesive rather than nails, and that allows the Nest to be seamless, strong, lightweight, and easy to assemble by hand using simple tools and a ladder. The result is a building process that left less than 2% waste – by far the most efficient modern construction process of any we researched
We designed it to be layered with multiple coats of a locally-made limestone wash derived from old seashells and manufactured over a coconut fire on our beach. It will have layers rolled on by hand over subsequent months, and the result a building that's bright white, extremely strong, very lightweight, resistant to rot, mold, insects, salt, wind, ocean overwash, heat, or cold, and it can be painted any colors and patterns the Marshallese desire.
The lessons learned in that week of construction have helped the Marshallese begin an industry, and Applied Hope will help them with the next stage: A similar EPS building process that can create a safe, strong, comfortable home for a family of four, complete with power, light, cooking, sanitation, and clean drinking water - but able to float on the lagoon, anchored securely, but flexibly, to the bottom, serving as a method for moving climate-threatened homes afloat, establishing a marine homestead within the Atoll.
Nest Sensor Suite
•Weather station (temperature, wind, rain, barometric pressure, humidity, UV intensity, visible light)
•Air quality particulate sensor (P2.5)
•Radiation sensor (atmospheric ionization)
•Ground Water sensors
•Ground water level (aquifer level)
•Biorock reef sensors
•Placed at 3-5 meters depth
•Measures wave height versus average water column above sensor
•Ocean pH close to biorock structure
•Ocean pH away from biorock structure
•Low-light camera (1-12 photos per day)
•Solid state hard drive connected to Sumi or Raspberry Pi as Network Storage, containing data resources that can be downloaded:
•Entirety of Wikipedia
•User manuals for all equipment
•Opensource Literature Library
•Maps, LIDAR, and bathymetry data (2023)
•Accessed via WiFi hotspot
"We have chosen to work on climate adaptation in very challenging places so that no one can argue that their place is harder than our place."
---Dr. Eric Rasmussen