USGS Uses Science Diplomacy and Collaboration to Advance Precipitation Monitoring in Cuba

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Science diplomacy is the use of collaborations among nations to address common scientific problems and to build constructive international partnerships. Researchers with the U.S. Geological Survey in Denver, Colorado recently used the science diplomacy tactic to initiate a ground-breaking international collaboration with the Nation of Cuba. 

In April 2016, USGS scientists with the Precipitation Chemistry Quality Assurance Project, Branch of Quality Systems, started sending shipments of synthetic rainwater samples to be tested at the Centro de Estudios Ambientales de Cienfuegos (CEAC), a government agency laboratory in Cienfuegos, Cuba. Preliminary results begin to compare CEAC’s analytical performance with that of precipitation-chemistry laboratories in the United States, Canada, China, Germany, Japan, Mexico, Norway, Slovenia, Sweden and Taiwan.   

 “Precipitation monitoring in Cuba would greatly improve assessment of reactive nitrogen and other chemicals deposited from the atmosphere to the Gulf of Mexico and ecosystems of the southern US coast, the island of Cuba and the Caribbean Sea,” said Greg Wetherbee, USGS research chemist.   “We’re hoping to build Cuba’s capacity for laboratory analysis of rainwater samples in Cuba, which would preserve sample freshness and save on sample shipping costs.”

Sample analysis by the CEAC marks the first step toward potential expansion of the National Atmospheric Deposition Program (NADP) into Cuba. The NADP currently operates more than 340 atmospheric wet deposition monitoring stations throughout the United States and Canada, plus Argentina and Taiwan.

“The USGS is using science diplomacy to advance collaborative scientific efforts between Cuba and the United States,” said Donna Myers, USGS Office of Water Quality Chief.