Partnering with Cuba: Weather extremes

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Science  18 Jul 2014:
Vol. 345, Issue 6194, pp. 278
DOI: 10.1126/science.345.6194.278-a

We support the recent Editorial on “Science diplomacy with Cuba” (G. R. Fink, A. I. Leshner, V. C. Turekian, 6 June, p. 1065). Many groups in the United States seek greater cooperation with Cuba in the earth sciences. Similar to the disease mitigation discussed in the Editorial, there is a long history of scientific advances that could save lives and reduce losses with greater cooperation.

Cuban scientists did forecast the severity of the 1900 Galveston hurricane and could have helped the nascent U.S. Weather Bureau in Galveston mitigate fatalities and losses (1). More recently, after the devastating 2010 Mw7.0 Haiti earthquake, the National Science Foundation supported the development of the Continuously Operating Caribbean Global Positioning System (GPS) Observational Network (COCONet) (2), a GPS and meteorological network in the circum-Caribbean designed to help understand tectonic and weather extremes in a complex geologic and atmospheric region. Partially facilitated by a previous AAAS delegation visit to Cuba in December 2011, a new GPS station was recently installed in Camagüey, Cuba, and is a critical component of COCONet. More broadly, COCONet involves more than 38 nations and everyone benefits from international cooperation and diplomacy that revolve around research, education, and broader impacts such as risk resiliency and enhancing the quality of life.


We encourage easing restrictions so that government science agencies may cooperate more fully on science and education. For example, the Cuban Meteorological Institute, Cuban Nuclear Agency, the National Seismological Center, and the Astronomical and Geophysical Institute could then cooperate with their U.S. counterparts on natural hazards research.


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