The Hawaiian Islands represent a wide diversity of ecosystems and environments, including areas of breathtaking natural beauty as well as densely populated coastal cities. These unique environments are already changing under the influence of climate change from the effects of increasing temperatures, decreasing rainfall, rising seas, coastal erosion, land use and development changes and increasing demands on Hawaiʻi’s natural resources.

A new report, titled Climate Change Impacts in Hawaiʻi: A summary of climate change and its impacts to Hawaiʻi’s ecosystems and communities, produced by the University of Hawaiʻi Sea Grant College Program with funding from the Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority (HTA), addresses questions about what can be expected for the future and how residents can best prepare. It begins by answering basic questions such as “What does climate change look like?”, “What is the current state of scientific knowledge regarding climate change globally and how does it relate to Hawaiʻi specifically?”

By addressing these fundamental questions, UH Sea Grant and HTA are striving to improve the general understanding of climate change and its associated impacts, which in turn will help communities be better prepared to undertake climate change adaptation and mitigation efforts.

Dolan Eversole, coordinator of the NOAA Sea Grant Coastal Storms Program for the Pacific Islands Region and lead author of the report, noted “While there is a large amount of science on global climate change available, sorting through and interpreting this often very technical and sometimes disparate information can be confusing and time-consuming. We produced a series of reports which we hope will make this information widely accessible and easy to understand, and in turn will help all of us anticipate and prepare for the changes that we are beginning to see in the islands.”

“The HTA partnered with the University of Hawaiʻi to fund the climate change study” said Mike McCartney, president and CEO of Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority. “HTA is a knowledge based organization and we believe it’s important to be informed about Hawaiʻi’s environment as it relates to tourism. We will use this study to help guide us in how we address our environmental initiatives.

The report is part of a series which also includes Climate Change and the Visitor Industry: People, Place, Culture and the Hawaiʻi Experience and HTA Stakeholder Outreach Workshop: Summaries and Risk Perception Analysis. Digital versions of all three reports are available at the UH Sea Grant website, and a limited number of hard copies are available by request. To request a hard copy call (808) 956-7410

A UH Sea Grant news release