Shoreline erosion, North Shore of Oʻahu

To help Hawaiʻi communities reduce their vulnerability to natural hazards and climate change, NOAA’s National Ocean Service awarded the University of Hawaiʻi Sea Grant College Program (Hawaiʻi Sea Grant) $845,160 in grant funding through the Regional Coastal Resilience Grants Program.

Hawaiʻi is particularly vulnerable to coastal hazards. Since the state is heavily reliant on tourism, and most of the development and infrastructure in Hawaiʻi are concentrated on or near the coast, it is highly susceptible to flooding, coastal erosion, sea-level rise and coastal disasters. The project, titled “Building Resilience to Coastal Hazards and Climate Change in Hawaiʻi,” aims to address these critical issues and increase Hawaiʻi’s resilience to coastal hazards and the impacts from climate change.

In addition, the project will leverage and inform ongoing planning efforts already underway throughout the state, including the development of a statewide Sea Level Rise Vulnerability and Adaptation Report under the Hawaiʻi Climate Adaptation Initiative (State Act 83, 2014).

Hawaiʻi’s vulnerability to coastal hazards

Bradley Romine, Hawaiʻi Sea Grant’s coastal management specialist and the project lead, said “The past year has been a stark reminder of Hawaiʻi’s vulnerability to coastal hazards after a record-setting hurricane season, and massive El-Niño fueled winter surf caused damage to our coastal communities. The frequency and severity of coastal erosion and flooding events is only going to increase in the coming decades with climate change and sea-level rise. Improving coastal community resilience makes sense for now and the future. Thank you to NOAA for this grant, which will have a positive impact on Hawaiʻi’s local efforts to improve our resilience.”

Jeffrey Payne, director of the NOAA Office for Coastal Management, noted “The challenges confronting our nation’s coastal communities are incredibly complicated. Effective solutions are going to require strong science, ingenuity and collaboration if they are going to safeguard and ensure the future vitality of our economy and valuable natural resources. The projects that have been approved for funding represent opportunities to do just that. We are excited about what these partnership projects will accomplish at the local level and the positive impact this program will have on our nation.”

Project partners

Other project partners include the State of Hawaiʻi Department of Land and Natural Resources, State of Hawaiʻi Office of Planning, Pacific Islands Ocean Observing System, University of Hawaiʻi School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology and the National Disaster Preparedness Training Center.