Coastal home at risk from coastal erosion and high surf

The University of Hawaiʻi Sea Grant College Program (Hawaiʻi Sea Grant) formed its newest center of excellence to assist coastal communities throughout Hawaiʻi and the Pacific islands prepare for the impacts of both natural and human-induced coastal hazards.

Hawaiʻi Sea Grant’s Center for Coastal and Climate Science and Resilience brings together world-renowned university scientists and outreach professionals with government and community partners to focus on critical issues relating to increasing coastal hazards. This is particularly important in the Pacific since most of the development and infrastructure are concentrated on or near low-lying coasts, making island communities highly susceptible to these threats.

By creating an interdisciplinary center of excellence that brings together top university expertise in diverse fields such as oceanography, geology, engineering, law and community planning, it ensures that the proposed solutions take into account all viewpoints, and incorporate the latest scientific findings.

Increasing coastal resilience

One of the signature projects for the new center is Building Resilience to Coastal Hazards and Climate Change in Hawaiʻi, an $845,160, three-year project funded by NOAA’s Regional Coastal Resilience Grants Program. This project, led by Coastal Management Specialist Brad Romine, aims to increase Hawaiʻi’s resilience to coastal hazards and also inform and build upon ongoing planning efforts including development of a Sea Level Rise Vulnerability and Adaptation Report by the State of Hawaiʻi and Interagency Climate Adaptation Committee.

“I have been working in Hawaiʻi and throughout the Pacific islands for decades, and have seen firsthand how the changing climate is directly impacting the economy, the culture, and the health and wellbeing of people living in these extremely vulnerable island communities,” said new center Director Mark Merrifield. “By bringing together experts in many different fields and, together, identifying potential solutions to some of the most pressing issues the islands face, I am confident the new center will bring about lasting and meaningful change where it is needed the most.”

—By Cindy Knapman