New science shows increased need for cross jurisdictional coordination, funding, and capacity for sea level rise action as outlined in an updated report by the Hawai‘i State Climate Commission.
First released in 2017, the Hawai‘i Sea Level Rise Vulnerability and Adaptation Report, 2022-update addresses the threat posed by climate change to public health, natural resources, economic well-being, and the environment of Hawai‘i. It also assesses progress made over the past five years in preparing the state for the impacts of sea level rise.
“The impacts of sea level rise do not stop at our shorelines. It is important that we take a holistic approach and continue coordinated planning for the future now,” said Amy Wirts, Hawai‘i Sea Grant Extension Agent at the DLNR Office of Conservation and Coastal Lands (OCCL).
The updated report describes progress toward addressing the 2017 report’s recommendations and gives future recommendations toward urgent actions that need to be set as a priority in the next five years. It also includes local and global updates on sea level rise including trends, observations and predictions, accomplishments and progress, coastal impacts, and guidance documents.
“Sea levels will rise for centuries to millennia due to continuing deep-ocean warming and ice-sheet melt and will remain elevated for thousands of years. In Hawai‘i, we are experiencing the impacts of sea level rise with growing frequency. These include flooding, coastal erosion, extreme tides, drainage failure, wave overtopping, and more. Unless we accelerate adaptation efforts, these hazards may grow beyond our capacity to manage them,” said Dr. Charles Fletcher, Director of the Climate Resilience Collaborative at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa and Interim Dean of the School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology.
The report highlights recent enhancements to laws, community engagement, policies, and regulations, including to the Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA), real estate disclosure requirements, environmental assessments, and in community planning addressing increasing threats to development while keeping cultural and natural resources safe. The report also highlights the need for continued focus on developing a range of adaptation tools accessible to the people of Hawai‘i in an equitable way.
“Equity is the core mission of the commission. It is going to take investment and collaboration from all of us to make sure this happens. That is why we are so grateful for the hard work of the University of Hawai`i Sea Grant College Program, and the Climate Resilience Collaborative for helping the commission put this update together,” said DLNR Chair Suzanne Case.
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