Climate 21C

The Hawaiʻi  Climate Adaptation Initiative Act of 2014 (Act 83; House Bill 1714) is designed to address the effects of climate change through 2050 to protect the State’s economy, health, environment, and way of life. The initial focus of the Initiative will be on the effects of sea level rise on the islands. Specific actions authorized by the Act include:

  1. Establishing an interagency climate adaptation committee, attached administratively to the department  of land and natural resources, to develop a sea level rise vulnerability and adaptation report for Hawaiʻi through the year 2050;
  2. Authorizing the office of planning to coordinate the development of a statewide climate adaptation plan and to use the sea level rise vulnerability and adaptation report as a framework for addressing other climate threats and climate change adaptation priorities identified in Act 286, Session Laws of Hawaiʻi 2012; and
  3. Allocating funds and creating positions to carry out these purposes.


Associated Initiatives

Memorandum of Agreement between the University of Hawaii and OCCL 

The purpose of the proposed Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) is to formalize a relationship by which the University of Hawaiʻi, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST) will provide for the development, management and dissemination of coastal data and research products to the DLNR, but chiefly for use by the DLNR Office of Conservation and Coastal Lands (OCCL) to help carry-out its efforts to protect and conserve beaches, dunes, and coastal communities from the deleterious effects of coastal erosion and sea-level rise (SLR). The MOA will be presented to the Board of Land and Natural Resources for their consideration at their regularly scheduled meeting on August 8, 2014.


Hawaiʻi Coastal Erosion Management Plan 

Studies conducted at the University of Hawaii show that hardening the shoreline of Oahu where there is chronic coastal erosion causes beach narrowing and beach loss. Researchers have found that on Oahu 10.7 miles of beach has been narrowed by shoreline hardening and 6.4 miles has been lost. This is ~24% of the 71.6 miles of originally sandy shoreline on Oahu. The Coastal Erosion Management Plan (COEMAP) provides a framework for community discussion and assessment of coastal erosion and beach loss in Hawaii. The objective of COEMAP, and the public dialogue it seeks to foster, is to outline socioeconomic and technical mechanisms for conserving and restoring Hawaii’s beaches in a framework of mitigating erosion impacts and reducing exposure to coastal hazards for future generations.


Online Sea Level Calculator

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) issued an Engineering Regulation (ER 1100-2-8162) on December 13, 2013, which provides guidance for incorporating the direct and indirect physical effects of projected future sea level change across the project life cycle in managing, planning, engineering, designing, constructing, operating, and maintaining USACE projects. The guidance in the regulation can be used as the basis for assessing the “potential relative sea level change” that might be experienced by projects in shoreline areas, and is required to be used for all USACE civil works.

More recently, USACE has provided online tools which can be used to adapt the circular’s guidance to reflect historic sea level rise conditions measured at either the Honolulu or the Coconut Island National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) tidal gauges. The tool can be used to quickly and easily provide Oahu-based low, intermediate and high scenarios of potential relative sea level change from the present to 2100. The online sea level calculator is available at Sea-Level Change Curve Calculator.

The Corps has published a technical paper, Procedures to Evaluate Sea Level Change: Impacts, Responses, and Adaptation, to provide guidance for engineers and scientists to understand the direct and indirect physical and environmental effects of sea level rise on shoreline projects.