02/13/16 – Hawaii’s First Workshop on Sea Level Rise Explores Risks and Adaptation Strategies

Posted on Feb 13, 2016 in News Releases, OCCL, slider

News Release


For Immediate News Release February 13, 2016     

Screen Shot 2016-02-13 at 3.38.59 PM(Click on image to watch video)

250 Experts, Policy Makers and Citizens Gather at UH-Manoa

(HONOLULU) – Recognizing that Hawaii is the only island state in the U.S. and that our islands will likely be the first and most dramatically impacted by rising ocean levels, the State Interagency Climate Change Adaptation Committee (ICAC), this week held it’s first-ever sea level rise vulnerability and adaptation workshop.

On Thursday, Feb. 11, 2015 the ICAC brought together pre-eminent climate change experts, state and county leaders, and other interested people to learn about how Hawaii is going to be affected by rising seas and to explore adaptation strategies.

In a keynote address, master navigator Nainoa Thompson of the Polynesian Voyaging Society
called on the 250 workshop participants to begin creating the map that Hawaii and other coastal and island locations will need to navigate one of the most scientifically and technically challenging environmental issues the globe will face in coming decades.  Thompson implored the audience, “I need you to help explain to my children and all children that what you will accomplish today will not only help protect our shorelines but help protect their homes for tomorrow.”  Thompson added, “Please understand that I am extraordinarily grateful, on behalf of my children, for you being here to help us chart the course and create the map for the future.”

Sam Lemmo is the co-chair of ICAC and the administrator of the DLNR Office of Conservation and Coastal Resources. He explains, “We want to have maximum public outreach and this workshop achieves one of our objectives of having maximum public participation.  We’re going to take the feedback and comments from events like this and others and incorporate them into our report to the Hawaii State Legislature.”  Act 83 established the ICAC and requires the development of a report on sea level rise and adaptation strategies to lawmakers by the end of 2017.

Sea level rise is expected to have significant impacts on coastal areas, including Waikiki, which is the primary economic driver for Hawaii’s visitor industry. Dr. Chip Fletcher leads a team of researchers at the University of Hawaii School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST).  The team is well known for the models it creates that predict how certain low lying coastal plains will be inundated by ocean water, when and to what depths.

Fletcher told participants, “2015 broke all records as the hottest year in the last 130 years.  Climate change is highly variable and has no uniformity.  The science associated with it demands the very best research possible.” Fletcher focused on climate change impacts: heat waves, changing precipitation patterns, food impacts, rain in Hawaii, ecosystem threats, changing storminess, optimism about climate change, and sea level rise.

Other speakers included Dr. Catherine Courtney of Tetra Tech, Inc., the consulting firm working with the ICAC and Anukriti Hittle, a visiting scholar at the East-West Center from Washington University in St. Louis.

The second half of the workshop was titled, “Adaptation: Charting the Course.” It involved small group discussion on people’s various roles in sea level rise strategies and charting a new direction based on sea level rise projections.

Videos of all the presentations and workshop activities will be posted to the State’s climate change website where you can also find information about sea level rise and its possible impacts on you and your family: https://climateadaptation.hawaii.gov/

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Media Contact:

Dan Dennison
Hawaii Dept. of Land and Natural Resources
Senior Communications Manager
Office of the Chairperson-Communications Office
1151 Punchbowl Street, Room 131
Honolulu, HI 96813
(808) 587-0407

[email protected]