Climate change is anticipated to have profound effects in the Hawaiian Islands. Key indicators of the changing climate include rising carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, rising air and sea temperatures, rising sea levels and upper-ocean heat content, changing ocean chemistry and increasing ocean acidity, changing rainfall patterns, decreasing base flow in streams, changing wind and wave patterns, changing extremes, and changing habitats and species distributions, according to the state Department of Land and Natural Resources.
Atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, including methane and nitrous oxide, are increasing due to human activity, states a DLNR press release. Climate change has the potential to profoundly impact our wellbeing and way of life.
“Sea level rise is a special problem for Hawaiian coastal communities,” said Dr. Chip Fletcher, from the University of Hawai‘i School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology. “As seas rise, shoreline neighborhoods will experience increased exposure to storm surges, tsunamis, seasonal high waves, erosion, and groundwater inundation. These lead to problems with beach loss, damage to roads and homes, flooding in urban areas, and rising economic and environmental losses.”
The Hawaiʻi Climate Adaptation Initiative Act (Act 83) was signed into law in June 2014. Act 83 established an Interagency Climate Adaptation Committee (ICAC) to address the effects of climate change to protect the State’s economy, health, environment, and way of life.