(BIVN) – Possible impacts to the Hawaii Island coastline due climate change-driven sea level rise were illustrated with maps and graphs during a public meeting held in Hilo on Thursday, August 17.
The Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources presented a draft Sea Level Rise Vulnerability and Adaptation Report to a room of about two dozen people. When completed, the report will be submitted in anticipation of the 2018 Hawaii State Legislature. State officials are still interested in soliciting input on the report.
The DLNR’s Sam Lemmo, co-chair of the Interagency Climate Adaptation Committee, was joined at the meeting by Dr. Bradley Romine, Hawai’i Sea Grant’s coastal management specialist and a main contributor to the report, as well as Dr. Kitty Courtney of Tetra Tech.
According to the state’s consultants, the potential impacts on a state-wide level are staggering.
In a 3.2 ft. sea level rise scenario – which NASA, in December 2015, claimed was a near certainty, presenters said – chronic flooding will be a huge issue.
The Big Island appears to be headed for less suffering than the other islands, especially Oahu. Only 4,550 acres on Hawaii Island will be impacted under the 3.2 ft. rise scenario, officials say, out of the 25,800 acres state-wide.
The Big Island faces an economic loss of about $430 million, according to the draft report. That’s minor compared to the $12.9 billion in losses for Oahu, which is predicted to suffer the lionshare of the $19 billion in losses state-wide.
The economic losses only account for the loss of land and structures, not the loss of critical infrastructure. So the total predicted economic losses are likely to be an order of magnitude greater than the $19 billion estimate, consultants say.
Oahu will also have the most residents displaced by the predicted sea-level rise (13,300). Hawaii Island could have up to 1,900 displaced residents, the report says, out of the 20,700 state-wide total.
According to the report, only 130 structures will be flooded on Hawaii Island out of the 6,500 state-wide. Oahu will have 3,880 structures flooded.
Oahu will also have the most miles of road flooded at 69.3, compared to only 1.9 miles on Hawaii Island, the report finds. 116 miles of road will be flooded state-wide.
Those numbers are a result of a 3.2 ft. sea level rise. However, new science coming out is pointing to the possibility of 6 ft. sea level rise as early as the mid to latter-half of the century. Again, Oahu suffers the most under those potential impacts, as the affected acreage doubles.
A second meeting will be held on Tuesday, August 22, 2017, from 6 to 8 p.m. in the County of Hawai‘i, West Hawai‘i Civic Center Council Chambers, located at 74-5044 Ane Keohokalole Highway in Kailua-Kona, Hawai‘i.