$600K Awarded for Climate Change Studies in Hawai‘i

January 4, 2015, 9:42 AM HST · Updated January 7, 10:16 AM
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Haleakalā climate change. Photo by Wendy Osher.

Haleakalā climate change. Photo by Wendy Osher.

By Maui Now Staff

The U.S. Department of the Interior announced that its Pacific Islands Climate Science Center will award universities and other partners over $600K for studies that will assess the potential effects of climate change in and around Hawai‘i. The research will help managers of parks and natural resources in planning how to help local communities and ecosystems adapt accordingly.

“These climate studies are designed to help address regional concerns associated with climate change, providing a pathway to enhancing resilience and supporting local community needs,” said Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell. “The impacts of climate change are vast and complex, so studies like these are critical to help ensure that our nation’s responses are rooted in sound science.”

The funding will enable six studies researching how climate change will affect natural resources and human communities, as well as the development of strategies to adapt to potential changes.  They include:

  • Studying natural streams and learning how to predict low flow rates to manage limited freshwater resources.
  • Creating methods to accommodate changes in the distribution of rare and endangered plants and their habitats.
  • Preparing for potential changes in freshwater resources and agro-forestry to insure food security and maintain community resources.
  • Creating models of coastal erosion and shoreline inundation to determine top priorities in beach conservation efforts and assess potential impacts of climate change on Hawai‘i coastlines.
  • Determining future coast use and planning by comparing human perceptions of coastal habitat quality with actual measured data.
  • Assessing and creating models of watersheds under stress from climate-induced moisture.
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Climate change is anticipated to result in rising temperatures and lower precipitation rates in Hawai‘i, which will likely increase the occurrence and intensity of droughts in the 21st century, according to the USGS National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center.

“With signs of changing climate and seasonality evident across the subtropical and tropical Pacific, we are very happy to have this opportunity to support six excellent multi-agency projects,” said David Helweg, director of Interior’s Pacific Islands Climate Science Center. “These projects are designed to provide timely and usable information to communities and resource managers in Hawai‘i and U.S. Affiliated Pacific Islands.”

The studies were selected by the Interior’s eight Climate Science Centers in collaboration with states, federal agencies, universities, and other partners to determine the top priorities and challenges in need of scientific attention. Teams of scientists and university students will be primarily conducting the studies.

The Pacific Islands CSC is hosted by the University of Hawai‘i, Mānoa; the University of Hawai‘i, Hilo; and the University of Guam. It is part of a national network coordinated by the USGS National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center charged with addressing the impacts of climate change and maintaining natural resources.

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