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Risk and Vulnerability Assessment of Sea Level Risk Impact in Honolulu, Hawai‘i

DATA VISUALIZATION: This project's data can be explored at a Pacific Islands Ocean Observing System (PacIOOS) projects page HERE.

SUMMARY: This proposal seeks funds to develop a model sea-level rise (SLR) inundation project to assess the risk and vulnerability of selected low elevation coastal lands in Hawai’i.  The project region for Year 1 includes the urban corridor of Honolulu, Diamond Head to Pearl Harbor (Figure 1).  The project region includes urban Honolulu with highdensity development, large population, major infrastructure and transportation improvements representing the majority of the state’s commercial and industrial sectors. Recent global projections for SLR suggest elevations by the end of the century will be significantly higher, possibly on the order of 1 meter or higher than current mean sea level. Therefore, coastal communities and ecosystems within low-elevation regions, are vulnerable to increased exposure to coastal hazards related to SLR in addition to direct impacts resulting from SLR.  Identifying and mapping the infrastructure located there, and assessing the socio-economic sectors that are likely to be impacted by SLR are critical components of coastal hazard and climate adaptation risk and vulnerability assessment. You may read entire program HERE.

Based on feedback from local government planners, resource managers and decision makers, an urgent need exists for regional scale information on climate change impacts, particularly related to potential sea level rise (SLR) impacts on coastal Infrastructure. Recently several state legislative bills have created special climate and green house gas emissions task forces, attempting to address broader climate change issues Hawaii faces.  Additionally, local interest exists to initiate a statewide sea-level elevation benchmark that could be utilized as an accepted standard for coastal zone planning and engineering projects. An associated effort to develop a draft executive order directing state agencies to assess SLR is also in progress. Data from the SLR inundation study would be an important component in developing a state sea level benchmark and associated guiding executive policies.

This project will develop a model sea-level rise (SLR) inundation project to assess the risk and vulnerability of selected low elevation coastal lands in Honolulu, Hawai‘i. The first stage of this study will focus on the urban corridor of Honolulu, extending from Diamond Head to Pearl Harbor. This area contains urban Honolulu with high-density development, large population, major infrastructure, and transportation improvements representing the majority of the state’s commercial and industrial sectors.  Identifying and mapping the infrastructure and assessing the socio-economic sectors that are likely to be impacted by SLR are critical components of this coastal hazard and climate adaptation risk and vulnerability assessment.  Potential flooding and coastal inundation occurring at the confluence of high tides (and/or high waves) and rainfall, and modeled storm surge inundation under SLR conditions will also be assessed as part of this mapping effort. 

The results of the study will be communicated to local emergency and resource managers, decision-makers and affected communities in coordination with the project partners and will enhance local community resilience to coastal hazards and climate change.  Results are expected by Fall FY12.  This project will also support a climateadaptation law and policy study and analysis being conducted by the Sea Grant Center of Excellence for Island Climate Adaptation Program (ICAP).  This law and policy study will explore the opportunities and challenges to climate change adaptation at a local policy and legislative level and provide some suggestions for improved coordination of climate change adaptation into local policies and laws.

CONTACTS
Dolan Eversole
University of Hawaii Sea Grant College Program