Research Projects 2014-2016

Forecasting climate change impacts on coastal ecosystem services in Hawaiʻi through integration of ecological and social participatory models

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR: Christopher Lepczyk
Co-INVESTIGATORS: Steven Gray
Graduate Trainee: Hla Htun

Impacts to Maui watersheds from climate change and human activities are critical to understand for best future management decisions.

Both climate and land use/cover changes are expected to have significant impacts on freshwater ecosystem services and human well-being. Understanding and modeling these impacts in a manner that is useful for decision-makers or management, however, remains difficult as many empirical modeling frameworks require costly and extensive long-term data. Moreover, though researchers are beginning to synthesize the ecological impacts of these effects cumulatively, information about how resource managers can mitigate these unwanted outcomes is generally not available. Therefore, our overarching goal is to develop a modeling approach that couples biophysical models with knowledge based participatory models of experts and local residents. To date we have developed climate change scenarios for current (2010) and future (2099) landscapes along with land use and land cover change and completed interviews and local participatory models for four different stakeholder groups (water resources managers, conservationists, agriculturalists, and cultural practitioners). Stakeholder groups show similar views related to some freshwater quality and quantity issues, but differ in others. Our next step is coupling the two main model components together. Integrating watershed and community knowledge-based participatory models will allow managers to understand the local ecological impacts due to global climate change as well as regional land use and cover change. Moreover at the international level, the Hawaiian Islands are facing the same impacts as the other island nations, but have resources (research, education, migration corridor, and infrastructure) for adaptation. Therefore, our research on freshwater ecosystem services and values can help inform other island nations as well.