Research Projects 2016-2018

Predicting Hawaiʻi water demand under climate change

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR: Michael Roberts
Graduate Fellow: Nathan DeMaagd

Graphic showing average temperature and water consumption on O'ahu.
An example of the data output for this project, with both average temperature and water consumption plotted for O’ahu.

How will climate change affect supply and demand for water? The answer to this question is complex, uncertain and depends critically on location and context. On the supply side, there is great uncertainty about future rainfall and aquifer recharge in Hawaiʻi, and some ongoing uncertainties in the underlying hydrology. But many are already investigating these questions. Climate also affects water demand. In most of the world, the largest uses of water are for agriculture, landscapes, and cooling towers used for air conditioning. These demands for water clearly depend on precipitation, temperature, and prevailing climatic conditions. The net effect of climate change on water scarcity, therefore, depends critically on both supply and demand. This study examines how water demand is influenced by climate and weather outcomes across a wide range of microclimates on Oʻahu. It also examines how policy–the level and nature of water pricing–affects how much water households and businesses use.

Watch a podcast on this project here.