Research Projects 2022-2024

Economic impacts of severe weather events

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR: Peter Fuleky
Co-INVESTIGATORS: Makena Coffman, Nori Tarui, Victoria Keener
Sea Grant Graduate Fellow: Sadichchha Shrestha
Research Track: Interdisciplinary

Turbulent muddy waters tumble down a vegetated slope behind a house in a heavy rain
Extreme weather events, like this dramatic, flooding storm on Kauaʻi in 2018, can cause substantial environmental and community damage, with major financial ramifications. (Photo: Hauʻoli Wichman)

There is clear scientific evidence that climate change increases the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events including hurricanes, extreme rainfall, flood, heat, drought, and wildfire. These weather events will have crucial environmental, social, and economic implications in coming decades. Our goal is to provide state and county stakeholders and decision-makers with estimates of past economic damages, as well as a plausible range of future ones, as a result of extreme weather events in Hawai‘i, including insights into physically and socially vulnerable communities.

The project has two research layers. The first layer leverages the University of Hawaiʻi Economic Research Organization’s (UHERO) existing state- and county-level macroeconomic model to estimate and forecast direct and indirect local economic impacts associated with large rain and wind events. This includes both hurricanes and more frequent extreme rainfall and flooding events. The second research layer studies smaller-scale effects at the neighborhood level by exploring novel, spatially explicit datasets to understand the more localized impacts of these intense rain and wind events.