Protecting Coasts, from the Pacific to the Chesapeake
As Hōkūleʻa sailed up the Chesapeake Bay this week learning about coastal issues and efforts to preserve unique maritime cultures along the East Coast, back home in Hawai‘i scientists, policy makers and planners were simultaneously coming together to protect Hawai‘i’s coastline. On Tuesday, May 10th, the Interagency Climate Adaptation Committee (ICAC) held their quarterly meeting at the Old Archives Building next to the ‘Iolani Palace in Honolulu. The ICAC is the first committee of its kind in the state, established by the Hawai‘i State Legislature in 2014 in recognition of the threats that climate change poses to Hawai‘i. The committee’s first order of business is assessing and addressing sea level rise and associated impacts to the coastal areas of the state such as coastal erosion and groundwater inundation.
At this meeting, committee members from agencies such as the Department of Health, the Department of Transportation, and County Department of Planning Offices, among others, discussed the Sea Level Rise Vulnerability Assessment and Adaptation Report in progress, which will serve as a foundation for addressing sea level rise in the state. Dr. Chip Fletcher, whose research group at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa School of Ocean and Earth Sciences is preparing the sea level rise modeling for the assessment, showed a short animation of sea level rise projections for the island of Oʻahu by 2100 – a preview of what’s to come.
The committee was also briefed on Hōkūleʻa ’s current visit to the Chesapeake Bay area and the coastal erosion that crewmembers were learning about there. The crew learned about the “hot spot” of subsidence along the East Coast between North Carolina and Massachusetts that is causing the offshore and nearshore the land to sink below sea level at a faster rate than other areas due to multiple geologic factors. Pwo navigators and Captains Nainoa Thompson and Kālepa Babayan joined students and representatives of local government and community organizations in a discussion about causes of erosion and how to protect our environment.
ICAC Committee members felt solidarity with the coastal communities of the Atlantic seashore in protecting our unique, ocean-tied cultures and sent their aloha across time zones.
More information about sea level rise and climate adaptation work in Hawaiʻi can be found on the Climate Adaptation Portal at climateadaptation.hawaii.gov
More than Adventure
Beyond a daring expedition, the Worldwide Voyage is quite possibly the most important mission that Hawaiʻi has ever attempted. As people of Oceania, we are leading a campaign that gives voice to our ocean and planet by highlighting innovative solutions practiced by cultures around the planet.
We could not have begun this great journey without your support, nor can we continue to its completion.