IMPACTS OF CLIMATE CHANGE ON WATER RESOURCES IN HAWAI‘I

Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

News Release

Center for Island Climate Adaptation and Policy Honolulu, Hawai‘i

April 16, 2012

The Center for Island Climate Adaptation and Policy (ICAP), at the University of Hawai‘i Sea Grant College Program, recently published Water Resources and Climate Change Adaptation in Hawai‘i: Adaptive Tools in the Current Law and Policy Framework (http://icap.seagrant.soest.hawaii.edu/icap-publications). The white paper aims to enhance climate change adaptation for water resources throughout the state.

"We can already see some of the effects of climate change in our islands. Trade wind inversion, for example, is decreasing the occurrence of rainfall, yet at the same time we are experiencing increasing rain intensity. Practical tools such as the Hawai‘i Water Plan can account for climate change and better ensure that our island communities’ water needs are met both today and in the future," says ICAP director Maxine Burkett. Climate change patterns including declining rainfall, reduced stream flow, increasing air temperature, and rising sea level also pose serious risks to Hawai‘i’s groundwater and surface water resources.

The white paper identifies and analyzes twelve adaptive policy and planning, regulatory, and market-based tools that state and local decision-makers could use to build resiliency and reduce vulnerability to climate change impacts. The white paper also examines the Hawai‘i Constitution and the public trust doctrine, which provide a foundation for Hawai‘i’s water law and policy framework and require long-term protection and conservation of water resources.

ICAP will convene stakeholder workshops to present its findings, encourage feedback, and identify next steps for implementing the tools for Hawai‘i’s unique communities. For more information, please visit www.islandclimate.org or call (808) 956-2865.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) provided support for the project, a collaboration between ICAP and the Pacific Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments (Pacific RISA) Program at the East-West Center.

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