Sea-level rise driving Hawaii's beach erosionUPDATED 7:17 PM HST Aug 30, 2013Video Transcript
shoreline will disappear around the state if sea level rises just one foot. That's according to University of Hawaii scientists, who also studied why beach erosion is more pronounced on Maui than on Oahu. KITV4's Justin Fujioka has more on this new research. Paula, Yunji... we know that sea level's been rising for more than 100 years... and now, U-H researchers have discovered that it's the most important reason for coastal erosion in Hawaii. Waves... wind... and rain. Sure, the weather plays a role in coastal erosion. But a pair of U-H geologists have found the key factor is sea-level rise... and it's going up faster in Maui than Oahu. Brad Romine: "THE BIG ISLAND IS PUSHING DOWN ON THE PACIFIC PLATE AND THERE'S KIND OF A MOAT THAT GOES AROUND THERE. MAUI IS CLOSER TO THAT AND SO IT'S SINKING A LITTLE FASTER, AND AS YOU MOVE AWAY TO OAHU, IT'S NOT SINKING AT SUCH A, AT SUCH A FAST RATE." But overall... Brad Romine of the U-H Sea Grant Program and Chip Fletcher of the School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology say at six inches a century, sea- level rise in Hawaii is not as fast as the global average of one foot. They say it's because winds in the Pacific help to push a lot of water to the west of us. Still, we shouldn't let our guard down. Charles "Chip" Fletcher: "IT'S BEEN PREDICTED THAT SEA-LEVEL RISE WILL BE ON THE ORDER OF ONE FOOT BY MID CENTURY AND THREE FEET BY THE END OF THE CENTURY." And with this new research... we know this rise will play a significant part in eroding Hawaii's shores in the decades ahead. Brad Romine: "SO IT'LL HELP WITH MANAGEMENT DECISIONS FOR MANAGING BEACH EROSION PROBLEMS AROUND THE STATE. WE CAN START TO FOCUS OUR EFFORT A LITTLE BIT MORE ON WHERE SEA-LEVEL RISE MIGHT IMPACT SOME OF OUR BEACHES." Charles "Chip" Fletcher: "IN THE END, WHEN IT COMES TO BEACH EROSION AND SEA-LEVEL RISE, THERE'S NO MAGIC WAND. THE NUMBER OF TOOLS THAT YOU HAVE AT YOUR DISPOSAL FOR MANAGING THE PROBLEM IS VERY LIMITED AND TYPICALLY THEY'RE VERY EXPENSIVE." Fletcher and Romine say researchers work hand in hand with the state's Department of Land and Natural Resources to develop management tools in coastal retreat, adaptation and re-nourishment. Unfortunately, they say they have no erosion data for Kauai or the Big Island. Paula?