Assessing Climate Change and Coastal Hazards in Kauai

Issue

The island of Kauai in Hawaii is vulnerable to coastal hazards such as hurricanes, tsunamis, and erosion, and rising sea levels are expected to exacerbate these hazards. Kauai’s general plan did not identify climate change and sea level rise as primary threats to existing coastal hazards.

Process

The County of Kauai Planning Department partnered with the University of Hawaii Sea Grant College Program to conduct the Kauai Climate Change and Coastal Hazard Assessment. The primary goal was to improve the island’s understanding and use of coastal hazard information and planning tools in order to increase community preparedness and resilience. Data from NOAA’s Sea level Rise Viewer provided cornerstone information for the assessment and illustrated the importance of this type of information for planning efforts. The Sea level Rise Viewer also helped participants gain insight into areas of socioeconomic vulnerability and high exposure to sea level rise impacts. The assessment was used to inform Kauai’s general plan update.

Impact

This effort identified planning and policy options for the Kauai general plan and offered insights into increasing resilience and preparedness. It provided recommendations for further risk assessments along with immediate policy and planning actions.

C-CAP High-Resolution Land Cover and Sea Level Rise Viewer showing coastal hazards for the island of Kauai in Hawaii

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