Rise in Sea Level Projected to Wash Maui Beaches

January 5, 2018

With the lush landscapes, warm weather, and everything in-between, there are a number of reasons why one would want to spend their time on Maui during their Hawaiian vacation. Here at Hawaii Ocean Project, we have a great appreciation for the ocean waters that surround our majestic island chain. For those of you who, like us, enjoy lounging on the beautiful white sands of Maui, a recent report by the Hawaii Climate Change Mitigation & Adaptional Commission has presented some worrisome news. By 2100, the sea-level is projected to rise 3.2 feet and could potentially submerge the Valley Isle shores along with many of the beachtown structures that line the island coasts. While that does seem far off in the future, what we do today can either prolong or promote this estimated timeline.

There are four major Maui communities projected to be affected, three of which are major attractions for those visiting the Valley Isle. The effects on the low-lying coastal areas around Maui might not be drastic, but could be noticeable as time goes on. Beach lines could move closer in-land or disappear all together, making it relatively difficult to get your toes sandy. The report details that seawalls and other beach armoring that attempt to prevent further erosion will actually destroy more beach area. It suggests that beach nourishment or even managed retreat could instead help lengthen the life of Maui sandy shores.

Maui County has paid for a study to see if there was an opportunity for beach nourishment at Kahana Bay as well as become the first county in the state to adopt a shoreline setback plan. To continue being a leader in climate change mitigation, the county will work to strategize and develop a legislation utilizing the information detailed in this report.

While the county is looking to understand what is happening on land, Hawaii Ocean Project is currently working on a long-term project that enables legitimate scientists to continue their research to further understand Hawaii’s marine environment. So what can you do to help? We have detailed some lifestyle changes that can help the ocean from progressing on the path that it is currently on and if you happen to spend the day with us on one of our tours, peruse through our gift shop on board. We donate 100% of those proceeds to Research Direct in support of those scientists.

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