Kaua'i climate change and coastal hazards assessment
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Kaua'i climate change and coastal hazards assessment

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  • Alternative Title:
    Kaua‘i General Plan Update Technical Study
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    According to an overwhelming body of science, the earth is warming at significant rates resulting in a myriad of climatic changes. According to the Intergovernment​al Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 5th Assessment Report:Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and since the 1950s, many of the observed changes are unprecedented over decades to millennia. The atmosphere and ocean have warmed, the amounts of snow and ice have diminished, sea level has risen, and the concentrations of greenhouse gases have increased.These changes are already impacting Hawaii and the Pacific Islands through rising sea levels, increasing ocean acidity, changing rainfall patterns, decreasing base flow in streams, changing wind and wave patterns, changing extremes, and changing habitats and species distribution.Th​e island of Kauai is subject to a variety of coastal hazards, including marine inundation and terrestrialfloo​ding, coastal erosion, hurricanes, and tsunamis. Coastal flooding, marine inundation, and coastal erosion in particular are predicted to be exacerbated by climate change related sea level rise (SLR). Although the Kauai General Plan (GP) does address coastal hazards such as coastal erosion, it does not specifically recognize climate change and SLR and its potential to exacerbate existing coastal hazards. The Kauai County Planning Department requested this technical study with the update of the GP as a catalyst for beginning to address climate change and SLR.Through the Kauai Climate Change and Coastal Hazards Assessment (KC3HA), we focus in on the coastal hazards present on Kauai (erosion, flooding, wave inundation, and wind), and the how these hazards are affected by climate change and SLR. A large part of the assessment focuses on SLR due to potential for changing erosion, flooding, and wave inundation hazards.The goals of KC3HA are to:1. Improve Kauai’s community resilience and preparedness to coastal hazards and changing climate through the better understanding and utilization of coastal hazard information and planning tools.2. Compile and summarize available science-based coastal and climate hazard information to assist ininforming the Kauai GP update.We used the following methodology to achieve these goals:1. Develop an inventory and assessment of planning information and data products supporting theintegration of science-based coastal hazards information in land use planning through the Kauai GPupdate.2. Conduct a gap analysis that reviews and analyzes existing hazards data and planning information, itsimplications for Kauai, and identifies gaps in planning information, guidance, and policy.3. Map SLR projections for specific geographic areas on Kauai, utilizing data from the NationalOceanic and Atmospheric Administration’​s (NOAA) Digital Coast SLR and Coastal Flooding Impacts Viewer, to demonstrate the utility of the data for planning purposes and to identify areas in need of further study and planning.4. Identify resources and techniques to address the identified problems and gaps.5. Develop planning and policy recommendations for the Kauai GP update.
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