Manager Climate Corps
Pacific Islands Climate Science Center

Quantifying historic and current shoreline change for selected priority areas on Hawaiʻi Island to determine appropriate shoreline setbacks in the face of rising sea levels

Drone in Flight
Photo Credit: Rose Hart, UH Hilo

Project Summary: Despite its vast coastline and unique coastal ecosystems and resources, Hawaiʻi Island has never had a comprehensive shoreline assessment of coastal vulnerabilities or any systematic monitoring of long-term shoreline change rates. Consequently, Hawaiʻi Island is in a weak position for adapting to the potential impacts of sea-level rise (SLR), building community resilience, and conserving key coastal resources and environments. This project seeks to quantify historic and current coastal erosion rates for selected priority areas on Hawaiʻi Island. Existing shoreline records, including historic aerial photographs and LiDAR coastal surveys, will be combined with new coastal imagery and three-dimensional data sets collected from unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and other survey platforms to determine past and current shoreline change rates. These data will then be merged with SLR projections and other geospatial layers to estimate future impacts. The priority areas for this study represent a variety of coastal environments at different stages of development, including sea cliffs (Honoliʻi), low-lying and subsiding coastal lava fields (Kapoho), and calcareous beaches (Hapuna).These data will provide a visualization tool for communities and county workers to understand local impacts of SLR and consider necessary adaptations.

Primary Contact: Rose Hart (rosehart@hawaii.edu)

Faculty Advisor:

  • Ryan Perroy, Assistant Professor of Geography and Environmental Science, University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo

Committee Members

  • Steven Colbert, Assistant Professor of Marine Science, University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo
  • Charles H. Fletcher III, Associate Dean and Professor, School of Ocean and Earth Science Technology, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa

Masters Student: Rose Hart

Partner: Bethany Morrison, Planner, County of Hawaiʻi

Project Start Date: August 2016

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Partner Agencies

Pacific Islands Climate Science CenterUH ManoaUniversity of GuamDepartment of the Interior


Contact MCC Staff

  • Sharon Ziegler-Chong: Project Coordinator
  • Phone: (808) 933-0759
  • Email: ziegler@hawaii.edu

  • Scott Laursen: Technical Projects Specialist
  • Phone: (307) 699-0123
  • Email: slaursen@hawaii.edu

The MCC partners with the Tropical Conservation Biology and Environmental Science Graduate Program at UH Hilo and is a part of the larger tri-university consortium of the Pacific Islands Climate Science Center (PI-CSC).