Near-term climate projections to inform adaptation in the Hawaiian Islands

Wind-swept waves tumble towards a rocky shoreline.
Managers need reliable information about near-term shifts to all sorts of ecosystems triggered by climate change. (Photo: CSchaneville/USGS)

Land, water, and natural resource managers and planners across Hawaiʻi are tasked with making important decisions about the state’s future. Reliable projections of Hawaiʻi’s climate are needed to inform these decisions. This project aims to provide this needed scientific information to resource managers by improving estimates of Hawaiʻi’s near-term climate for the coming years and decades.

The goal of this project is to develop very high-resolution climate projections for the Hawaiian Islands over the period from 2010 to 2039. This timeframe is novel. Most climate projections for Hawaiʻi are for the end of the century. In contrast, the timeframe of this study is “now”, which has intuitive relevance to resource managers. Also, this project will include estimates of variability, instead of the more usual focus only on average conditions. This research will provide insight into the range of possible climate futures for the Hawaiian Islands. These very high-resolution projections will be useful in the context of understanding future changes in Hawaiʻi’s hydrology and terrestrial ecosystems to inform cost-effective drought planning, flood control planning, water supply management, and ecosystem conservation.

The objectives of this study are to (1) combine statistical and dynamical downscaling methods to improve our scientific understanding of decadal scale climate variability in Hawaiʻi; (2) develop projections of rainfall and temperature variability and change in the Hawaiian Islands; and (3) use historical and projected future climate variability to estimate the probability of exceeding important thresholds that could impact resource management planning and operations.





Thomas Giambelluca
Professor of Geography, UH Mānoa


Han Tseng
Department of Geography, UH Mānoa