An Inconvenient Shoreline

With global warming, are you safe?

October, 2006

University of Hawaii research scientist Margo Edwards used to be a global warming skeptic. Then in 2004, she heard testimonies from colleagues across the world as part of a National Academy of Science project to monitor the Arctic. She’s now a believer. The director of the Hawaii Mapping Research Group actually studies the Arctic and spends time there every year. She says big environmental and economic impacts are in store for Hawaii. To illustrate this, her colleague, Paul Johnson, used satellite maps and bathymetric data to show how Oahu could flood up to a sea-level rise of 70 meters. “I don’t know how many people I can convert into caring about the environment, but every one helps,” says Edwards.

1 Sea-Level Rise: 70 Meters
This is the level to which the water would rise in the unlikely event that all of the world’s ice melted. “Mililani and Wahiawa are good places to have bought,” says Edwards.

2 Sea-Level Rise: 20 Meters
Edwards believes a rise of between 10 to 20 meters is possible within the lifetimes of some of today’s kids. With Waikiki already gone much earlier, these are catastrophic levels. The Ewa Plain would disappear, as would Pearl Harbor. Kalanianaole Highway and much of the Windward side would go under, too.

3 Sea-Level Rise: 1 Meter
The Environmental Protection Agency says a rise of up to 25 inches (or .6 meters) is likely by the year 2100. Edwards thinks this is a conservative estimate. At 1 meter, Waikiki would likely be under water, as would some locations mauka of the Ala Wai, such as Iolani School. The airport runway is also in this zone.

SEE OAHU DISAPPEAR: Go to the Hawaii Mapping Research Group’s Web site at: Edwards also hopes to “flood” other major Hawaiian islands at this site.


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Kelli Abe Trifonovitch