Natural Hazards

, Volume 78, Issue 1, pp 75–103 | Cite as

Doubling of coastal erosion under rising sea level by mid-century in Hawaii

  • Tiffany R. AndersonEmail author
  • Charles H. Fletcher
  • Matthew M. Barbee
  • L. Neil Frazer
  • Bradley M. Romine
Original Paper


Chronic erosion in Hawaii causes beach loss, damages homes and infrastructure, and endangers critical habitat. These problems will likely worsen with increased sea level rise (SLR). We forecast future coastal change by combining historical shoreline trends with projected accelerations in SLR (IPCC RCP8.5) using the Davidson-Arnott profile model. The resulting erosion hazard zones are overlain on aerial photos and other GIS layers to provide a tool for identifying assets exposed to future coastal erosion. We estimate rates and distances of shoreline change for ten study sites across the Hawaiian Islands. Excluding one beach (Kailua) historically dominated by accretion, approximately 92 and 96 % of the shorelines studied are projected to retreat by 2050 and 2100, respectively. Most projections (~80 %) range between 1–24 m of landward movement by 2050 (relative to 2005) and 4–60 m by 2100, except at Kailua which is projected to begin receding around 2050. Compared to projections based only on historical extrapolation, those that include accelerated SLR have an average 5.4 ± 0.4 m (±standard deviation of the average) of additional shoreline recession by 2050 and 18.7 ± 1.5 m of additional recession by 2100. Due to increasing SLR, the average shoreline recession by 2050 is nearly twice the historical extrapolation, and by 2100 it is nearly 2.5 times the historical extrapolation. Our approach accounts for accretion and long-term sediment processes (based on historical trends) in projecting future shoreline position. However, it does not incorporate potential future changes in nearshore hydrodynamics associated with accelerated SLR.


Sea level rise Erosion Hawaii Reef Shoreline 



We thank Sam Lemmo of the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) Office of Conservation and Coastal Lands (OCCL) for help in determining the needs of Hawaii’s planning community. Funding for this study was provided by the Hawaii DLNR and the Department of Interior Pacific Islands Climate Science Center. This study was funded by the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources and the Department of Interior Pacific Islands Climate Science Center.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

11069_2015_1698_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (109 kb)
Online Supplementary Material: The online supplement is a text document that includes Tables S1 to S4 (PDF 109 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tiffany R. Anderson
    • 1
    Email author
  • Charles H. Fletcher
    • 1
  • Matthew M. Barbee
    • 1
  • L. Neil Frazer
    • 1
  • Bradley M. Romine
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Geology and Geophysics, School of Ocean and Earth Science and TechnologyUniversity of Hawaii at ManoaHonoluluUSA
  2. 2.University of Hawaii Sea Grant College Program c/o Department of Land and Natural ResourcesOffice of Conservation and Coastal LandsHonoluluUSA

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