Climate Change and Pacific Islands: Indicators and Impacts

Climate Change and Pacific Islands: Indicators and Impacts

Report for the 2012 Pacific Islands Regional Climate Assessment

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Edited by Victoria Keener, John J. Marra, Melissa L. Finucane, Deanna Spooner, and Margaret H. Smith

196 pages pages | 8 X 10

Prepared for the 2013 National Climate Assessment and a landmark study in terms of its breadth and depth of coverage, Climate Change and the Pacific Islands was developed by the Pacific Islands Regional Climate Assessment, a collaborative effort engaging federal, state, and local government agencies, non-government organizations, academician, businesses, and community groups to inform and prioritize their activities in the face of a changing climate. The book assesses the state of knowledge about climate change indicators, impacts, and adaptive capacity of the Hawaiian archipelago and the US-Affiliated Pacific Islands.

The book provides the basis for understanding the key observations and impacts from climate change in the region, including the rise in surface air and sea-surface temperatures, along with sea levels, and the changes in ocean chemistry, rainfall amount and distribution, weather extremes, and widespread ecosystem changes.

Rich in science and case studies, it examines the latest climate change impacts, scenarios, vulnerabilities, and adaptive capacity and offers decision makers and stakeholders a substantial basis from which to make informed choices that will affect the well-being of the region’s inhabitants in the decades to come.
About this Report

Executive Summary

Hawaii Governor's Letter

List of Figures and Tables

List of Abbreviations


Chapter 1: Pacific Islands Region Overview

-Region profile

-Pacific Island geology and landscape

-Pacific Island peoples, governments, and economies

-Pacific Island ecosystems

-Box 1-1: Marine national monuments in the Pacific Islands region

-Box 1-2: Ecosystems of the Pacific Islands region

-Weather and climate

-Inter-annual and interdecadal variability

-Box 1-3: Distinguishing climate variability from climate change in the Pacific

-Observations and monitoring

-Box 1-4: The value of high-quality observations and monitoring: Mauna Loa Observatory, HaleNet, and Station ALOHA

-Models and projections

-Indicators of a changing climate in the Pacific Islands region

-Impacts of a changing climate in the Pacific Islands region

-Adaptive capacities

-Box 1-5: Climate change will force human migration from the Pacific Islands

-Advancing knowledge


-Box 1-6: Assessing information needs for managing O'ahu's freshwater resources


Chapter 2. Freshwater and Drought on Pacific Islands

-Freshwater hydrology overview

-Historic and current trends

-Box 2-1: The Hawai'i Water Code: Providing a strong basis for management and planning

-Box 2-2: High-quality data and monitoring networks are threatened


-Impacts and adaptation


-Case Study 2-1: Managing vulnerable water resources in atoll nations

-Case Study 2-2: Using climate forecasts to save money and protect human health

-Case Study 2-3: Climate change likely to intensify freshwater disputes in Hawai'i


Chapter 3. Sea Level and Coastal Inundation on Pacific Islands


-Historic and current trends

-Box 3-1: How do you measure sea level?

-Extreme sea-level events

-Climate projections and sea level



-Case Study 3-1: A combination of processes creates extreme water levels and contributes to flooding and erosion

-Case Study 3-2: Mapping sea-level rise in Honolulu


Chapter 4. Marine, Freshwater, and Terrestrial Ecosystems on Pacific Islands

-Regional ecosystems overview

-Historic and projected trends

-Impacts to marine ecosystems

-Impacts to freshwater and terrestrial ecosystems

-Implications of climate change for management


-Case Study 4-1: Climate change threatens Hawaiian forest birds

-Case Study 4-2: Fish populations respond to climate conditions

-Case Study 4-3: Pacific coral reef management in a changing climate


Chapter 5. Summary and Conclusions

-Advancing Knowledge



Appendix A: Glossaries Related to Weather and Climate in the Pacific Islands

Appendix B: Future Regional Climate ? Modeling and Projections

Appendix C: Members of the PIRCA Core Team

Appendix D: Members of the PIRCA Steering Committee

Appendix E: Freshwater and Drought Technical Workshop

Appendix F: Sea-level Rise and Coastal Inundation Technical Workshop

Appendix G: Marine, Freshwater, and Terrestrial EcosystemsTechnical Workshop

Appendix H: Summary of Workshop Evaluations



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196 pages pages | 8 X 10
publication year: 
2 013