Hawaiʻi & Pacific Islands
Key Messages About Hawaiʻi & the Pacific Islands from the National Climate Assessment
Warmer oceans are leading to increased coral bleaching events and disease outbreaks in coral reefs, as well as changed distribution patterns of tuna fisheries. Ocean acidification will reduce coral growth and health. Warming and acidification, combined with existing stresses, will strongly affect coral reef fish communities.
Freshwater supplies are already constrained and will become more limited on many islands. Saltwater intrusion associated with sea level rise will reduce the quantity and quality of freshwater in coastal aquifers, especially on low islands. In areas where precipitation does not increase, freshwater supplies will be adversely affected as air temperature rises.
Increasing temperatures, and in some areas reduced rainfall, will stress native Pacific Island plants and animals, especially in high-elevation ecosystems with increasing exposure to invasive species, increasing the risk of extinctions.
Rising sea levels, coupled with high water levels caused by storms, will incrementally increase coastal flooding and erosion, damaging coastal ecosystems, infrastructure, and agriculture, and negatively affecting tourism.
Mounting threats to food and water security, infrastructure, health, and safety are expected to lead to increasing human migration, making it increasingly difficult for Pacific Islanders to sustain the region’s many unique customs, beliefs, and languages.
To learn more about how climate change affects Hawaiʻi and the Pacific Islands, explore the resources in the sidebar.