HONOLULU (AP) – A new study from the University of Hawaii School of Architecture offers detailed short- and long-term design changes that could help the state combat the effects of climate change.
Scientists have warned Hawaii could see sea levels rise as high as 0.91 meters in the next few decades, the Honolulu Star Advertiser reported Monday.
In particular, the effects of climate change in Honolulu could displace up to 13,300 people from their homes and cause an estimated $ 13 billion in economic losses, the outlet reported.
“Reading reports of sea level rise is frightening,” said Judith Stilgenbauer, lead researcher on the project and professor of landscape architecture at the university’s School of Architecture. “But there is a real chance here to start planning the inevitable early on.”
For example, the study suggests that the state create space for wetlands to increase its ability to withstand flooding and improve overall water quality.
Some specific proposals include converting the Ala Wai golf course into wetlands and wetland management areas; Creation of a “South Shore Promenade” connecting a network of existing and proposed green spaces on the coast; and creating an elevated Ala Wai Boulevard that gives priority to pedestrians.
The boulevard and Makai bank of the Ala Wai Canal could then be converted into a “multi-purpose Waikiki super dike,” the point of sale said.
The report added that an elevated boardwalk would allow unobstructed water flow and protect wetland habitats from disturbance.
Stilgenbauer said the various proposals in the report were “speculative, nature-based solutions for the design of living coasts” that take into account coastal flooding rather than trying to prevent it.
Chip Fletcher, assistant dean and professor at the University of Hawaii Manoa’s School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology, praised the report for suggesting changes that could counteract sea level rise.
“It’s really good stuff,” said Fletcher. “The fact-based land use analysis combined with the creative design of flooded landscapes gives the viewer the freedom to contemplate a future for Hawaii in which our communities live on water instead of fighting it.”