EWC Researchers Brief Congress on Pacific Climate Change Impacts

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EWC environment researchers Melissa Finucane and Victoria Keener gave a congressional briefing on Capitol Hill Sept. 17 on the findings of the recent Center-led Pacific Islands Regional Climate Assessment, which will be included as regional input to the federal government’s upcoming National Climate Assessment. Hawai‘i Sen. Brian Schatz, who co-hosted the briefing, said that “In Hawai‘i and throughout the Pacific, climate change is not an abstract concept –it is already having very real consequences.”

Sen. Schatz speaks at the climate briefing.


Among the major concerns for Hawai‘i and the Pacific Islands that Finucane and Keener discussed are:

  • Decreased freshwater supplies;
  • Higher air temperatures, especially at high elevations;
  • Higher sea-surface temperatures causing coral bleaching;
  • Increased stresses on island ecosystems and endangered
    species;
  • Rising sea levels and changing patterns of storm and wave events, resulting in coastal flooding and erosion that are likely to damage infrastructure and agriculture, and impact tourism;
  • Legal and security implications for low-island populations who may be forced to migrate.