Hawai'i Coastal Erosion Website
Shorelines are highly variable environments characterized by a number of natural hazards, including tsunami, storm surge, high winds, coastal erosion, sea level rise, and high-wave overtopping. Building on eroding coasts increases vulnerability to all these hazards. A direct step to mitigating the impact of coastal hazards is to exercise avoidance by mapping high-hazard zones.
A significant additional benefit to shoreline change data is to define zones of avoidance for the purpose of environmental conservation. When erosion threatens the built environment, a common reaction is to armor the shoreline with a seawall or revetment. However, armoring may impound sand, thereby impacting the sediment budget of a beach and exacerbating the erosion. Shoreline armoring also increases wave turbulence and reflection. It is common to find that the construction of one seawall on a beach leads to proliferation of additional seawalls. Armoring a chronically eroding coast leads to beach loss. In an era of accelerating sea level rise, the threat of chronic erosion and beach loss is growing, and the use of shoreline data becomes a potentially significant coastal management tool in the effort to conserve beaches for future generations.
This site provides sets of historical maps and air photos, modern vertical and oblique air photos, and maps depicting rates of shoreline change spaced every 20 meters on the sandy beaches of Maui, Oahu, and Kauai. Databases are accessed based on the selection of an island.