Project

Developing High-Resolution Rainfall Change Scenarios for the Hawaiian Islands

Project Summary

Affiliation(s): Pacific Islands CSC

Principal Investigator(s):
  • Oliver Elison Timm (International Pacific Research Center, University of Hawai`i at Manoa)
  • Thomas W. Giambelluca (Department of Geography, University of Hawai`i at Manoa)
  • Henry F. Diaz (Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, University of Colorado, Boulder)

Surrounded by saltwater, human and natural communities on the Hawaiian Islands depend upon the freshwater supplied by rainfall for survival. Climate change will likely alter rainfall timing and intensity, but global climate models cannot capture the fine-scale dynamics of local rainfall, making future rainfall predictions for the islands uncertain. For this project, scientists used a technique called statistical downscaling (combining coarse-scale climate models with local historical data) to generate high-resolution maps showing seasonal rainfall change projections for Hawaiʻi over the course of this century. Results suggest that Hawaiʻi’s climate will become drier overall in the second half of the century, but this effect will vary considerably across the islands and by season. There may be an increasing contrast between wet and dry regions on each island, as wet areas become wetter and dry areas become drier. The maps and findings produced by this project offer critical information for resource managers as they undertake adaptation and water management planning. They also provide a foundation for further ecological research, such as exploring the impacts of climate change on native Hawaiian plants and animals.

Akaka Falls stream, Hawai'i Island - Credit: Sarah Nash

Affiliation(s): Pacific Islands CSC

Principal Investigator(s):
  • Oliver Elison Timm (International Pacific Research Center, University of Hawai`i at Manoa)
  • Thomas W. Giambelluca (Department of Geography, University of Hawai`i at Manoa)
  • Henry F. Diaz (Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, University of Colorado, Boulder)
Cooperator(s)/Partner(s):
  • Carter T Atkinson (U.S. Geological Survey, Pacific Islands Ecosystems Research Center)
  • Jonathan Price (University of Hawai'i at Hilo and U.S. Geological Survey)
  • Dennis Lapointe (U.S. Geological Survey, Pacific Islands Ecosystems Research Center)
  • Michael D Samuel (U.S. Geological Survey, Wisconsin Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit)

Start Date: January 2012

End Date: September 2014

Project Status: In Progress

Tags: Climate change, ecosystem management, extreme events, Downscaling, CSC, Pacific Islands CSC, 2012, Education, Modeling and Tools, Drought, Fire and Extreme Weather, Climate and Ecosystem Modeling, Extreme Weather

Fiscal Year: FY 2012 Projects

Publications & Other

  • On the relation between large-scale circulation pattern and heavy rain events over the Hawaiian Islands: Recent trends and future changes

      • Project Snapshot: "Climate Change Research in Support of Hawaiian Ecosystem Management: An Integrated Approach"

        • PICSC_ResearchFeature_Timm_Downscale_HawaiianRainfall.pdf (Download)
        • Spatial trend analysis of Hawaiian rainfall from 1920 to 2012

            • Statistical downscaling of rainfall changes in Hawai‘i based on the CMIP5 global model projections

                Data

                • Climate Change Research in Support of Hawaiian Ecosystem Management: An Integrated Approach

                    Download all map files

                    • coast_n83.shp [x-gis/x-shapefile] (Download)
                    • coast_n83.dbf [application/octet-stream] (Download)
                    • coast_n83.shx [x-gis/x-shapefile] (Download)
                    • coast_n83.prj [text/plain; charset=ISO-8859-1] (Download)