Hawai‘i’s ecosystems provide a diversity of freshwater benefits and services, including support of stream diversity, native Hawaiian cultural practices, nearshore ecosystems, and a public water supply for agriculture, recreation, and tourism. These island landscapes and ecosystem services are uniquely susceptible to changing climate.
Over the last century, rainfall and streamflow have declined while wildfire area burned has increased. Drought and resulting dryness increase the likelihood of wildfire, which kills native plants while spreading invasive grasses and shrubs. Wildfire can also elevate potential for severe erosion, delivering sediment into streams and nearshore areas.
Changes in climate leading to increased frequency and severity of droughts are magnifying the importance of management across Hawai‘i’s landscape. Effective management can limit the impacts of drought, reduce wildfire risk, protect native species, and sustain delivery of goods and services that support ecosystems and society.
The Department of the Interior Climate Science Centers (CSCs) and their managing
organization, the National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center at the U.S. Geological Survey, have chosen the emerging climate science field of Ecological Drought as a research focus area. This workshop is part of a series of meetings at each of the nation’s eight CSCs aimed at collating our existing knowledge of the ecological impacts, resistance, and recovery from drought.
Pacific Islands Climate Science Center. (2017). Ecological Drought in the Hawaiian Islands: Unique tropical systems are vulnerable to drought. (Report from the Pacific Islands Climate Science Center Workshop, March 6-8, 2017). Honolulu, HI.