Little by little, Hawaii’s iconic beaches are disappearing, reports Cornelia Dean at the New York Times. Most beaches on the largest islands are eroding, which is likely to accelerate as sea levels rise, the US Geological Survey reports. Though average erosion rates are a few inches per year, individual rates range up to several feet per year, varying highly among islands and within each island, agency scientists say. Over the last century, the 3 largest islands have lost about 9 percent of the sandy coast, about 14 miles of beach. The findings have important implications for public safety, the state’s multibillion-dollar tourism economy and the way of life Hawaiians treasure, said lead author Charles H. Fletcher. The islands’ geology contributes to their sinking. Islands are formed over millennia volcanically, as a tectonic plate passes over an erupting hot spot. After the spot, however, the volcanic material compresses, weighing the island down. Hawaii has escaped some of the sea level rise occurring elsewhere as earth’s climate warms, but that is unlikely to continue, the report says. Moving buildings back from beaches might be the best, temporary solution.
Hawaii’s beaches are in retreat. Most beaches on the state’s three largest islands are eroding, and the erosion is likely to accelerate as sea levels rise, the USGS is reporting. Over the last century, about 9 percent of the sandy coast on the islands of Hawaii, Oahu and Maui has vanished. That’s almost 14 miles of beach. New York Times http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/15/science/hawaiis-beaches-are-in-retreat-and-way-of-life-may-follow.html?_r=2