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Study: 40% of these beaches in Hawaii will be lost in the next 50 years

Oahu, Hawaii, beaches could be lost by the middle of the current century.

Residential area on O’ahu that has experienced significant beach loss due to erosion and shoreline hardening. March 2020.
Residential area on Oahu shown in March 2020, that has experienced significant beach loss due to erosion and shoreline hardening.
Kammie Tavares

It’s possible that 40% of beaches in Oahu, Hawai’i could be lost before the middle of the current century, according to a new study.

What’s going on:

Researchers from the Coastal Geology Group at the University of Hawaii (UH) at Mānoa School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology recently revealed a new study that current policies aren’t enough to stop beaches in Oahu from eroding.

The researchers reviewed the shortlines that would be vulnerable to sea levels rising, which are estimated to occur before the middle of the century.

  • “We found that emergency permit applications for shoreline hardening to protect beachfront property will substantially increase,” said Kammie Tavares, graduate researcher involved with the project.

Dr. Tiffany Anderson, assistant researcher in the department of Earth science, said about 30% of all present day Oahu beaches have already hardened, and another 8% are at risk of hardening, too.

  • This means about 40% of beaches could be lost due to hardened shorelines.

What it means:

New policies will need to be considered to help protect the lands from erosion, Tavares said in a statement.

  • “Beaches are critical ecosystems to native plants and animals, offer protection from storms, are an essential cultural setting and attract tourists who are important for Hawaii’s current economy,” said Tavares. “This research shows that conversations on the future of our beaches and how we will care for them must happen now rather than later, if we are to protect our sandy beaches.”