Report: Rising sea levels threaten 37K Hawaii homes

Rising sea levels threaten 37K Hawaii homes

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Some 37,000 Hawaii homes could be underwater by 2100 if global sea levels rise by six feet, as expected, if the world doesn't make drastic changes to lower carbon emissions, according to a new analysis from real estate website Zillow.

Hawaii could lose as much as 9 percent of its housing stock, the analysis found. Put another way, that's nearly 1 in 10 homes at risk.

Estimated price tag for the losses: $25 billion.

Zillow used National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration maps to determine the number of homes at risk by rising sea levels in each state.

Bradley Romine, coastal management specialist with University of Hawaii Sea Grant College Program, said the study is a wake-up call for the islands.

"We already have 70 percent of our beaches eroding around the islands," he said. "Sea level rise is going to make those problems worse."

While 2100 certainly feels a long way out, Romine says Hawaii is already seeing impacts of global warming.

Hawaii's coastal areas are most at risk, especially Waikiki, which is the primary economic driver for the state's visitor industry.

"That is a risk for the state because the value of our beaches are such a big part of what makes us attractive," said Denise Konan, UH economics professor.

Researches say the study highlights the need to integrate adaptation to climate change into tourism management and policymaking.

"We're going to have to find a balance of between, you know, kind of hardening our coast and showing the beauty of nature," Konan said. "And that's a community discussion that we need to have happen now when we have this luxury of time to respond."

Nationwide, about 1.9 million homes – worth about $882 billion – are at risk of being underwater by 2100. Florida fares worst in the analysis. Some 934,000 homes could be underwater within the century, the analysis found.

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