Coastal Erosion and Beach Loss in the Hawaiian Islands

Coastal Erosion and Beach Loss in the Hawaiian Islands -...

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Ocn 201 Lab Final Paper Beach Loss Coastal Erosion and Beach Loss in the Hawaiian Islands When you think of Hawaii there are several images that come to mind like grass skirts, big waves, and green mountains, but the most prominent image is beautiful, sandy beaches. Hawaii is famous for its miles and miles of pristine shoreline, a characteristic that draws millions of tourists from all over the world to the islands each year. The beaches in Hawaii, aside from just being aesthetically pleasing, server several important purposes such as environmental, economical and cultural (Oahu Civil Defense Agency). Beaches serve to protect the rest of the island from the devastating effects of natural disasters such as tsunamis and flooding as well as providing important habitat for marine and terrestrial life. The beaches of Hawaii are also home to several species of plants, which are indigenous to Hawaii. Beaches are responsible for almost all of the tourist industry in Hawaii, which more than 60% of the state’s annual income is reliant upon (Fletcher) Unfortunately, all over the island chain these beaches are disappearing at an alarming rate. “Nearly one quarter of the islands beaches have been significantly degraded over the last half century and all shorelines have been affected to some degree” (Oahu Civil Defense Agency). There are several causes of coastal erosion in the Hawaiian Islands but the most devastating are a direct result of human influence. This rapid beach loss will have catastrophic effects on Hawaii’s ecology and economy if allowed to continue as they are. There are many causes of coastal erosion. Many natural causes such as wind, waves, currents, and sea level rise have been changing the Hawaiian coastlines for thousands of years. Usually, under these natural circumstances, the land erodes allowing the sand underneath it to replenish the beaches and natural coastal erosion does not
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Ocn 201 Lab Final Paper Beach Loss damage beaches that have “access to a robust sediment budget” (Oahu Civil Defense Agency). Reduced sediment supply has a lot to do with the beach loss that Hawaii is experiencing today. Several different factors can cause this decline in the amount of available sand, the most prominent of which are beach sand mining and structures that serve to harden the shoreline in an effort to preserve developed land behind it. Also,
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This note was uploaded on 05/11/2008 for the course OCN 201 lab taught by Professor Ta during the Spring '08 term at Hawaii.

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Coastal Erosion and Beach Loss in the Hawaiian Islands -...

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