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Hirono Announces Over $2.8 Million to Enhance Ocean Monitoring, Protect Coastal Communities

Funding Will Improve Data on Changing Sea Levels, Forecast Flooding on West Maui

Washington, D.C. Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii) today announced that the University of Hawaii's Pacific Island Ocean Observing System (PacIOOS) will receive over $2.8 million in National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) funding to develop and enhance forecasting and modeling tools that promote resiliency and sustainability throughout Hawaii’s coastal communities.

“Hawaii is seeing firsthand the effects of climate change and coastal erosion,” said Senator Hirono. “By improving our ability to track and predict rising ocean levels and dangerous tides, this funding will help Hawaii communities prepare for the effects of coastal erosion.”

As part of the grant funding, PacIOOS will receive $2.3 million to enhance existing ocean monitoring in Hawaii and the U.S. Insular Pacific over the next five years. Through improving the current capacity to provide ocean data and information, the program aims to support science-based decision-making to ensure a safe, clean, and productive ocean and resilient coastal communities.

“PacIOOS is grateful for the continued funding and support from the U.S. Congress and NOAA to sustain and enhance ocean observing and forecasting efforts in Hawaii the Pacific Islands region,” said Melissa Iwamoto, Director of PacIOOS. “We work closely with partners and users to address their needs for coastal and ocean information to support decision-making that saves lives and protects livelihoods and resources."

In addition, $500,000 will be provided to PacIOOS to help Hawaii’s coastal communities prepare for large wave and high tide events that significantly damage the shore and impact the local economy. This includes developing new information and real-time tools to forecast flooding on West Maui. The forecast system being developed for this project will be able to be replicated for other communities in Hawaii and the Pacific Islands.

“We will work closely with coastal managers, emergency managers, property owners, and local residents on Maui and around the State to ensure that data and tools are easy to understand and suitable for short- and long-term decision-making. The goal of this project is to better understand site-specific risks and vulnerabilities so that such stakeholders can integrate the information into community planning, policy-making, and hazard-related ordinances,” added Iwamoto.