Integrated Modeling and Participatory Scenario Planning for Climate Adaptation: the Maui Groundwater Project

Friday, 19 December 2014
Victoria W Keener, Melissa Finucane and Laura Brewington, East-West Center, Honolulu, HI, United States
For the last century, the island of Maui, Hawaii, has been the center of environmental, agricultural, and legal conflict with respect to surface and groundwater allocation. Planning for adequate future freshwater resources requires flexible and adaptive policies that emphasize partnerships and knowledge transfer between scientists and non-scientists. In 2012 the Hawai‘i state legislature passed the Climate Change Adaptation Priority Guidelines (Act 286) law requiring county and state policy makers to include island-wide climate change scenarios in their planning processes. This research details the ongoing work by researchers in the NOAA funded Pacific RISA to support the development of Hawaii’s first island-wide water use plan under the new climate adaptation directive.

This integrated project combines several models with participatory future scenario planning. The dynamically downscaled triply nested Hawaii Regional Climate Model (HRCM) was modified from the WRF community model and calibrated to simulate the many microclimates on the Hawaiian archipelago. For the island of Maui, the HRCM was validated using 20 years of hindcast data, and daily projections were created at a 1 km scale to capture the steep topography and diverse rainfall regimes. Downscaled climate data are input into a USGS hydrological model to quantify groundwater recharge. This model was previously used for groundwater management, and is being expanded utilizing future climate projections, current land use maps and future scenario maps informed by stakeholder input.

Participatory scenario planning began in 2012 to bring together a diverse group of over 50 decision-makers in government, conservation, and agriculture to 1) determine the type of information they would find helpful in planning for climate change, and 2) develop a set of scenarios that represent alternative climate/management futures. This is an iterative process, resulting in flexible and transparent narratives at multiple scales. The resulting climate, land use, and groundwater recharge maps give stakeholders a common set of future scenarios that they understand through the participatory scenario process, and identify the vulnerabilities, trade-offs, and adaptive priorities for different groundwater management and land uses in an uncertain future.