Climate Change affects ocean’s rise

Katherine Seed, Editor

In 2016, a record of 8.9 million visitors used their leisure time to enjoy and explore the dream vacation spot of Hawaii. Visitors can explore dozens of attractions with  its famous beaches, hikes, and the ever so iconic luaus. In fact, visitors spend around $11.4 billion each year, making tourism the state’s largest employer.

Hawaii’s isolated zone has not been greatly affected by sea level change, according to models of ocean density and circulation, but with ice sheets in other areas melting, Hawaii’s vulnerability to climate change grows. Unfortunately, tourists may lose interest in relaxing on the beach due to the loss of a quarter of Oahu’s shoreline.

To break it down, Greenland, a massive island between the North Atlantic and Arctic oceans, has been greatly affected by global warming and has been losing an estimated 287 billion tons of ice per year! As Greenland’s ice sheets melt, the mass is redistributed elsewhere which is rising the height of sea levels.

According to a 23 year study investigating global changes, oceanic wind speed and wave height have greatly increased and they have a large impact on sea level behavior in the Pacific ocean where our island lies. Data from federal tide stations in Hawaii record water levels have been up to six inches above predicted tidal heights since early last year. Scientists say that this year, it is likely to break the record high for any water level around Hawaii since 1905.

When asked about climate change in Hawaii, students of Radford High School had varying responses.

“I love going to the beach,” Tiara Miranda (12) said, “but I never really looked into global warming.”

Alexis Hensley (10) has confusion of how people question the existence of global warming. “It’s very threatening,” she said. “Eventually there could be no island! Hawaii could be in the ocean one day!”

Cameron Copeland (12) believes in global warming, but is not too concerned with the risks at the moment. “The consistency [of the water rising] is not high. It’s not like the island will be gone in ten years.”

“I believe the island will be gone one day, but I don’t believe that it will happen in this generation or the next,” Copeland said.

Despite the large range of opinions, the facts cannot lie and the issue cannot be ignored for too long. For now, the Radford alumni continues to enjoy their time at their favorite Hawaii beaches while they’re still here.