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Annual Hawaii Forecast with Asia-Pacific Outlook: Moderation Ahead as Business Cycle Matures

Annual Hawaii Forecast with Asia-Pacific Outlook: Moderation Ahead as Business Cycle Matures

Revenue Decoupling for Electric Utilities: Impacts on Prices and Welfare

Revenue Decoupling for Electric Utilities: Impacts on Prices and Welfare

Revenue Decoupling for Electric Utilities: Impacts on Prices and Welfare

Mandatory Food Waste Recycling Ordinance for Large Food Establishments in Honolulu, Hawaii

Mandatory Food Waste Recycling Ordinance for Large Food Establishments in Honolulu, Hawaii

Hawaii Construction Forecast: After Pullback, Construction Prospects Firm

Hawaii Construction Forecast: After Pullback, Construction Prospects Firm

UHERO State Forecast Update: Hawaii's Growth Down, But Not Out

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UHERO Working Papers

Arik, Aida

Bonham, Carl

Bremer, Leah

Brucal, Arlan

Burnett, Kimberly

Cintina, Inna

Coffman, Makena

Endress, Lee

Energy Policy & Planning Group

Environmental Valuation

Food and Agriculture

Fripp, Matthias

Fuleky, Peter

Gangnes, Byron

Halliday, Timothy

Hirashima, Ashley

Invasive Species

Jones, James

Kato, Andrew

Konan, Denise

Kwak, Sally

LaCroix, Sumner

Lee, Sang-Hyop

Leung, PingSun

Lynham, John

Mak, James

Page, Jonathan


Project UH

Roberts, Michael

Roumasset, James

Russo, Gerard


Tarui, Nori

UHERO Reports

Wada, Christopher

Water Resources

Wee, Sherilyn


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A linked land-sea modeling framework to inform ridge-to-reef management in high oceanic islands

Declining natural resources have led to a cultural renaissance across the Pacific that seeks to revive customary ridge-to-reef management approaches to protect freshwater and restore abundant coral reef fisheries. Effective ridge-to-reef management requires improved understanding of land-sea linkages and decision-support tools to simultaneously evaluate the effects of terrestrial and marine drivers on coral reefs, mediated by anthropogenic activities. Although a few applications have linked the effects of land cover to coral reefs, these are too coarse in resolution to inform watershed-scale management for Pacific Islands. To address this gap, we developed a novel linked land-sea modeling framework based on local data, which coupled groundwater and coral reef models at fine spatial resolution, to determine the effects of terrestrial drivers (groundwater and nutrients), mediated by human activities (land cover/use), and marine drivers (waves, geography, and habitat) on coral reefs. We applied this framework in two ‘ridge-to-reef’ systems (Hā‘ena and Ka‘ūpūlehu) subject to different natural disturbance regimes, located in the Hawaiian Archipelago. Our results indicated that coral reefs in Ka‘ūpūlehu are coral-dominated with many grazers and scrapers due to low rainfall and wave power. While coral reefs in Hā‘ena are dominated by crustose coralline algae with many grazers and less scrapers due to high rainfall and wave power. In general, Ka‘ūpūlehu is more vulnerable to land-based nutrients and coral bleaching than Hā‘ena due to high coral cover and limited dilution and mixing from low rainfall and wave power. However, the shallow and wave sheltered back-reef areas of Hā‘ena, which support high coral cover and act as nursery habitat for fishes, are also vulnerable to land-based nutrients and coral bleaching. Anthropogenic sources of nutrients located upstream from these vulnerable areas are relevant locations for nutrient mitigation, such as cesspool upgrades. In this study, we located coral reefs vulnerable to land-based nutrients and linked them to priority areas to manage sources of human-derived nutrients, thereby demonstrating how this framework can inform place-based ridge-to-reef management.



Bringing multiple values to the table: assessing future land-use and climate change in North Kona, Hawaiʻi

As ecosystem service assessments increasingly contribute to decisions about managing Earth’s lands and waters, there is a growing need to understand the diverse ways that people use and value landscapes. However, these assessments rarely incorporate the value of landscapes to communities with strong cultural and generational ties to place, precluding inclusion of these values—alongside others—into planning processes. We developed a process to evaluate trade-offs and synergies in ecosystem services across land-use scenarios and under climate change in North Kona, Hawaiʻi, a tropical dry ecosystem where water, fire, biodiversity, and cultural values are all critical considerations for land management decisions. Specifically, we combined participatory deliberative methods, ecosystem service models, vegetation surveys, and document analysis to evaluate how cultural services, regulating services (groundwater recharge, landscape flammability reduction), biodiversity, and revenue: (1) vary across four land-use scenarios (pasture, coffee, agroforestry, and native forest restoration) and (2) are expected to vary with climate change (representative concentration pathway (RCP) 8.5 mid-century scenario). The native forest restoration scenario provided high cultural, biodiversity, and ecosystem service value, whereas coffee's strongest benefit was monetary return. The agroforestry scenario offered the greatest potential in terms of maximizing multiple services. Pasture had relatively low ecological and economic value but, as with native forest and agroforestry, held high value in terms of local knowledge and cultural connection to place. Climate change amplified existing vulnerabilities for groundwater recharge and landscape flammability, but resulted in few shifts in the ranking of land-use scenarios. Our results demonstrate that cultural services need not be sacrificed at the expense of other management objectives if they are deliberately included in land-use planning from the start. Meaningfully representing what matters most to diverse groups of people, now and under a changing climate, requires greater integration of participatory methods into ecosystem service analyses.



Joint Management of an Interconnected Coastal Aquifer and Invasive Tree

Kiawe (Prosopis pallida), a mesquite tree considered invasive in many parts of the world including Hawai‘i, has been shown to reduce regional groundwater levels via deep taproots. In areas where aquifers are primary sources of fresh water, kiawe control has the potential to be an integral component of water management planning. We develop an analytical dynamic framework for the joint management of kiawe and groundwater, and show that optimal water management depends on expected kiawe damages, while optimal kiawe removal depends on groundwater scarcity and removal cost. Using data from the Kīholo aquifer on the west coast of Hawai‘i Island, we solve for joint management decisions with corresponding parameters related to kiawe damage and water scarcity. With 1.5% water demand growth, Kiawe should be removed if the removal cost is below $1,884/ha. Our numerical results indicate that kiawe damage is nonlinear in the rate of water demand growth. The damage costs can be attributed to three main factors. When demand growth is low, kiawe damage is driven by a higher water extraction cost. For moderate growth, the effect is compounded by anticipated future scarcity. Damage is amplified by a backstop cost effect when the growth rate is high.

Working Paper

Estimating Cost-Effectiveness of Hawaiian Dry Forest Restoration Using Spatial Changes in Water Yield and Landscape Flammability Under Climate Change open access

New research published in Pacific Science from an interdisciplinary team including UHERO's Christopher Wada, Leah Bremer, and Kim Burnett identifying cost-effective watershed restoration for multiple ecosystem service benefits in Pu‘u Wa‘awa‘a on the island of Hawai‘i.



Assessing the Costs of Priority HISC Species in Hawaii

Over the past decade, funding for the Hawaii Invasive Species Council (HISC) has ranged from less than $2 million per year in the three years following the recent economic downturn, up to almost $6 million in FY2015. The HISC website provides total award amounts for past projects, but it is difficult to attribute exact dollar amounts to specific species for projects that target multiple species. As a starting point, we consider the number of times each invasive species was designated as a target over the period FY2005-2015. While this list does not necessarily represent species that generated the largest economic damages or species for which the most spending has occurred, it is a list of species getting the most attention by HISC. For the most part, the top ten have remained fairly consistent over time, although in recent years, axis deer, albizia, and ivy gourd have received noticeably more attention.


Filipino 2040: Environmental Resources, Shocks, and National Well-Being

The contribution of the environmental-resource sector to national well-being is the sum of natural resource depletion and environmental degradation. Inasmuch as existing resource stocks are below efficient levels, better enforcement of existing laws as well as policies that incentivize sustainable use are needed. Similarly, progressive royalty assessment of mineral resources can incentivize exploration without transferring the bulk of resource rents to private interests. In the case of pollution, the key is to face firms with the full costs of their production, e.g. through emission taxes and/or cap and trade systems. Calculating total depletion and degradation (TDD) will facilitate the calculation of green national income (GNI), a more inclusive metric of national well-being. In the same way, simultaneous optimization of disaster management policies in the face of climate change can facilitate a further improvement in national well-being, this time measured as comprehensive national income (CNI).


Sustainable Agriculture Irrigation Management: The Water-Energy-Food Nexus in Pajaro Valley, California

The water-energy-food (WEF) nexus is quickly becoming one of the most critical global environmental challenges of the twenty first century. However, WEF systems are inherently complex; they typically are dynamic and span multiple land or agro-ecosystems at a regional or global scale. Addressing this challenge requires a systems approach to optimal and sustainable resource management across multiple dimensions. To that end, using Pajaro Valley (California) as a case study, our research aims to (1) highlight synergies and tradeoffs in food and water production, (2) build a dynamic framework capable of examining intertemporal resource relationships, and (3) detail the steps required to develop incentive-compatible financing of the resulting management plans when benefits are not distributed uniformly across users. Using a stylized model, we find that in the long run, inland growers benefit from the halting of seawater intrusion (SWI) due to overpumping of groundwater. We also calculate that the water provided by the proposed College Lake Multi-Objective Management Program—a plan designed to halt SWI and support sustainable water and agricultural development in the region—will generate net revenue of $40-58 million per year, compared to an annualized cost of less than $3 million. An equal cost-sharing plan would be desirable if the benefit of the project exceeded $1,268 per year for each well owner. Since this may not necessarily be the case for smaller well owners, one possible alternative is to allocate costs in proportion to expected benefits for each user.


A Review of the Current State of Research on the Water, Energy, and Food Nexus

The idea of the water-energy-food nexus was launched in earnest since at least the Bonn2011 Nexus Conference, when the German Federal Government organized the international Conference “The Water Energy and Food Security Nexus – Solutions for the Green Economy” to contribute to the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20). According to the background paper prepared by Hoff for the Conference, the concept of the water-energy-food nexus emerged in the international community in response to climate change and social changes including population growth, globalization, economic growth, and urbanization (Hoff 2011). These issues are causing increased pressure on water, energy and food resources, presenting communities with an increasing number of tradeoffs and potential conflicts among these resources which have complex interactions. For example, demands for water, energy and food are estimated to increase by 40%, 50% and 35% respectively by 2030 (US NIC 2012). Although various nexus-related conferences, research initiatives and projects have been held around the world under such circumstances, water-energy-food nexus policy has not yet been initiated in Japan.


The Economic Value of Groundwater in Obama

Worldwide, freshwater is important not only for direct consumption but also for its role in the production of a variety of goods and services. For example, water is used for cooling nuclear reactors and as an input for the production of energy via hydroelectric processes. Freshwater also is essential for the production of food, including crops and livestock. Recognizing these synergies and identifying tradeoffs are key components of water-energy-food (WEF) nexus research (Taniguchi et al., 2013; Loring et al., 2013; Giampietro et al., 2014). In this study, we focus on Obama City, Japan, where groundwater is used directly for domestic and commercial consumption and for melting snow. Stored groundwater also provides an indirect benefit: submarine groundwater discharge (SGD) from the aquifer supports the nearshore ecology, including a locally important fishery. Using this case study, we document some common challenges that arise when undertaking WEF research and outline an example of an integrated approach that combines multiple modes of analysis to overcome those obstacles.


Cost-Benefit Analysis of Disaster Mitigation Infrastructure: The Case of Seawalls in Otsuchi, Japan

Disaster management problems often pose the same types of challenges that environmental governance problems do; they involve decision-makers at various levels and can transcend political boundaries. We conduct a benefit-cost analysis of a disaster adaptation strategy in Otsuchi, which was undertaken shortly after the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami devastated the region. Results indicate that present value net benefits from the planned seawall are positive, even if expected damages are low, provided that the wall is capable of reducing damage by at least 50%. A hybrid method of governance may, however, be effective at increasing the benefit-cost ratio.


Recent Trends in Hawaii's Green Economy: Agriculture, Energy and Natural Resource Management

This report provides an update to the 2012 “Foundations for Hawai‘i’s Green Economy: Economic Trends in Hawai‘i Agriculture, Energy, and Natural Resource Management.” Although economic information has long been collected for many sectors in Hawai‘i, including agriculture and energy, the 2012 project was the first to collect indicators specifically for the natural resource management (NRM) sector. With financial support from Hau‘oli Mau Loa Foundation and research assistance from The Nature Conservancy, the University of Hawai‘i Economic Research Organization was tasked with collecting and analyzing information from three sectors that are key to future sustainability in Hawai‘i - energy, agriculture and natural resource management.

project report

Methods of the Water-Energy-Food Nexus

This paper focuses on a collection of methods that can be used to analyze the water-energy-food (WEF) nexus. We classify these methods as qualitative or quantitative for interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research approaches. The methods for interdisciplinary research approaches can be used to unify a collection of related variables, visualize the research problem, evaluate the issue, and simulate the system of interest. Qualitative methods are generally used to describe the nexus in the region of interest, and include primary research methods such as Questionnaire Surveys, as well as secondary research methods such as Ontology Engineering and Integrated Maps. Quantitative methods for examining the nexus include Physical Models, Benefit-Cost Analysis (BCA), Integrated Indices, and Optimization Management Models. The authors discuss each of these methods in the following sections, along with accompanying case studies from research sites in Japan and the Philippines. Although the case studies are specific to two regions, these methods could be applicable to other areas, with appropriate calibration.

Published version: Endo, A., K. Burnett, P. Orencio, T. Kumazawa, C. Wada, A. Ishii, I. Tsurita, and M. Taniguchi. 2015. Methods of the water-energy-food nexus. Water 7, 5806-5830.


Water, energy, and food Security in the Asia Pacific Region

Security measures of three resources; water, energy and food are analysed for thirty two countries in the Asia Pacific region, in terms of amounts of the resource, self-production, and diversity of souces of each resource. We find that the Asia Pacific countries contain almost half of the world’s income and population, and are more self-sufficient in food production than the rest of the world, but are less self-sufficient in energy production. The self-production ratio of food within the Asia Pacific region has been decreasing since the 1960’s, though the ratio is still over 100 %. On the other hand, the self-production energy rate within the Asia-Pacific region increased from 82 % in the 1970’s up to 95 % in 2010. Diversity for all the three resources is also analyzed using surface water and groundwater for water sources; hydro power, geothermal power, solar, and biomass for energy; and cereals, vegetable, fruit, meat, and fish for food. We see high diversity of sources of water in the US and the Philippines, and a low diversity of sources of food in the US, Canada, and Indonesia.


Assessing the potential for food and energy self-sufficiency on the island of Kauai, Hawaii

Food and energy security are major concerns in the Pacific and around the world. They are key planning priorities in the state of Hawaii as well. Approximately 90 percent of energy and food resources are imported to Hawaii from the continental USA or other parts of the world. While food and energy independence is a goal in many jurisdictions, assessment of the potential for local food and energy production is lacking. Research is needed to examine how agricultural lands can be used to meet food and energy demands, particularly on islands where land is limited. The contribution of this paper is the development of a community-orientated method for evaluating and prioritizing lands for food and energy self-sufficiency, based on local preferences and production possibilities. Based on a review of the literature, community meetings, and expert interviews, three scenarios were developed to assess food and energy production possibilities on Kauai. The first scenario considers maximum food production, the second assigns equal importance to food and energy production, and the third scenario maximizes energy production. This work broadens policy discussions regarding the preservation of agricultural lands on small islands.

Published version: Kim, K., K. Burnett and J. Ghimire. 2015. Assessing the potential for food and energy self-sufficiency on the island of Kauai, Hawaii. Food Policy, 54, 44-51.


Vog: Using Volcanic Eruptions to Estimate the Health Costs of Particulates

The negative consequences of long-term exposure to particulate pollution are well-established but many studies find no effect of short-term exposure on health outcomes. The high correlation of industrial pollutant emissions complicates the estimation of the impact of individual pollutants on health. In this study, we use emissions from Kilauea volcano, which are uncorrelated with other pollution sources, to estimate the impact of pollutants on local emergency room admissions and a precise measure of costs. A one standard deviation increase in particulates leads to a 23-36% increase in expenditures on ER visits for pulmonary outcomes, mostly among the very young. Even in an area where air quality is well within the safety guidelines of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, this estimate is larger than those in the existing literature on the short-term effects of particulates. No strong effects for cardiovascular outcomes are found.

Revised: Posted August 14, 2017

Forthcoming: Halliday, T. J., Lynham, J. and Paula, Á. (2018), Vog: Using Volcanic Eruptions to Estimate the Health Costs of Particulates. Econ J. Accepted Author Manuscript. . doi:10.1111/ecoj.12609


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