This is a quick post to summarize some effects on the beaches of the windward side of Oahu, where basalt rocks of the Ko’olau volcano don’t protect the coast. Kailua isn’t far from Honolulu (Fig. 1) and the climate is similar. The wetter coastline, such as at Nu’uanu park, doesn’t extend this far. Kailua is a broad flat area, unlike the deep valleys of the north shore. The caldera is set back much further from the coast and the basalt is buried.
There is nothing surprising about what we saw at Kailua beach. Beach erosion is ubiquitous around the world; for example, it takes years for scarps like that seen in Fig. 3 to recover from a tropical storm in the Atlantic Basin. Recent studies suggest that in general, sandy beaches are being eroded; the proximate cause is a lack of sediment or increased wave energy, but the root cause most-often blamed is climate change and sea level rise.
We need to stop blaming the climate and reconsider all of the dams and diversions we’ve constructed on rivers that feed the world’s beaches, and ill-considered engineering projects completed in coastal zones.