Kevin Hamilton is conducting some of the first studies of how global warming could change Hawaii's weather, and it's a strong bet that Hawai`i will get dryer.
Scientists already know that Hawai`i gets less rain in El Nino years, and climate change could lead to a more El Nino-like environment.
Now, Hamilton and other climate researchers at the International Pacific Research Center are trying to get clearer predictions of global warming effects.
One clue was provided in a study last May in the journal Nature that predicts a 10 percent slowdown in the east-to-west winds near the equator by the end of the century, which could actually create more El Ninos.
All climate models participating in the current assessment of climate change by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predict an increase in global average precipitation for the warmer climate toward century’s end.
What this could mean for Hawai`i is fewer, bigger "rain events" over the long term.
Oh, and, based on emerging conditions in the Indian Ocean, IPRC researchers predict strong El Nino this winter...Which should mean less rain for the islands in the short term.
With respect to violent weather extremes, there is a surge of studies about global warming effects on tropical cyclone frequency and intensity. Hamilton was on the team that used the IPRC regional atmospheric model for these purposes.
The studies agree that in a globally warmed world the number of the most intense and destructive storms will increase significantly.
You can hear Hamilton and others in a recent talk about climate change on Hawai`i Public Radio.