Global warming is already leading to rising temperatures in the mountains and declining rainfall in Hawaii, climate change experts said at a meeting Friday.
Temperatures at Hawaii’s higher elevations are rising faster than the global average, said Deanna Spooner, coordinator of the Pacific Islands Climate Change Cooperative.
"It’s getting hotter here faster than anywhere else in the world up in the upper elevations," Spooner said at the Honolulu meeting of the federal Interagency Climate Change Adaptation Task Force.
Rainfall levels, meanwhile, are falling. "Our freshwater resources are shrinking," she said.
The federal task force is holding five meetings around the country to hear how climate change is affecting communities and how people are coping.
It has already held meetings in Portland, Ore., and Miami, and due to meet in Chicago on Thursday and in Denver on July 19.
In October the panel is scheduled to compile the perspectives it gathers and submit recommendations to President Barack Obama on how the nation can limit the effects of climate change.
Larry Robinson, assistant secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere, said Hawaii was selected as a place for the meeting because officials recognized the Pacific island communities are highly vulnerable to the changes brought on by global warming.
Officials also realized it would be difficult for island residents to travel to the mainland to participate in meetings there, he said.
Organizers set up teleconference links between their Honolulu conference center and participants in Guam, Saipan and American Samoa as well as on Maui, Kauai and the Big Island.
Robyn Thorson, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regional director, said some climate change is inevitable.
"We will have to adapt our lifestyles and traditions to this new climate. That task is upon us," Thorson said.