School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology

SOEST in the News: 2008

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Image of planet and star

Dec 31 : Looking for extraterrestrial life in all the right places

Associate professor Eric Gaidos of the department of Geology and Geophysics (G&G) is part of a team exploring the possibility of finding water on “super-Earths“ in orbit around distant stars. The planets they are investigating — giant worlds made of rock and ice that astronomers have detected on the outskirts of faraway solar systems — are thought to be quite plentiful, and models indicate that some of them could have liquid water on or beneath the surface, making some form of life a possibility.

Read more about it at Space Daily. Image courtesy of Space Daily.

Photo of tropical cyclone

Dec 30 : Lifecycles of real tropical cyclones successfully predicted

A team of scientists at the International Pacific Research Center (IPRC), the Japan-Agency for Marine Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC), and the University of Tokyo analyzed initial results from the Nonhydrostatic ICosahedral Atmospheric Model (NICAM), the first global model that simulates individual cloud systems. Starting with the atmospheric conditions 1-2 weeks before two previously observed cyclones formed, the model was successful in accurately modeling their formation and subsequent evolution. Published in Geophysical Research Letters, the study was selected by the journal editors as a research highlight.

Read more about it in Science Daily, UH Manoa News, and the IPRC press release (PDF). Image courtesy of NASA.

Photo of lava

Dec 18 : Comments on first subterranean magma contact

Engineers drilling a new well at a geothermal site on the island of Hawai‘i accidentally hit a 2000°F pocket of molten rock 1.5 miles deep, a lucky break for geologists that could allow them to map the geological plumbing that created everything we know as land. The discovery “is tremendously exciting but not surprising,” says HIGP geochemist Don Thomas, who is also director of the UH Hilo Center for the Study of Active Volcanoes (CSAV). Researchers have been drilling holes in this area for years, and it was only a matter of time until someone struck molten rock, he suggests.

Read more about it in Science News, washingtonpost.com, and Wired Science. Image courtesy of Peter Mouginis-Mark.

Photo of sea lice.

Dec 17 : Ocean fish farming harms wild fish, study says

Farming of fish in ocean cages is fundamentally harmful to wild fish, according to an essay in this week’s Conservation Biology. Using basic physics, Professor Neil Frazer of the Department of Geology and Geophysics (G&G) explains how farm fish cause nearby wild fish to decline. The foundation of his paper is that higher density of fish promotes infection, and infection lowers the fitness of the fish.

Read more about it in Science Daily, News@UH, and the SOEST press release (PDF). Image courtesy of Alexandra Morton, Raincoast Research.

Photo of tuna by William Boyce.

Dec 15 : Fisheries software online

The most widely used software package for the development of state-of-the-art fisheries stock assessment methods, Automatic Differentiation Model Builder, or ADMB, can now be downloaded without charge from a public website. The website was created through efforts by SOEST’s Pelagic Fisheries Research Program (PFRP) in partnership with NOAA Fisheries and the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS).

Read more about it at News@UH. Image courtesy of William Boyce.

Photo of STARS participant

Dec 12 : Hawai‘i school teacher participates in science-at-sea program

Wrayna Fairchild, a teacher at Innovations Public Charter School on the Big Island of Hawai‘i, recently participated in a four-day cruise with the Hawai‘i Ocean Time-series (HOT) as part of the Center for Microbial Oceanography: Research and Education (C-MORE) Science Teachers Aboard Research Ships (STARS) program. “The trip was absolutely amazing and I highly recommend it to others,” Fairchild said. “In addition to strengthening my knowledge of marine biology, I learned sample collection techniques and how to use new analytical tools.”

Read more about it in West Hawaii Today. Image courtesy of West Hawaii Today.

Image of Waikiki beach erosion.

Dec 09 : Erosion of Waikiki Beach would cut Hawai‘i tourism by $2 billion

The disappearance of Waikiki Beach to erosion could cost the tourism industry nearly $2 billion annually in lost visitor spending, trigger more than 6,000 job losses and shrink state tax revenues by about $125 million a year, according to a new report based on surveys with Waikiki visitors. “The beach is going to disappear (if nothing is done),” said professor Chip Fletcher, a coastal geologist and Geology & Geophysics (G&G) department chair, who has studied erosion in the Islands extensively. “It’s already gone along much of the Waikiki shoreline.”

Read more about it in the Honolulu Advertiser and Seattle Times. Image courtesy of Gregory Yamamoto, Honolulu Advertiser.

Landsat image of Kona

Dec 08 : Researchers creating an underwater coastal observatory

When active, the Kona Ocean Monitoring Network (KOMNet) will continuously deliver data from 100 feet below the waves, giving a more complete, round-the-clock picture of the physical, chemical, and biological characteristics in West Hawai‘i waters. It should improve the quality, volume, and timeliness of oceanographic data locally. KOMNet also will help establish baseline conditions and allow for early detection of changes in the area, said Milton Garces, director of Infrasound Laboratory (ISLA).

Read more about it in West Hawaii Today, and the Honolulu Advertiser. Landsat image of Kona, Hawai‘i Island, courtesy of NASA.

Photo of Steve Ryan and Kevin Hamilton.

Dec 06 : Atmospheric pressure variation study looks at “solar tides”

Kevin Hamilton, professor of meteorology and interim director of the International Pacific Research Center (IPRC), led a team of researchers in a study on daily variation in atmospheric pressure. The study results support the theory that pressure variations result from waves that are generated by the sun's heating of the upper atmosphere. The waves, called solar tides, propagate to the ground as they travel around the globe. The findings were published in the Journal of Geophysical Research; the study was selected by the journal editors as a research highlight.

Read more about it at News@UH and e! Science News. Image courtesy of IPRC.

Image of teacher.

Dec 06 : HIMB scientists share knowledge of the sea with Lana‘i students

Educators from the Hawai‘i Institute for Marine Biology (HIMB) went to Lana‘i High School to introduce marine options for career day, and also to talk about Lana‘i’s Manele Bay Conservation District. The goal of the program is to give people a better understanding of how human interaction affects the undersea world, and to monitor the marine conservation district over time.

Read more about is and watch the video at KHNL NBC 8. Image courtesy KHNL NBC 8.

Image of oil painting 'View of Hilo Bay' by Joseph Nawahi, 1888.

Nov 24 : Mercury crater named for Native Hawaiian “Renaissance man”

Hawai‘i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) assistant researcher Jeffrey Gillis-Davis, a team member on NASA’s MESSENGER mission to Mercury, has named a crater on Mercury “Nawahi Crater” after Puna-born teacher, legislator, royal advisor, publisher, and painter Joseph Kaho‘oluhi Nawahiokalani‘opu‘u (1842-96), also known as Joseph Nawahi. The self-taught artist was the first native Hawaiian to become an accomplished painter in the Western style. Geologic features on Mercury have names for people who contributed to the arts or humanities, Gillis-Davis said.

Read more about it in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. Image courtesy of Kamehameha Schools via Wikipedia; click on it to see the full version.

Graphic of groundwater discharge

Nov 24 : Multitudes of nutrient-rich groundwater outputs mapped along Hawaiian coasts

In a recent paper in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, Geology & Geophysics (G&G) grad student Adam Johnson, G&G professor Craig Glenn, Hawai‘i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) professor Paul Lucey, and colleagues describe huge volumes of cold, nutrient-rich submarine groundwater “plumes” exiting coastal West Hawaii, and the advanced thermal infrared techniques they used to study them. These plumes float on top of normal seawater.

Read more about it in West Hawaii Today, Raising Islands, and the AGU Journal Highlights. Image courtesy of Craig Glenn; click on it to see the full version.

Graphic of C-MORE logo

Nov 18 : ‘Ohana Day — Exploring the Ocean

On Saturday 06 December 2008, C-MORE and Nā Pua No‘eau hosts events for Native Hawaiian families to join in hands-on activities to learn about our Ocean and the various research interests of University of Hawai‘i scientists. Activities are centered around the POST building on the UH Mānoa campus

For more information, please download the brochure PDF.

UH Sea Grant logo

Nov 14 : Hanauma Bay Education Program on Hawai‘i Public Radio

UH Sea Grant’s Hanauma Bay Education Program was highlighted on “The Business of the Arts” Sunday, November 16 on KHPR 88.1 (KKUA 90.7 on Maui, KANO 91.1 in Hilo) The broadcast was repeated on KIPO 89.3 at 5 pm on Tuesday the 18th. It will also be posted on the HPR web site for at least five weeks following the first broadcast.

Photo of Whitlow Au.

Nov 10 : Au elected President-elect of the Acoustical Society of America

Whitlow W. L. Au, Chief Scientist in the Marine Mammal Research Program (MMRP) at the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB) has been elected President-Elect of the Acoustical Society of America. He began his one-year term in July 2008, after which he will succeed the current President.

Read more about it in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin.

Image of orca courtesy of Getty Images.

Nov 10 : Orca and spinner dolphin surprising feeding strategies reported

Using high-tech acoustics, Whitlow W. L. Au, Chief Scientist in the Marine Mammal Research Program (MMRP) at the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB) studies and reports on the discriminating habits of orca (also known as killer whales, Orcinus orca) in Alaska, which scan in search of favorite fish, and the intricate and coordinated hunting “dance” of Hawaiian spinner dolphins (Stenella longirostris) off Leeward O‘ahu, which take turns feeding on schools of fish that they have herded together.

Read more about orca at MSNBC.com and spinner dolphins in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. Image courtesy Getty Images.

Photo of spectacled parrotfish.

Nov 10 : JIMAR fishery scientists warn of declining fish stocks

Robert Schroeder and Benjamin Richards of the Joint Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research (JIMAR) are two of six co-authors of a study that found that fishing is driving enormous changes in Hawai‘i’s nearshore fisheries populations. One of the most disturbing findings is the uhu, or parrotfish, biomass around heavily-fished O‘ahu sites was only about three percent of that in remote parts of the state. Parrotfish are herbivores that control algae and maintain the health of reefs.

Read more about it at Honolulu Star-Bulletin and KHNL News 8. Image courtesy of US Dept of Interior; click on it to see the full image.

Image of diver and EAR courtesy of KHNL NBC 8.

Nov 05 : Scientists use “EAR” device to hear undersea creatures

Marc Lammers of the Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB) uses Ecological Acoustic Recorders (EARs) to record the sounds marine animals make. Fifty EAR devices are deployed across the world including Hawaii and the northwestern Hawaiian islands. They sit at depths varying from forty to one thousand feet. “It’s great because every time we deploy one of these instruments in a new location, we learn something new, we learn something we didn’t know before, we hear sounds that we hadn’t heard before.”

Read more about it and watch the video at KHNL News 8. Image courtesy KHNL NBC 8.

Photo of Pisces submersible.

Oct 30 : HURL to help Army to examine off-shore ordnance

In January or February 2009, the Hawai'i Undersea Research Laboratory (HURL) plans to use its submersibles and a remotely-operated vehicle to examine some of the WWII-era chemical weapons dumped off O‘ahu’s south coast. They will also gather data, including water and sediment samples, to determine the effect seawater and more than 60 years have had on the munitions.

Read more about it in the Honolulu Advertiser. Image courtesy of HURL. /p>

Image of cultured bacteria courtesy of KHNL NBC 8.

Oct 29 : Scientists take a closer look at microbes in Hawaiian waters

Oceanography assistant professor Grieg Steward and his graduate students routinely scoop up samples from a dozen Ala Wai canal collection sites in Honolulu, looking for harmful microbes or pathogens. “There are certain types of things that thrive better here in our warm moist conditions. It’s true on land and also in the water,” he said, noting that “...the good bacteria again far outnumber the pathogens.”

Read more about it and watch the video at KHNL News 8. Image courtesy KHNL NBC 8.

Image of Hawaii beach erosion.

Oct 24 : Climate Change Series: “Conserving Hawai‘i’s Beaches for the 21st Century”

Hawai‘i’s leading coastal geologists and shoreline specialists are conducting a series of statewide public seminars and community discussions. Read more about the series in the Honolulu Advertiser and download the flyer PDF with details for upcoming events on each island. Read about the first session in TheGardenIsland.

Co-sponsored by UH Sea Grant College Program and Hawai‘i Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR). Image courtesy of Dolan Eversole, HU Sea Grant.

Graphic of earthquake HI hazards

Oct 21 : Hawai‘i one of five U.S. earthquake hot spots outside of CA

Hawai‘i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) associate professor Cecily Wolfe discusses earthquake hazards in Hawai‘i and their relation to the islands’ volcanic origins. “All our earthquakes are ultimately associated with the processes that form the volcanoes,” she said. Most of Hawai‘i’ biggest earthquakes occur on the south flank of the Big Island, location of the frequently-active Kilauea volcano.

Read more about it in Wired Science. Image courtesy of Wired Science; click on it to see the other US earthquake hazard zones.

Image of Aquarius habitat.

Oct 21 : Researchers in undersea habitat to study ocean acidification

Geology & Geophysics (G&G) professor Brian Popp, is currently stationed in the Aquarius Reef Base, the world's only underwater laboratory, anchored on a sand patch 60 feet undersea within a coral reef in the Florida Keys. He'll be down there until October 23rd. This mission will be focused on ocean acidification and its affect on coral reefs. He's accompanied by Oceanography grad student Christina Bradley, who is topside in a support role.

Read more about it in Ka Leo, the Honolulu Star-Bulletin and the NOAA press release; visit the mission page for profiles, logs, and images of the project. Image courtesy NOAA.

Photo of phone-shaped crater on Mercury.

Oct 13 : MESSENGER probe sees signs of volcanic activity on Mercury

A spacecraft buzzing the planet Mercury has found signs of volcanic activity similar to Kilauea's East Rift Zone. Pit craters on Mercury resemble those on the rift zone, indicating subsurface magma, says Jeffrey Gillis-Davis, a Hawai‘i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) Assistant Researcher on the team for the MESSENGER space mission. More rich data is expected from a second flyby that took place 06 Oct 08, when the craft flew just 125 miles above the planet's surface, photographing about 30 percent of the surface never seen before, he said.

Read more about it at Honolulu Star-Bulletin. Image courtesy NASA.

CIMES logo.

Oct 08 : Homeland Security enlists UH in research

University of Hawai‘i and federal officials formally opened a new Department of Homeland Security research center at UH-Manoa on Tuesday 07 October 2008. The National Center for Island, Maritime and Extreme Environment Security (CIMES) will bring $1.2 million for research projects to the campus this year. The center's director, Roy Wilkens, said Congress is providing $2 million a year for the next four to six years for the center. UH-Manoa will get about $1.2 million of that this year, which will cover administration costs and four research projects, he said.

Read more about it in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin and the UH press release; also, read more and watch the video at KGMB9 News. Image courtesy of CIMES.

Photo of Earth.

Oct 08 : UH team awarded $8 million to trace cosmic origin of Earth’s water

Hawai‘i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) scientists Gary Huss, Sasha Krot, Ed Scott, and Klaus Keil, and oceanographers Michael Mottl and James Cowen, are co-investigators on the science team of the University of Hawai‘i’s NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI), which has just received a five-year, $8 million NASA seed grant to investigate where Earth's water came from and what its origins mean for life in the universe. The principal investigator is Karen Meech of the Institute for Astronomy (IFA).

Read more about it in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, the Honolulu Advertiser, SpaceRef, and KHNL NBC 8. Image courtesy of NASA.

Landsat image of location of Kilauea.

Sep 29 : “Slow earthquake” at Kilauea volcano, Hawai‘i

Hawai‘i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) associate researcher Ben Brooks, assistant researcher James Foster, and associate professor Cecily Wolfe were part of a team that discovered that a 2007 dike intrusion in Kilauea triggered a “slow earthquake” on the volcano’s south flank. The findings, reported in an article in the prestigious journal Science, demonstrate how magmatism and earthquake faulting at Kilaue‘a can be tightly connected.

Read more about it in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, News@UH, and the SOEST press release PDF. Photo courtesy of NASA; click on it for the full version.

Graphic of chemical bomb.

Sep 29 : UH-Navy laboratory first assignment: offshore munitions risks

The first project under the University of Hawai‘i’s new Navy Applied Research Laboratory (ARL) is an $850,000 award for continued investigation of possible threats in waters at "Ordnance Reef" off O‘ahu’s Wai‘anae coast. The new UH study, sponsored by the Army Corps of Engineers, is in response to community concerns that the 2006 study did not consider changes in water quality and biotic and sediment composition that may vary seasonally. The leader on this project is Oceanography research professor Eric DeCarlo.

Read more about it at Honolulu Star-Bulletin and the UH press release. Image courtesy US DOD.

Photo of wave by Steven Businger.

Sep 23 : HNEI awarded $5 Million to establish renewable energy center

The Hawai‘i Natural Energy Institute (HNEI) has been selected to establish one of two National Marine Renewable Energy Centers by the US Department of Energy with a grant of approximately $1 million per year for up to five years. These Centers are public-private partnerships that will assess and evaluate the viability and cost-competitiveness of using advanced water power systems that harness the power of waves and ocean thermal energy conversion.

Read more about it in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, and at the HNEI web page. Image courtesy of Dr Steven Businger.

Shark sighting warning graphic.

Sep 19 : HIMB researchers comment on recent shark attacks, sightings

Hawai‘i Institute for Marine Biology (HIMB) shark researchers Kim Holland and Tom Tricas say there’s no evidence that the number of sharks in the region has increased. Instead, the increased sightings could be due to the sharks coming closer to shore to mate, or that clearer, calmer water conditions just make it easier for us to see them. “There is no evidence that anything in the environment has changed to make (tiger shark) numbers any greater this year than at any time in the past,” Holland said.

Read more about it and see the video at HonoluluAdvertiser.com and KGMB9. Image courtesy Hawaiian Lifeguard Association.

HiOOS logo graphic graphic.

Sep 18 : Hawai‘i Ocean Observing System profiled on Hawai‘i Public Radio

Hawai‘i Public Radio recently talked to Pacific Islands Ocean Observing System (PacIOOS) outreach coordinator Marcie Grabowski, HIGP associate researcher Ben Brooks, and oceanography professor Pierre Flament, about the Hawai‘i Ocean Observing System (HiOOS) and its online resources. HiOOS seeks to provide accurate, timely, and reliable information about the coastal and open ocean to researchers and the general public.

Listen to the mp3 from the HPR website. Image courtesy of HiOOS.

Photo of beach erosion on Maui courtesy of Matthew Thayer / Maui News.

Sep 15 : Beach erosion spreading on islands of O‘ahu and Maui

Coastal geologist Chip Fletcher, UH Geology & Geophysics (G&G) chair located in Honolulu on O‘ahu, and Zoe Norcross-Nu‘u, UH Sea Grant Coastal Processes Extension Agent located on Maui, discuss the erosion of beaches on their respective islands. Fletcher highlights Kailua Beach while Norcross-Nu‘u highlights Baldwin Beach, where the rate of erosion is the highest of any sandy beach on Maui.

Read more about it in the Honolulu Advertiser (O‘ahu) and the Maui News (Maui). Photo courtesy of Matthew Thayer/Maui News; click on it to see the full version.

Photo courtesy Dennis Oda, Honolulu Star-Bulletin

Sep 15 : UH Sea Grant recognized for aid in early artificial reef creation

The University of Hawai‘i Sea Grant College Program is acknowledged for its work to create artificial reefs off of Waikiki. In 1989 UH Sea Grant and the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) worked with Atlantis Submarines to successfully introduce several artificial reefs to a dive site that was largely devoid of marine life, and which are now seen by thousands of visitors annually.

Read more about it in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin and at KHNL NBC 8. Image courtesy of Dennis Oda, HSB.

Photo of pump gear deployment.

Sep 04 : “Artificial upwelling” project focus of Discovery Channel program

HOT and C-MORE oceanographers led by Dave Karl and Ricardo Letelier were highlighted in the new Discovery Channel series called Discovery Project Earth. The “Hungry Oceans” episode showed how researchers are looking at wave-powered ocean pumps that could increase ocean productivity and decrease carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The show premiered on Friday, September 5, 2008, at 7 pm HST on the Discovery Channel, with a rebroadcast the following Sunday morning.

Read more about it in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, the SOEST Press Release (PDF), at EurekAlert, and at UPI.com. Image courtesy of the Dave Karl, et al.; click on it to see the full version.

Photo of Klaus Keil

Aug 28 : Klaus Keil reappointed to Space Studies Board

Hawai‘i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) professor and renowned planetary scientist Klaus Keil has had his appointment to serve on the Space Studies Board of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) renewed until 2010. Keil is one of 23 members chosen from across the United States that currently serve on the board.

Read more about it in the Honolulu Advertiser. Photo courtesy of SOEST.

Photo of biodegradable vs conventional plasic.

Aug 28 : Biodegradable plastics also produce less greenhouse gases

Hawai‘i Natural Energy Institute (HNEI) Associate Professor Jian Yu has examined the greenhouse gases produced from biodegradable plastic, and not only are these plastics preferable because they are biodegradable, but they also produce less of the undesirable gases. Yu and colleague Lilian Chen of UH examined the emissions associated with producing one type of bioplastic, polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA), made by bacteria growing on corn-based sugar.

Read more about it at Discovery News. Image courtesy of HNEI.

Photo by sunken ship.

Aug 27 : Shipwrecks wreak havoc on coral reefs

A new study of the effects of sunken ships on coral reefs at Palmyra Atoll by Hawai‘i Institute for Marine Biology (HIMB) Assistant Researcher Greta Aeby and colleagues has shown that sunken ships can not only have a mechanical effect on coral reefs, but can also have a biological effect due to the iron found in the vessels. Iron dissolved in seawater appears to be a source of nourishment for a particularly aggressive species of sea anemone that eats coral, damaging the reef.

Read more about it in Science News and Raising Islands. USGS photo by Thierry Work; click on it to see the full version.

Photo of science teacher Carrie DeMott.

Aug 27 : Bringing teachers into the (lava) field

An educational program developed by Geology & Geophysics Associate Professor Julia Hammer enables high school teachers to get up-close look at Big Island lava. Carrie DeMott (at right) from Maui Preparatory Academy was one of three teachers in the Research Experience for Teachers in Volcano-Petrology (RET/V-P), a program funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to allow teachers to participate in NSF-funded research in the classroom and laboratories.

Read more about it in the Maui News. Photo courtesy of Maui News; click on it to see the full version.

Photo of Ben Brooks.

Aug 24 : Ben Brooks awarded Regent’s Medal for Excellence in Research

Hawai‘i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) Associate Researcher Benjamin Brooks has received a 2008 University of Hawai‘i Regents’ Medal for Excellence in Research. Awarded by the Board of Regents, it recognizes scholarly contributions that expand the boundaries of knowledge and enrich the lives of students and the community. Ben’s work includes studies of slow earthquakes on the Big Island, the geodetic analysis of tectonics in South America, innovative uses of tripod lidar, and contributions to the ocean observing system. Congratulations Ben!

Read more about it News@UH. Photo courtesy of Ben Brooks.

Photo of a seaglider.

Aug 24 : Seagliders swim for data

Dave Karl, professor of Oceanography and director of the Center for Microbial Oceanography: Research and Education (C-MORE), talks about how SOEST scientists use “ seagliders,” buoyancy-driven underwater vehicles that “fly” through the water and make oceanographic measurements traditionally collected by research vessels or moored instruments, but at a fraction of the cost. C-MORE has four of them, and SOEST has two.

Read more about it in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. Photo courtesy of SOEST; click on it to see the full version.

Photo of goliath grouper.

Aug 21 : “We’re gonna need a bigger boat”

A man-sized grouper that trolls the tropical waters of the Eastern Pacific Ocean for octopuses and crabs has been identified as a new fish species after genetic tests. Both Atlantic (shown here) and Pacific species of goliath grouper are visually identical and, reaching more than six feet in length, can weigh nearly 1,000 pounds. Matthew Craig of the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB) is lead author of the paper in Endangered Species Research describing the newly identified Pacific species, now designated as Epinephelus quinquefasciatus.

Read more about it at MSNBC, LiveScience, Divemaster, and Underwater Times. Image courtesy of Rachel Graham/Wildlife Conservation Society; click on it to see the full version.

Photo of Jacqueline L. Padilla-Gamino.

Aug 20 : Sampling the corals as they spawn in the moonlight

Oceanography PhD student Jacqueline L. Padilla-Gamiño is working on coral reproduction, and has spent the summer collecting coral gametes in the field during nighttime coral spawning sessions, with the help of many local volunteers. She is studying how coral fecundity and larval fitness are influenced by local temperature and sediment fluctuations across shorter and longer time scales.

Learn more about it by watching the video at KITV4. Image courtesy of KITV4.

Photo of diver at Kilo Nalu.

Aug 12 : Underwater observatory off Kaka‘ako, O‘ahu

Instead of South Shore breaks such as Bowls or Kewalos, Ocean and Resources Engineering (ORE) associate professor Geno Pawlak heads out to the ocean fronting Kaka‘ako Waterfront Park, where the Kilo Nalu Oahu Reef Observatory quietly collects data. What happens there and how it affects the everyday lives of Hawai‘i’s residents is the topic of the first in a series of public lectures (PDF) at the Outrigger Waikiki on the Beach about Hawai‘i’s dynamic ocean environment. The series is a part of Outrigger’s observance of the Year of the Coral Reef.

Read more about it in the Honolulu Advertiser, and watch the video at KHNL News 8. Photo courtesy of Geno Pawlak; click on it to see the full version.

Photo of Mars.

Jul 24 : Looking at Mars from “Down Under”

At a meeting in Perth, Hawai‘i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) Planetary Scientist Jeff Taylor talks to the Australian media about the possibilities of people living on the red planet within the next 25 years, about how its chemical composition differs from that of the Earth and what that tells us about how the solar system formed, and how water may have affected Mars over time.

Read more about it in The Australian, at Cosmos Magazine, and at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Photo courtesy of NASA / JPL / Malin Space Science Systems.

Photo of Dave Karl.

Jul 24 : $3.79 million grant from Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation

Oceanographer David Karl has been named the recipient of a $3.79 million grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation to continue and expand research on the microbial inhabitants of the world’s oceans. Dr. Karl, founder of the Center for Microbial Oceanography: Research and Education (C-MORE) in SOEST, has focused his research on the ecological role of microorganisms in the oceans, ranging from the sunlit surface waters to the deep abyss, including its potential response to environmental variability and climate change.

Read more about it in the Honolulu Advertiser, at the Philanthropy News Digest, and on the SOEST Press Release page. Image courtesy of SOEST.

Photo of diseased coral.

Jul 18 : New indicator uncovered that can predict coral health

A new indicator of coral health has been discovered in a community of microscopic single-celled algae called dinoflagellates. The study, released in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, reveals that a particular type of these algae renders corals more susceptible to disease. It had previously been considered that all dinoflagellates found in coral are equally beneficial to their coral host, but in this study Hawai‘i Institute for Marine Biology (HIMB) researchers Michael Stat, Ruth Gates, and Emily Morris present evidence that a particular type of dinoflagellate can be found in corals that are diseased or show evidence of having had a disease.

Read more about it in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, the Honolulu Advertiser, and in Science Daily. Image courtesy of HIMB.

Photo of coral with growth anomaly.

Jul 18 : One-third of world’s coral species at risk of extinction

The Hawai‘i Institute for Marine Biology (HIMB)‘s Greta Aeby joins an international team of scientists to show coral reefs have joined the ranks of living creatures most likely to vanish permanently from the earth. The findings from the study were published in the prestigious journal Science and announced at the International Coral Reef Symposium underway in Florida.

Read more about it in the Science abstract (full article requires subscription), in the Maui News, and at Radio Australia. Photo courtesy of Hawaii Coral Disease.

Photo of algae.

Jul 16 : Growing lots and lots of algae not that easy

Former SOEST Dean Barry Raleigh talks about the difficulties of growing industrial quantities of microalgae for his company HR Biopetroleum. HR BioPetroleum, Alexander & Baldwin, Hawaiian Electric Company and Maui Electric Company, recently announced that they have signed memoranda of understanding to pursue the joint development of a commercial-scale microalgae facility on Maui to produce lipid oil for conversion to biodiesel and other valuable products, such as animal feed.

Read more about it in the Honolulu Advertiser. Image courtesy of HR Biopetroleum.

Photo of wall at beach.

Jul 15 : O‘ahu’s beaches may soon be lost forever

About a quarter of O‘ahu’s beaches have been lost over the last century. UH Sea Grant Coastal Geology Extension Agent Dolan Eversole discusses the impact of seawalls on beaches and shorelines around the island. “On one side coastal erosion can be bad because it threatens property and structures that may be in the are but it‘s also good in that it feeds the beach a new supply of sand when it‘s most needed,” he said.

Read more about it and watch the video at KHNL NBC 8. Photo courtesy of KHNL.

Image of mthane molecule.

Jul 12 : Ocean methane formation pathway discovered

A new pathway for methane formation in the oceans has been discovered, with significant potential for advancing our understanding of greenhouse gas production on Earth, scientists believe. Through the Center for Microbial Oceanography: Research and Education (C-MORE), oceanographer Dave Karl (SOEST) and microbiologist Edward DeLong (MIT), co-authors of the Nature Geoscience paper, are working to learn how and when microbes turn on and off their methane production genes.

Read more about it in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, the National Science Foundation News and on the SOEST Press Release page. Image courtesy of Nancy Hulbirt, SOEST / C-MORE; click on it to go to the full version.

Photo of reef by James Watt.

Jul 12 : Halting ocean acidification calls for steep carbon cuts

It’s not just about climate change anymore. Besides loading the atmosphere with heat-trapping greenhouse gases, human emissions of carbon dioxide have also begun to alter the chemistry of the ocean. The ecological and economic consequences are difficult to predict but possibly calamitous, say a team of chemical oceanographers led by Richard Zeebe. In the July 4 issue of Science, the researchers warn that halting the changes already underway will likely require even steeper cuts in carbon emissions than those currently proposed to curb climate change.

Read more about it in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, the Honolulu Advertiser, the Molokai Times, and Raising Islands. Photo by James Watt, www.wattstock.com.

Photo of restored beach.

Jun 30 : Spreckelsville, Maui, group seeks sand dredging

Zoe Norcross-Nu‘u, UH Sea Grant Coastal Processes Extension Agent located on Maui, discusses how homeowners are requesting permission to renourish the beach fronting their homes with sand dredged from offshore. This project would also include another component not previously studied in Hawai‘i called “geotubes,” which help slow the loss of sand from the beach.

Read more about it at Maui News. Photo courtesy of Stable Road Beach Restoration Foundation; visit the web site to see the “before” and “after” images.

Photo of book cover.

Jun 30 : UH Sea Grant donates award-winning books to local schools

In order to perpetuate greater environmental literacy throughout the state and to celebrate the International Year of the Reef, the University of Hawai‘i Sea Grant College Program has donated over 100 copies of its recently published Reef and Shore Fishes of the Hawaiian Islands to secondary school libraries statewide. The award-winning book, authored by Dr. John Randall, marks the culmination of 47 years of study.

Read more about it at KHNL NBC 8. Image courtesy of UH Sea Grant.

Photo of Ed Scott.

Jun 26 : UH tests ethanol waste as animal feed

Hawai‘i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) planetary scientist Edward Scott has been awarded the 2008 Leonard Medal by the Meteoritical Society, an honor which recognizes outstanding contributions to the science of meteoritics and closely allied fields. Scott is recognized as one of the leading researchers of meteorites in the field of cosmochemistry, an interdisciplinary science investigating the fundamental processes that formed our solar system.

Read more about it in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, the Honolulu Advertiser, and on the SOEST Awards and Honors 2008 page. Image courtesy of Anneliese Scott.

Photo of man on eroding beach.

Jun 23 : UH tests ethanol waste as animal feed

Dolan Eversole of the UH Sea Grant College Program and the state Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) have joined forces to create a “Beach and Dune Management Plan” to properly manage the beaches within Kailua Bay, and could serve as a template for other beaches with similar geography. Geology & Geophysics department chair Chip Fletcher also sounds in on the necessity of such a plan.

Read more about it in the Honolulu Advertiser. Image courtesy of Akemi Hiatt, Honolulu Advertiser; click on it to see the full version.

Photo of bottle.

Jun 23 : UH tests ethanol waste as animal feed

UH researchers are working on converting what is now a waste product from sugar cane ethanol production into fishmeal. Clyde Tamaru, UH Sea Grant Aquaculture Specialist, comments on the importance of the types of fishmeal used in the future with rising costs associated with importing the feed.

Read more about it at Honolulu Star-Bulletin. Photo courtesy of Craig T. Kojima, Honolulu Star-Bulletin.

Photo of whale skull.

Jun 20 : Whale’s bones tell a tale

To research colonies of organisms that live on dead whale carcasses, UH Oceanography professor Craig Smith, along with University of Washington marine biologist David Duggins, deposited a fin whale skeleton near San Juan Island and left it to study how nutrients released from the whale carcass affect the marine ecosystem.

Read more about it in the HeraldNet. Also listen to the podcast and watch the video at the Burke Museum (scroll down to “Video ~ Behind the Scenes: The Fin Whale.” Photo courtesy of Robert C. Williams, Daily Herald; click on it to see the full version.

Screen capture of sharks

Jun 20 : Hammerhead sharks at Kane‘ohe Bay sand bar

Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB) researcher Kim Holland comments on the recent sighting of a school of hammerhead sharks at the sand bar in Kane‘ohe Bay on the northeast coast of the island of O‘ahu. Sharks will often come into shallow areas to have their babies, and those shark pups then grow up in the Bay.

Read more about and watch the video at KGMB9. Image courtesy of KGMB9; click on it to watch the video.

Image courtesy of InfoWorld.

Jun 18 : Five lessons of a datacenter overhaul

InfoWorld magazine followed Brian Chee, Operations Manager of the Advanced Network Computing Laboratory (ANCL), as he converts an old server and storage room in the HIG building into a new datacenter that is state of the art in terms of control (environmental, security, and remote access for the users) in addition to being dramatically more efficient in terms of energy usage.

Read more about it in InfoWorld here (intro) and here (step-by-step) and watch the videos. Image courtesy of InfoWorld.

Photo of Milton Garces.

Jun 17 : Listening to volcanoes

Milton Garcés, director of Hawaii Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP)’s Infrasound Laboratory, talks to Pulse of the Planet about the sound of volcanoes. “This thing is louder than the ocean, this thing is louder than anything else around it. In terms of human perception, you can stand right by it, and you don”t hear a thing.”

Read more about it at Pulse of the Planet. Photo courtesy of Milton Garcés.

Image courtesy of InfoWorld.

Jun 17 : Beach complaints sprout community work

Zoe Norcross-Nuu, an extension agent for the University of Hawai‘i Sea Grant College Program, gave advice to community groups about how to restore and maintain a Kihei, Maui beach after some abuse by beach goers.

Read more about it in the Maui News. Image courtesy of Matthew Thayer, Maui News; click on it to see the full version.

Photo of Prochlorococcus.

Jun 16 : “The most important microbe you’ve never heard of ”

By some estimates, the oxygen in one out of every five breaths you take comes from a bacterium called Prochlorococcus. Numbering in the trillion trillions, this tiny microbe is one of the most abundant organisms on Earth. A recent celebration of the 20th anniversary of its discovery, organized by MIT professor and C-MORE co-PI Sallie “Penny” Chisholm and UH Oceanography assistant professor Zackary Johnson, was the subject of a 06-13-08 “NPR Science Friday” report.

Listen to the broadcast and watch the video at NPR Science Friday. Photo courtesy of MIT.

photo of NOAA buoy

Jun 16 : New buoys will monitor water quality off Honolulu

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has launched two new buoys in the water off O‘ahu’s South shore. They will monitor carbon dioxide and oxygen in the ocean and in the atmosphere helping scientists to better understand the exchange of carbon dioxide between the ocean and the atmosphere. Oceanography professor Eric De Carlo says the buoys will be strategically positioned.

Read more about and watch the video at KHNL NBC 8. Photo courtesy of KHNL NBC 8; click on it to see the full version.

Photo of researcher

Jun 13 : SOEST researchers engaged in development of algae as biofuel

Mark Huntley, an Oceanography Department researcher, and Barry Raleigh, former SOEST Dean, has a new company called HR Biopetroleum, who are focused on researching and developing algae strains for biofuel production.

Read more about it in the Pacific Business News. Image courtesy of Tina Yuen, PBN.

Photo of Fred Duennebier.

Jun 10 : “The End of Cheap Oil”

Geology and Geophysics Professor Fred Duennebier spoke at a forum on Maui concerning “The End of Cheap Oil,” where he discussed our reliance on petroleum, and how Hawai‘i is the most oil-dependent state in the nation. The forum was organized by Zoe Norcross-Nu‘u, UH Sea Grant Coastal Processes Extension Agent.

Read more about it in the Maui Weekly. Image courtesy of SOEST.

Photo of beach vegetaion by Jamm Aquino, Honolulu Star-Bulletin.

Jun 04 : Plant growth blocks Kahala beach access

Twelve Kahala property owners received letters from the state last month because plant growth fronting the ocean is forcing people to wade into the water while walking from one end of the beach to the other. Dolan Eversole, a UH Sea Grant College Program coastal geologist, comments on the overgrowth of plant life and the response by the state of Hawai‘i to this problem.

Read more about it in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin news article and editorial, and in the East Oahu Sun. Photo courtesy of Jamm Aquino, HSB; click on it to see the full version.

PAcIOOS logo

Jun 03 : NOAA awards funds to support ocean observation

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS) is awarding two million dollars in fiscal year 2008 to support ocean observing efforts in Hawai‘i and the US Pacific Islands. The funds will be directed to UH Manoa for the continued development of the Pacific Islands Ocean Observing System (PacIOOS) and associated efforts. The project will be directed by Brian Taylor, Dean of SOEST.

Read more about it at KHNL News 8 and download the SOEST press release PDF. Image courtesy of PacIOOS / SOEST.

Shark cage photo courtesy Jimmy Hall, HSB.

May 29 : Electrified metal repels sharks to save them

Joint Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research (JIMAR) associate researcher John Wang and colleagues at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have been experimenting with metals that release electrons into sea water. Their goal is to reduce the incidental catch of sharks in Hawaii’s swordfish and tuna longline fisheries with a safe way to discourage sharks from taking hooks.

Read more about it in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. Photo courtesy of Jimmy Hall, Honolulu Star-Bulletin; click on it to see the full version.

Image of Hurricane Katrina.

May 29 : Be prepared: hurricane season is June – November

In time for hurricane season, The Homeowner’s Handbook to Prepare for Natural Hazards, published by the University of Hawai‘i Sea Grant College Program, provides detailed information on how to prepare your home for a hurricane and other natural hazards including earthquakes, tsunamis, and floods. Protecting your home often means protecting your family. The handbook outlines small and cost-effective steps that can significantly reduce the risks of damage and loss due to a natural hazard.

Read about it at KHNL NBC 8, too. Image courtesy of NASA.

Photo of Kuhio Beach before restoration.

May 22 : Kuhio Beach one of 2008’s best restored beaches

Kuhio Beach in Waikiki has been named one of 2008’s best restored beaches by the American Shore and Beach Preservation Association. “The Kuhio Beach restoration project continues to serve as a successful demonstration of the local technical capability, cost effectiveness and environmental soundness of using offshore sediment for local beach restoration,” said project leader Dolan Eversole, a UH Sea Grant College Program coastal geologist.

Read more about it at KGMB9.com and in the Pacific Business News. Photo courtesy of Coastal Geology Group, SOEST.

UH Sea Grant book images

May 21 : Two UH Sea Grant publications win prestigious book awards

Two Manoa Sea Grant College Program publications were honored at the Ka Palapala Po‘okela book awards. Reef and Shore Fishes of the Hawaiian Islands by John E. Randall won the Award of Excellence in Natural Science. Hawaiian Reef Plants by Manoa’s John M. Huisman, Isabella A. Abbot and Celia M. Smith received honorable mention.

Read more at News@UH and the UH press release. Image courtesy of SOEST; click on it to see full covers.

UH Sea Grant logo

May 12 : Two UH Sea Grant personnel in the news

Stephen Meder, director of the UH Sea Grant Center for Smart Building and Community Design, is quoted in an article in the Honolulu Advertiser highlighting an older building at Makiki District Park which is being converted into a showcase and a test site for new energy saving technologies. Dr. Meder, who is assisting with the project, also hopes to involve his architecture graduate students to test and monitor the progress of the energy-saving systems

Read more in the Honolulu Advertiser. Image courtesy of UH Sea Grant.

UH Manoa logo

May 09 : UH Mānoa to report greenhouse emissions

The University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa is the first organization in the state to take part in a volunteer effort to track its own greenhouse gas emissions and report to an independent third party. Measuring emissions consists primarily of tracking how much energy is consumed, such as gallons of fuel or kilowatt hours of electricity, said Craig Coleman, a graduate student in Oceanography and “architect” of the tracking program.

Read more about it in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, the UH News, and KHNL NBC 8 , and see the video report at KGMB9.com. Image courtesy of UH Mānoa.

Wave photo by Steven Businger.

May 06 : Island ground water reacts to big surf

When storm surf pounds an island’s shore, the change in the height of the groundwater can be measured in wells miles inland, according to research by Aly El-Kadi, Associate Professor, Geology and Geophysics (G&G), and G&G graduate Kolja Rotzoll,, currently with the USGS’s Pacific Islands Water Science Center. The research was part of Rotzoll’s doctoral degree, and was published in the Journal of Hydrology.

Read more about it in the April 30th edition of Jan TenBruggencate’s Raising Islands blog. Photo of Waimea waves by Steven Businger, SOEST.

Photo of Hanauma Bay.

May 06 : “Hazards” lectures continue at Hanauma Bay

The UH Sea Grant College Program’s Hanauma Bay Education Program is partnering with NOAA’s National Weather Service for a series of lectures on “The Hazards of Life on Remote Tropical Islands.” On Thursday, May 8, Pat Caldwell, Oceanographer, NOAA Oceanographic Data Center.“Hawai‘i Surf Research and Summer Forecasting” will be presented by All events are free and open to the public, and will take place at the Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve theater from 6:30 to 7:30 pm. Parking is free after 5:30 pm. For more information, call 397-5840 or email hanauma@hawaii.edu.

Read about upcoming lectures in the Honolulu Advertiser and the SOEST Bulletin. Image UH Sea Grant.

cover of nature geosciences.

May 02 : Climate cycle “entirely out of equilibrium”

Before humans began burning fossil fuels, there was an eons-long balance between natural carbon dioxide emissions (eg. from volcanoes) and Earth’s ability to absorb them, but now the planet can’t keep up. “These feedbacks operate so slowly that they will not help us in terms of climate change… that we’re going to see in the next several hundred years,” said Oceanography Dept. assistant professor Richard Zeebe, one of the authors of a study published in the journal Nature Geoscience. “Right now we have put the system entirely out of equilibrium.”

Read more about it at Reuters, BBC News, MSNBC, and UH News. Image courtesy of USGS.

HNEI logo graphic.

Apr 29 : HNEI leads federal energy research project in Hawai‘i

The Hawai‘i Natural Energy Institute (HNEI) has been selected as one of nine sites chosen to work on the U.S. Department of Energy’s efforts to “modernize the nation’s electricity grid,” the federal department announced. HNEI will develop and test an energy-management system to address electricity grid congestion, energy reserves, and intermittent power supplies.

Read more in the Pacific Business News. Image courtesy of HNEI.

Graphic of currents.

Apr 23 : Mysterious currents in our oceans

Overlaid on the grand ocean gyres are mysterious currents flowing in an alternating east-west pattern, according to analyses of direct ocean observations, satellite images and computer models conducted by the International Pacific Research Center’s (IPRC) Nikolai Maximenko and Oleg Melnichenko along with colleagues from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

Read more about it in LiveScience, New Scientist, the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, and on the IPRC news page. Image courtesy N. Maximenko; click on it to see the full version.

UH Sea Grant logo

Apr 22 : Two UH Sea Grant personnel in the news

An article in West Hawaii Today focuses on ReefWatchers, a group of trained volunteers organized by Sara Peck, UH Sea Grant Coastal Resource Extension Agent in West Hawai‘i. They will be collecting valuable data for researchers worldwide on Cauliflower coral (Polcillopora meandrina) spawning in waters around the Big Island. Adam Asquith, UH Sea Grant Extension Specialist on Kaua‘i, is quoted in a Honolulu Advertiser article about a recent conference which, among other things, touted the benefits of eating locally grown food and examined ways Hawai‘i can reduce its dependence on imported food.

Photo of Chip Fletcher

Apr 22 : Sea level rise to slowly swamp coastal zones

Coastal geologist Chip Fletcher is chair of the Geology and Geophysics department and head of the Coastal Geology Group. In a video interview, he discusses the impact beach erosion and sea level rise will have in Hawai‘i in the next few decades, and how, as nearshore areas are expected to become extremely vulnerable to flooding at high tide and after heavy rains, we are going to need to change how and where we build. “We have decades over which this problem is going to worsen. And over decades we’re able to adapt our development,” he said.

Read more about it at see the interview at KGMB9.com. Image courtesy SOEST.

NASA GRC artist's concept of moon base.

Apr 17 : The need for more lunar scientists

New missions planned to visit the moon will mean a need for more lunar scientists, says G. Jeffrey Taylor, a planetary scientist at the Hawai‘i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP). The missions include robotic ones that will launch this year, followed by manned missions slated for 2020.

Read more about it in MSNBC. Image courtesy of NASA GRC; click on it to see the full version.

Video still of munitions.

Apr 17 : HURL subs to help with weapons at sea assessment

Hawai‘i Undersea Research Laboratory (HURL) researchers using the Pisces submersibles will be working with the Army to investigate thousands of chemical munitions off the coast of O‘ahu, many of which are deteriorating in the ocean water. This fall they will be mapping the munition fields and will collect samples to aid in the clean-up.

Read more about it and see videos at KHON2 online and at KHNL online. Image courtesy of KHON2.

Photo of students and teachers.

Apr 15 : Opportunities for Hawai‘i science majors

Applications are being accepted for the Center for Microbial Oceanography: Research and Education’s (C-MORE) Scholars Program, which seeks to recruit underrepresented UH students (especially Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders) to science-related majors. "The idea is to bring people in and get their confidence and skills up," said Barbara Bruno, Associate Specialist and C-MORE Education Office coordinator.

Read more in the Ka Leo O Hawai‘i. Image by Rachel Manuel, courtesy of Ka ‘Imi ‘Ike; click on it to see the full version.

Painting of asteroid impact by Don Davis

Apr 12 : Seafloor sediments reveal size of ancient asteroid strike

Scientists have developed a new tool for determining the projectile size and frequency of chondritic meteorites that have collided with the Earth. François Paquay, a Doctoral graduate student in the Department of Geology and Geophysics, advisor and co-author Gregory Ravizza, and others used variations of osmium isotope composition in the marine sediment record to estimate size of these impactors, including the “dinosaur killer,” which they calculate was less than half the size of previous estimates. Results are published in the April 11th edition of the journal Science.

Read more about it in New Scientist, Nature News, National Geographic, the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, and the USA Today. Image courtesy NASA; click on it to see the full version.

USGS photo of Halemaumau eruption.

Apr 03 : First explosive eruption at Halema‘uma‘u since 1924

Explosive eruptions and noxious gas emissions at the Halema‘uma‘u crater of Kilauea Volcano on the Big Island of Hawai‘i have prompted scientists to work around the clock to understand what will happen next and how to keep the public out of harm’s way. Low frequency sound waves associated with the recent eruptions were detected by Hawaii Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) associate researcher Milton Garces, director of the Infrasound laboratory.

Read more about it in Science Daily or read the USGS press release. Image courtesy of USGS.

Photo of German research ice breaker Polarstern.

Mar 31 : SOEST scientists find seafloor rock 2 billion years old

Geologist Eric Hellebrand was co-leader of an expedition to the Arctic Ocean which discovered rocks that have survived the mixing process in the deep mantle; some have retained their two-billion-year-old melting signatures, preserved by the complex geologic history of the region. This indicates that mantle heterogeneity may turn out to be more widespread in mid-ocean ridge settings than inferred from the more commonly studied erupted lavas. The results were recently published in the journal Nature.

Read more about it in Raising Islands and in the SOEST press release. Image courtesy of Anette von der Handt, SOEST/UH; click on it for the full version.

cover graphic of Nature magazine.

Mar 31 : Gulf Stream leaves its signature seven miles high

A new study reveals that the Gulf Stream — which keeps Iceland and Scotland comfortable in winter compared to the deep-freeze of Labrador at the same latitude — anchors a precipitation band with upward motions and cloud formations that can reach seven miles high. International Pacific Research Center (IPRC) researcher and Meteorology department professor Shang-Ping Xie is a co-author of the study, recently published in the journal Nature.

Read more in the UH News or the New Scientist. Image courtesy of Nature; click on it to see the full image.

Photo of tsunami computer model.

Mar 25 : April is Tsunami Awareness Month in Hawai‘i

Kwok Fai Cheung, professor in the Department of Ocean and Resources Engineering (ORE), along with several graduate and postdoctoral students, created a new tsunami inundation computer model with topographic data provided by the Army Corps of Engineers. LIDAR was used to obtain high-resolution topographic data for all islands to determine the land elevation for the computer model, which determines how far inland tsunami waves will reach. While the data are being finalized, residents can go to the state Civil Defense Web site to see maps of the tsunami inundation zones.

Read more in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin and KHON2. Image courtesy of ORE; click on it to see the full version.

False color image of chloride deposits on Mars.

Mar 22 : Chloride salt deposits are clues of past Martian water

Hawai‘i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) graduate student Mikki Osterloo is first author on a paper published in Science magazine detailing spectral observations from NASA’s Mars Odyssey Thermal Emission Imaging System that enabled the detection of chloride minerals, apparently formed from the evaporation of water, across some of the oldest regions on Mars. Co-authors include her PhD advisors, HIGP associate researchers Vicky Hamilton and Scott Anderson.

Read more about it in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, the National Geographic, BBC, and New York Times. Image courtesy of Mikki Osterloo; click on it to go to a full version.

Image of beach loss courtesy of KHNL.

Mar 21 : Severe erosion eats up Kailua Beach

Department of Geology & Geophysics researchers say the shoreline at Kailua Beach, one of the most beautiful and popular beaches in the state, is receding at a potentially dangerous rate. “This is the worst erosion we’ve seen here in 20 years,” said professor Chip Fletcher, department chair and head of the Coastal Geology Group. Fletcher says one factor is that global sea level is rising; another factor involves recent sand management practices. “In a sense, it’s like mining the beach.”

Read more about it at KHNL online. Image courtesy of KNHL.

Photo of recently-discovered scorpion fish.

Mar 21 : Scientists get an unprecedented look at Hawai‘i’s reefs

Scientists from the Bishop Museum used the Hawaii Undersea Research Laboratory (HURL) Pisces IV and Pisces V to explore an extraordinary expanse of coral reef at depths of 150 to 330 feet off the coast of Maui. Funded by a $1.4 million grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the expedition was the first of a three-year study designed to document these largely unexplored ecosystems, and to study the impact of pollution on this region.

Read more about it in Honolulu Magazine. Image courtesy of KHNL online.

Image of Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter.

Mar 18 : HIGP participation in Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter mission

Three HIGP faculty have just been selected to be participating scientists on the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) mission: Jeff Gillis-Davis, B. Ray Hawke, and Paul Lucey. The LRO will spend at least one year in low polar orbit around the Moon, collecting detailed information about the Lunar environment. The LRO payload, comprised of six instruments and one technology demonstration, will provide key data sets to enable a human return to the Moon.

Read more about the mission, which heads to the Moon late this year, at the mission website. Image courtesy of NASA; click on it to see the full image.

NOAA image showing 'ocean deserts.'

Mar 18 : “Ocean desert” areas relatively plankton-free, thus fish-free

A new study by Melanie Abecassis, visiting scholar at Joint Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research (JIMAR), and other National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) researchers shows human-caused global warming may be the cause of a rapid recent expansion of desert-like barrenness in the Earth’s oceans, areas that are relatively plankton-free, and thus fish-free.

Read more about it on the New York Times and at the NOAA News Page. Image courtesy of NOAA; click on it to see the full version.

Graphic showing asteroid orbit.

Mar 11 : Asteroid “7237 Vickyhamilton (1988 VH)”

Hawai‘i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) associate researcher Vicky Hamilton has had an asteroid named after her. Asteroid “7237 Vickyhamilton (1988 VH)” is a main belt asteroid, which was discovered in 1988. Her name was submitted by colleague Tom Burbine to the Committee for Small-Body Nomenclature of the International Astronomical Union. Only about 14,000 asteroids have been named out of approximately 400,000 that have been discovered. Congratulations, Vicky!

To find out more about Asteroid 7237 Vickyhamilton, please see JPL’s small body database. Image of orbit courtesy of JPL; click on it to see the full version.

Photo of Roger Davis and Margo Edwards.

Mar 04 : Family of cartographers

Director of the Hawaii Mapping Research Group (HMRG) Margo Edwards was recently appointed to the Scientific Ice Expedition (SCICEX) Science Advisory Committee. SCICEX is a collaboration between the US Navy and civilian scientists for geological and environmental research in the Arctic Ocean. The focus of the committee is to develop and help implement arctic science plans for use with the US Navy submarines.

Read more in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin about the work she and her husband, HMRG computer network engineer Roger Davis, are doing to raise awareness of energy and climate change issues. Image courtesy of Craig T. Kojima, Honolulu Star-Bulletin.

Thumbnail of Kauai coastal map

Feb 26 : New Kaua‘i shoreline bill among nation’s most conservative

Coastal geologist Chip Fletcher, chair of the Geology and Geophysics department, comments on the new shoreline building setback law just adopted for Kaua‘i County. It is the most aggressive shoreline building setback law in the state, a powerful policy that aims to protect coastal structures against 70 to 100 years of erosion.

Read more about it in Raising Islands, a blog “about Hawai‘i science and environment” by former Honolulu Advertiser reporter Jan TenBruggencate. Image courtesy of Chip Fletcher; click on it to go to the Hawai‘i Coastal Erosion Website interactive map of the Kaua‘i coastline.

Hawaii Ocean Time-series logo.

Feb 21 : Oceanography research program reaches milestone

On February 21, 2008, the SOEST research vessel Kilo Moana departed from the UH Marine Expeditionary Center at pier 45 on the 200th scientific expedition of the Hawai‘i Ocean Time-series (HOT) after nearly 20 years of approximately monthly research cruises to observe and interpret habitat variability and to track climate impacts on Hawai‘i’s marine ecosystem.

Read more about it in the SOEST press release (PDF). Image courtesy of SOEST / HOT.

Image of ocean impacts.

Feb 20 : Worldwide effects of human activity on oceans mapped

Almost half of the world’s oceans have been seriously affected by over fishing, pollution, and climate change, according to a major study of man’s impact on marine life published in an upcoming issue of the journal Science. Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB) post-doctoral researcher Kimberly Selkoe is part of an international team of scientists who have produced the first comprehensive map showing the combined impact of human activity on the planet’s seas and oceans. It shows that more than 40% of marine regions have been significantly altered, while just four per cent remains in a relatively pristine state.

Read more about it at these updated 2009 links: News@UH, and at the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis with an interactive companiaon site. Older links are at the Telegraph, and in the NSF Press Release. Image courtesy of NCEAS; click on it to see the full version.

Photo of astronaut Stan Love.

Feb 20 : Former HIGP post-doctoral fellow on space shuttle mission

The spectacular launch of Space Shuttle Atlantis on 07 February 2008 at 9:45 am HST marked the first space flight for astronaut Stanley G. Love, a former Hawai‘i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) post-doctoral fellow. In 1994 Dr. Love was here researching and modeling the formation of meteoritic chondrules and the collisional evolution of asteroids. Congratulations, Stan!

Read more about it on the NASA Mission Page which has links to pre-flight interviews, biographies, and more for all of the astronauts. Image courtesy of NASA; click on it to see the full version.

Video still of shark.

Feb 07 : Close shark encounter 3300 ft under the sea

Hawai‘i oceanography professors Jeff Drazen and Craig Smith, and others, captured extraordinary video of an 18-foot deep-sea six-gill shark during a 2006 research submersible dive off Moloka‘i. The animal, a member of the species Hexanchus griseus, had a head “a meter wide” and bumped into the Hawaii Undersea Research Laboratory's (HURL) Pisces V submersible while it was at a depth of 3300 feet. The video can be seen on YouTube

Read more about it in Honolulu Star-Bulletin. Image courtesy of Eric Vetter and Craig Smith; click on it to see the full version.

Graphic courtesy of Independent Graphics.

Feb 06 : Karl on why world’s plastic floats around Hawai‘i

David Karl, professor of oceanography, director of the Center for Microbial Oceanography: Research and Education (C-MORE), and member of the US National Academy of Sciences, has been interviewed recently about the enormous mass of plastic that accumulates just below the surface in the Pacific Ocean around Hawai‘i. This “plastic soup“ of waste is growing at an alarming rate and now covers an area twice the size of the continental United States.

Read more about it in The Independent and www.abc.net.au. Listen to the RadioLive podcast at (click on the link “LUSH~Why the world's plastic makes floats to Hawaii” dated 05-Feb-2008; may not work on Macs) or download the MP3. Image courtesy of Independent Graphics; click on it to go to the full version.

Image of projected sea level rise in Waikiki.

Feb 06 : Demonstrating the effects of sea level rise

To dramatize the projected impact of a sea level rise of one meter, community members drew a blue chalk line along seven blocks in Honolulu to illustrate how far the ocean would advance if the sea rises 39 inches in the next century. “When you see the blue line, it maps the community that’s vulnerable. And it’s just warning to us that we should not ignore this future process that’s going to take place," says Chip Fletcher, chair of the Department of Geology and Geophysics, and a driving force behind the research that inspired last week’s visual demonstration.

Read more about it at KHNL News 8 online here (with video) and here (with more about climate change), and in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin (with more about the international climate conference); see a slide show of images at the Honolulu Advertiser. Image courtesy of Coastal Geology Group (CGG).

Image of Hawaii showing glint of sunlight on ocean.

Jan 25 : Detecting the glint of starlight on the oceans of distant planets

In an upcoming issue of the journal Icarus, Darren Williams of Pennsylvania State University, Behrend, and Eric Gaidos of the UH Department of Geology and Geophysics model how a distant planet would reflect light towards Earth as it orbits its star such that when a planet with water on its surface appears as a crescent, light striking the smooth surface of a large sea or ocean would make it appear brighter. The more uniform scattering from the rough surface of a drier planet means that it would not get brighter in this way.

Read more about it in New Scientist. Image courtesy of NASA, shows sunlight reflected off the waters near the island of O‘ahu; click on it to see a larger version.

Image of Mackenzie book cover.

Jan 24 : New book on carbon in Earth’s geobiosphere

Emeritus Professor Fred T. Mackenzie of the Department of Oceanography has co-written a new book titled Carbon in the Geobiosphere: Earth’s Outer Shell, with Abraham Lerman (Northwestern University) and published by Springer-Verlag. In a review published in the Journal of Environmental Quality, Dr. Jeffrey P. Obbard (National University of Singapore) says “The text provides a remarkable insight into the biological and inorganic geochemical processes governing the chemistry of the carbon cycle since the formation of the primordial Earth to the present, with particular focus on global carbon reservoirs and the fluxes between them… It is difficult to think of a more important book for one of the greatest issues facing humanity in the 21st century.”

Read the full review on the Springer web site. Image courtesy of Springer.

Image of MESSENGER Mercury flyby.

Jan 14 : New book on latest advances in climate modeling

Jeffrey Gillis-Davis, an assistant researcher in the Hawaii Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP), is a team member on the MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) space mission. When the spacecraft made a close flyby of the planet Mercury on Monday, January 14th, it was the first spacecraft to visit Mercury in thirty-three years. The image shown here is the first look at Mercury’s previously unseen side (click on it to go to the mission site, which has the full version).

Read more about it in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin and on the UH News page, and download the SOEST press release PDF. Image courtesy of NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington.

Image of Hamilton book cover.

Jan 07 : New book on latest advances in climate modeling

Professor Kevin Hamilton, of the International Pacific Research Center (IPRC) and the Department of Meteorology, and Wataru Ohfuchi, group leader at the JAMSTEC Earth Simulator Center in Yokohama, Japan, have edited High Resolution Numerical Modeling of the Atmosphere and Ocean. This book presents exciting recent developments in simulations of the flow in the atmosphere and the ocean with computer models that have very fine-resolution representations.

Read more about it in News@UH site and the IPRC press release. Image courtesy of the publisher, Springer; click on it to see the full version.

HNEI logo graphic.

Jan 03 : Using fuzzy logic to get miles out of hybrids and electric cars

Bor Yann Liaw and Matthew Dubarry, researchers at Hawai‘i Natural Energy Institute’s Electrochemical Power Systems Laboratory, are working on improving our understanding of how electric vehicles work, and how to make the battery banks last longer. In their most recent paper, they combined “fuzzy logic” — a way of analyzing complex systems that don’t produce simple yes-no or true-false answers — and pattern recognition to track the behavior of test vehicles.

Read more about it in the Raising Islands--Hawai‘i science and environment. Image courtesy of SOEST / HNEI.

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