School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology

SOEST in the News: 2009

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Graphic of wave and sound

Dec 24: Man-made carbon dioxide affects ocean acoustics

Increased carbon dioxide in the Earth‘s atmosphere is absorbed by the oceans, making them more acidic. In addition to myriad negative effects on ecosystems, Oceanography (OCE) researchers Tatiana Ilyina and Richard Zeebe predict acidification will cause seawater sound absorption will drop by up to 70% during this century, resulting in a noisier environment at low frequencies.

Read more about it at Discovery News, the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, the Ecologist, and Science Daily. Image courtesy of Steven Businger/SOEST; click on it to see the full version.

Photo of lightning

Dec 24: Sensors seek out lightning throughout world

A global network of sensors to detect lightning has been developed based on research by Meteorology (MET) professor Steven Businger and his team; he became aware of the potential of long-range lightning detection about nine years ago with the advent of GPS and other technology. Data could be used to identify thunderstorms, forecast hurricanes and other weather phenomena, and to aid climate change research.

Read more about it in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. Image courtesy of Steven Businger.

Photo of Jason sampling lava

Dec 22: Deep-sea eruption “amazing”

Years of studying volcanoes and imagining a deep sea-floor eruption didn’t prepare Geology & Geophysics (G&G) professor Ken Rubin for the “awesome spectacle” of an eruption nearly 4,000 ft below the surface, the deepest ever discovered. The multi-disciplinary expedition to the South Pacific included Oceanography (OCE) research professor Jim Cowen studying samples of seawater collected over the volcano.

Read more about it at Honolulu Star-Bulletin. Image courtesy of Ken Rubin; click on it to open a gallery of related images.

Photo of scinetist with cryogenic samples

Dec 22: Freezing coral to give it life later

According to marine biologist Mary Hagedorn, a senior scientist at the Smithsonian Institution, corals could be gone from the oceans in 25 years if we do not intervene. Working in collaboration with the Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB), she has spent years developing cryopreserving process (freezing at very low temperatures) for coral sperm, eggs, embryos, and now, the reef-building animals themselves.

Read more about it in the theday.com. Image courtesy of Jim Daniels/Special to the Day; click on it to see the full version.

Photo of Hawaiian islands from space

Dec 16: Climate change in Hawai‘i: caught between…

At a recent global climate change conference on Kaua‘i, scientists from UH and the US Geological Survey (USGS) warned of a projected Hawai‘i expected to be warmer, drier, susceptible to severe storms and coastal erosion, and suffering the loss of the coral reef ecosystems. SEOST participants included coastal geologist (G&G) Chip Fletcher and Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB) coral researcher Paul Jokiel.

Read more about it at Green Chip Stocks. Image courtesy of NASA.

small graphic of IPRC logo

Dec 18: Climate collaboration uses raw computing power

Working with one of the world's most powerful supercomputers, atmospheric and ocean scientists at the the International Pacific Research Center (IPRC) are collaborating with colleagues at the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC) on new models they anticipate will lead to much better predictions of weather phenomena like the behavior of hurricanes, and improved understanding of the changing climate.

Read more about it in the Raising Islands. Image courtesy of IPRC/SOEST.

Photo of FSM islanders

Dec 16: A tiny Pacific island faces climate change

Coastal geologist and Geology and Geophysics (G&G) department chair Chip Fletcher traveled to the tropical western Pacific nation of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) to report on FSM food security and climate risks as the tiny islands are affected by global climate change. “Many atoll communities are headed toward the state of perpetual humanitarian assistance,” he said.

Read more about it at Time.com. Image by Wolfgang Kaehler / Corbis.

Photo of coral forest

Dec 16: “Bizarre” sponges, corals found on deep sea floor

During recent mile-deep submersible dives in the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, Hawai‘i Undersea Research Laboratory (HURL) scientists filmed many previously unknown corals and sponges—some “like something out of Dr Suess”—for the first time in high-definition video. The HD video is so good they expect to be able to identify some animals without having to collect specimens.

Read more about it and watch the videos at KHON2.com, Honolulu Advertiser, and Hawaii News Now; read more about in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. Image courtesy of HURL/NOAA; click on it to see a gallery of images on the Honolulu Advertiser site.

photo of sunk Japanese WWII sub

Dec 14: Sea yields clues to ’41 attack

New evidence discovered by the Hawai‘i Undersea Research Laboratory (HURL) indicating that the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor effectively from under water, as well as from the air, was announced by the “NOVA” television series on the anniversary of the 07 December 1941 attack that drew the United States into World War II.

Read more about it at Honolulu Star-Bulletin. Image by Parks Stephenson; click on it to open a gallery of related images.

cable report cover immages.

Dec 14: Nine undersea routes mapped for power grid

A planned project to lay undersea power cables connecting the islands of Lana‘i, Moloka‘i, O‘ahu and Maui is physically possible, according to a new report released by SOEST researchers. The cable, which will be at least 30 miles long and able to handle about 400 megawatts of power, would tie the islands into one electrical grid to transmit renewable energy generated in Maui County to O‘ahu.

Read more about it in the Pacific Business News. Image courtesy of SOEST.

Photo of wooly mammoth

Dec 07: Absence of evidence for a meteorite impact

An international team led by Geology and Geophysics (G&G) PhD student François Paquay investigated the “conceptually appealing theory” that the Younger Dryas, a “mini-ice age” about 13,000 years ago coinciding with the extinction of many large mammals (such as the the woolly mammoth, at right), was the result of a very large meteorite. Their findings failed to support the impact theory.

Read more about it in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, the National Post, and Science Daily. Image courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

Photo of seismometers on ship deck

Dec 04: Hawai‘i’s hotspot deep structure imaged

Using seismic waves from earthquakes around the world, a multi-institution team of scientists has obtained the best image yet of a plume of hot rock rising from Earth’s deep mantle, fueling the volcanoes forming the Hawaiian islands. Hawai‘i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) associate professor Cecily Wolfe is the principal Hawai‘i investigator and is the lead author of the report published in the 04 Dec 09 edition of the prestigious journal Science.

Watch the video at Hawaii News Now; read more about in the New York Times, Nature News, the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, the Honolulu Advertiser, US News & World Report, and at Softpedia. Image courtesy of Gabi Laske / Scripps Institution of Oceanography; click on it to see the full version.

Mereorite ALH84001 and Mars

Dec 03: Meteorite study revives life-on-Mars debate

Recent analysis of a meteorite retrieved from Antarctica has renewed debate as to whether the ancient rock holds signs of microbial life on Mars. While some scientists point out the similarity between magnetites found in the Martian meteorite and a type produced by Earth bacteria, (HIGP) senior researcher Michael Fuller, is skeptical. “Most of [the grains discussed in the new research] appear too small. It doesn't look to me that they are very similar to magnetotactic bacteria,” he said.

Read more about it at MSNBC.com; image courtesy of NASA.

Photo of hammerhead shark.

Nov 24: Hammerhead shark vision mystery solved

Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB) affiliate faculty member and UH Dept of Zoology associate professor Timothy Tricas is co-author on a paper in The Journal of Experimental Biology suggesting that the unique shape of hammerhead sharks’ heads gives them an extraordinary field of view with large areas of binocular overlap. Scientists compared the visual fields of three species of hammerhead from Hawai‘i and Florida with those of two other species of shark.

Read more about it in the BBC’s Earth News (including a brief video), New Scientist, and the guardian.co.uk. Image courtesy of Brian Skerry/NGS/Getty; click on it to see the full image.

photo of John Barnes, dir of Mauna Loa Observatory

Nov 24: The worst-case curve

Concentrations of the “hot-house gas” carbon dioxide (CO2) measured at Mauna Loa Observatory are at about 385 parts per million — levels that match scientists' worst-case scenarios, with implications for climate change. It would "probably be at 390 (ppm) next year at Mauna Loa," said Fred T. Mackenzie, a professor emeritus of oceanography. This represents an increase in atmospheric CO2 density of about 40% since before the industrial age and the extensive use of fossil fuels.

Read more about it in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin or the Honolulu Advertiser. Image courtesy of the Associated Press.

photo of beach erosion

Nov 16: Hawai‘i’s natural assets are rapidly eroding

Geology and Geophysics (G&G) department chair Chip Fletcher and UH Sea Grant extension agent Dolan Eversole discuss the changing Hawai‘i shoreline. Geologists say more than 70 percent of Kaua‘i’s beaches are eroding while O‘ahu has lost a quarter of its sandy shoreline. They warn the problem is only likely to get significantly worse in coming decades as global warming causes sea levels to rise more rapidly.

Read more about in Time Magazine, MSNBC, ABC News, the London Telegraph, and in the Daily Mail. Eversole is also quoted in articles in Maui News and mysanantonio.com about plans to replenish the beach at Waikiki. Image courtesy of Eugene Tanner / AP; click on it to see the full version.

Photo of HURL submersible and Japanese sub

Nov 12: Top-secret WWII Japanese combat subs discovered

Two World War II Japanese submarines, designed with revolutionary technology to attack the U.S. mainland, have been discovered off the Hawaiian coast of O‘ahu, it was announced by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Hawai‘i Undersea Research Laboratory (HURL), and the National Geographic Channel (NGC). The wreckage will be seen for the first time in “Hunt for the Samurai Subs,” premiering Tuesday 17 November 2009 on NGC (in high definition).

Read more about it in the New York Times, the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, the Honolulu Advertiser, and the SOEST Press Release; image courtesy of Wildlife Productions.

Photo of IFA response to '2012' fakery.

Nov 10: Doomsday: denied!

Mostly amused or bemused by the upcoming end-of-the-world fantasy “2012,” some scientists are also a tiny bit annoyed at viral marketing that pretends to be legitimately scientific. Peter Mouginis-Mark, director of the Hawai‘i Institute Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP), “nearly died laughing” when he first saw the trailer. “One of the main functions of institutions such as [UH] is to educate the public so that they can be informed on what is plausible and what is fantasy.”

Read more about it in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. Image courtesy Jamm Aquino, Honolulu Star-Bulletin.

Photo of wave by Steven Businger

Nov 06: Impact of El Niño on O‘ahu surf

Surf forecaster and oceanographer Pat Caldwell of the University of Hawai‘i Sea Level Center (UHSLC) discusses the potential impact of this year’s El Niño event on surf and waves around the island of O‘ahu, including the possible impacts of higher-than-normal waves on nearshore property. (For additional information about wave and shore conditions, visit the Hawai‘i Ocean Observing System’s Swimmers, Surfers, and Beachcombers page.)

Watch the video at KITV4.com. Image courtesy of Steven Businger.

'Domino' graphic

Nov 04: One good shake leads to another

Hawai‘i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) associate professor Cecily Wolfe, notes that recent “clustering” of earthquakes magnitude 7 and larger in the western Pacific and Indonesia could be the result of a “triggering” effect. “One idea is that some fault systems are critically stressed and ready to rumble, so that only a very tiny stress change from another earthquake is all it takes to cause a domino effect. … We know that the bigger the earthquake is, the bigger the trigger it has,” she said.

Read more about it in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. Image courtesy of Bryant Fukutomi, Honolulu Star-Bulletin.

HNEI logo

Oct 28: HNEI to share in $5 million federal smart-grid grant

Hawaiian Electric Co. (HECO) and partners Referentia, the University of Hawai‘i, and the Hawai‘i Natural Energy Institute (HNEI) will receive more than $5 million of the $3.4 billion in federal stimulus money that President Barack Obama said would support 100 projects aimed at modernizing the nation’s power grid.

Read more about it in the Honolulu Advertiser; image courtesy of HNEI / SOEST.

Photo of students

Oct 27: Learning and teaching by doing

Andy Bohlander, University of Hawai‘i Sea Grant Extension Agent, recently participated in an education and outreach project at Keolonahihi Beach Park in Kailua Kona on the island of Hawai‘i. He worked with 4th graders to teach them about climate change and the potential impacts of sea-level rise, and he explained how to determine where high tide hits using naturally occurring signs.

Read more about it in the West Hawaii Today. Image courtesy of Brad Ballesteros, special to West Hawaii Today.

Photo of flooding street

Oct 23: A rising tide

On October 24, Honolulu joins communities in 150 countries around the world for what organizers say is the most geographically diverse day of activism in the history of the world. Building on the work of coastal geologist Chip Fletcher, chair of the Geology & Geophysics department, volunteers around O‘ahu draw a blue line through Honolulu to demonstrate the extent of one meter of sea level rise — the level scientists say oceans are likely to rise by the end of this century as the planet warms.

Read more about it in the Honolulu Weekly and in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. Image courtesy of UH Sea Grant; click on it to see the full version.

SOEST Open House image

Oct 19: SOEST Open House a huge success!

The 10th Biennial SOEST Open House held Friday & Saturday, 16 & 17 October was a huge success, with over 5000 students attending! We have posted a short video of some highlights here, with a brief voiceover by Dean Taylor.

Read more about it in Ka Leo, the UH Mānoa student newspaper. Mahalo to all of the faculty, students, and staff who made this event so memorable!

NASA photo of Mercury craters

Oct 13: Space flyby spots unusual Mercury crater

Hawai‘i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) assistant researcher Jeffrey Gillis-Davis, a team member on NASA’s MESSENGER mission to Mercury, notes that the spacecraft’s recant flyby of the planet was “mostly successful” despite a disappointing glitch. The flyby produced about 600 images, about half of what scientists had anticipated, including this unusual, and unexplained, double-ring impact crater.

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

screenshot of earthquake graphic

Oct 08: Several recent earthquakes in Pacific… unusual?

While so many big Pacific quakes in a relatively short period of time is unusual, experts do not think it is meaningful. “The rim of the Pacific is where most big earthquakes occur,” notes marine geologist and geophysicist Brian Taylor, Dean of SOEST. He says that the recent number of earthquakes is not cause for concern. “Not the norm for any ten days, but … there will be other times when there is nothing there,” Taylor said. He also commented on the importance of heeding warnings and being prepared for tsunamis that might be triggered.

Read more about it and watch the video at KHON2.com and read more about it at KITV4.com; image courtesy of KHON2. For links to info about tsunami preparedness, please visit the Hawai‘i Ocean Observing System’s “Coastal Hazards” page; scroll down to “Tsunami Warnings.

Photo of Ophryotrocha craigsmithi.

Oct 05: Whale-eating worm named for SOEST scientist

Nine previously unknown species of worms have been identified feeding on bacteria that decompose whale falls — whale cadavers resting on the ocean floor. One of the newly identified species, a bristleworm found on the whale carcass in Sweden, has been named Ophryotrocha craigsmithi after Oceanography professor Craig Smith, one of the first scientists to study the communities of organisms found at whale falls.

Read more about it at Funster. Image courtesy of Helena Wiklund; click on it to see the full version.

Photo of Moon's surface by LRO.

Sep 25: Spacecraft spot evidence of water on Earth’s moon

Hawai‘i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) planetary scientist Paul Lucey comments on the strongest evidence yet that water exists on Earth’s natural satellite. “There was zero accepted evidence that there was any water at the lunar surface, (but) now it is shown to be easily detectable, though by extremely sensitive methods. As a lunar scientist, when I read about this I was completely blown away.”

Read more about it in the San Jose Mercury News. Image courtesy of NASA.

Photo of diver

Sep 09: Researchers explore previously unseen habitats

Deep-dive technology has allowed scientists who recently visited the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument to investigate previously unexplored coral habitats. One significant discovery, that of deep algae nursery beds, might change the way people use the ocean, said Brian Bowen, a research professor at the Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB). “If you’re dumping trash in 170 feet of water you might be dumping it on the nursery ground that keeps your fisheries going.”

Read more about it in the Honolulu Advertiser, the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, and the Associated Press; watch video at KITV.com. Image courtesy of Greg McFall and NOAA.

Photo of small pelagic fish

Sep 08 (rev. on 22nd): Mystery of fish mercury levels solved

In a study published in the Proc. of the National Academy of Sciences, Oceanography (OCE) graduate student Anela Choy, Geology & Geophysics (G&G) professor Brian N. Popp, and OCE assistant professor Jeffrey C. Drazen, reported on mercury levels in large pelagic fish found in Hawaiian waters. They found that deep-feeding species like bigeye tuna and swordfish have elevated total mercury levels relative to shallower-dwelling species like yellowfin tuna and mahi mahi.

Read more about it in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, the News@UH article, and the press release. Image courtesy of SOEST.

Photo of Terry Kerby and Pisces V.

Sep 04 : He has one of the coolest jobs in Hawai‘i

Terry Kerby is the chief pilot for the Hawaii Undersea Research Laboratory (HURL). He leads expeditions in HURL’s submersibles to research areas a mile and more beneath the sea, investigating sites as diverse as active undersea volcanoes such as Lo‘ihi, south of the Big Island, sunken ships, and lost surplus WWII weapons. “After 30 years of piloting,” says Kerby, “it’s the same rush as I had doing it for the first time.”

Read more about it at Honolulu Magazine. Image courtesy of Photo: Mark Arbeit / Honolulu Magazine; click on it to see the full version.

C-MORE logo graphic

Sep 01 : UH undergraduates receive C-MORE Scholars award

The Center for Microbial Oceanography: Research and Education (C-MORE) has granted awards to ten undergraduate students in the UH system to participate in their prestigious and competitive undergraduate scholars program.

Read more about it in the UH Mānoa paper Ka Leo O Hawai‘i. Image courtesy of C-MORE / SOEST.

Topographic image of Kaua'i

Aug 31 : Forecasting changing climate effects on coastal areas

Coastal geologist Chip Fletcher, chair of the Geology & Geophysics department, is quoted in an article about the effects of sea level rise — in part a result of global climate change — on the island of Kauai: “In Hawaii, as the ocean continues to rise, natural flooding occurs in low-lying regions during rains because storm sewers back up with saltwater, coastal erosion accelerates on our precious beaches, and critical highways shut down due to marine flooding.”

Read more about it in the The Garden Island. Image courtesy of the Coastal Geology Group (CGG).

Photo of craftspeople

Aug 27 : Reclaiming wasted resources, improving lives

Maria Haws, a UH Sea Grant Aquaculture Extension Specialist based at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo (UH-Hilo), was visiting Zanzibar and noticed the women of coastal villages harvesting the meat of oysters to feed their families but throwing the shells away; now, they are making jewelry they can sell. “She said, ‘You are not using all the richness‘ of the bivalve,“ recalled marine biologist Narriman Saleh Jiddawi.

Read more about it in the The Providence Journal. Image courtesy of The Providence Journal / John Freidah; click on it to see the full version.

Photo of marine worm

Aug 20 : Marine worm uses “glo-bombs” to defend itself

Oceanography researcher Craig R. Smith comments on the recent discovery of a deep sea worm that ejects glowing, green blobs that probably serve as decoys to distract predators. “There is little doubt that there many more such discoveries to be made in the deep sea, including the deep-water column, which is particularly poorly sampled for the more delicate components of the fauna.”

Read more about it at Oregon Live. Image courtesy of Steve Haddock, MBARI; click on it to see the full image.

Photo of Sen Dan Inouye aboard RV Kilo Monana

Aug 16 : Research ship gets Sen. Inouye’s praise

Also, $6 million in funding for Hawai‘i Ocean Time-series

“National interests are well-served,” commented U.S. Senator Daniel K. Inouye after his recent tour of the Research Vessel Kilo Moana at the University of Hawai‘i marine center. SOEST’s Dean Brian Taylor and some of the other scientists who have used the ship since 2002 treated Hawai‘i’s senior senator to a sampling of the wide range of cutting-edge science they do from this unique twin-hulled platform.
     The article also highlights a $6 million award by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to the Hawai‘i Ocean Time-series (HOT) program, which uses Kilo Moana to as part of its long-term study of ocean chemistry, biology, and hydrography centered at Station ALOHA.

Read more about it in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. Image courtesy of Dennis Odam, Honolulu Star-Bulletin; click on it to see the full version at the HSB web site.

Meteorology Weather Server logo graphic

Aug 14 : Honolulu Weekly’s Coolest Web Site

The UH Mānoa Meteorology Department’s weather server was chosen as “coolest web site” this week by Honolulu Weekly for their fantastic coverage of Hurricane Felicia.

Photo of submersible

Aug 13 : HURL gets $2.8 million in NOAA funding

U.S. Senators Daniel K. Akaka and Daniel K. Inouye announced today that the Hawai‘i Undersea Research Laboratory (HURL) has been awarded $2,881,455 for Fiscal Year 2009 by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). “The valuable information gained can help us plan for climate change and improve management and restoration of vital ocean resources,” Akaka said. “[HURL] is vital to the study and understanding of deep ocean processes,” Inouye said.

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

PacIOOS logo graphic

Aug 12 : NOAA announces funding to support ocean observing in the Pacific Islands

NOAA's Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS) has awarded more than $2.09 million in competitive grant funding to support ocean observing efforts in Hawai‘i and the Pacific Islands. The grants support the Pacific Islands Ocean Observing System (PacIOOS) and will be administered under the direction of SOEST’s Dean Brian Taylor.

Read more about it in the NOAA press release and at KGMB9.com.

HOT logo graphic

Aug 10 : Ocean acidification varies with depth and time

Acidification varies with depth and time, and depends on ocean circulation, microbe activity, as well as ocean chemistry. So says lead author and former SOEST researcher John Dore (now at Montana State University) and SOEST co-authors Dave Karl, Roger Lukas, Matt Church, and Dan Sadler. Presenting an analysis of the changes of pH at Station ALOHA, they found that the surface ocean grew more acidic at exactly the rate expected from chemical equilibration with increasing atmospheric CO2.

Read more about it in the Honolulu Advertiser and at environmental research web. Image courtesy of Hawai‘i Ocean Time-series (HOT).

Photo of plastic debris

Aug 07 : Talking about plastic debris, ocean food chain

Center for Microbial Oceanography: Research and Education (C-MORE) participant Tara Clemente was interviewed for a Hawai‘i Public Radio report entitled “Plastic Debris Pollute Ocean and Food Chain.” Clemente was Chief Scientist on the C-MORE SUPER (Survey of Underwater Plastic and Ecosystem Response) cruise, which examined plastic debris during a transit from Hawai‘i to California between 25 August and 5 September 2008.

Listen to the interview at the HPR website. Image courtesy of Tara Clemente.

DLNR photo of healthy coral

Aug 05 : Damaging coral hits environment, pocketbook

Home to 84% of all coral under U.S. jurisdiction, the state of Hawai‘i is issuing steep fines as part of efforts to punish those who damage a resource critical to Hawaii's fragile environment and main industry, tourism. Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB) assistant researcher Ku‘ulei Rodgers notes that injured corals will have a harder time recovering as they are stressed by increased temperatures and ocean acidification caused by global climate change.

Read more about it in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin and the New York Times. Image healthy coral courtesy of the state of Hawai‘i Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR); click on it to see more images.

Photo of whale bones

Aug 03 : Whale Fall: energizing life on the sea floor

The body of a dead whale creates an “oasis” of nutrients on the sea floor. To understand the succession of communities — from large fish to small crustaceans to microbes — that take advantage of this bounty, oceanography researchers Craig R. Smith, Angelo Bernardino, and Angelos Hannides, and their colleagues sank a dead 30-ton grey whale and followed the progress of its decomposition over several years.

Read more about it in Jan TenBruggencate’s science blog Raising Islands. Image courtesy of Craig Smith.

Global warming graphic

Jul 31 : Ocean’s surface is a microbe haven

Working from SOEST’s Research Vessel Kilo Moana (seen at right), an international team of oceanographers and marine microbiologists are exploring the microbe-rich sea-surface microlayer—the top hundredth inch of the ocean. It is important, scientists say, in part because it influences the chemistry of the ocean and the atmosphere. “It’s the ocean breathing through its skin,” said Michael Cunliffe, a marine biologist at the University of Warwick in England.

Read more about it in the New York Times. Image courtesy of Masaya Shinki; click on it to see the full version.

Photo of Axel Timmermann

Jul 31 : Modeling past abrupt climate change

Oceanography associate professor and International Pacific Research Center (IPRC) researcher Axel Timmermann talks to Hawai‘i Public Radio’s Ben Marcus about results from the ongoing climate model simulation on the Oak Ridge National Laboratory supercomputer, which provides an unprecedented view into the mechanisms of abrupt climate change.

Read more about it at the IPRC News page and listen to the interview at HPR.org. Image courtesy of IPRC.

LiDAR graphic of cavern

Jul 27 : “It’s bigger on the inside…”

Todd Erickson of the Pacific GPS Facility and scientists form the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) used remote sensing technology called Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) to measure the size of the cavern under the vent in Halema‘uma‘u Crater. They were surprised to find the cavern is about 650 feet below the surface of Halema‘uma‘u and 935 feet below the overlook area at the rim.

Read more about it in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin and at Hawaii247.org. Graphic courtesy of Todd Erickson, Pacific GPS Facility; click on it to see the full image.

Photo of buoy courtesy of Honolulu Star-Bulletin

Jul 27 : Key weather buoys off line

Three of Hawai‘i’s seven weather buoys have been damaged since November 2008, including two that are critical during the hurricane season. Pat Caldwell, oceanographer and surf forecaster with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Data Center (NODC), said they also provide valuable day-to-day forecast information for people surfing, paddling, or boating between islands.

Read more about it in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, and watch the video at KITV4.com. Image courtesy of Dennis Oda, HSB; click on it to see the full version.

Photo of Moku o Lo'e

Jul 24 : Corps teaches conservation, helps at Moku o Lo‘e

This summer, hard-working teens and young adults across the state have chosen to help conserve Hawai‘i’s natural resources by working with Hawaii Youth Conservation Corps. “We have very little volunteer efforts out here, and without HYCC, it probably wouldn’t have gotten done,” said Kai Fox, postdoctoral student at the Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB) located on Moku o Lo‘e (Coconut Island) in Kane‘ohe Bay, where volunteers replaced invasive mangrove with native plants.

Read more about it and watch the video in the Honolulu Advertiser. Image courtesy of HIMB.

Photo of footprint on Moon.

Jul 16 : Apollo 11’s Hawai‘i connection

Marking the 40th anniversary of the first moon landing, SOEST researchers recall the important roles that the isles played in the Apollo program. Geophysics professor Fred Duennebier was at NASA’s Mission Control Center in Houston when he watched the Apollo 11 crew land on the moon. With him was the late George Sutton, a former UH professor. Planetary science professor Jeff Taylor noted that Apollo astronauts gained valuable experience training on Big Island volcanic locations.

Read more about it in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. Photo courtesy of NASA; visit the Star-Bulletin page for more historic images.

Photo for shark article

Jul 16 : North Shore shark tours have little impact

A study conducted by Hawai’i Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB) researchers said existing North Shore shark encounter tours have little if any negative impact on public safety, in part because of their remoteness, the species involved, and other conditioning factors. Lead researcher Carl Meyer said the study was focused solely on the North Shore, where crab fisherman have dumped bait for years, attracting sharks. Tour operators took advantage of these congregations of feeding animals.

Read more about it in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin and at KITV.com. Photo courtesy of J. Hall / HIMB; click on it to see the full version.

Global warming graphic

Jul 14 : Ancient climate-change event puzzles scientists

Carbon dioxide gets a well-deserved bad reputation for contributing to global warming, but new research indicates that the greenhouse gas does not deserve all of the blame for a dramatic spike in global temperature 55 million years ago. Oceanography associate professor Richard Zeebe and colleagues ran carbon-cycle simulations of the oceans and atmosphere based on the data yielded by sediment cores and found that current models could only account for a portion of the temperature increase.

Read more about in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Science Now, Science Daily, Cosmos, Ka Leo, and Reuters. Image courtesy of SOEST; click on it to see the full version.

Photo of drilling platform L/B Kayd

Jul 14 : Digging for answers to climate questions

Off the Jersey Shore, scientists — including Oceanography professor Mike Mottl — are drilling for clues in ancient sediments to how sea-level changes might affect us in the near future. By studying what happened when the sea rose and fell at various times millions of years ago, they hope to better understand what may happen as the sea level responds to modern climate changes.

Read more about it and watch the video in the The Philadelphia Inquirer, and visit the ESO project site. Image courtesy of The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Artist's rendering of LRO in approaching Moon.

Jul 06 : Latest NASA moon shot has Hawai‘i connection

Three of the pieces of equipment aboard NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) have a SOEST connection: three Hawai‘i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) researchers — B. Ray Hawke, Jeffrey Gillis-Davis, and Paul Lucey — are participating scientists. The mission is designed to gather data for the mission planned for 2020 which will, at long last, return humans to the Moon.

Read more about it in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, at News@UH, and in science reporter Jan TenBruggencate’s blog Raising Islands. Photo courtesy of NASA; click on it to see the full version.

Photo of Fryer's return

Jul 06 : Robot sub helped collect deep-ocean specimens

As part of what has been hailed as a “new era of ocean exploration,” a University of Hawai‘i research team is back from collecting rocks and fluids from the deepest part of the ocean using a highly maneuverable robot sub that can withstand crushing pressure. “It has been incredibly exciting,” said HIGP geologist Patricia Fryer, who is already working on a proposal to repeat the venture with Nereus, a unique deep-sea vehicle.

Read more about it in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin; related articles are available under “Off to the ocean’s depths” on our News Archives page. Photo courtesy of Patty Fryer; click on it to see the full image.

Photo alternate energy vehicle being fueled

Jun 19 : Talking about electric vehicle technology

Hawai‘i Natural Energy Institute (HNEI) specialist Bor Yann Liaw participated in an on-the-air discussion on Hawaii Public Radio (HPR)’s weekly technology news show Bytemarks Cafe. He talked about the history of HNEI’s research on alternative fuel vehicles, and discussed advances in battery technology.

Listen to the broadcast, which is available as an MP3. Image courtesy of HNEI’s Electrochemical Power Systems Laboratory (EPSL).

UH Manoa logo graphic

Jun 16 : Expressing concern about impact of furloughs

Tom Schroeder, director of the Joint Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research (JIMAR) and chairman of the Meteorology Department, is quoted in an article about the potential impact on research if a proposed furloughs for state workers affects UH. "How do we explain to the international community that our technicians can't maintain sea level stations that are part of the international warning system because they're on furlough?"

Read more about it in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. Image courtesy of UH Mānoa.

Photo of ROV

Jun 07 : SOEST to identify best route for undersea cable

SOEST has been contracted by the HI Dept. of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT) to survey the ocean floor to determine the best routes for proposed cables that would deliver power from windfarms on Lana‘i and Moloka‘i to other islands. The survey will include determining depths, ocean floor composition, and photographing possible routes. “We’re trying to compile enough information for others to make choices about where they’re going to put this cable” said Dean Brian Taylor.

Read more about it in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, the Honolulu Advertiser, and Pacific Business News; watch the video at KGMB, including an interview with Dean Taylor. Photo courtesy of HURL.

Photo of volcano.

Jun 03 : Erupting volcano will roar at subsonic level

An erupting volcano will roar like a jet taking off, but we can’t hear it because the sound’s frequency is so low, says Hawai‘i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) associate researcher Milton Garces, director of the UH Infrasound Laboratory (ISLA). All humans hear would be “thumps, like rhythm,” he said. A recent study by Garces and others shows that volcanic sounds can indicate how much ash is in the eruption and so how much of hazard the ash could pose to airplanes.

Read more about it in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. Photo courtesy of ISLA.

thumbnail map showing Poipu, Kauai.

Jun 01 : Erosion takes heavy toll on Po‘ipu Beach, Kaua‘i

Stephen “Dr. Beach” Leatherman named Po‘ipu Beach Park on Kauai the nation’s top beach just eight years ago; he might not recognize it today. Jim O'Connell, a coastal geologist with the UH Sea Grant Program, said a shoreline-change project shows that the beach, a favorite of both tourists and endangered Hawaiian monk seals, has lost about a foot a year since 1927 to storms and other erosion.

Read more about it at Honolulu Star-Bulletin and The Garden Island. Image adapted from Honolulu Star-Bulletin.

HIMB logo graphic

May 27 : $1 million donation to HIMB for microscope

Hawaii resident Pam Omidyar, co-founder of Omidyar Network, founder of HopeLab and Humanity United, and wife of eBay founder and chairman Pierre Omidyar, has given $1 million to the UH Mānoa Confocal Microscopy Laboratory at the Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB). Researchers will be able to purchase a new microscope that makes it possible for them to observe the physiological activity of live cells under a variety of conditions.

Read more about it in the Honolulu Advertiser and UH News. Image courtesy of SOEST.

Photo of Koko Crater neighborhood

May 26 : Huge Koko Crater boulder worries residents

Geology & Geophysics (G&G) professor Steve Martel has long been concerned about the potential for rock fall hazards at Koko Crater on the island of O‘ahu because the old volcano’s steep slopes are exposed to the elements. He comments on an enormous boulder that has broken off the hillside, which residents fear threatens their properties at the base of the slope.

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

Photo of shark being fed by hand.

May 22 : Study finds shark-cage tours pose little risk

Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB) biologist Carl Meyer reported at a recent public hearing that a two-year study indicates that shark-cage tours operating off O‘ahu’s North Shore pose little risk to public safety. The tours operate at least three miles offshore and mainly attract two species rarely involved in attacks on humans. Tagging studies also indicate that the animals rarely follow the boats back to shore.

Read more about it in the Honolulu Advertiser and Honolulu Star-Bulletin. Photo courtesy of Jamm Aquino, Honolulu Star-Bulletin; click on it to see the full version.

Photo of AUV/ROV Nereus.

May 19 : Off to the ocean’s depths

Hawai‘i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) professor Patty Fryer is principal investigator on the first science mission of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution’s (WHOI) hybrid AUV/ROV vehicle Nereus, operating from SOEST’s R/V Kilo Moana. The May 23–June 5 cruise will test the vehicle’s “full ocean depth” capability in the world’s deepest spot, the “Challenger Deep” in the southern Mariana Trench near Guam, at a depth of nearly 11 km. Fryer will be will be co-chief scientist with Andy Bowen of WHOI; HIGP PhD student, Sam Hulme will participate as geochemist in charge of pore fluid analysis as part of his dissertation research.

Read about it at UH News, National Science Foundation News, New Scientist, Baltimore Sun, the Washington Post, and BBC News. Photo courtesy of Robert Elder, WHOI; click on it to see the full version.

Photo of Hanauman Bay

May 15 : Strict regulations benefit Hanauma Bay preserve

Elizabeth Kumabe, UH Sea Grant extension agent and Education Program leader at the City and County of Honolulu’s Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve, is quoted in an article about the beneficial effects of regulations at the popular preserve. For example, before a ban on fish-feeding at Hanauma Bay took effect in 1999, a half-ton of bread was being dumped in the marine preserve‘s waters every day by snorkelers hoping to attract fish, disrupting the bay’s ecosystem.

Read more about it in the Honolulu Advertiser. Image courtesy of UH Sea Grant College Program.

Photo of tiger shark being tagged.

May 05 : Tiger sharks “hit-and-run” hunters

Hawai‘i’s tiger sharks roam large expanses and make brief, infrequent visits to shallow coastal sites used by swimmers and surfers, according to a new study. Their wide-ranging movements and long absences between quick visits to a location may be a hunting strategy that prevents prey from anticipating when tiger sharks will appear, said Carl Meyer, a biologist with the Hawai‘i Institute for Marine Biology (HIMB).

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

Photo of mooring buoy.

Apr 28 : Island reefs await extra protection

Reef-protection groups are awaiting approval of federal permits to install 52 day-use mooring buoys in a continuing effort to reduce the damage caused when boat anchors crush fragile coral colonies and destroy large swaths of underwater habitat. The program has received assistance from the UH Sea Grant College Program and the Hawai‘i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP), which developed the “Hawaiian eyebolt” day-use mooring buoy based on a Florida design.

Read more about it in the Honolulu Advertiser. Photo courtesy of Jack’s Diving Locker via Honolulu Advertiser; click on it to see the full version.

Photo of Maxine Burkett.

Apr 24 : Maxine Burkett: director of new environmental center

Associate professor of law Maxine Burkett is the inaugural director of the UH Sea Grant College Program’s Center for Island Climate Adaptation and Policy (ICAP). She currently holds a joint appointment with the William S. Richardson School of Law and the Center. ICAP is a partnership among several UH schools that aims to lead the way on climate change adaptation, law, policy, and planning for Hawai‘i and other islands in the Pacific and beyond. The goal is to provide research and real-world solutions to the public and private sectors, assuring a sustainable future.

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

Photo of Rick Grigg in 1955

Apr 20 : Hawai‘i black coral renamed for UH oceanographer

A species of Hawaiian black coral long thought to be the same as a Mediterranean species has been renamed for oceanographer Richard “Ricky” Grigg, world-renowned big wave surfer and coral reef scientist. Grigg said he was “really shocked” when he was told that the species previously identified as Antipathes dichotoma is now described as Antipathes griggi. Grigg says black coral “is probably the best-managed species in the state” because it’s “highly visible, sold as jewelry, and it is so beautiful and so huge when you see it on the reef, it’s like you see a whale or giant ulua. It’s totally memorable.”

Read more about it in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin and BioOne Online. Image courtesy of A1Surf; click on it to see the full image.

Photo of a C-MORE Hale groundbreaking

Apr 16 : Ground broken for C-MORE Hale

On Wednesday 15 April 2009, ground was broken on the UH Mānoa campus for a $22 million building to house laboratories and offices of C-MORE — the Center for Microbial Oceanography: Research and Education — led by by oceanographer and microbiologist David Karl. The building will be one of 17 National Science Foundation centers of science and technology nationwide, and the only one in Hawai‘i. US Sen. Daniel Inouye noted that when he started his college career, ambitious students wanted to go elsewhere to get a top educational experience. “Now,” he said, “this is the place to look into oceanography. This is the place where the experts reside.”

Read more about it in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin; visit the C-MORE web site to view a video of the ceremony (requires RealPlayer). Photo courtesy of Sam Wilson; click on it to see the full image.

Photo of UH/JAMSTEC signing.

Apr 15 : UH-JAMSTEC climate research agreement

The University of Hawai‘i (UH) has signed a new five-year Cooperative Agreement with the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC) to support collaborative climate research at the International Pacific Research Center (IPRC). The agreement continues a relationship that has provided UH with more than $30 million dollars to support its research efforts. Shown at right are (left to right) SOEST Dean Brian Taylor, UH President David McClain, and IPRC Interim Director Kevin Hamilton.

Read more about it in the Honolulu Advertiser and the UH News. Image courtesy of IPRC.

Photo of dolphin taking hearing test.

Apr 14 : Sonar’s effect on dolphin hearing appears minimal

With several marine mammal strandings linked to naval sonar activities, concerns are rising about the effects of naval sonar on marine mammal physiology and behavior. In controlled laboratory studies, researchers at the Hawai‘i Institute for Marine Biology (HIMB) led by Aran Mooney (now at WHOI) showed that actual sonar pings can induce at least temporary hearing loss in dolphins, although repeated, intense exposures are necessary to generate effects.

Read more about it in the New York Times, Scientific American, Discover Magazine, Honolulu Advertiser, Honolulu Star Bulletin, and Science NOW. Photo courtesy of Aran Mooney.

PacIOOS logo graphic

Apr 08 : Integrated Ocean Observing bill passes Congress

On March 24, 2009, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act of 2009, a bill that includes authorization for the Integrated Ocean Observation System (IOOS) as part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The public lands bill was signed into law March 30 by President Obama. “It's exciting to see the benefits of science and technology making a difference to people who depend on the ocean for their lives and livelihoods,” said Brian Taylor, Dean of SOEST.

Read more about it in the Honolulu Advertiser; learn more about HiOOS and PacIOOS. Image courtesy of PacIOOS / SOEST.

Photo of a videographers

Apr 06 : Video tells isles’ evolutionary tale

The Hawaiian islands, with their unique plants and animals, are the subject of the short documentary “Hawaii — A Long Story Short.” The film tells the story of these islands over millions of years, and how different species (including ours) found a new home in one of the most isolated places on Earth. Emerged from a graduate course on science documentary filmmaking taught by Geology & Geophysics (G&G) associate professor Eric Gaidos, it is the result of the collective effort of the instructor, teaching assistant, students, and many individuals and agencies who contributed materials or other assistance.

Read more about at Honolulu Star-Bulletin. Image courtesy of Eric Gaidos; click on it to see the full image.

Photo of 1946 Hiloo tsunami.

Apr 01 : Posters aim to raise public tsunami awareness

Dan Walker, retired Hawai‘i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) professor and tsunami adviser to the city Department of Emergency Management (DEM) created the 2-by-3-foot educational poster “Tsunamis in Hawaii” He is supplying laminated copies to elementary, middle, and high schools, and school libraries in Hawai‘i. He noted, “It is especially important for surfers and beach goers to understand the deadly differences between tsunami waves and even the largest of surfing waves.”

See the Honolulu Star-Bulletin for more about the posters and raising tsunami awareness, and about officials’ work to speed up tsunami warnings, including quotes from Walker and geophysicist Gerard Fryer at the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC). Image courtesy of Honolulu Star-Bulletin.

Photo of Hawaii deep-sea gold coral.

Mar 23 : Corals in deep water off Hawai‘i over 4200 years old

John Smith, Science Director of the Hawai‘i Undersea Research Laboratory (HURL) discusses findings from deep-sea dives near O‘ahu and the Big Island in 2004. Researchers at Lawrence Livermore, Stanford, and UC Santa Cruz recently determined that corals of the species Leiopathes collected by HURL submersibles are over 4,200 years old, making them some of the oldest living organisms on earth.

Read about it and watch the video at KHON2; read more about it in VOA News, Physorg.com, Xinhua and the Houston Chronicle. Photo courtesy of HURL.

Photo of plastic collected during SUPER cruise.

Mar 23 : How big is that widening gyre of floating plastic?

Dave Karl, professor of oceanography and director of the Center for Microbial Oceanography: Research and Education (C-MORE), and C-MORE post-doctoral scholar Angelicque White, University of Oregon, are quoted in an article in the Wall Street Journal about the size and density of the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch.” The enormous rubbish patch was the subject of last year’s Survey of Underwater Plastic and Ecosystem Response (SUPER) cruise.

Read more about it in the Wall Street Journal. Image courtesy of Tara Clemente.

Photo of a beluga whale.

Mar 23 : How dolphins steer their sonar

Dolphins and other closely related odontocetes (“toothed whales,” a group that includes sperm whales, orca, beluga whales, and dolphins) that use sound to navigate can “steer” their sonar beams by merging two sound pulses together, a new study suggests. “It’s the acoustic equivalent of moving your eyes without moving your head,” says marine biologist Marc Lammers of the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB). This ability may be unique in the animal kingdom, scientists say.

Read more about at ScienceNOW. Image courtesy of J. Yaya / City of the Arts and Sciences; click on it to see the full image.

Photo of Hawaiian monk seal

Mar 18 : Genetic diversity very low among monk seals

DNA analysis of almost every Hawaiian monk seal that lived during the past 25 years reveals that the species has the lowest genetic diversity of any mammal ever studied. Jennifer Schultz, a doctoral candidate with the Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB) and newly appointed SOEST Young Investigator, did most of the DNA work, using tissue collected by field researchers from the Hawaiian Monk Seal Program of the National Marine Fisheries Service Protected Species Division.

Read more about it in the Maui News, the Honolulu Star-Bulletin and Scientific American. Image courtesy of Maui News.

Photo of CTD deployment.

Mar 18 : Surprising phytoplankton body-building technique

In a paper published in Nature, an international team of scientists, including UH oceanography professor Dave Karl, director of the Center for Microbial Oceanography: Research and Education (C-MORE), and oceanography assistant researcher Michael Rappé, describe a novel strategy for marine phytoplankton growth in the vast nutrient-poor habitats of tropical and subtropical seas.

Read more about it in the SOEST press release and Raising Oceans by science writer Jan TenBruggencate. Photo courtesy of SOEST.

Photo of sampling near warhead.

Mar 13 : Submersibles collect samples near munitions

Two Hawai‘i Undersea Research Laboratory (HURL) submersibles have been collecting water and sediment samples near disposed WWII munitions dumped south of Pearl Harbor. “I think it’s important for the safety of the people of the state of Hawai‘i,” said Dr. Margo Edwards, Hawai‘i Mapping Research Group (HMRG) director and principal investigator of the project. “I mean, we’d like to know that our water is safe, that our food is safe to eat, and that’s what we’re trying to address with this project.”

See a video about the project at KGMB9.com and HonoluluAdvertiser.com. Read more about it in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin hereand here, at MSNBC, and KHNL NBC 8. Image courtesy of HURL / Honolulu Advertiser; click on it to see the full version. Update! More findings are reported in the Honolulu Advertiser.

Photo of newly discovered bamboo coral.

Mar 05 : New species, genera, of bamboo coral identified

Working among the islands of Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, scientists using a HURL submersible research vessel surveyed deep-sea corals thousands of feet below the ocean surface. Discoveries include seven new species of bamboo coral identified so far. “The potential for more discoveries is high, but these deep-sea corals are not protected everywhere as they are here, and can easily be destroyed,” said Oceanography associate professor Christopher Kelley.

See a video about the project at KGMB9.com. Read more about it NOAA’s news page, the Honolulu Advertiser (link revised 03-30-09) and SF Gate. Image courtesy of Hawaii Deep-Sea Coral Expedition 2007/NOAA.

Aloha Bowl Graphic

Mar 03 : Punahou School wins 2009 Hawaii Ocean Science Bowl

On Saturday, February 21, high school students from all over the state competed in the seventh annual Hawai‘i Regional competition for the National Ocean Science Bowl (NOSB), the "Aloha Bowl." The winners from Punahou School will represent Hawai‘i in Washington, DC April 25-27, 2009.

Read more about it in to Honolulu Advertiser.

Photo of coral

Mar 03 : Shape-shifting coral evade identification

Zac Forsman led a team of researchers from the Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB) who carried out recent molecular studies suggesting that our inaccurate picture of coral species is compromising our ability to conserve coral reefs. “As coral ecosystems are increasingly threatened, we need to understand how many groups exist that can interbreed rather than judging potential for extinction by just looking at groups according to their shape alone.”

Read more about it in Science Daily and in science writer Jan TenBruggencate’s Raising Islands. Image courtesy of Zac Forsman; click on it to see the full version.

Landstat image of island of Hawai'i.

Feb 27 : Hawai‘i volcanoes older, more complex than thought

Hawaiian volcanoes are dramatically more complex—and far older—than scientists have been teaching, and there are traces of life more than a mile deep in the rock. Hawai‘i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) geochemist Don Thomas, who is also director of the UH Hilo Center for the Study of Active Volcanoes (CSAV), comments on recent findings of the Hawaii Scientific Drilling Project on the Big Island of Hawai‘i, including the possibility that there is still active life in the deep rock.

Read more about it in Raising Islands. Image courtesy of NASA.

Photo of Pisces V submersible.

Feb 25 : Accessing 1944 offshore chemical weapons dump

Two Hawai‘i Undersea Research Laboratory (HURL) submersibles, Pisces IV and Pisces V, will spend 15 days beginning Monday 02 March 2009 filming and taking water and sediment samples south of Pearl Harbor as part of an Army project to determine the risks associated with thousands of M47-A2 bombs, containing almost 600 tons of mustard gas, dumped off the south shore of the island of O‘ahu in 1944. Between 1932 and 1944, bombs containing several kinds of chemical weapons were discarded.

Read more about it in Honolulu Star-Bulletin and at MSNBC.com. Image courtesy of HURL.

UH Sea Grant logo

Feb 24 : UH Sea Grant agents organize community training

UH Sea Grant Waikiki Coastal Coordinator Jennifer Barrett is interviewed for a recent article that discusses Reef Watch Waikiki, the new community-based education and coastal monitoring program coordinated by Jennifer. ReefWatchers, a program developed and is coordinated by Sara Peck, Coastal Resource Extension Agent based in Kona, is hosting a morning of information, training, and a presentation on reef ecosystems on Saturday, February 28 at the Natural Energy Laboratory in Kailua-Kona.

Read more about the upcoming Reef Watch Waikiki “Ocean Awareness Training” in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin here and here, and in the Honolulu Advertiser; read more about the Kona ReefWatch at Hawaii247.com. Image courtesy of UH Sea Grant.

Photo of Susan Solomon

Feb 17 : Public lecture on climate science

International Pacific Research Center (IPRC) is sponsoring the first lecture in a series on climate science on Monday 02 March, 7:30 pm, UH Mānoa Architecture Auditorium. Susan Solomon, senior scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Earth System Research Laboratory in Boulder, CO, was identified by Time magazine in 2008 as among the “100 most influential people in the world.” She will present “A Tale of Two Environmental Issues: How the World Solved the Ozone Problem and Got Stuck in Gridlock on the Climate Problem.”

Read more about it in UH News. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

RecycleMania logo graphic

Feb 13 : Geology Club sponsors UH “RecycleMania”

The Geology Club is sponsoring the University of Hawai‘i’s participation in the nation-wide recycling program “RecycleMania,” a friendly competition and benchmarking tool for college and university recycling programs to promote waste reduction activities. Club representative Mary Tardona is interviewed in KITV video profile of the program that kicked off on Wednesday 11 February on the Mānoa campus, while Club faculty advisor Jennifer Engels is interviewed for the Ka Leo, the UH Mānoa student newspaper.

Watch the video at KITV.com “Hawai‘i Going Green” and read about it at Ka Leo to learn more. Image courtesy of RecycleMania.

Video still of Kailua Beach erosion.

Jan 30 : Sand erosion threatens ramp, parking at major beach

Geology and Geophysics (G&G) department chair Chip Fletcher and UH Sea Grant extension agent Dolan Eversole discuss the erosion at Kailua Beach, an important windward-side beach were erosion in recent years has been as high as eight feet per year. To understand the issue and outline potential solutions, UH Sea Grant and the Hawai‘i Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), in cooperation with other agencies, are working on a beach and dune management plan.

Watch the video and read more about it in Honolulu Advertiser. Image courtesy of Bruce Asato, THA; click on it to go to the page with the entire video.

Photo by Craig T. Kojima, HSB

Jan 30 : Battery upgrade revs hybrid car’s performance

Hawai‘i Natural Energy Institute (HNEI) specialist Bor Yann Liaw comments on the new batteries available for the Toyota Prius, which can push gas mileage to incredible levels. On O‘ahu, the University of Hawai‘i, along with Hawaiian Electric Co., the state of Hawai‘i, and the U.S. Air Force will all be testing these new plug-in hybrid electric vehicles to study their feasibility. Two more vehicles will be tested on Maui.

Listen to the report at Hawai‘i Public Radio and read more about it in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. Image courtesy of Craig T. Kojima, Honolulu Star-Bulletin; click on it to go to a slide show of other images.

UH Manoa logo.

Jan 21 : G&G Alumnus to serve on UH Board of Regents

Geology and Geophysics (G&G) undergraduate alumnus Michael Dahilig has been selected by Governor Linda Lingle to fill the sixth seat on the University of Hawai‘i Board of Regents. Dahilig previously served as a student regent for two years as he earned a law degree from UH’s William S. Richardson School of Law. Congratulations, Michael!

Read more about it in Honolulu Advertiser. Image courtesy of UH Mānoa.

Photo of Pu'u O'o by Mike Garcia

Jan 21 : SOEST volcanologists on the Discovery Channel

Watch Department of Geology & Geophysics (G&G) volcanologists Scott Rowland and Julia Hammer on the Discovery Channel in “Volcanoes.” This episode first airs Wednesday 21 January night on Discovery HD (Channel 1333) at 5 pm and 9 pm, and on Discovery Planet (Channel 333) at 8 pm, with a replay on Sunday the 25th.

See the TV listings schedule here. Image courtesy of SOEST / Michael Garcia.

Photo of microbial oceanographer in the lab.

Jan 20 : C-MORE Education & Outreach featured in earthzine

A recent article in the online science magazine earthzine profiled Center for Microbial Oceanography: Research and Education (C-MORE) Education & Outreach efforts to “entice and educate the next generation of ocean and earth scientists.” The article focuses on the C-MORE Scholars Program and its outreach to Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders undergraduates, and has profiles and interviews with several recent students.

Read more about it at earthzine.org. Image courtesy of C-MORE.

Photo of Chip Fletcher at Kailua Beach.

Jan 12 : Saving Kailua Beach

Geology and Geophysics (G&G) department chair Chip Fletcher and UH Sea Grant extension agent Dolan Eversole are working with groups from the Army Corps of Engineers, the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, and the Department of Health to get needed permits and clearances to allow sand from Kaelepulu Stream to replenish the rapidly disappearing Kailua Beach, which has seen an acceleration of sand erosion over the last three years.

Read more about it in Honolulu Star-Bulletin. Image courtesy of Jamm Aquino, HSB; click on it to see the full version and to launch a slide show of other images.

Photo of soil layer containing nanodiamonds.

Jan 05 : Tiny diamonds implicate comet or meteor in mass extinctions

In a recent article in the journal Science, a team of scientists link the well-documented sudden global cooling almost 13,000 years ago with one or more comets or meteors they propose exploded over North America, causing changes in climate patterns that drove dozens of mammal species into extinction. “They have a hypothesis that explains several things that hard to explain any other way,” said HIGP researcher Gary Huss, an early reviewer of the paper. “Diamonds are less convincing by themselves, but they strengthen their case considerably.”

Read more about it at CNN.com, and in the New York Times and London Times Online. Image courtesy of the University of Oregon.

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