Ocean climate change research sets benchmark

The University of Hawaiʻi has hit a major milestone in its critical research to observe and understand how the ocean responds to climate change. On February 28, 2018, UH’s research vessel Kilo Moana returned from its 300th scientific expedition of the Hawaiʻi Ocean Time-series (HOT) program. Completion of 300 research cruises makes Station ALOHA, about 60 miles north of Oʻahu, one of the best-sampled places in the world’s oceans with a decades-long record of how the ocean responds to climate change.

HOT scientists recovering sampling equipment.

HOT scientists recovering sampling equipment on the deck of the Kilo Moana. Image courtesy of UH SOEST/ HOT.

UH has undertaken almost monthly research cruises for 30 years to the same observation area to observe and interpret habitat variability, and to observe and understand the impacts of climate variability and change on the marine ecosystem.

“It is really satisfying to reach this milestone, and to see the growing importance of the HOT program accomplishments,” said David Karl, UH professor of Oceanography  and co-director of the Simons Collaboration on Ocean Processes and Ecology (SCOPE). “Here we are at 30 years and counting. Each additional year of observations brings us closer to a fundamental understanding of how the ocean functions, and its relationships to climate.”

On November 3, 1988, the scientists and crew aboard UH research vessel Moana Wave successfully established a deep ocean observation station dubbed ALOHA (A Long-term Oligotrophic Habitat Assessment) as the benchmark site for the HOT program. Karl and Roger Lukas, who at the time were both professors of oceanography in UH’s newly created SOEST, led the expedition.

Read more about it and watch the video report in the UH System News; read more about it at Big Island Now.