July 2016
The SOEST Maile Mentoring Bridge program strives to recruit and retain Native Hawaiian and kamaʻāina undergraduates in ocean, earth and environmental science degree programs at SOEST. In May, the first cohort of Maile students--Charles "Aka" Beebe, Kanani, Lhiberty Pagaduan, and Diamond Tachera--earned bachelor's degrees with the support and encouragement of their mentors.
"Native Hawaiians and kamaʻāina are underrepresented in the ocean, earth and environmental sciences. Which is really unfortunate because Hawaiʻi kids often have strong cultural, family, or personal connections to the local environment," said post-doctoral researcher Tiffany Anderson, Maile Mentoring Bridge co-manager and one of about a dozen mentors. "Many times, they are also the first in their families to pursue higher education in science, and can really benefit from the experience of someone who has already gone through the program."

This spring, the Jonathan Merage Foundation embarked on a long-term partnership with SOEST to explore how long-range lightning data can potentially improve storm forecasting.
"Through the ingest of lightning and storm balloon data, this project aims to increase our ability to map water vapor and heat associated with condensation of water in hurricane storm clouds in the core of the storm," said Steven Businger, chair of the Atmospheric Sciences Department at UHM and project lead. "In the process, details of the initial storm circulation in the hurricane model will be improved."
The new Institute of Hawaiian Language Research and Translation at UHM is an invaluable resource for anyone in the state and beyond to find and utilize historical Hawaiian knowledge. Between 1834 and 1948 more than 100 Hawaiian language newspapers were published, equal to over one million letter-sized typescript pages. For over ten years the University of Hawaiʻi Sea Grant College Program has been collaborating with the Hawaiʻinuiākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge, the Joint Institute of Marine and Atmospheric Research, and Awaiaulu, a local nonprofit organization, to locate and translate information and make it widely accessible. This treasury of text illuminates Hawaiʻi's past.
An international team of scientists led by Pacific Biosciences Research Center researcher Joanne Yew may have discovered a new and effective way to control insect pests that are a threat to agriculture and humans. Yew and her team identified a gene in vinegar flies responsible for the insect's waterproof coating, which provides them with protection from microbes and environmental stress. They nicknamed the gene 'spidey.'
"When we knocked out spidey in adult flies, the flies exhibited several striking features: their lifespan was shortened by about 50 percent, they lost almost all of their waxy coating and flies frequently got stuck to the sides of the plastic vials and were unable to free themselves," said Yew. "This last feature was reminiscent of the comic book character Spider-Man, which is why we named the gene spidey."

SOEST joins the State to educate public about sea level rise impacts and adaptation
On June 29, Associate Dean Chip Fletcher joined the Hawaiʻi Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) for the " First Informational Meeting on Sea Level Rise Adaptation." The meeting was part of a series of statewide public informational meetings designed to educate people about sea level rise adaptation and gather comments regarding key issues and concerns regarding sea level rise. The meeting featured a presentation by Fletcher on the results of research on physical impacts of future sea level rise conducted by the Coastal Geology Group in the Department of Geology and Geophysics. The Coastal Geology Group consists of post-doctoral researcher Tiffany Anderson, PhD candidate Haunani Kane, PhD student Shellie Habel, cartographer Matt Barbee, GES student Alisha Summers, and GG student Kristian MacDonald. This meeting was sponsored by the Hawaiʻi Interagency Climate Adaptation Committee, established in 2014 by the Hawaiʻi State Legislature (Act 83). See the Hawaiʻi Climate Adaptation Portal for more information.
The International Coral Reef Symposium convened last month in Honolulu and brought together 2,500 reef scientists, policymakers and other participants from 97 nations to bridge science to policy and move from knowledge to action regarding coral reef conservation. The ongoing global coral bleaching event, which began in 2014 with a super-charged El Niño, is now the longest-lasting and largest such event ever recorded.
"What we have to do is to really translate the urgency," said Ruth Gates, president of the International Society for Reef Studies and director of the Hawai'i Institute of Marine Biology. Gates, who helped organize the conference, said the scientific community needs to make it clear how "intimately reef health is intertwined with human health."
Bob Richmond, director of the Kewalo Marine Laboratory and convener of the event, said the problems are very clear: "overfishing of reef herbivores and top predators, land-based sources of pollution and sedimentation, and the continued and growing impacts of climate change."
The Pacific Islands Ocean Observing System (PacIOOS) was awarded more than $2.75 million in competitive grant funding through NOAA's Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS). The funding is for the first year of a five-year cooperative agreement to enhance and sustain coastal and ocean observing efforts throughout the U.S. Pacific Islands region.
"The ocean is fundamental to our lives in the islands. PacIOOS strives to provide accurate and easily accessible coastal and ocean information to help improve Pacific Islanders' quality of life through empowered decision-making," said Melissa Iwamoto, director of PacIOOS. "We are pleased to continue helping island communities and authorities address both the short- and long-term challenges we face in the islands."

Image courtesy of XL Catlin Seaview Survey.
Scientists say good bacteria could be the key to keeping coral healthy, enable them to withstand the impacts of global warming, and secure the long-term survival of reefs worldwide.
"Healthy corals interact with complex communities of beneficial microbes or 'good bacteria'," said Tracy Ainsworth from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University who led the study. "It is very likely that these microorganisms play a pivotal role in the capacity of coral to recover from bouts of bleaching caused by rising temperatures."
"Facilitating coral survival and promoting coral recovery are growing areas of research for coral reef scientists," says co-author Ruth Gates director of the Hawaiʻi Institute of Marine Biology. "To do this we need to explore and understand the bacteria that help keep corals and coral reefs healthy."

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