October  2016
A partnership between the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa (UHM) and Tohoku University, one of Japan's top research universities is redefining disaster science. The collaboration began shortly after the devastating Japan tsunami in March 2011. The UHM College of Social Sciences and SOEST's Hawaiʻi Sea Grant program have been working with Tohoku ever since. Last month, during a forum on the UHM campus, UH and Tohoku brought together leading national and international experts and focused on communicating disaster science and discussing the latest research, risk reduction, community preparedness and the human dimension in responding and recovering.
A team of scientists, led by University of Hawaiʻi Sea Level Center's Philip Thompson, showed that the longest and highest-quality records of historical ocean water levels may underestimate the amount of global average sea level rise that occurred during the 20th century. The team evaluated how various processes that cause sea level to change differently in different places may have affected past measurements. Their results showed that many of the highest-quality records are from places where the 'ice melt fingerprints' result in reduced local sea level change compared to the global average. Their results establish the minimum amount of global sea level rise that could have occurred during the last century.
A team of 16 researchers, including several from SOEST, published a comprehensive investigation of deep coral reef environments, known as mesophotic coral ecosystems, throughout the Hawaiian Archipelago. The researchers documented vast areas of 100 percent coral-cover and extensive algal communities at depths of 165-300 feet and found that the deep-reef habitats are home to many unique and distinct species not found on shallow reefs. The findings of the study have important implications for the protection and management of coral reefs in Hawaiʻi and elsewhere.
Last month, 375 members of the National Academy of Sciences, including 30 Nobel Laureates and two SOEST oceanographers, Edward DeLong and David Karl, published an open letter that draws attention to the serious risks of climate change. The letter also highlights the urgent need to reduce heat-trapping emissions as part of the Paris Agreement. The scientists warn that a U.S. withdrawal from this agreement would diminish U.S. credibility internationally, hobble U.S. economic competitiveness in developing and marketing clean energy sources and undermine the world's ability to deal with climate change.
As part of a national collaboration, researchers at the Hawaiʻi Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB) and Department of Oceanography have been awarded over $1 million to test and evaluate the accuracy and utility of technology used to observe aquatic ecosystems. The Alliance for Coastal Technologies (ACT) addresses one of the greatest challenges that scientists and resource managers face in incorporating advanced technologies--bridging the gap between the developmental stage and operational stage of new environmental sensors and instrumentation. This month, HIMB will be the site for field testing of nutrient sensors involving sensor developers from around the world.
The Schmidt Ocean Institute recently announced the 2017 expedition schedule for the R/V Falkor, their highly-capable and versatile research vessel. Numerous SOEST researchers (Glenn Carter, Henrietta DulaiChip FletcherSonia J. RowleyKen RubinJohn R. Smith) have been granted ship time and support to conduct oceanographic and geologic research on four cruises. The focus of these cruises will be mapping the remote waters of Johnston Atoll, investigating deep coral diversity around the Emperor Seamount, unraveling sea level change during the last ice age, and understanding the geology and ecology around the submarine volcanoes of Tonga.
Two graduate students from SOEST, Anela Akiona and Aka Beebe, have been selected as conservation fellows, funded by Hauʻoli Mau Loa Foundation. These students were chosen because of their strong academic records as undergraduates, their connections to and integration with the local conservation community, their passion for the ʻāina and keen interest in preserving and protecting shared and limited natural resources, and their commitment to career and future efforts to preserve and sustain their local environment. The two-year fellowships will help increase the number of qualified Hawaiʻi students and professionals pursuing environmental resource management careers.
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