March  2017
A new study from researchers in the Department of Geology and Geophysics (GG) reveals that a large part of the the heavily urbanized area of Honolulu and Waikīkī is at risk of groundwater inundation-flooding that occurs as groundwater is lifted above the ground surface due to sea level rise. The team developed a computer model that simulates future flood scenarios as sea level rises three feet, as is projected for this century under certain climate change scenarios. This flooding will threaten $5 billion of taxable real estate; flood nearly 30 miles of roadway; and impact pedestrians, commercial and recreation activities, tourism, transportation and infrastructure.
Researchers at SOEST's Pacific Biosciences Research Center and the UHM John A. Burns School of Medicine investigated whether common first aid actions lessen the severity of stings from two dangerous box jellyfish species. Their results reveal some of the most commonly recommended practices actually worsen stings. Instead of rinsing with seawater or scraping, they found rinsing with vinegar or simply plucking tentacles off with tweezers led to less venom injection. Additionally, applying heat actively decreased venom activity. In contrast, applying ice enhanced the venom's activity and doubled the damage. The team found the best way to treat a jelly sting was a venom-inhibiting product.
A complicated life cycle for rat lungworm, a parasitic nematode, and scarce research mean this garden menace found on most Hawaiian Islands has been largely overlooked. Sometimes fatal to humans, rat lungworm disease causes flu-like symptoms that may include headache, stiffness in the neck, fever, joint pain, fatigue and nausea. Robert Cowie, researcher at the Pacific Biosciences Research Center (PBRC) talked with ThinkTech Hawaii to discuss how humans are infected, best practices in the garden, and how avoid contracting rat lungworm disease. He suggests the disease can be reasonably avoided with careful attention to slugs, snails, and well-washed produce.
As part of a statewide collaboration, Windward Community College, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, Honolulu Community College, and Kauaʻi Community College have recently been awarded over $2.6 million for the Partnerships for Geoscience Education project Halau Ola Honua, Our Living World. The objectives of the project are to increase recruitment of Native Hawaiian high school students in science, technology, engineering and math fields at UH community colleges; increase the retention of Native Hawaiian students; and facilitate the transition of these students to baccalaureate programs in earth and ocean sciences (geosciences), like those in SOEST.
For more than 15 years, Don Swanson of the U.S. Geological Survey at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory has worked closely with several SOEST professors and graduate students. The award-winning geologist, recognizing the "outstanding people" in SOEST's Department of Geology and Geophysics, has funded the new Donald A. Swanson Geology and Geophysics Graduate Student Endowed Support Fund. The fund will provide annual support for tuition, student fees, field work, and other research costs for a new generation of earth scientists, and is Swanson's effort to thank the university "for all the good, combined research efforts" over these 15 years. Thank you, Dr. Swanson!
Geology faculty and graduate students participated in the Bishop Museum's "Fall in Love with Science" event, which had around 2,000 attendees. The aim of the family-friendly day was to engage and inspire keiki through the biography of Hawaiʻi, importance of native species, and biodiversity of the Hawaiian island chain. Hands-on activities were offered by Bishop Museum's researchers and staff along with local scientific and environmental partner organizations. SOEST exhibitors shared information about Hawaiʻi's water resources and how thermal imaging helps researchers track groundwater seeping into coastal areas around the islands.
Stay informed!
Find upcoming events on the SOEST Events page and watch videos on the SOEST Videos  page.