June  2018
Credit: Philipp Salzgeber, CC license
A team of scientists led by Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology researcher Hope Ishii, discovered that certain interplanetary dust particles (IDPs) contain minerals left over from the initial formation of the solar system. Initial solids from which the solar system formed were mostly destroyed and reworked by processes that led to the formation of planets. Researchers identified compounds in IDPs and determined that they formed in a cold, radiation-rich environment, such as the outer solar nebula or pre-solar molecular cloud. "Our observations suggest that these exotic grains represent surviving pre-solar interstellar dust that formed the very building blocks of planets and stars," said Ishii.
Credit: USGS
Deep in the Honouliuli Forest Reserve, high in O'ahu's Wai'anae Mountains, a sophisticated monitoring station is watching "Caly" 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Caly (Cyanea calycina or haha in Hawaiian) is one of less than 200 members of this species left on O'ahu. The project, administered by the Pacific Biosciences Research Center, produces real-time views of Caly and time-lapses of the plant and the broader landscape. The research team aims to understand the biology of endangered plants that grow nowhere else in the world and how these plants react to changes in the environment and weather. This will help researchers determine the best locations for preservation and possible relocations.
The Pacific Islands Ocean Observing System (PacIOOS) deployed a new wave buoy off Kalaeloa Barbers Point on 31 May 2018, just in time for summer. The buoy, about 1.5 miles to the west of Kalaeloa Harbor on O'ahu's leeward side, will provide real-time information on wave heights, wave directions, wave periods and sea surface temperatures.Reliable, real-time wave observations from the PacIOOS wave buoys are important to establish daily surf reports and to enhance forecasting ability and accuracy, for ships entering ports not to mention surfers chasing the best waves. They serve as eyes on the ocean as they provide us with a constant flow of timely data.
Coral reef research provides caution and hope
Credit: Peter Edmunds
A study published this week by a team of researchers, alumni and students from the Hawai'i Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB) showed that local impacts of humans-nutrient pollution from activities on land-may accelerate the negative impacts of global ocean acidification on coral reefs--a double whammy for coral reefs. The findings indicate that both local management efforts such as reducing nutrient runoff and seepage into groundwater, and global actions, such as reducing global carbon dioxide emissions, are required to protect reefs from rapidly declining.

Amidst dire reports about the health of the world's coral reefs, a team of 18 researchers, including several with ties to HIMB, have found coral reef "oases" that provide hope that all is not lost for these beautiful ecosystems. The team developed a framework for identifying specific coral reefs in the world's oceans where corals appear to be thriving. They hope their findings will encourage further study into why these communities of corals are surviving while so many more are not, and inspire efforts to identify similar oases in other ecosystems.

A large-scale study of Earth's surface ocean, co-authored by HIMB's Michael Rappé, indicates that the microbes responsible for fixing nitrogen there--previously thought to be mainly photosynthetic cyanobacteria--include abundant non-photosynthetic bacterial populations. Nitrogen fixation is a critical ecological process in which atmospheric nitrogen is converted to ammonia, making nitrogen "bioavailable" to living organisms. Using a library of genetic data, the team revealed insights into previously unknown marine microbes with nitrogen fixation capabilities, some affiliated with a prevalent bacterial phylum that has never before been linked to nitrogen fixation.
New funds for volcano research at Kilauea and beyond
Credit: Shutterstock
SOEST volcanologists received a $119,821 grant from the U.S. National Science Foundation's (NSF) Rapid Research Response program to study the ongoing volcanic activity on Hawaiʻi Island. The project seeks to inform why the current volcanic activity is occurring and will help to predict future eruption activity. The UH Hilo and the U.S. Geological Survey Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (USGS HVO) were also provided funding and support for this research into the current eruption at Kīlauea.

Additionally, NSF awarded volcanologists at SOEST and University of Tasmania, a $471,897 grant to partner with scientists at the USGS HVO to improve the fundamental understanding of the behaviors of Hawaiian and Strombolian volcanoes and help assess hazards of future explosive events at basaltic centers. The three-year grant is expected to identify patterns and precursors indicative of possible changes in volcanic activity, supporting management of risk at the world's most popular "tourist volcanoes".

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