September  2018
The W.M. Keck Foundation awarded $1 million to support a groundbreaking UH project that establishes the Waimea watershed on the north shore of Oʻahu as a model microbiome mesocosm--that is, a study site small enough to thoroughly investigate but large enough to reveal the complexities of natural systems. This is the first time an entire watershed, ridge to reef, has been studied to map its microbial communities and their ecosystem processes. Led by Margaret McFall-Ngai, director of the Pacific Biosciences Research Center, the award supports the work of a cross-disciplinary team of researchers, Anthony Amend, Nicole Hynson, Camilo Mora, Craig Nelson and Joanne Yew, three of whom are with SOEST.
Credit: NOAA Office of OER
Through October 1, 2018, scientists aboard the Nautilus will be exploring seamounts in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. This deep-sea exploration will be live streaming on with interactive Q&A for audiences around the world. Researchers will conduct seafloor mapping and remotely-operated vehicle dives on seamounts to help determine how and when they formed and document the biological communities that live on them. "We think that there could be incredible coral and sponge gardens on these seamounts based on previous work that was done nearby," said Chris Kelley, lead scientist on the expedition and SOEST oceanographer and biologist.
Credit: NASA
The U.S.-affiliated Pacific Islands are no stranger to variable weather and climate. One of its dominant weather influencers is the El Niño-Southern Oscillation, which can cause drought-like conditions in the southwest Pacific, as well as frequent cyclones and storms. Given the region's regular bombardment with extreme events, decision-makers need accurate predictions from climate models. However, modeling errors can limit the reliability of forecasts. Now, senior researcher H. Annamalai with the International Pacific Research Center is leading a project to identify those errors; develop tools, known as diagnostics, to pinpoint where and how errors begin; and help scientists determine how to improve their models.
Credit: NOAA Fisheries
Last spring, a team of biologists from the Joint Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research (JIMAR) and NOAA marked numbers on the endangered green sea turtles that were nesting or basking i n the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Now, these numbered turtles are returning on their annual migration back to the main Hawaiian Islands. The team needs citizen scientists to help track these turtles. If you see a numbered turtle:
1. Keep a respectful distance of 10 feet 
2. Take a photo (without disturbing the turtle)
3. Record the location (beach name or GPS coordinates)
4. Email information to NOAA at
The Honolulu Climate Change Commission presented its recommendations on sea level rise guidance and climate change to Mayor Kirk Caldwell and the Honolulu City Council. In response, Caldwell issued a formal directive to all city agencies to take action in order to address, minimize the risks from, and adapt to the impacts of climate change and sea level rise. Commission Vice Chair Charles Fletcher, professor of Earth Sciences and SOEST Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and several other SOEST faculty members were quoted in a recent Hawaiʻi Business Magazine article about the current and future impacts of climate change on the people of Hawai'i--economically, environmentally, socially and culturally.
Justin Stopa recently joined the Department of Ocean Resources and Engineering (ORE) as an assistant professor. His research focus is ocean waves, in particular, extreme events that are critical for engineering design. Stopa earned his doctoral degree in ORE, where he developed the automated wave forecast system still in operation through the Pacific Islands Ocean Observing System and assessed the wave energy potential in Hawai'i, a critical component of assessing wave renewable energy. Stopa's research will help move Hawaiʻi forward as a leader in engineering adaptations to compensate for future environmental conditions related to climate change and sea level rise.
Beginning in the fall of 2018, UH Mānoa students will be able to pursue a combined undergraduate and graduate degrees in Environmental Planning in a total of five years, saving students time and money. This pathway is a result of the collaboration between the Departments of Oceanography in SOEST and Urban and Regional Planning in the College of Social Sciences. It combines the Bachelor of Science in Global Environmental Science degree with the Master in Urban and Regional Planning. This degree is designed for students interested in the environment and how societies can plan urban development, taking into account environmental and climate change, in a sustainable way.
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