March 2015

Bin Wang awarded prestigious medal by AMS 

Dr. Bin Wang, Professor in Atmospheric Sciences, was awarded the 2015 Carl-Gustaf Rossby Research Medal by the American Meteorological Society "for creative insights leading to important advances in the understanding of tropical and monsoonal processes and their predictability." This is the most prestigious medal awarded by AMS.


Congratulations, Bin!


 This pdf announces the 2015 AMS award recipients.

El Nio research at SOEST

Last year goes down in history: the summer of 2014 generated the highest global mean sea surface temperatures since human records. Temperatures even exceeded those of the record-breaking 1998 El Nio year, according to IPRC climate scientist and Oceanography professor Axel Timmermann. Learn more about Dr. Timmermann's work to track and predict these long-term trends at UH System News and the Washington Post.


El Nio events, which are a stronger than average warming of the eastern Pacific ocean, affect marine ecosystems and weather patterns around the world. Samantha Stevenson, Mark Merrifield, and Brian Powell from SOEST and Kim Cobb from Georgia Tech are using the 2014-15 El Nio event as an opportunity to learn the details of how El Nio affects coral reefs. Dr. Stevenson and UH dive technicians traveled to Palmyra Atoll to deploy current meters and temperature/salinity sensors in several places around the island, and Nature Conservancy staff continue to collect samples of rain and seawater. The resulting data will improve understanding of how El Nio magnitude relates to coral oxygen isotope ratios -- helping scientists to reconstruct past El Nio events. Watch this video to see their Palmyra fieldwork.  

Scientists have observed that El Nio greatly influences the yearly variations of tropical cyclones (a general term that includes hurricanes, typhoons, and cyclones) in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. Fei-Fei Jin and Julien Boucharel from the Department of Atmospheric Sciences, and colleagues recently reported their discovery of an oceanic pathway that brings El Nio's heat into the Northeastern Pacific basin two or three seasons after its winter peak -- right in time to directly fuel intense hurricanes in that region. Read more in the UH System News.

The Gravitational Pulse of Oahu

David Wheeler (NGA); Department of Geology and Geophysics undergraduates Dan Bishton, Zachary Olds, and Mariya Makalena, graduate students Brian Boston and Evan Watkins, and post-doctoral researcher Tiffany Anderson watch as the readings are produced.
9.7894464+/-0.00000025 meters per second per second (m/s2): that's the acceleration of gravity measured earlier this month by the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) in the basement of SOEST's HIG building (photo at right). The state-of-the-art instrument used to compute this, a gravimeter, measures absolute gravity by dropping a crystal in a chamber that is completely vacuumed of air, along with a system of lasers to measure how fast the crystal falls. The accuracy of that measurement is like measuring the weight of a 2-ton pickup truck to an accuracy equal to the weight of a small pinch of salt! The measurement, coordinated by the Department of Geology and Geophysics, will be used to set benchmarks of absolute gravity around Oahu, including the new UH Marine Center on Pier 35 for future geophysical surveys.


In addition, the gravimeter also detected a 4-5 second oscillation with a magnitude of about one ten-millionth of that of gravity (i.e., about 0.000001 m/s2). This oscillation is a well-documented phenomenon in which the interaction of ocean waves with the seafloor, sends slow, rhythmic vibrations around Earth. This "microseismic" energy comes to Hawaii from all directions and causes the islands to pulse.

Launch of Hawai'i Groundwater and Geothermal Resource Center

Hawaiʻi Institute for Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) researchers, Nicole Lautze and Donald Thomas recently launched the Hawaiʻi Groundwater and Geothermal Resources Center (HGGRC), a website that consolidates existing information and introduces an abundance of new data related to these natural resources. Their goal is to organize and publicly disseminate data on Hawaiʻi's groundwater and geothermal resources from private and public agencies and organizations.


"In bringing together this wealth of information, we hope to facilitate innovative research on Hawaiʻi's groundwater and renewable energy resources," said Lautze. "Ideally, with sound knowledge in hand, scientists, resource managers, potential developers, policymakers and the public will have the necessary information to protect and optimally utilize Hawaiʻi's natural resources and to plan for a sustainable future."


Read more in UH System News.

Outstanding C-MORE Scholars

The C-MORE Scholars program provides hands-on, closely mentored research experiences for University of Hawai'i and community college students in the ocean and earth sciences. Since the C-MORE Scholars program was created in 2008, 71 students have participated. Over two-thirds (70%) are underrepresented, including 42% Native Hawaiian, 6% Pacific Islander and 22% other minorities (African American, Hispanic, Native American, Filipino). C-MORE Scholars enjoyed several notable successes during 2014.


Melanie Keli'ipuleole, (above right with mentor Mackenzie Manning; Global Environmental Science (GES) Major), won the best undergraduate genetics poster award at two recent conferences: the 2014 Society of the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) national conference and the 2015 NSF Emerging Researchers National (ERN) Conference in STEM.

Jennifer Wong-Ala (right) spent last summer studying field ecology in Costa Rica through the Native American and Pacific Islander Research Experience (NAPIRE) program. A Kap'iolani community college student, Jenn is currently sitting in on a graduate-level course in modeling, taught by her mentor Anna Neuheimer, Oceanography assistant professor. Jenn plans to transfer to GES next semester (Fall 2015).
Atmospheric Sciences Department enhancements

The Meteorology Department has changed its name to Atmospheric Sciences to better reflect the department's research diversity. Additional changes are directed at improving the experience of the undergraduate majors. There are now several computers and desks adjacent to the student lounge where the undergraduates can work on their projects or simply have a place between classes where they can study. The space also allows for them to intermingle with graduate students and grab a free cup of coffee.  


Two new SMART boards have recently been installed in the teaching lab and main lecture room. SMART boards provide superior resolution, the ability to magnify figures, and numerous other capabilities -- making it easier to explain complicated diagrams.  

Community Service: Waikalua Loko 

SOEST students and faculty volunteered last month at Waikalua Loko Fishpond on windward Oahu.  The group, organized by the SOEST Club, cleared limu (seaweed) from the pond and weeds from the surrounding area, and picked up debris scattered by a recent windstorm.

The SOEST Club plans to organize similar volunteer opportunities in the future.   

SOEST Student Blog 

After years of schooling and establishing herself as an occupational therapist, Chantel Chang realized she needed a change. Her story, Finding my SOEST niche: From occupational therapy to mathematics to biological oceanography, chronicles her journey from math major to SOEST graduate student and how the SOEST Maile Mentoring Bridge has been "a blessing." For more "stories from graduate students about science and life as a scientist," visit the SOEST grad student blog.
Upcoming Events
Visit the SOEST Bulletin for a calendar of events and announcements.