Saturday, October 15, 2011

Two major new climate research efforts at UHawai`i

Hawai’i is increasingly active in the science of the Pacific, with island-based researchers contributing to global research efforts.

Two new federally funded research efforts have just landed in Hawai`i.

Recently, the University of Hawai`i announced that NOAA has committed up to $95 million for a five-year program to study coastal and marine resources in connection with changes to the environment.

It will run through UH’s Joint Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research (JIMAR), to be headed by oceanographer Mark Merrifield. It will be one of 18 such cooperative institutes across the country.

Among the specific projects: “assessment of local fish stocks, monitoring and ecosystem-based management policies for coral reef ecosystems including the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, development of remediation strategies for endangered Monk Seal populations, monitoring of global sea level rise and local sea level impacts, modeling of volcanic smoke and haze (VOG), improved forecasts of hurricane intensities, projections of ENSO variability and impacts on Pacific island states, and provision of water level observations for tsunami warning.”

Meanwhile, the Interior Department announced that it will fund the development at UH of the Pacific Islands Climate Science Center, one ofseveral such climate centers across the U.S. This one will be a joint project of University of Hawai'i at Mānoa, the University of Hawai'i at Hilo, and the University of Guam.

Again, its goal will be to help our nation cope with climate change and “other landscape-style stressors impacting the nation’s natural and cultural resources.”

“The new climate center will serve as a resource for federal agencies and other stakeholders in providing the necessary science input into policy decisions. It will also support research and graduate student training on a variety of environmental concerns with a primary scientific focus on understanding the effects of climate change and variability on island ecosystems,” said Kevin Hamilton, the director of the UH’s International Pacific Research Center, who iwill head the new Pacific Islands Climate Center.

The university expects initial funding to be in the neighborhood of $3 million over 5 years, and anticipates the Department of Interior will station several federal scientists in Hawai`i to work with the project.

© Jan TenBruggencate 2011

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