Science

Hawaii lab finds dramatic shift in Pacific ecosystem

The Hawaii Undersea Research Laboratory (HURL) has enabled scientists to determine that a long-term shift in nitrogen content in the Pacific Ocean has occurred as a result of climate change. Researchers observed overall nitrogen fixation in the North Pacific Ocean has increased by about 20 percent since the mid 1800s and this long-term change appears to be continuing today, according to a study published recently in the journal, Nature. Using chemical information locked in organic skeletal layers, the team used these ancient deep corals as detailed recorders of changes at the base of the open Pacific food web over the last 1,000 years. This represents the first detailed biogeochemical records for the planet’s largest contiguous ecosystem. This type of sample is only available using deep-diving submersibles, such as those operated by HURL. [...]

‘Voice of the Sea’ TV series debuts in January

A new television show highlighting ocean and coastal scientists and cultural experts from Hawaii and the Pacific will debut on January 5, 2014. “Voice of the Sea” will be broadcast on on KVFE (Channel 5 and 1005) on Sundays at 6:00 p.m. The show is hosted by Dr. Kanesa Duncan Seraphin, world paddleboard champion, shark researcher, and science education expert. Dr. Seraphin, director of the University of Hawaii Sea Grant Center of Excellence in Marine Science Education and associate professor at the Curriculum Research & Development Group in the College of Education at the University of Hawaii at Mānoa, has traveled across the Pacific to bring stories of relevance to Hawaii. Each half-hour episode profiles local science and cultural celebrities and presents thought-provoking information in an exciting, original, reality-based way. [...]

Tiger shark tracking program underway

In response to an uptick in the number of shark attacks recorded on Maui, the State of Hawaii’s Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) is funding a study on the movements of tiger sharks caught and released around the Valley Isle. DLNR plans to use the results of the study to guide future decisions regarding management of shark populations in Hawaii. Lead scientists Drs. Carl Meyer and Kim Holland report that in late October, the shark research team caught and released the tiger sharks in waters off the south shore of Maui. Eight of these sharks were equipped with satellite transmitters to track their movements. [...]

Student breakthrough innovation winners announced

A team of students from the University of Hawaii College of Engineering and the School of Architecture captured the top prize in the UH Pacific Asian Center for Entrepreneurship (PACE) Breakthrough Innovation Challenge (BIC) for their Namib beetle inspired building material. “The Breakthrough Innovation Challenge was a unique competition that forced us to think outside of our comfort zones and look to nature for inspiration,” says Monica Umeda, Cloud Catcher team leader. “These competitions are effective catalysts to help stimulate the type of innovation Hawaii desperately needs.” [...]

UH robotic vessel research earns new partnership

The University of Hawaii’s Unmanned Port Security Vessel (UPSV) is a robotic platform designed to support maritime missions in harbor and port environments including infrastructure inspection and incident response and recovery, and harbor surveillance. The UPSV was designed and built in Hawaii by UH researchers, students and contractors. UH Principal Investigator Brian Bingham demonstrated the vessel’s capabilities at Honolulu Harbor today. Rapidly deployable, the vessel can be used to map the seafloor in high resolution, photograph critical infrastructure below and above the waterline, detect chemical leaks or spills, and relay real-time video—all at the same time. This made-in-Hawaii technology can provide critical decision support to first-responders and other maritime security personnel around the world. Interest in UH’s UPSV technology has led to a business development agreement with a global innovation leader Battelle. [...]

World’s Oldest Known Wild Bird Hatches Another Chick

A Laysan albatross known as “Wisdom” – believed to be at least 62 years old – has hatched a chick on Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) for the sixth consecutive year. Early morning on February 3, 2013, the still-wet chick was observed by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist Pete Leary, who said the chick appears healthy. Wisdom was first banded in 1956, when she was incubating an egg in the same area of the refuge. She was at least five years old at the time. “Everyone continues to be inspired by Wisdom as a symbol of hope for her species,” said Doug Staller, the Fish and Wildlife Service Superintendent for the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument (Monument), which includes Midway Atoll NWR. [...]

Nine Hawaii students win awards at international science fair

Nine Hawaii students earned recognition, over $7,500 in cash awards, and even an overseas travel opportunity this week at the Intel International Science & Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF), the world’s largest international student science competition. The premier pre-college science event culminated today at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh. In all, two dozen high school students from Hawaii public, private, and home schools represented the Aloha State. At today’s Grand Awards ceremony, three Hawaii students were recognized for their work in life sciences. Danielle Lyn Keahi, 18, of Kamehameha Schools at Kapalama on ‘Oahu, tooksecond place overall in Medicine and Health. She received $1,500 for her work on mutated cells in mice. [...]

STEM Week to celebrate Hawaii education efforts

The fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) are critical to the future of Hawaii and the U.S., with major initiatives launching nationwide to ensure that today’s students become tomorrow’s innovators and leaders. Next month, the inaugural Hawaii STEM Week will bring together a wide range of local stakeholders to highlight these critical areas of education, and encourage greater community support and industry engagement. Scheduled to run concurrently with the Hawaii State Science & Engineering Fair (HSSEF), STEM Week will feature events to recognize excellence among Hawaii’s schools, connect students and practitioners with relevant employers and careers, and award local institutions for their work in advancing STEM education. [...]