By Jeff King
If you see increased “activity” on the UH-Maui College campus tomorrow, don’t be alarmed. It’s just an alarm. And it is only a drill.
The University of Hawai‘i System will conduct a test of its emergency notification system, UH Alert, on Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013 at 10 a.m. The test will involve all 10 UH campuses and include all students, faculty and staff who have registered to receive the alerts.
The UH Alert emergency notification system alerts the university community in the event of a natural, health or civil emergency. It includes emergency messages sent to all students, faculty and staff via email, and to students, faculty and staff who have signed up to receive text message alerts on their mobile phones.
The UH Alert system is used only in urgent situations that may impact the health and safety of the UH community, and during campus closures. It is tested once a semester to ensure the system is functioning properly.
As part of the Nov. 5th test, Campus Security vehicles on the UH Mānoa campus may test their emergency loudspeaker systems in the area of Hawai‘i Hall and Varney Circle. Campus Secirity at other UH facilities, including Maui, may also conduct previously-unannounced drill activity.
The William S. Richardson School of Law on the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa campus has topped the nation’s law schools as the “Best Environment for Minority Students,” according to the latest 2014 rankings by The Princeton Review.
The Law School also placed third in the country for “Most Diverse Faculty” and fifth for “Most Chosen by Older Students,” according to the newly released educational study.
The company also features Richardson Law School in the new 2014 edition of its book, “The Best 169 Law Schools,” published by Random House/Princeton Review and released on October 8, 2013.
“We recommend Richardson Law School as one of the best institutions a student could attend to earn a law school degree,” noted Robert Franek, The Princeton Review’s Senior Vice President and Publisher. “We chose the schools we profile in this book based on our high regard for their academic programs and our reviews of institutional data we collect from the schools. We also solicit and greatly respect the opinions of students attending these schools who rate and report on their experiences at them on our 80-question student survey for the book.”
Law Dean Avi Soifer said the Law School is gratified by its high rankings. He noted that, once again, there is recognition of the top quality education at the Richardson School of Law, as well as its student and faculty diversity and welcoming atmosphere for all students.
“We are very proud to celebrate diversity on an everyday basis,” Soifer noted, “but at the same time we proudly offer excellent teaching in first-rate practical courses, which range from business law through numerous topics about the law of Asia to civil rights and liberties, social justice and a wide variety of environmental issues.”
This is the second year in a row that the Richardson School of Law has been singled out for its embrace and welcoming of a diverse student body.
Last year a different publication, U.S. News & World Report’s 2013 National Diversity Index, also named Richardson first in the nation in terms of the likelihood of students encountering classmates from different racial or ethnic groups.
In these latest Princeton Review rankings, 10 of the 11 lists are based on surveys of 18,500 students attending the 169 law schools profiled, with an average of 109 students responding at each law school. The surveys were completed online with data from three academic years (2012-13, 2011-12 and 2010-11), asking law students for their views about their law school’s academics, student body and campus life, as well as about themselves and their career plans.
Richardson’s choice as best in the U.S. for minority students included comments from law students about the “friendly, supportive environment,” and other statements noting how students in recent classes “respect each other” and “quickly gelled.”
Publisher Franek notes that his publication does not rank the law schools hierarchically. “Each school in our books offers outstanding academics,” he said, pointing out that no single law school is “best” overall.
“We publish rankings in several categories and detailed profiles of the schools to give applicants the broader information they need to determine which school will be best for them,” Franek added.
By Camilo Mora, Abby Frazier and Ryan Longman – UH Manoa
“The seesaw variability of global temperatures often engenders debate over how seriously we should take climate change. But within 35 years, even the lowest monthly dips in temperatures will be hotter than we’ve experienced in the past 150 years, according to a new and massive analysis of all climate models. The tropics will be the first to exceed the limits of historical extremes and experience an unabated heat wave that threatens biodiversity and heavily populated countries with the fewest resources to adapt.”
That’s the stark opening statement of a new report, compiled by scientists at University of Hawai’i, Manoa. Carefully avoiding the term “global warming,” the report’s findings predict that our keiki and grandchildren will be the first to experience the “new reality” of a much hotter and drier – or wetter – Hawai’i.
Ecological and societal disruptions by modern climate change are critically determined by the time frame over which climates shift. Camilo Mora and colleagues in the College of Social Sciences’ Department of Geography at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa have developed one such time frame. The study, entitled “The projected timing of climate departure from recent variability,” will be published in the October 10 issue of Nature and provides an index of the year when the mean climate of any given location on Earth will shift continuously outside the most extreme records experienced in the past 150 years.
The new index shows a surprising result. Areas in the tropics are projected to experience unprecedented climates first – within the next decade. Under a business-as-usual scenario, the index shows the average location on Earth will experience a radically different climate by 2047. Under an alternate scenario with greenhouse gas emissions stabilization, the global mean climate departure will be 2069.
“The results shocked us. Regardless of the scenario, changes will be coming soon,” said lead author Camilo Mora. “Within my generation, whatever climate we were used to will be a thing of the past.”
The scientists calculated the index for additional variables including evaporation, precipitation, and ocean surface temperature and pH. When looking at sea surface pH, the index indicates that we surpassed the limits of historical extremes in 2008. This is consistent with other recent studies, and is explained by the fact that ocean pH has a narrow range of historical variability and because the ocean has absorbed a considerable fraction of human-caused CO2 emissions.
The study found that the overarching global effect of climate change on biodiversity will occur not only as a result of the largest absolute changes at the poles, but also, perhaps more urgently, from small but rapid changes in the tropics.
Tropical species are unaccustomed to climate variability and are therefore more vulnerable to relatively small changes. The tropics hold the world’s greatest diversity of marine and terrestrial species and will experience unprecedented climates some 10 years earlier than anywhere else on Earth. Previous studies have already shown that corals and other tropical species are currently living in areas near their physiological limits. The study suggests that conservation planning could be undermined as protected areas will face unprecedented climates just as early and because most centers of high species diversity are located in developing countries.
Rapid change will tamper with the functioning of Earth’s biological systems, forcing species to either move in an attempt to track suitable climates, stay and try to adapt to the new climate, or go extinct. “This work demonstrates that we are pushing the ecosystems of the world out of the environment in which they evolved into wholly new conditions that they may not be able to cope with. Extinctions are likely to result,” said Ken Caldeira of the Carnegie Institution for Science’s Department of Global Ecology, and who was not involved in this study. “Some ecosystems may be able to adapt, but for others, such as coral reefs, complete loss of not only individual species but their entire integrity is likely.”
These changes will affect our social systems as well. The impacts on the tropics have implications globally as they are home to most of the world’s population, contribute significantly to total food supplies, and house much of the world’s biodiversity.
In predominately developing countries, over one billion people under an optimistic scenario, and five billion under a business-as-usual-scenario, live in areas that will experience extreme climates before 2050. This raises concerns for changes in the supply of food and water, human health, wider spread of infectious diseases, heat stress, conflicts, and challenges to economies. “Our results suggest that countries first impacted by unprecedented climates are the ones with the least capacity to respond,” said coauthor Ryan Longman. “Ironically, these are the countries that are least responsible for climate change in the first place.”
“This paper is unusually important. It builds on earlier work but brings the biological and human consequences into sharper focus,” said Jane Lubchenco, former Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and now of Oregon State University, who was not involved in this study. “It connects the dots between climate models and impacts to biodiversity in a stunningly fresh way, and it has sobering ramifications for species and people.”
While the study describes global averages, the authors have visualized their data on an interactive map displaying when climate will exceed historical precedents for locations around the world. “We hope that with this map people can see and understand the progression of climate change in time where they live, hopefully connecting people more closely to the issue and increasing awareness about the urgency to act,” said coauthor Abby Frazier.
The index used the minimum and maximum temperatures from 1860-2005 to define the bounds of historical climate variability at any given location. The scientists then took projections for the next 100 years to identify the year in which the future temperature at any given location on Earth will shift completely outside the limits of historical precedents, defining that year as the year of climate
The data came from 39 Earth System Models developed independently by 21 climate centers in 12 different countries. The models have been effective at reproducing current climate conditions and varied in their projected departure times by no more than five years.
The study suggests that any progress to slow ongoing climate change will require a larger commitment from developed countries to reduce emissions, but also more extensive funding of social and conservation programs in developing countries to minimize climate change impacts. The longer we wait, the more difficult remediation will be.
“Scientists have repeatedly warned about climate change and its likely effects on biodiversity and people,” said Mora. “Our study shows that such changes are already upon us. These results should not be reason to give up. Rather, they should encourage us to reduce emissions and slow the rate of climate change. This can buy time for species, ecosystems, and ourselves to adapt to the coming changes.”
For the manuscript, photographs, and an interactive map showing climate departure timing for locations around the world, please see http://www.soc.hawaii.edu/mora/PressRoom.html
By Brad Romine, UH Manoa
HONOLULU – Sea-level rise (SLR) has been isolated as a principal cause of coastal erosion in Hawaiʻi. Differing rates of relative SLR on the islands of Oʻahu and Maui remain as the best explanation for the difference in island-wide shoreline trends (that is, beach erosion or accretion) after examining other influences on shoreline change including waves, sediment supply and littoral processes, and anthropogenic changes.
Researchers from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST) and the state Department of Land and Natural Resources recently published a paper showing that SLR is a primary factor driving historical shoreline changes in Hawaiʻi and that historical rates of shoreline change are about two orders of magnitude greater than SLR – meaning “it’s twice as bad.”
As pointed out by authors of the work, knowing that SLR is a primary cause of shoreline change on a regional scale allows managers and other coastal zone decision-makers to target SLR impacts in their research programs and long-term planning. This study is confirmation that future SLR is a major concern for decision-makers charged with managing beaches.
“It is common knowledge among coastal scientists that sea-level rise leads to shoreline recession,” stated Dr. Brad Romine, coastal geologist with the University of Hawaiʻi Sea Grant College Program. “Shorelines find an equilibrium position that is a balance between sediment availability and rising ocean levels. On an individual beach with adequate sediment availability, beach processes may not reflect the impact of SLR. With this research, we confirm the importance of SLR as a primary driver of shoreline change on a regional to island-wide basis.”
Globally averaged sea-level rose at about 2 mm per year over the past century. Previous studies indicate that the rate of rise is now approximately 3 mm per year and may accelerate over coming decades. The results of the recent publication show that SLR is an important factor in historical shoreline change in Hawaiʻi and will be increasingly important with projected SLR acceleration in this century. “Improved understanding of the influence of SLR on historical shoreline trends will aid in forecasting beach changes with increasing SLR,” said Dr. Charles Fletcher, Associate Dean and Professor of Geology and Geophysics at SOEST.
“The research being conducted by SOEST provides us with an opportunity to anticipate SLR effects on coastal areas, including Hawaiʻi’s world famous beaches, coastal communities and infrastructure. We hope this information will inform long-range planning decisions and allow for the development of SLR adaptation plans,” said Sam Lemmo, Administrator, Department of Land and Natural Resources, Office of Conservation and Coastal Lands.
Results of island-wide historical trends indicate that Maui beaches are significantly more erosional than beaches on Oʻahu. On Maui, 78% of beaches eroded over the past century with an overall (island-wide) average shoreline change rate of 13 cm of erosion per year, while 52% of Oʻahu beaches eroded with an overall average shoreline change rate of 3 cm of erosion per year.
The variation in long-term relative SLR rates along the Hawaiʻi archipelago is due, in large part, to variations in island subsidence with distance from actively growing Hawaiʻi Island and/or variations in upper ocean water masses. The islands of Oʻahu and Maui, with significantly different rates of localized sea-level rise (SLR has been approximately 65% higher rate on Maui) over the past century, provided a natural laboratory to investigate possible relations between historical shoreline changes and SLR.
Island-wide and regional historical shoreline trends were calculated for the islands using shoreline positions measured from aerial photographs and survey charts. Shoreline positions were manually digitized using photogrammetric and geographic information system (GIS) software from aerial photo mosaics and topographic and hydrographic survey charts provided by the National Ocean Service (NOS). Shoreline movement through time was measured using GIS software. Historical shoreline data were optimized to reduce anthropogenic influences (e.g., constructing seawalls or sand mining) on shoreline change measurements. The researchers controlled for influences other than SLR to determine if SLR remains as the best explanation for observed changes. They also utilized a series of consistency checks to determine if results are significant and to eliminate other possible explanations.
New research by climate scientists from UH Mānoa and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego attributes the attenuation of a worldwide temperature increase to a cooling of eastern Pacific Ocean waters, one that counteracts the warming effect of greenhouse gases.
When the climate cycle that governs that ocean cooling reverses and begins warming again, the researchers predict that the planet-wide march toward higher temperatures will resume with vigor. The study does not consider when the reversal might happen, but it brings scientists closer to understanding how to look for signs of it.
Prior to 2000, global temperatures had risen at a rate of 0.13º C per decade since 1950. The hiatus has transpired while levels of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas produced by human activities, continued a steady rise, reaching 400 parts per million for the first time in human history in May 2013.
The disconnect led some climate watchers to speculate that increases in the concentration of carbon dioxide are not as strongly coupled to global warming even though the heat-trapping properties of carbon dioxide have been identified for more than a century.
Climate scientists conclude, however, that natural variability in the form of eastern Pacific Ocean cooling is behind the hiatus. They arrived at the conclusion by using innovative computer modeling methods to simulate regional patterns of climate anomalies. This enabled them to see global warming in greater spatial detail, revealing where it has been most intense and where there has been no warming or even cooling.
“Specifically the model reproduced the seasonal variation of the hiatus, including a slight cooling trend in global temperature during northern winter season,” said Shang-Ping Xie, a meteorology professor at UH Mānoa’s International Pacific Research Center and the first Roger Revelle Chair in Environmental Science at Scripps. “In summer, the equatorial Pacific’s grip on the Northern Hemisphere loosens, and the increased greenhouse gases continue to warm temperatures, causing record heat waves and unprecedented Arctic sea ice retreat.”
Yu Kosaka of Scripps and Xie co-authored the study, “Recent global-warming hiatus tied to equatorial Pacific surface cooling,” which appeared online in the journal Nature on August 28, 2013. The National Science Foundation, the National Basic Research Program of China, and the NOAA Climate Program Office supported the research.
For a full description of the study, please visit the Scripps news website: https://scripps.ucsd.edu/news/13251
Given the heightened awareness of startling and tragic human-shark encounters around Maui – and all of Hawai’i - of late, the following University of Hawai’i-Manoa article may be of interest to readers of our Maui TV News blog and Breaking News entries.
By Talia Ogliore, UH Manoa Vice Chancellor of Research
How do you track a fish?
There’s no “Google Maps” for finding fish. The radio signals that are the backbone of traditional GPS cannot pass through seawater. But sound travels remarkably well, so scientists often use acoustic telemetry to estimate an individual fish’s location. That means attaching an acoustic transmitter to a fish and then using a network of stationary underwater listening stations to monitor for the short clicking sounds that these tags emit. When a fish swims near to a receiver, its click is heard, and its individual code number is recorded.
Knowing your uncertainty
Even with this clicker-listener observation network in place, though, there’s much uncertainty about a fish’s whereabouts at any given time. To date, most researchers have used ad hoc methods to analyze their data, and typically have not quantified uncertainty.
“In science, knowing how certain or uncertain you are is often the prime objective,” said Kevin C. Weng, manager of the Pelagic Fisheries Research Program at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa and a graduate faculty member in the Department of Oceanography. “We’re used to knowing within 20 feet where you can find that bison, wolf or bird. But underneath the ocean surface, we don’t have the luxury of using GPS. So marine scientists use sound, which results in much lower accuracy.”
But what is that accuracy? Martin W. Pedersen, a UH Mānoa postdoctoral fellow from Denmark, explains: ”In the traditional tracking system, a fish is generally assigned the position of the receiver that detected it, even though the fish might be anywhere in that receiver’s detection range. And if none of the receivers have heard from the fish for a while, no positions are assigned, even though the network may be providing some, albeit uncertain, information about the fish’s whereabouts. For example, we could possibly estimate how far a fish could travel in a certain time since it was last heard, and could also infer locations where it isn’t, due to the lack of detections.”
A new statistical framework
Rethinking the traditional, ad hoc approach, Pedersen and Weng have proposed a new state-space model for analyzing fish movement data collected by marine observation networks. Their new model was recently published in the scientific journal Methods in Ecology and Evolution. Its goal is to quantify the uncertainty associated with this imperfect locating system, and to improve its accuracy.
“Previous methods were not formulated with the fish, ocean and acoustics in mind,” said Pedersen. “They therefore do not exploit all available information, such as the biology of the fish limiting its range of possible movement.”
Pedersen and Weng’s new state-space model for estimating individual fish movement is two-part—one part that models the fish behavior, and one that models the detection of that behavior.
“It tells us how the fish is moving,” said Pedersen. “Does the fish swim in straight lines? Does it have a particular home range, or center of attraction, for its movements?”
The second part of the model estimates the likelihood of detecting a fish—incorporating the detection probability, environmental noise, and both presence and absence data. When receivers are located close to each other, it can even help researchers triangulate positions. Acoustic telemetry works in much the same way that cell tower networks pin down the location of your mobile phone: The distance from your phone (or the fish tag) to several cell towers (or acoustic receivers) is measured, and circles of that radius are drawn around each tower (receiver). Where the circles intersect—that’s you (or the fish).
The observation model also uses negative data, or the lack of detections, in combination with the behavior model to estimate how far the fish may have traveled while undetected. “Knowing where the fish is not located actually tells you a lot about where it is located, and with our new method, we are able to utilize that information and achieve a better accuracy,” Pedersen said.
Does it work in the real (underwater) world?
To field-test their model, the researchers turned to the spectacular tropical reef setting of Palmyra atoll in the central Pacific Ocean—home to myriad fish, sharks, manta rays, whales and turtles.
With monitoring data collected for coral reef fish from 51 underwater observer stations at Palmyra Atoll, Pedersen and Weng used their state-space model to develop contour maps that provided a visual representation of the confidence regions for the locations of the fish over time, along with a home range estimate.
During daylight hours, fish locations were estimated with a 95% confidence region radius of 50 meters, at their most accurate.
By reducing the uncertainties associated with underwater location tracking, Pedersen and Weng hope to provide researchers and marine managers with better information to help support marine conservation activities for reef fish and other threatened species.
“It helps us to better understand how they feed, breed and rest,” Weng said. “Ultimately, more accurate movement information will help us to conserve these species.”
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