Climate: Warmer temps, more rain will up disease threat to endangered Hawaiian birds


After more than 30 years of careful management, the Hawaiian stilt is thriving at Pearl Harbor and James Campbell National Wildlife Refuges on Oahu. Credit: Mike Silbernagle/USFWS.

Mosquito-free havens will start to disappear by mid-century, study warns

Staff Report

FRISCO — Island birds, including endangered species in the Hawai‘i archipelago, are facing a serious threat, as diseases carried by mosquitoes are due to expand into higher elevation safe zones.

With warming temperatures, mosquitoes will move farther upslope and increase in number, and mosquito-friendly temperatures are expected by mid-century, according to a new study by researchers with the U.S. Geological Survey and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Future increases in rainfall will likely benefit the mosquitoes as well.

“We knew that temperature had significant effects on mosquitoes and malaria, but we were surprised that rainfall also played an important role,” said USGS Wisconsin scientist Michael Samuel. “Additional rainfall will favor mosquitoes as much as the temperature change.” Continue reading

Rising sea level to take big bite from Hawaii beaches

Study projects increasing rate of coastal erosion


The Hawaiian Islands via NASA Earth Observatory.

Staff Report

FRISCO — As sea level rises, Hawaii’s beaches are on track to shrink by 20 to 40 feet during the next few decades, scientists announced in a new study.

“When we modeled future shoreline change with the increased rates of sea level rise projected under the IPCC’s “business as usual” scenario, we found that increased SLR causes an average 16 – 20 feet of additional shoreline retreat by 2050,” said lead author Tiffany Anderson, a post-doctoral researcher at the UHM School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology. Continue reading

Study: Federal regulations alone won’t help Hawaii spinner dolphins


Spinner dolphin. Photo courtesy NOAA.

Duke University researchers say community based conservation measures also needed

Staff Report

FRISCO —Hawaii’s spinner dolphins need federal regulations limiting human access to resting areas, but that alone won’t be enough to help them survive in the long run. Along with any new federal rules, resource managers will also have to work to develop local community-based conservation measures, which can be tailored to how individual bays are used, according to new research by Duke University.

Federal biologists estimate there are about 3,000 spinner dolphins around Hawaii, where hundreds of thousands of tourists pay for up-close encounters with the animals, swimming with them in shallow bays the dolphins use as safe havens for daytime rest. But as the number of tours increases, so do the pressures they place on the resting dolphins. Continue reading

Is Hurricane Iselle headed for Hawaii?

Forecasters eye “hyperactive” tropical Pacific Ocean

NOAA's GOES-West satellite captured this image of a very active Eastern and Central Pacific, hosting three tropical cyclones (from left to right) Genevieve, Iselle and Julio. Image Credit:  NASA/NOAA GOES Project

NOAA’s GOES-West satellite captured this image of a very active Eastern and Central Pacific, hosting three tropical cyclones (from left to right) Genevieve, Iselle and Julio.
Image courtesy NASA/NOAA GOES Project.

Hurricane Iselle track

The forecast track of Hurricane Iselle shows the potential for impacts to Hawaii.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Meteorologists are keeping a close eye on what they describe as a hyperactive tropical Pacific Ocean, and especially on Hurricane Iselle, which is headed straight toward Hawaii with current sustained winds of 140 mph.

Iselle is expected to weaken before nearing the islands in about three days, but could still be packing a tropical storm-force punch, with winds of 60-60 mph. The Category 4 storm is expected to maintain strength for the next day or so before moving over cooler water and weakening. Continue reading

Sea level rise driving Hawaii coastal erosion


The Hawaiian Islands, courtesy NASA Earth Observatory.

New data to help long-term coastal planning

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — A team of scientists have taken a close look at coastal erosion trends in Hawaii and determined that sea-level rise is the main driver, outweighing other factors like waves, sediment supply and coastal development.

The researchers from the University of Hawaii – Manoa, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology and the State of Hawaii, Department of Land and Natural Resources said that knowing that sea-level rise is a primary cause of shoreline will help resource managers and planners going forward. Continue reading

Global warming: More hurricanes in Hawaii?


Hurricane Iniki reached Kauai in September 1992 as a Category 4 storm, with winds up to 140 mph.

Study projects two to three times as many storms by the end of the century

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Large scale shifts in hemispheric circulation patterns and ocean temperatures are likely to steer more hurricanes toward the Hawaiian Islands in coming decades.

A poleward shift of the subtropical jet stream and warmer temperatures over the equatorial central Pacific will combine to make the storms two to three times as likely by the last quarter of the century, according to scientists with the International Pacific Research Center, University of Hawaii at Manoa. Continue reading

Global warming threatens rare Hawaiian flower

Haleakalā silverswords (ʻahinahina) in full bloom.NPS photo by Kit Harris

Haleakalā silverswords (ʻahinahina) in full bloom.
NPS photo by Kit Harris

‘The silversword example foreshadows trouble for diversity in other biological hotspots’

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — An all-out effort to protect a rare Hawaiian plan from extinction may not be enough in the face of climate change.

The Haleakalā silversword made a strong recovery from early 20th-century threats, but researchers with the U.S. Geological Survey and the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa say it has been hit hard by climate change, undergoing increasingly frequent and lethal water stress. Local climate data confirm trends towards warmer and drier conditions on the mountain, which the researchers warn will create a bleak outlook for the threatened silverswords if climate trends continue. Continue reading


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