Tag Archives: hawaiian islands

Hawaiian Seabirds Vulnerable to Sea-Level Rise on Low-Lying Atoll

HAWAI’I ISLAND, Hawai’i — The Hawaiian Islands’ largest atoll, French Frigate Shoals, is key to understanding how seabird nesting habitat will change with predicted rising sea levels, according to a team of U.S. Geological Survey biologists.

The team led by Dr. Michelle Reynolds of USGS’ Pacific Island Ecosystems Research Center studied the island’s topography and the population dynamics of eight seabird species on French Frigate Shoals, an isolated atoll of low-lying coral islands in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands about halfway between the main Hawaiian Islands and Midway Atoll in the mid-Pacific. These islands are part of the Hawaiian Islands National Wildlife Refuge and Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, and are managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the State of Hawai’i. Papahānaumokuākea is a seasonal home to more than 14 million seabirds, the largest tropical seabird rookery in the world. Virtually all of the world’s populations of Laysan albatross and black-footed albatross live there, as well as globally significant populations of red-tailed tropicbirds, Bonin petrels, Tristram’s storm-petrels and white terns. The USGS research provides new information useful for wildlife management in the face of sea-level rise. (more…)

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Another Vertebrate Species Reported Extinct from the Hawaiian Islands

HONOLULU – A species of lizard is now extinct from the Hawaiian Islands, making it the latest native vertebrate species to become extirpated from this tropical archipelago.

The copper striped blue-tailed skink (Emoia impar) — a sleek lizard with smooth, polished scales and a long, sky-blue tail — was last confirmed in the Na’Pali coast of Kauai in the 1960s. But repeated field surveys on Kauai, Oahu, Maui and Hawai’i islands from 1988 to 2008 have yielded no sightings or specimens. (more…)

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Researchers Find Unprecedented, Man-Made Trends in Oceans Acidity

Nearly one-third of CO2 emissions due to human activities enters the world’s oceans. By reacting with seawater, CO2 increases the water’s acidity, which may significantly reduce the calcification rate of such marine organisms as corals and mollusks, resulting in the potential loss of ecosystems. The extent to which human activities have raised the surface level of acidity, however, has been difficult to detect on regional scales because it varies naturally from one season and one year to the next, and between regions, and direct observations go back only 30 years.

By combining computer modeling with observations, an international team of scientists concluded that anthropogenic CO2 emissions, resulting from the influence of human beings, over the last 100 to 200 years have already raised ocean acidity far beyond the range of natural variations. The study is published in the January 22, 2012 online issue of Nature Climate Change. (more…)

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A Better Way to ID Extreme Weather Events in Climate Models

*Berkeley Lab scientists help automate the search for hurricanes and other storms in huge datasets*

You’d think that spotting a category 5 hurricane would never be difficult. But when the hurricane is in a global climate model that spans several decades, it becomes a fleeting wisp among mountains of data.

That’s a problem. As scientists develop ever-more sophisticated computer models to predict the effects of climate change, one of the things they’ll look for are changes in the frequency of extreme weather events such as hurricanes and heavy precipitation. The more data generated by models, however, the more difficult it is to quantify these rare but potent events. (more…)

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Scientists Project Changes in Rainfall Patterns for Next 30 Years

Scientists at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa have projected an increased frequency of heavy rainfall events, but a decrease in rainfall intensity during the next 30 years (20112040) for the southern shoreline of Oʻahu, according to a recent study published in the Journal of Geophysical Research.

Chase Norton, a Meteorology Research Assistant at the School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST) at UH Mānoa, and colleagues (Professors Pao-Shin Chu and Thomas Schroeder) used a statistical model; rainfall data from rainfall gauges on Oahu, Hawaiʻi; and a suite of General Circulation Models (GCMs) from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to project future patterns of heavy rainfall events on Oʻahu. GCMs play a pivotal role in the understanding of climate change and associated local changes in weather. (more…)

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UF Researchers Link Oceanic Land Crab Extinction to Colonization of Hawaii

GAINESVILLE, Fla.University of Florida researchers have described a new species of land crab that documents the first crab extinction during the human era.

The loss of the crab likely greatly impacted the ecology of the Hawaiian Islands, as land crabs are major predators, control litter decomposition and help in nutrient cycling and seed dispersal. Their disappearance was caused by the arrival of humans to the islands and resulted in large-scale changes in the state’s ecosystem. Researchers said the full impact of the extinction on Hawaii is unknown, but they are certain it led to changes in the diversity of the food web, a continuing concern to conservationists studying species loss in other habitats. The study will be published online May 16 in PLoS ONE. (more…)

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