Honolulu, March 21, 2017
Local and visiting researchers gathered at the beginning of March for a short afternoon workshop exploring the small (1 km) to medium (100 km) scale motions (referred to as submesoscale) that characterize the stirring and mixing of the upper ocean. The international crowd hailed from IPRC, UH Department of Oceanography, IFREMER, JAMSTEC, Tohoku University, and JPL. Read more about the workshop here.
Honolulu, March 16, 2017
A recent uptick in lava activity at Kilauea has brought to the fore some recent research by IPRC’s Megumi Chikamoto and Axel Timmermann. The international project, led by Chikamoto and published last year in Geophysical Research Letters, focused on the effects of volcanic activity on the biological productivity of the upper layers of the ocean. They discovered using three separate models that large volcanic ash plumes introduced into the atmosphere may induce widespread cooling across the nearby ocean, which enhances mixing in the upper ocean. In turn, this would increase nutrient delivery to this biologically active zone, thereby enhancing biological productivity. Chikamoto’s work received a nod in an article in The Atlantic reporting on the local efforts to examine the effects of the newest gush of lava on marine life and productivity near the ocean entry of Pu‘u ‘O‘o. Read the original abstract here, or the magazine article here.
Honolulu, February 9, 2017
With the threat of changing precipitation patterns across the globe, it has become increasingly important to understand what governs the rainfall patterns we see today. A team of IPRC climate modelers, led by postdoctoral researcher Takatoshi Sakazaki, has investigated what causes a tropical rainfall abundance pattern of two distinct peaks, 12 hours apart. The results of the study, recently published online at Geophysical Research Letters, suggest that the temporal pattern is attributable to a well-known phenomenon called an “atmospheric tide.” A global pressure wave daily develops in the upper atmosphere, driven by sunlight heating of the ozone layer, and propagates downward to the land surface below. Rainfall concentrates during low-pressure periods. Read more in the press release. Sakazaki's work also got a nod in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune's weather blog (scroll about half-way down). Watch an appearance of Sakazaki and co-author Kevin Hamilton on Think Tech Hawaii.
Honolulu, November 28, 2016
Christian Wolff, a post-doctoral climate researcher at IPRC, participated this past month in a deep drilling project in East Africa in collaboration with the International Continental Scientific Drilling Programme (ICDP) and an international team of scientists. The team deployed a floating drilling platform on beautiful Lake Challa near Mt. Kilimanjaro in an attempt to recover cores of the 210-m thick sediments of the lake floor. The team hopes that a complete record of the sediments will shed light on 250,000 years of climate history in the region, covering the time that humans evolved on the East African landscape. Wolff plans to use the sediment evidence of climate variability to examine details of the El Niño/Southern Oscillation phenomenon (ENSO) in the area and its effects on the local climate and landscape. Read more here. Visit the ICDP webpage for more information.
Honolulu, November 23, 2016
IPRC’s Axel Timmermann, climate researcher and Professor of Oceanography, has been selected by the European Geosciences Union as the recipient of their 2017 Milutin Milankovich Medal, acknowledging his exceptional contributions to climate change research and modeling. Read more here.
Honolulu, November 14, 2016
Most models employed for climate change predictions are global in scale, highlighting changes across large areas. But recently, more researchers are focusing their models to investigate changes at the smaller, regional scale. For an area like the Hawaiian Islands, exploring the smaller scale is particularly important, since the islands are dwarfed in large scale modeling, giving only the most cursory idea of future changes. A team from IPRC led by Chunxi Zhang has published a model in the Journal of Climate that simulates the regional scale variations that may occur in Hawaiian rainfall, wind flow, cloud cover, and temperatures by the end of the century. The most important results imply that temperature increases will be most strongly felt at high altitude and that regarding rainfall, the fine variations that already exist across the islands will be heightened: dry leeward sides will become drier, while wetter windward sides will become even wetter. Extreme rainfall events are also predicted to increase in frequency, highlighting the possibility of more coastal flooding. Read more in an article at Raising Islands here or their original paper here.
Honolulu, November 10, 2016
Phytoplankton, tiny aquatic photosynthesizing organisms, not only represent the vital bottom rung of the ocean food web but also produce 50-85% of the world’s oxygen. Understanding what helps or harms phytoplankton populations is therefore of great importance. IPRC Director Kelvin Richards recently published a study in the Journal of Theoretical Biology examining the effects of ocean circulation on the impact that viruses may have on phytoplankton blooms. Using numerical models, he illustrated that the stirring and mixing of ocean currents increases the effects of a viral attack, subduing or even suppressing large portions of a bloom, and causing viral epidemics to last much longer than they would under still conditions. The key role that phytoplankton plays in the health of the ocean makes it critical that we understand mechanisms that might threaten that health of the phytoplankton. The presence of viruses may fundamentally alter the way our changing planet impacts the marine ecosystem. Read more details in the abstract here.
Honolulu, November 9, 2016
Scientists have understood for a long time that carbon dioxide acts to trap solar energy as heat in the atmosphere. But according to a new study led by Tobias Friedrich, an IPRC post-doctoral researcher, and Axel Timmermann, Professor of Oceanography, the amount of heating due to an increase in CO2 depends on how warm the climate already is. By reconstructing temperatures and CO2 levels on Earth for the past 784,000 years, Friedrich was able to determine how the atmosphere reacted to previous changes in the system. His results suggest that as the climate gets warmer, it becomes more sensitive to changes in CO2. As our planet is currently in a warmer, interglacial phase, this may have significant implications for how the climate will continue to respond to anthropogenic CO2 increases. Read more details in the press release here. Or read their abstract and paper here. Listen to a very good radio interview here with EcoShock radio. And the work got a mention in The Nation's Health here.
Honolulu, October 3, 2016
With the summer of 2016 showing the second lowest extent of Arctic sea ice on record, and increased interest in Arctic resources, the status of the ice at the top of the world is drawing more attention. Climate modelers have been working for years to improve annual predictions of these minima, but have shown mixed results in matching predictions to observations. Recent work published in the Journal of Climate by IPRC’s Gary Grunseich, post-doctoral fellow, and Bin Wang, Professor of Meteorology, took a new approach that includes accounting for processes that affect early season ice conditions as well as predictions of atmospheric patterns in the Arctic summer. They found that there are four main forms of natural climate variability from around the calendar and the globe that shape summer sea ice extent. Taking all these predictors into consideration produces a model that matches well with previously observed sea ice extents, promising a useful predictor of future annual minimum sea ice extent. Read their abstract here.
Honolulu, September 21, 2016
The spread of the human species, anchored and radiating out from Africa to migrate around the globe, has occurred in waves over many millennia. However, when the first small groups ventured out of Africa is subject to debate. New results published in the journal Nature by IPRC researchers Axel Timmermann and Tobias Friedrich integrate climate models with human migration models to determine the most likely timeframe for human dispersal based on the influence of changing climate patterns. Read more about their compelling results in the press release, or the original journal abstract, and view a short explanatory video at vimeo or on youtube. Read how their study relates to new genetic models of human migration here. Or listen to a different take in a Nature Podcast (starting at 16:14).
Honolulu, September 19, 2016
IPRC recently had the honor of hosting Dr. Thomas Stocker for an extended visit, highlighted by a Distinguished Lecture entitled "Climate Change: Curse or Opportunity?" Professor Stocker is a renowned climate researcher, serving as Professor of Climate and Environmental Physics at the University of Bern since 1993, studying climate dynamics and paleoclimate modeling and reconstruction. More recently, from 2008-2015, he served as Co-chair of Working Group I of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) helping to produce the Fifth Assessment Report in 2013 and giving him a fascinating perspective on the current status, and possible future, of our climate. Please read more about his talk and views here. Watch a different IPRC Seminar talk he gave on some recent research here.
Honolulu, September 8, 2016
No one likes a disruption in their routine, least of all scientists. In February of this year, though, one of the most repeatable, predictable phenomena of atmospheric winds threw scientists for a loop by breaking its long-standing pattern. High altitude (16-50 km) equatorial winds typically oscillate between prevailing eastward and westward wind-jets, with a period of about 2-3 years, creating a pattern referred to as the Quasi-Biennial Oscillation (QBO). But in February, the unexpected occurred: the pattern changed. IPRC scientists Kevin Hamilton, recently retired Professor of Atmospheric Sciences, and Chunxi Zhang, Atmospheric Modeling Specialist, worked with Scott Osprey of the National Centre for Atmospheric Science at the University of Oxford and an international team to study the unexpected disruption. Read more here and in the Oxford press release.
Honolulu, September 6, 2016
In a novel partnership to bring science to the public, ten teams made up of UH Mānoa scientists and Honolulu Printmaker artists collaborated to combine their respective expertise and create paired prints and posters for a new exhibit at the Honolulu Museum of Art School. The exhibition, called ArtSci 2016 Where Art and Science Meet, runs September 7-30. Two of the scientists involved were IPRC climate researchers Professor Axel Timmermann and Professor Niklas Schneider. The show is designed to convey science to the public in new and engaging ways, exploring each topic in a scientific poster and accompanying artistic print. Read more here. Or watch a video news story by UH News.
Honolulu, June 23, 2016
When the general public thinks of approachable science topics, equatorial dynamics and stability analysis are probably not ones that spring to mind! But IPRC’s Andrei Natarov is an assistant researcher who studies theoretical oceanography and believes in communicating to the public the importance of science, how integral it is to our world. In fact, he will be speaking about science communication at the TEDxHonolulu 2016 event (on July 9th), applying the theme of FLOW to the area of communication. “While it is necessary to be precise in communicating science, being precise is not nearly as painful as many assume,” encourages Natarov. To hear an archived version of a live discussion about the importance of science and science communication, as well as details of Natarov’s own oceanography research, go to ThinkTech Hawaii.
Honolulu, June 22, 2016
The Research Vessel Kaisyou of the Kesennuma Local Fisheries Laboratory in Miyagi_Prefecture was sucked out into the Pacific during the tragic 2011 tsunami in Japan. On May 12 2016, the boat was found about 4 miles offshore from Miyako-jima, Okinawa Prefecture. The IPRC Drift Model, developed by Nikolai Maximenko and Jan Hafner and used to chart the drift path of millions of tons of debris from the tsunami, simulated the likely route the Kaisyou drifted during its astonishing 5-year-2-month-long journey, floating eastward across the Pacific during 2011 and 2012 and then circulating back westward during 2013 to 2016.
Honolulu, May 25, 2016
One of the most important tasks of climate scientists is disseminating data and insights of the scientific community to those who can act on the information. In May, Jim Potemra, manager of IPRC’s Asia-Pacific Data Research Center, travelled to Vanuatu to do just that. With collaborators from NOAA’s Pacific Climate Information System, Potemra attended a meeting in Port Vila to work with the Vanuatu Meteorological and Geohazards Department. One of the workshop goals was to train the VMGD staff to access important climate data via a website that APRDC and PaCIS created: Vanuatu Coral Reef and Coastal Fisheries Outlook Dashboard. It includes current conditions and seasonal predictions for rainfall, sea surface temperature, coral bleaching, cyclone activity, and even the ENSO state. The assembled data gives the beginnings of a “climate warning system” that local shareholders can develop further. Ultimately, regional data for the entire Southwest Pacific will also be included. Read more in a local Vanuatu newspaper article HERE.
Honolulu, April 8, 2016
In a year of a wopper El Niño, record-breaking global temperatures, and the lowest arctic ice maximum, climate science research continues its steady march forward. IPRC professors, research scientists and post-doctoral fellows assembled at the East-West Center for a day of communicating their on-going research at the 15th Annual Symposium on March 29. Read more.
Honolulu, March 22, 2016
Last week, IPRC had the pleasure of hosting Gerald Meehl for a seminar on climate variability of the last several decades. Dr. Meehl, a senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, was also one of the founders of IPRC. He began with the history of how an interesting statistical variability (a slowing of the rate of increase in the global surface temperature, dubbed the “hiatus”) became “proof” to climate deniers that global warming has stopped. Meehl emphasized that one facet of this non-controversy is simply a disconnect in how words are used by scientists versus politicians, for example using data on “global surface temperature” to imply total “global warming.” To scientists, global warming describes the trend of the entire energy system of the Earth, which continues to show a net increase in energy absorbed vs. energy radiated. In contrast, graphs of global surface temperature show persistent, long-term fluctuations, associated with numerous natural processes, that produce some decades of slower heating and others of accelerated heating. Thus, another important facet is that the time scale over which climatic trends are examined is critical to interpreting those trends correctly. Fluctuations in temperature may occur, but when the entire global energy system is considered over the long term, global warming certainly continues unabated.
Honolulu, March 1, 2016
Last week, several IPRC researchers headed to New Orleans to attend the biennial AGU Ocean Sciences Meeting. The Ocean Sciences Section welcomes research in all aspects of ocean science, but more recently the ocean’s role in the climate system has become a particularly hot topic. Some of our group’s presentations explored the roles of eddies and turbulence in mixing the oceans, particularly redistributing salinity, freshwater, and heat. Others focused on air-sea interactions, investigating the response of the atmospheric boundary layer to variable sea surface temperatures, and how that boundary layer is affected by drag from ocean currents. Sea levels were discussed in the context of a new model for short-term, seasonal predictions that should help with forecasting sea level extreme fluctuations in the Pacific associated with El Niño/La Niña cycling. Finally, our Marine Debris group illustrated how to calibrate drift models better by capitalizing on debris from well-characterized natural disasters. Clarifying ocean processes is critical to understanding the global climate, and our IPRC researchers are immersed in the task. To read their abstracts, click here.
Honolulu, February 24, 2016
IPRC’s Marine Debris expert modeler, Jan Hafner, extended the hand of outreach again this week to speak to fifth-grade students from Hahaione Elementary School about ocean currents and marine debris. After illustrating the orbital satellites and ocean-going floats that scientists use to track currents, Hafner explained about sources of debris, like the 2011 Japanese tsunami, and the pathways that debris takes around the oceans of the world. Objects of all sizes, from trash-bags to floating docks, are swept by currents and winds for thousands of miles, often to end up trapped in giant garbage patches in the Pacific, Atlantic, or Indian Oceans. Hafner finished by sharing samples of debris that have washed up on Hawai‘i shores, from mm-sized plastics to tsunami-related balls, bottles, wood beams, and even a mini-fridge door. The students left with a greater appreciation for the complexity of our oceans and the awareness that trash can linger for many years in that environment. Click for large photo; click for group photo
Honolulu, January 28, 2016
Eight million tonnes of plastic estimated entering the ocean every year jeopardize fish and other marine life on which we depend. Much of it comes from landfills leaking one-third of the 78 million tons of plastic collected annually. On January 19-21, the IPRC hosted the Workshop on Mission Concepts for Marine Debris Sensing, which was sponsored by NASA Physical Oceanography and co-organized by Remote Sensing Solutions, Inc. The international group of oceanographers, remote sensing scientists, and marine debris experts came together to review existing and emerging technologies and to draft the mission objectives. Discussions included characterization of different types of debris, identification of gaps in our knowledge, and requirements for the future observing system. The meeting began work on a white paper that will be produced with contributions from a larger scientific community. (Click for photo)
Honolulu, December 31, 2015
The El Niño of 2015-2016 is shaping up to be one of the strongest events since the phenomenon was recognized 60 years ago, predicted to bring heavy, flooding rains to the eastern Pacific, but excessive drought to the western Pacific basin. IPRC personnel, led by H. Annamalai, have investigated the effects on particularly vulnerable Pacific Islands, some of which are already feeling the results of the shifting weather: fresh water shortages, crop failures, depletion of fishing resources, heavier storm activity and increased risk in the spread of water- and insect-borne diseases. The authors present a number of strategies for short-term and long-term preparation and mitigation, as well as policy and educational resources. Read the full article to learn more about the team’s suggestions.
Honolulu, December 23, 2015
This month, we bid a regretful farewell to Dr. Tangdong Qu, a senior researcher who was among the founding members of the IPRC, and whose research contributions have been impressive. He has explored ocean climate processes, examining the effects of the dynamics of the upper ocean on the larger ocean heat budget, as well as pursuing the effects of climate change on ocean circulation, particularly on the currents of the western Pacific. Dr. Qu has been an important member of the IPRC ‘ohana and will be greatly missed. We wish him the best of luck in his future pursuits at the Joint Institute for Regional Earth System Science and Engineering at UCLA.
Honolulu, November 2, 2015
As a result of increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations, the chemistry of the Southern Ocean is expected to change so fast over the next few decades that small, but important, creatures at the base of the food web may soon struggle to form their carbonate shells. For some organisms the onset of such critical conditions will be so abrupt, and the duration of events so long, that adaption may become impossible, according to new research by Claudine Hauri, at both the International Arctic Research Center (IARC) at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks and the IPRC, in collaboration with Tobias Friedrich and Axel Timmermann of IPRC. Read more in the press release, or the original journal article, and view an explanatory video here. Visit an article here at The Age. Read the story at IARC and at the Ocean Acidification International Coordination Center (OA-ICC). Hear an interview with Axel Timmermann by Radio New Zealand. Hear a new interview with Claudine Hauri by Fairbank's Changing Arctic, and read a Q&A with Claudine at the Ocean Conservancy blog.
Honolulu, October 29, 2015
Last week saw the 13th biennial Open House for the School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST) at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. Amongst the many presentations, demonstrations, and hands-on activities, several IPRC researchers contributed their own knowledge to the welter of information. Tobias Friedrich and Michelle Tigchelaar introduced students to the effects of carbon dioxide on the ocean and its coral reefs, while Jan Hafner provided an intriguing look at the movement of debris around the Pacific Ocean basin. Niklas Schneider helped run an ongoing demonstration of “Weather in a Tank”, and Axel Timmermann provided a presentation about glacial events in Hawai‘i for the Speaker’s Room. Read more.
Honolulu, October 19, 2015
The El Niño Southern Oscillation (called ENSO) is one of the most prominent climate events on the globe. Every two to seven years, temperature shifts cause modifications in wind and rainfall patterns in the Pacific, triggering changes in the climate around the world. A new study by Malte Stuecker and Fei-Fei Jin from Department of Atmospheric Sciences in collaboration with Axel Timmermann from IPRC present a new methodology which explores how interaction of the El Niño phenomenon with the annual cycle of solar radiation in the western Pacific generates a suite of predictable wind and rainfall patterns associated with the Southeast Asian Monsoons. In contrast to the inter-annual timescales of El Niño, monsoon oscillations occur on nearly annual timescales. The methodology provides a new way to explore atmosphere variability, as well as a number of other climate phenomena. Read the press release for more details.
Honolulu, October 9, 2015
IPRC welcomes Rachel Lentz as IPRC Outreach Specialist. Rachel comes to us with a background in teaching and science. She is eager to join IPRC in communicating to the world at large the exciting climate research of the IPRC scientists. Most recently, she taught high school math and science at St. Andrew's Priory School for girls. Before her teaching tenure, she was a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the University of Hawaiʻi, Mānoa, and at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, researching Martian meteorite formation conditions and histories. Rachel earned her PhD from UH, studying lava flow emplacement and crystallization mechanisms on Earth and Mars.
We take this opportunity to thank outgoing Outreach Specialist Gisela Speidel for her many years of dedicated work in promoting the climate science discoveries at IPRC. In 2001, she started the print-edition of the bi-annual newsletter IPRC Climate, which presents IPRC scientific findings to a broader audience, and has been its editor. Gisela’s outreach efforts associated with the tracking of the 2011 Japanese tsunami debris were recognized as an RCUH 2013 Outstanding Employee of the Year. As Science Writer, she will now focus on work with the marine debris project team at IPRC.
Honolulu, October 7, 2015
Jan Hafner has been busy helping student-groups prepare for the 2015 FIRST® LEGO League, which has the theme "TRASH TREKSM Challenge". His pictures and simulations let students understand how ocean debris moves through the gyres and collects in "garbage patches." He shows them real pieces that have drifted to Hawaii from the 2011 tsunami as well as other plastic debris of various shapes and sizes, including nearly invisible micro plastics.This all makes the students aware of the huge ocean debris problem. In the photo you see a group of 5th grade Punahou students with Hafner (right) and Nikolai Maximenko. Together with Kin Wang, Hafner held a similar session via Face Time with students at Holomua Elementary School.
Honolulu, September 25, 2015
Gradual sea-level rise due to climate-induced melting of world-wide ice deposits is a well-known scenario at this stage, and many island nations in the tropical Pacific are already coping with the reality of an encroaching ocean. However, recent modeling research by IPRC scientists Matthew Widlansky and Axel Timmermann suggest that more frequent and extreme short-term sea level fluctuations may soon become an additional challenge. The new model incorporates the effects of a warming planet on the El Niño-La Niña phenomenon. The results show that intensified winds will double the frequency of the sea level fluctuations associated with these global weather patterns, particularly affecting the tropical southwestern Pacific. Read the press release for more details. Watch HawaiiNewsNow; and read Star-Advertiser, Climate Central, and Discovery News, and Hakai Magazine. Listen to Australian Broadcasting Station interview with Timmermann.
(Photo credit: Mark Lander, University of Guam)
Honolulu, August 19, 2015
What happens to ocean mixing in the central equatorial Pacific during the developing phase of an El Niño ? This and other questions were at the forefront of IPRC Director Kelvin Richards' mind as he set out from Majuro in late July on the Research Vessel Falkor with a team of scientists from UH and Korea. The scientists collected data close to the equator and dateline on the flow structures that create turbulence and mixing. The team has returned to Honolulu onboard the vessel. Now we await the story that the analysis of these exciting measurements will tell about the causes of ocean mixing and its impact on the coupled ocean-atmosphere system. Read press release, and KITV 4 News, and Hawaii News Now and Radio Australia.
Honolulu, August 6, 2015
The IPRC Marine Debris Drift Model has simulated the flow paths of the flaperon from the likely crash site of Flight MH370 to Reunion and also maps to guide on-shore search for Flight MH370 Debris. The developers of this model, Nikolai Maximenko and Jan Hafner, have been using it to successfully simulate the pathways of millions of tons of marine debris from the 2011 tsunami in Japan. View the simulation and the maps.
Honolulu, July 28, 2015
IPRC’s Axel Timmermann has been elected an American Geophysical Union Fellow. "Being elected a Union Fellow is a tribute to those AGU members who have made exceptional contributions to Earth and space sciences as valued by their peers and vetted by section and focus group committees. This honor is bestowed on only 0.1% of the membership in any given year," according to the EOS announcement. Timmermann and his 2015 American Geophysical Union Class of Fellows will be recognized at an award ceremony, held during the 2015 Annual AGU Fall Meeting in San Francisco, California.
Honolulu, July 21, 2015
IPRC Director Kelvin Richards heads out to the central equatorial Pacific to lead a science team from the University of Hawai`i, Seoul National University, and the Korean Institute for Ocean Science and Technology. On board the R/V Falkor operated by the Schmidt Ocean Institute, the team will gather data on small-scale turbulence in the region. Though coupling between the tropical ocean and atmosphere is known to be very dependent on the mixing produced by ocean turbulence, little is known about the mechanisms producing the turbulence. The new data set, combined with data from Richard’s previous work in other tropical Pacific regions, will let scientists determine more clearly what controls the mixing by turbulence. Among other things, the work will help improve the representation of ocean turbulence in models used to understand and forecast El Niño Southern Oscillations events (ENSOs). The Schmidt Ocean Institute and NSF are funding the three-week expedition. Read more.
Honolulu, May 20, 2015
Hiroki Tokinaga, former IPRC assistant researcher and now associate professor at Kyoto University, received the Young Scientists’ Prize of "Commendations for Science and Technology” from the Japan Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT). Each year MEXT gives this award to scientists under the age of 40 for their outstanding research and development capabilities in the field of science and technology. Tokinaga was awarded this prestigious prize for his work on "ocean-atmosphere interaction and its impact on climate formation and variability.” This work includes his many scientific achievements at the IPRC. This year, 97 young researchers received the award during a ceremony held on April 15, 2015 at MEXT in Tokyo.
Honolulu, May 12, 2015
A recent NOAA report shows that the global mean carbon dioxide concentrations reached 400 parts per million in March - the highest level on record. IPRC’s Axel Timmermann, interviewed by Beth-Ann Kozlovich on Hawaii Public Radio, talked about the implications of this new record. The last time CO2 concentrations were this high was 4 - 5 million years ago, when the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets did not exist and sea level was at least 30 ft. higher than today. He spoke about the accelerating rate of CO2 emissions, the difficulty of communicating the science to climate-change deniers, and the enormous behavioral changes needed to avoid reaching the 2C global mean temperature threshold for dangerous climate change within 20 to 50 years. Listen to interview.
Honolulu, May 11, 2015
Compared to last year’s ocean sea surface temperatures in the equatorial central-to-eastern Pacific, we are already in an El Ninio state, says IPRC’s Axel Timmermann in an interview with Cam Tran, KITV4 News. “It’s very likely that we’re going to have a strong El Ninio in the next 3-4 months” with a relatively wet summer and dry winter in Hawaii. It could also mean a higher generation of storms in the central Pacific. Watch news clip. More recently, Timmermann was interviewed also by CBS San Francisco. Listen to podcast.
Honolulu, April 21, 2015
Tropical Pacific climate variations and their global weather impacts may be predicted much further in advance than previously thought, according to research by IPRC's Yoshimitsu Chikamoto and Axel Timmermann and their international colleagues in the USA, Australia, and Japan. The source of this predictability lies in the tight interactions between the ocean and the atmosphere and among the Atlantic, the Pacific and the Indian Oceans. Such long-term tropical climate forecasts are useful to the public and policy makers. Read more in Science Daily; and Phys.org; and Uma (in)certa antropologia; listen to Axel Timmermann's interview on HPR's Conversation
Honolulu, April 16, 2015
The University of Hawaii is awarding IPRC's Axel Timmermann the distinguished Regents' Medal for Excellence in Research for his outstanding accomplishments in climate science. He will receive the medal at an awards ceremony to be held May 5, 2015, from 4:00 to 5:00 pm, in Kennedy Theatre. The ceremony is preceded by a private reception in honor of Timmermann. The prize comes with a $1,000 monetary award. Furthermore, the Research Corporation of the University of Hawaii is honoring Timmermann and his achievements with a $5,000 research fund. Congratulations Axel!
March 5, 2015
The International Pacific Research Center once again welcomed 21 Japanese high school students and their 3 teachers. They were from Morioka Daisan High School. The purpose of their trip to Hawaii was to be exposed to spoken English in an academic environment with a science focus. Morioka, the capital of Iwate Prefecture, suffered much devastation in the March 2011 tsunami. The students thus listened attentively to the 90 minute powerpoint presentation by IPRC’s Jan Hafner about the IPRC tsunami and marine debris model and how the model was able to track the travels of the debris across the ocean to the North Pacific Coast, and some of it into the Great Garbage Patch and then onto the north-east facing shores of Hawaii. Read more.
Phoenix, January 7, 2015
At the awards banquet of the 95th Annual meeting of the American Meteorological Society, IPRC’s Bin Wang received the Carl-Gustaf Rossby Research Medal "for creative insights leading to important advances in the understanding of tropical and monsoonal processes and their predictability." This medal is the highest award for atmospheric science of the American Meteorological Society. PDF Announcement.
Honolulu, December 10, 2014
Why has the U.S. Congress faced such challenges in addressing the issue of climate change over the last decade? This and more was the gist of the talk titled The Politics of Climate Change in Washington DC: 'Debates' about the science, confusion about the impacts, and ideological battles by former White House staff and IPRC postdoctoral fellow (1999 – 2002) Johannes Loschnigg at the joint December 2014 IPRC - Atmospheric Sciences seminar. Loschnigg described his experiences at Capitol Hill after leaving the IPRC ivory tower – experiences that have made him an expert on the workings of Congress and the White House.
Honolulu, December 4, 2014
“..we will have to teach the decision makers about making decisions under the shadow of uncertainty," says IPRC’s Axel Timmermann in the Hawaii Business Magazine article about impacts of climate change on beach erosion, coral bleaching, and rainfall in Hawaii. Weather prediction is imprecise, yet if it is likely to rain, we take umbrellas as a precaution. To act or not to act depends upon the severity of the risk...the damage. “If we knew there was a 10 percent probability that by the end of the century sea level was going to rise nine feet…, the damage would be enormous,” says Timmermann about Hawaii. Read article.
Honolulu, November 13, 2014
“This summer has seen the highest global mean sea surface temperatures ever recorded since their systematic measuring started. Temperatures even exceed those of the record-breaking 1998 El Niño year,” says IPRC's climate scientist and professor Axel Timmerman. "From 2000-2013 the global ocean surface temperature rise paused, in spite of increasing greenhouse gas concentrations. As of April 2014 ocean warming, however, has picked up speed again. Read Quartz, read New Scientist, read Science Daily, read Washington Post, listen HPR Podcast, listen ABC Radio Australia Podcast.
Honolulu, November 6, 2014
The workshop "Perspectives in Computational Climate Sciences and the 7th OFES International Workshop," held in October in Japan, dealt with recent advances in high-resolution climate modeling and observations. Topics included severe weather forecasting, the atmospheric storm track, and mid-latitude ocean-atmosphere coupling. Other topics covered monsoons and intraseasonal variability in the Indian Ocean, Pacific decadal climate variability, and the specific effects of snow darkening and river discharge on climate. Read more....
Honolulu, October 9, 2014
Weiguang Meng, a specialist in modeling convective rainstorms that are linked to organized precipitation systems, has joined Yuqing Wang’s research group on dynamical downscaling of climate models. He will be working on the following projects: 21st Century High-Resolution Climate Projections for Guam and American Samoa and Very Fine Resolution Dynamical Downscaling of Past and Future Climates for Assessment of Climate Change Impacts on the Islands of O‘ahu and Kaua‘i. Funding comes from the Pacific Island Climate Science Center, Department of the Interior. Read more at the UH PICSC News page...
Monday, September 15, 2014
Jan Hafner talked with Code Green host Howard Wiig on the topic “Plastic, Plastic Everywhere!” Hafner was invited to the show on account of his and Nikolai Maximenko’s work on the IPRC Marine Debris Model. During the interview, he showed different types of plastic pieces gathered on Kamilo Beach to illustrate how large pieces break down into tiny sand-like pieces that are then eaten by fish, thereby leading to chemicals in the plastic entering the food chain. Solutions to the ocean’s plastic problem by preventing more plastic entering the ocean and ways to collect the plastic were discussed. To see the show click here.
Honolulu, August 4, 2014
IPRC’s Axel Timmermann and Yoshimitsu Chikamoto partnered with colleagues at the University of New South Wales and University of Hawaii to solve the puzzle of why, contrary to climate model projections, observations show that in recent years the Pacific trade winds have strengthened, the eastern Pacific has cooled, and sea level has risen in the western Pacific. The source of these trends, they have found, is rapid warming of the Atlantic Ocean. Read more in press release, in Science 2.0, in Nature Climate Change, in arstechnica, and in WikiNews.
Honolulu, July 22-23, 2014
What matters to people about climate change is how the global changes will affect regional climate and the local natural environment. This workshop connected the physical global climate science with the biological sciences to understand how the Hawaii ecosystems may respond to projected climate changes. The workshop fostered communication among climate scientists and biological ecosystems scientists, and between producers and users of climate information. Participants discussed climate change downscaling methods and worked on quantifying the effects of climate change on watersheds, endangered bird species, native terrestrial ecosystem shifts, and reef ecology. See agenda and photo. Read report.
Honolulu, July 22, 2014
Professor of Oceanography Kelvin Richards is our new IPRC Director. Richards joined the faculty of the IPRC in 2002 with a joint appointment in the Oceanography Department, which he chaired from 2010 to 2012. A 1978 Ph.D. in oceanography from the University of Southampton, Richards' research interests deal mostly with ocean stirring and mixing effects on the dynamics of Earth’s environment.
Richards has published numerous papers on ocean dynamics and on observations and modeling of ocean processes. He has served on several international scientific committees and participated in many research cruises. Richards led the international research program Mixing in the Equatorial Thermocline (MIXET) and continues his observational program, participating in research cruises of the R/V Mirai (JAMSTEC) and the R/V Falkor (Schmidt Ocean Institute) to the equatorial Indian and Pacific Oceans.
Honolulu, July 21, 2014
IPRC Director Kevin Hamilton has retired. Hamilton joined the faculty of IPRC in 2000 with a joint appointment in the Meteorology Department, which he chaired from 2004 to 2007. As IPRC interim Director from 2008 to 2009 and Director from 2010, Hamilton dedicated himself to the continuing growth of the IPRC into a climate modeling and diagnostics powerhouse. IPRC now enjoys worldwide recognition as illustrated by the recent visit of former Vice President Al Gore. A 1981 PhD in geophysical fluid dynamics from Princeton University, Hamilton has had a distinguished career, with over 100 refereed journal publications and he has received numerous awards including, the Meisinger Award of the American Meteorological Society (AMS), the Jule Charney Lectureship of the American Geophysical Union and election as Fellow of the AMS. Hamilton has served the science community with several journal editorships, and many committee memberships. For pictures of Hamilton during his IPRC career click here; for the retirement festivities click here.
Honolulu, July 14, 2014
Two scientists from the University of Tokyo, Ken Furuya, Dean of the Graduate School of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and Hiroaki Saito, Professor at the Atmospheric and Oceanic Research Institute, are leading a research cruise from the equator to the arctic. Conducted on the JAMSTEC research vessel Hakuho Maru, the cruise is part of the Japanese New Ocean Paradigm on its Biogeochemistry, Ecosystem and Sustainable Use (NEOPS) project. During the ship’s stopover in Honolulu from July 12 to 17, the scientists visited the IPRC and gave seminars. Read more…
Honolulu, June 23, 2014
IPRC’s James Potemra is co-author of a study led by Janet Sprintall of Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego. The scientists have found that the flow of water in the Indonesian Throughflow – the network of straits that pass Indonesia's islands – has changed since the late 2000s under the influence of dominant La Niña conditions. This could in turn affect climate in both ocean basins in new ways. The study was published in the June 22 online issue of Nature Geoscience. Read more.
Washington, June 17, 2014
Secretary of State John Kerry and environmental activist Hollywood actor Leonardo DiCaprio were briefed by NASA Physical Oceanography Program Scientist Eric Lindstrom on NASA’s ocean observing capabilities at "Our Ocean" Conference of the US Department of State. Lindstrom included in the session the IPRC Tsunami Debris Model developed by IPRC’s Nikolai Maximenko and Jan Hafner. Click for photo.
Honolulu, June 10, 2014
The Hawaii Commission on Water Resource Management (CWRM) invited IPRC Director Kevin Hamilton to present IPRC's continuing work on climate change projections for Hawai`i. A part of the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), the commission’s mission is to protect the fresh water resources of Hawaii through wise and responsible management. Administering the State Water Code created in 1987 by the Hawaii State Legislature, the commission is concerned that climate change will impact rainfall and evapotranspiration, and affect Hawaii's fresh water resources. Hamilton presented the ultra-high resolution climate projections for Hawaii produced by IPRC scientists and discussed ways in which effects of natural variability might be included in climate-change forecasts. DLNR Deputy Director Bill Tam hosted the meeting, which was attended by CWRM scientific and regulatory staff. Click here for photo.
Honolulu, May 28, 2014
The first evidence for massive and abrupt iceberg calving in Antarctica, dating back 19,000 to 9,000 years ago, has now been documented by an international team of geologists and climate scientists, including IPRC’s Axel Timmermann, Megumi Chikamoto, and Tobias Friedrich. The study, "Millenial-scale variability in Antarctic ice-sheet discharge during the last deglaciation,” in the May 28m 2014 issue of Nature bears witness to an unstable Antarctic ice sheet that can abruptly reorganize Southern Hemisphere climate and cause rapid global sea level rise. Read also in Live Science. Listen to HPR interview with Timmermann.
Kauai, May 16, 2014
A buoy from Onahama Bay, the port of Iwaki City in Tohoku, was washed away during the 2011 tsunami in Japan. It was picked up by the US Navy off Kauai shores in January 2013 and now forms at Port Allen the centerpiece of a memorial to the tragic tsunami. The dedication ceremony featured speakers and cultural activities from both Iwaki City and Kauai County, which coincidentally are "sister cities." IPRC’s Nikolai Maximenko estimated the buoy’s nearly two-year journey across the Pacific based on calculations with the IPRC tsunami debris model he developed together with Jan Hafner. The map of the calculated path is featured on the memorial's plaque, which lists IPRC as one of the sponsors. See plaque photo; watch video; watch HawaiiNewsNow; and read Star-Advertiser. Read news reported in Japan: minpo and minyu-net.
Honolulu, May 7, 2014
The Third U.S. National Climate Assessment report lists ocean acidification as one of the major threats of human-induced climate change. On May 6, the day of the report’s release, IPRC’s Tobias Friedrich, invited by the Hawaii Conservation Alliance, gave a lecture on ocean acidification at Honolulu’s Kapiolani Community College. Friedrich talked to students and the public about the threats of ocean acidification to our marine ecosystem and economy, the newest research on ocean acidification, and projections into future levels of seawater acidity.
Honolulu, April 28, 2014
IPRC’s Director Kevin Hamilton was featured together with Steven Smith (UH Interim Vice President for Information Technology) and David Chin (Chair of the UH Information and Computer Sciences Department) on an episode of Jay Fidell’s ThinkTech Hawaii show, which was devoted to "Big Data Comes to Manoa." The panel discussed new initiatives to establish a University high-performance computing capability and data center. IPRC is projected to be one of the very heaviest users of the new facilities, and Hamilton described the possibilities for climate modeling that will be opened up. Click to watch video.
Honolulu, April 11, 2014
“I would say there is an 80 percent chance that a big El Nino will develop by the end of the year. Just how powerful the phenomenon will be is the subject of intense debate within scientific circles,” IPRC’s Axel Timmermann was quoted as saying on the front page of the Star-Advertiser with regard to the recent predictions from NOAA about the possibility of an El Nino building up this summer through winter. In Timmermann's s opinion the El Nino will rival the one in 1997/98, the largest on record. Read more in Star-Advertiser.
Honolulu, March 11, 2014
On the 3-year anniversary of the tragic tsunami in Japan, IPRC's Nikolai Maximenko was interviewed by Cam Tran of KITV4 about his work tracking the tsunami driftage in his model and in observations. He described the different type of debris arriving in Hawaii during the three years: very boyant objects about 18 months after the tragedy, then refrigerator parts and little boats, and recently pieces sitting deep in the water such as large beams and poles. Many pieces, especially plastic ones will break apart with time into smaller and smaller pieces recirculating in the ocean and becoming ingested by birds and marine animals. See interview.
Honolulu, March 6, 2014
Upon reports of a huge beam washing up on the shore near Travaasa Hana Resort on the east end of Maui, Gary Kubota from the Star-Advertiser interviewed IPRC’s Nikolai Maximenko. Maximenko said he suspected the wooden beam to be from the tragic 2011 tsunami in Japan, as pictures showed that the beam had similar mortise and tenon features as other beams that have recently been reaching Hawaii shores, including wood from houses broken apart in the disaster. Wind and currents are the two major factors influencing the drift of the tsunami debris. Read more in Star-Advertiser Print Replica.
Honolulu, March 6, 2014
JAMSTEC has created a nearly 15-minute-long You-tube video showing five highlights of JAMSTEC research for the year 2013. IPRC is mentioned as JAMSTEC's partner, and one of the highlights featured is a paper by JAMSTEC scientist, Yoshio Kawatani and IPRC’s Director Kevin Hamilton in Nature: "Weakened stratospheric quasibiennial oscillation driven by increased tropical mean upwelling." Watch video in Japanese in English (IPRC starts at 9:03).
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What is El Niño Taimasa?
During very strong El Niño events, sea level drops abruptly in the tropical western Pacific and tides remain below normal for up to a year in the South Pacific, especially around Samoa. The Samoans call the wet stench of coral die-offs arising from the low sea levels taimasa (pronounced [kai’ ma’sa]). The international study to uncover the reasons for this phenomenon and its climate effects, was spearheaded by IPRC's Matthew Widlansky and published in the Journal of Climate. Widlansky will speak at Ocean Sciences 2014 on the topic. Read more in Red Orbit; and Meteogiuliacci; and ScienceDaily.
Climate research at the International Pacific Research Center
IPRC’s Director Kevin Hamilton and Meteorology Professor Yuqing Wang are featured on Jay Fidell’s ThinkTech SOEST show on February 17. They described the climate research conducted at the IPRC and the close partnership with the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology. Of particular interest on the show was the IPRC’s Hawaii Regional Climate Model that Wang is developing for climate forecasts for Hawaii, with its complex topography. To watch show, click here.
IPRC Ocean Drift Model supports castaway fisherman's journey
The IPRC Ocean Drift Model developed by Nikolai Maximenko and Jan Hafner and used to track tsunami debris from Japan supports the improbable account of Jose Salvador Alvarenga, a Salvadoran fisherman, who says he survived more than a year adrift at sea before his boat washed ashore in the Marshall Islands. The 16 paths simulated in the model follow a remarkably narrow path over this long period of time toward and beyond Ebon Atoll, not more than about 120 miles apart. Click here or image for animation. Read more in Star-Advertiser...
IPRC's Marine Debris Group honored
At a special awards luncheon on February 7, 2014, IPRC’s Senior Researcher Nikolai Maximenko, Scientific Programmer Jan Hafner, and Outreach Specialist Gisela Speidel were honored as "RCUH 2013 Outstanding Employees of the Year." The award recognized their achievements as a team dealing with the scientific and public outreach aspects of tracking the floating debris following the March 2011 Japan tsunami. Their work produced exciting research results and played an important public service role in providing officials and the public a realistic assessment of the concerns about the debris.
Wood objects sent adrift after the 2011 Japan tsunami have surprised researchers
University of Hawaii researchers Nikolai Maximenko and Jan Hafner, who are monitoring the tsunami debris, say objects such as boats, buoys and lighter materials are being replaced with a steady stream of heavier wooden beams and planks. The IPRC website logs reported debris that comes ashore. Since Sept. 24 it has documented nearly two dozen poles, beams, planks and other wooden building materials washing up on diffieren Hawaii beaches. Maximenko is surprised that wood could stay afloat for such a long time, which raises the ecological question how floating trees could carry marine and vegetation to Hawaii. Read more in Star-Advertiser.
Honolulu, February 20, 2014
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Honolulu, February 13, 2014
Honolulu, February 10, 2014
Honolulu, January 5, 2014