IPRC News 2011

Droughts in Horn of Africa Known for Last 20,000 Years

December 12, 2011
This year’s droughts in East Africa are thought to be an indirect consequence of the cool La Nina temperatures in the tropical eastern Pacific that have prevailed since 2010, according to IPRC’s Axel Timmermann. He elaborated at the recent AGU 2011 Fall Meeting in San Francisco on findings he and a team of German scientists had obtained from a 20,000-year sediment core extracted from Lake Challa. The Indian Ocean mirrors conditions in the Pacific, he said. When the eastern Pacific is unusually cool, the western Indian cools, resulting in a dryer climate in East Africa. Read more in Bits of Science.

Fourth OFES International Workshop

December 1, 2011
JAMSTEC and the IPRC co-sponsored a workshop featuring the latest research on the Ocean General Circulation Model for the Earth Simulator (OFES) and other high-resolution computationally intensive research in climate science. Held at the East West Center’s Imin Conference Center on December 1 and 2, the workshop was convened by JAMSTEC Senior Scientist and Group Leader Wataru Ohfuchi and IPRC Director Kevin Hamilton. For Program click here.

Mitigating the Impact of Tsunami Debris on Coastlines

November 14, 2011
The March 11, 2011, tsunami in Japan swept tons of debris into the ocean. Visible during the first weeks as yellow mats of complex composition, the debris quickly drifted offshore, dispersed and became invisible to existing observing systems. Predictions of ocean models have been confirmed by recent direct observations, which showed the edge of the debris field at the end of September only 300 miles northwest from Midway. The workshop focused on the necessity and feasibility of mitigating the impact of the debris on coastlines by using available knowledge, technologies, and resources. For the program and to see the presentations (mostly PDFs) click here; For the Audio-Video Webex recording click here. See also report in The Mainichi Daily News.

Tsunami Trash Adrift to Hawaii

November 3, 2011
Nikolai Maximenko's and Jan Hafner’s computer-model-based prediction of where the debris from the tsunami is headed is being broadcast worldwide. As this debris may greatly impact Hawaii, Dan Cooke, the weather and news anchor for Hawaii News Now has begun a series called "Tsunami Trash Adrift to Hawaii," which will “continue to monitor the tsunami trash as it approaches our islands, and let you know about plans to tackle the problem as they develop.” Listen to the most recent news cast.

Author of the World Development Report 2010 Gave
The 2011 IPRC Public Lecture in Climate Science

October 18, 2011
Climate Change and Development: Avoiding the Unmanageable and Managing the Unavoidable was the title of this year’s IPRC Public Lecture in Climate Science. The free public lecture was given by Rosina Bierbaum, Dean of University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources and Environment, at 7:00 pm, October 17, at the Art Auditorium, University of Hawaii at Manoa.

2011 APEC Climate Symposium
Harnessing and Using Climate Information for Decision Making

October 18, 2011
Hosted by the International Pacific Research Center, this year's APEC Climate Symposium covers a range of topics on climate change including what climate change may mean for different regions of the world and how to improve the communication among scientists, resource managers, and policy makers. Read more in Star-Advertiser Story Oct. 18 and Editorial Oct. 20; New Tang Dynasty Television; University of Michigan.

Russian Ship Spots Tsunami Debris

October 14, 2011
On September 22 during its homeward voyage from Honolulu to Vladivostok, the Russian Sail Training Ship Pallada encountered debris from the great Japan tsunami, including a small boat with the Fukushima prefecture marking. It was found at the outer edge of the debris field of the computer model of ocean currents developed by IPRC’s Nikolai Maximenko and Jan Hafner. As the Pallada continued on, more debris was seen, validating the model. Listen to KHON2; to NHK news (Q-time). More at Deep-Sea News and Alaska Dispatch.

University Consortium for the Pacific Islands Climate Center
will be led by IPRC Director Kevin Hamilton

October 7, 2011
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced the establishment of the Pacific Islands Climate Science Center, a consortium of the University of Hawaii at Manoa and Hilo, and the University of Guam. The consortium at UH Manoa will be led by Kevin Hamilton, who said he is particularly excited to see the new center closely linked with the long-established climate research at IPRC. Read more at Physorg.com and Pacific Business News.

Asking Ships to Report Any Sightings of Tsunami Debris

September 16, 2011
In the wake of Nikolai Maximenko’s and Jan Hafner’s meeting with Captain Sviridenko of the Russian Tall Ship STS Pallada to be on the look-out for any debris from Japan's tsunami, Hafner was interviewed by KITV4 about any knowledge of the whereabouts of the debris. To help in efforts to track the debris, the scientists need to validate their models' projections of the debris field and are asking ships in the North Pacific to report to them on what they see, and if possible take samples.

East Africa's Climate under the Spell of El Niño
Since the Last Ice Age

August 7, 2011
The current severe drought in East Africa is being attributed to La Niña conditions that prevailed in the Pacific until May 2011. IPRC's Axel Timmermann is co-author of a study that showed the waxing and waning of rainfall in eastern tropical Africa in unison with El Nino–Southern Oscillation existed already 20,000 years ago, though the region’s last 3,000 years have seen a less stable climate. The study was published by an international group of scientists on August 5 in Science. Read more in ScienceDaily, ScienceNewsline, Red Orbit.

Tree Rings Tell 1,100-year History of El Niño

May 9, 2011
Tree rings in the American Southwest provide clues to future El Nino and La Nina cycles in a changing climate, according to a study published in the May 6 Nature Climate Change issue by IPRC's Jinbao Li, Shang-Ping Xie, and their international colleagues. The annually resolved tree-ring records from North America correlate closely with 150 years of ocean surface temperature records and various coral isotope records in the tropical Pacific, giving an account of the intensity of El Nino events over the past 1,100 years and offering key observational benchmarks for evaluating and perfecting climate models. Read more in commentary, Star-Advertiser, DiscoveryNews, Tuscon Citizen, and PlanetSave, MSNBC.com.

Oceanic Pathways of Tsunami Debris

April 7, 2011
The huge tsunami triggered by the 9.0 Tohoku Earthquake destroyed coastal towns near Sendai in Japan, washing such things as houses and cars into the ocean. Based on a model derived from past trajectories of drifting buoys, projections of where this debris might head over the next 5 to 6 years have been made by Nikolai Maximenko and Jan Hafner at the International Pacific Research Center, University of Hawaii at Manoa. More at CNN, Hawaii News Now, Star-Advertiser, and Asahi Shimbun. For animation click image.

The South Atlantic Garbage Patch Predicted
by Maximenko Has Been Found

March 25, 2011
The 5 Gyres Institute in Santa Monica, California, and the Algalita Marine Research Foundation in Long Beach, California, completed the third leg of the first expedition ever to study plastic pollution in the South Atlantic subtropical gyre. In every single trawl, the team discovered plastic. They had been guided to the region by the work of IPRC’s Nikolai Maximenko, whose computer model had predicted 5 regions in the world ocean, where such marine debris could be expected to be collected. Read more in New Scientist.

Debris from Japan's Tsunami
to Hit Hawaii’s Shores in 18 Months

March 18, 2011
The waves triggered by the 9.0 Tohoku earthquake destroyed several coastal towns around Sendai, Japan, and carried all sorts of debris, including cars and whole houses, into the ocean. IPRC's Nikolai Maximenko, who has been studying and modeling ocean currents and where currents transport floating materials, was interviewed about the path that the debris from the tsunami might take and when it might hit Hawaii’s shores. More on KITV News.

Ships Blamed for Extensive Air Pollution

February 15, 2011
Axel Lauer was part of the team of scientists that showed "ship engines caused emissions of 800 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2), 20 million tons of nitrogen oxide (NOx) and 12 tons of sulfur dioxide (SO2) in the year 2000." The German DLR project's report, just released, found that "the ship emissions of carbon dioxide were about the same as the emissions caused by air travel, while the nitrogen oxide emissions were about ten times higher and sulfur dioxide about 100 times higher." More in Conceivably Tech.

Tropical Atlantic Sees Weaker Trade Winds
and More Rainfall

February 7, 2011
IPRC’s Hiroki Tokinaga and Shang-Ping Xie have developed a method to remove the bias from ocean wind measurements. Applying this method to the tropical Atlantic, they found that during the last 60 years the trade winds there have weakened, ocean temperature patterns have shifted, and Amazon and Guinea Coast rainfall has increased. Their findings appear in the February 6 issue of Nature Geoscience. More in Science Daily; Simple Climate; Bits of Science. Also Xie's Star-Advertiser interview.

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