Climate-change challenges for Congress

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.

Making decisions under the shadow of uncertainty

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.

Warmest oceans ever recorded

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.

Scientists share important advances in climate modeling and observation

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....

Expert on rainstorm and land-surface processes joins IPRC

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...

Plastic, plastic everywhere!

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.

Atlantic origin of recent Pacific trade wind, sea level and temperature trends

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.

Workshop on Regional Climate Change
and Environmental Response in Hawai`i

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.

Welcome IPRC Director Kelvin Richards

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.

IPRC Director Kevin Hamilton Retires

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.

Scientists of the Japanese New Ocean Paradigm Project visit IPRC

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

New understanding of Indonesian Throughflow could aid climate change forecasts

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.

IPRC tsunami debris model at Secretary of State John Kerry briefing

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.

IPRC Director briefs Hawaii Commission on Water Resource Management

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.

Antarctic ice-sheet less stable than previously assumed

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 dedicates memorial to 2011 Japan tsunami

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.

IPRC scientist gives public lecture on ocean acidification

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.

New Possibilities for IPRC Climate Modeling

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.

The tropical Pacific is primed for El Nino

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.

Nikolai Maximenko talks on KITV4 about tracking debris from the 2011 Japan tsunami

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.

Debris from tsunami continues to wash up in Hawaii

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.

IPRC featured in JAMSTEC 2013 highlight video

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).

What is El Niño Taimasa?

Honolulu, February 20, 2014
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

Honolulu, February 18, 2014
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

Honolulu, February 13, 2014
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

Honolulu, February 10, 2014
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

Honolulu, January 5, 2014
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.

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