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Tuesday, August 16, 2022
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    High tide swallows beaches, streets

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    High tide in Hawai’i has been unusually high in recent days, causing beaches to disappear, turning streets into lakes, and pushing the Ala Wai Canal to the brink of its banks. Star-Bulletin humor columnist Charles Memminger recently researched the bizarre situation in Mapunapuna, at the intersection of Ahua and Kilihau streets, where ocean tides at Keehi Lagoon and the storm drain system flood the area every day. Area businesses surrounding “Lake Ahua” barely blink an eye as tilapia swim past their driveways, and adjust their operations to work around flooded loading bays and countless stalled cars. KHON followed up with a report that revealed that spring tides have submerged whole stretches of popular Ala Moana beach, and brought the Ala Wai Canal’s infamous water within inches of spilling into Waikiki. Alignment between the sun and moon, coupled with higher sea levels overall, are behind the phenomenon, and scientists say it’ll happen again in early December… and may be even more pronounced then.

    Magnitude 4.5 quake shakes Hawaii

    A “light” earthquake centered west of the Big Island shook the Hawaiian Islands shortly after 10 a.m. today, but was strong enough to be felt as far away as east O’ahu. According to the National Earthquake Information Center, the quake hit about 25 miles west of Kawaihae and about 40 miles south of Hana, five miles below the ocean floor. Public reports received by the USGS reveal hundreds of O’ahu residents, including over 50 in Kailua, reported feeling the quake quite strongly. Paula Bender, a freelance writer who also works at a Waimanalo research facility, said the earthquake shook the entire building. “I’m over here at Oceanic Institute all by myself in my office and the two beams positioned over my desk do the hustle,” she said. “I was glad it wasn’t a rockslide from the hills behind us! Also glad it didn’t generate a tsunami.”

    Lava flow reaches sea

    [ Courtesy Photo]
    For the first time in nearly a year, lava flowed into the ocean off the Big Island this weekend, treating scientists and hearty hikers to a spectacular sight. Since lava met the sea late Sunday, the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) reports that the number of entry points has increased substantially, covering much of the Wilipe‘a lava delta and pouring over 7-10 meter cliffs. And a second, western prong of the flow could bring Pele’s ancient battle with the sea within viewing distance of the end of Chain of Craters road.

    UH nets grant for environmental training

    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has awarded a $196,800 grant to the University of Hawaii (UH) to provide environmental health and safety job training for students in Kalihi and other Honolulu neighborhoods.

    UH Hilo awarded $102,000 to study reef pollution

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    Coral reefs, a vital part of the marine ecosystem, are increasingly threatened by ocean pollution, and researchers at the University of Hawai`i at Hilo (UHH) have been enlisted to look into the problem. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced yesterday that the UHH marine science department will receive $102,099 for the study, which will cover two coral reefs off the Kona coast. “The information gathered from the project will provide a better understanding of how coral reefs are affected by coastal developments and land-based pollution,” said EPA regional director Alexis Strauss. “It is important to the EPA that coral reefs are protected, as the reefs provide habitat for many marine species.”

    Plant biologists to meet, confer award

    Over 1,500 plant biologists and specialists are descending upon Honolulu this weekend for some serious science talk. The annual meeting of the American Society of Plant Biologists will be held July 25-30 at the Hawai`i Convention Center, its sessions featuring titles like “The Plasma Membrane: A Happening Place!” On Saturday, Hilo-based scientist Dennis Gonsalves will receive an award from the group for his work in protecting local papaya crops from the devastating ringspot virus.

    Hawai`i military tech funds advance

    Hawai`i technology projects were allocated over $16 million in funding in next year’s national defense budget in an appropriations bill passed today in Washington, D.C. Among the projects approved by the U.S. House are continued research for the Navy’s controversial Low Frequency Active Sonar project and the installation of specialized brushes on submarines based in Pearl Harbor.

    Big Island ‘critical habitat’ for native plants reduced

    The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has designated 208,063 acres of the Big Island as critical habitat to protect 41 native plants — an area 52 percent smaller than originally proposed last year. The reduction spares about 47,000 acres of U.S. Army land and thousands of acres controlled by Kamehameha Schools and the Queen Liliuokalani Trust.

    Experimental NASA aircraft crashes

    An unmanned, solar-powered NASA plane crashed today during a test flight off Kaua`i, dealing a blow to the space agency’s long-term hopes of finding an affordable alternative to space satellites. According to NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center, the $15 million Helios prototype crashed during a test of its fuel cell system. The Helios had made history here two years ago, when it reached an altitude of about 18 miles — a record for a non-rocketpowered aircraft.

    Nature Center gets watershed grant

    The Hawai`i Nature Center has received a $767,000 grant from the federal government to improve the Ala Wai watershed. The grant, from the Environmental Protection Agency, will go toward public education and community involvement projects. The watershed stretches from the mountains to the sea between Punchbowl and Kaimuki.

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