Thanks for taking interest in what’s happening at WRRC. Check this section often for recent announcements, scholarship opportunities, and other important news.
Congratulations Nicolas Storie! 2022 L. Stephen Lau Scholar
I am beyond grateful to be selected as the 2022 L. Stephen Lau Water Research Endowed Scholar. This scholarship will support my studies analyzing microbial communities across cesspools and septic tanks in Hawaiʻi. My project will help the establishment of a genetic repository for future studies attempting to differentiate between sources of sewage pollution in Hawaiʻi.
I am a Ph.D. student in the Oceanography Department at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa under the mentorship of Dr. Craig Nelson. Prior to graduate school, I earned a B.S. in Marine Science at UH-Hilo where I studied microplastic accumulation across a newly formed beach following the 2018 Kīlauea eruption. I assisted with a long-term coral health monitoring project at Waiʻōpae tide pools where I was first introduced to sewage related studies. Although my initial research interests were mainly in the realm of plastic marine debris, I shifted my focus to coastal sewage pollution when I started graduate school. My current research focuses on using microbial community signatures to differentiate between sources of sewage pollution in Hilo, Hawaiʻi in collaboration with UH-Hilo and the Keaukaha Community.
Summer 2022 WRRC Faculty Tenure and Promotion
Congratulations to Dr. Jonghyun Harry Lee, promotion to Associate Professor – WRRC and Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering of the University of Hawai‘i
New Publication by Leah Bremer – Managing for Diverse Coastal Uses and Values Under Sea Level Rise: Perspectives from Oʻahu, Hawaiʻi
Congratulations to Leah Bremer and colleagues who published “Managing for Diverse Coastal Uses and Values Under Sea Level Rise: Perspectives from Oʻahu, Hawaiʻi” in Ocean and Coastal Management (Volume 225, 15 June 2022, 106151; https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ocecoaman.2022.106151).
Effective and equitable coastal decision-making under sea level rise requires managing for multiple coastal uses and values. A new publication led by the Water Resources Research Center, UHERO, and the Institute of Sustainability and Resilience analyzes how decision-makers in Hawaiʻi perceive diverse uses and values of beaches and coastlines to be important and how they see recognition of these uses and values ideally shaping SLR response.
Graphic illustrates perceptions of what is currently considered important (blue) versus what interviewees perceive should be ideally prioritized in decision-making (orange) in (a) Sunset Beach, (b) Kaʻaʻawa, and (c) Kāhala.
UH EPSCoR Awarded $20M for Climate Resilience
The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded one of five 2022 Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) RII Track-1 grants to the University of Hawai‘i’s EPSCoR. The project “Change Hawai‘i: Harnessing the Data Revolution for Island Resilience” (Change[HI]) will receive $20M over a five-year period to support further research involving climate change, data science, fire science, low-temperature plasma science and engineering, and social equity and resilience.
Change(HI) aims to develop appropriate tools and workforce in Hawai‘i to study and understand the existential threat climate change poses to the state. Hawai‘i faces unique challenges as climate change impacts our resource availability, ecological sustainability, economic vitality, and human health in the islands.
UH President David Lassner stated, “Change(HI) represents an amazing opportunity for us to advance even further one of our globally distinctive strengths, climate change and resilience. At the same time, we will continue to build fundamental capacity in Hawai‘i in data science, which is increasingly vital across the full spectrum on inquiry and activity in academia, business, and government.”
Led by Principal Investigator Gwen Jacobs (Cyberinfrastructure Director, Hawai‘i EPSCoR Director), this multidisciplinary research effort includes Co-Principal Investigators Thomas Giambelluca (WRRC Director), Philip Johnson (CSDL Director), Jason Leigh (LAVA Director), and Helen Turner (Vice President of Innovation, Chaminade University). Participating organizations include: UH System, UH Mānoa, UH Hilo, Chaminade University, Island of Opportunity Pacific Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation, Hawai‘i IDeA Networks of Biomedical Research Excellence, UH LGBTQ+ Center, UH Office of Innovation and Commercialization, Waianae Mountains Watershed Partnership, Hawai‘i State Energy Office, and Hawai‘i Community Foundation.
News release: UH News (May 16, 2022)
UHM Selected by NOAA for New $360M National Water Effort
As a partner in the recently formed Cooperative Institute for Research to Operations in Hydrology (CIROH), UH Mānoa Water Resources Research Center (WRRC) will coordinate the UHM portion of the $360 million grant awarded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). CIROH was established to “advance NOAA’s science and services capabilities to provide actionable water resources intelligence.”
The consortium is comprised of 28 academic institutions, non-profit organizations, one government lab, and industry affiliates throughout the US and Canada. CIROH is led by Dr. Steven J. Burian (Principal Investigator, The University of Alabama).
The mission of CIROH is to develop and deliver national hydrological analyses, forecast information, data, guidance, and support services that will enable essential emergency management to make informed water resources decisions.
CIROH will primarily focus on the National Water Model (NWM) that will provide information for the purpose of flood forecasting. Tom Giambelluca (Director, WRRC) said, “In this project, the CIROH-Hawai‘i team will conduct research to improve Hawai‘i-specific and the more general performance of the current and future versions of NWM. UHM brings a wealth of expertise to the consortium regarding tropical weather and hydrological processes, especially for the Hawai‘i region.”
The initial release of $15M is available for specific projects at this time. The UHM team submitted a sub-proposal to the University of Alabama to fund “An Evaluation of the NextGen National Water Model in Tropical Conditions with the Aim of Improving Hyperlocal Flood Forecasting.” Guiseppe Tori will be the PI (Assistant Professor, Atmospheric Sciences at UHM) and WRRC Co-PIs include: Sayed Bateni (Associate Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering and WRRC, UHM), Tom Giambelluca (Professor, Geography and Environment; and Director, WRRC; UHM), Ryan Longman (Fellow, East-West Center), Alison Nugent (Assistant Professor, Atmospheric Sciences, UHM), Chris Shuler (Researcher, WRRC, UHM), and Yin-Phan Tsang (Associate Professor, Natural Resources and Environmental Management, UHM).
“The University of Hawai‘i is pleased to be part of this important NOAA consortium and is well-represented by UH Mānoa’s Water Resources Research Center and its cadre of multidisciplinary experts in weather- and water-related research,” stated Vassilis L. Syrmos, UH Vice President for Research and Innovation. CIROH will also provide support to bolster UH’s water-related course offerings and graduate studies opportunities.
News release: UH News (April 7, 2022)
Book Release by Dr. Clark C.K. Liu — Water Environment Modeling
A happy academic family — Pengzhi Lin was a MS student at the University of Hawai‘i (1994–1945) under the supervision of Clark Liu. The three graduate students at Sichuan University are currently under the supervision of Pengzhi Lin.
Clark C.K. Liu (Emeritus Professor of the University of Hawai‘i WRRC), and his co-authors Drs. Pengzhi Lin and Hong Xiao have published a textbook for advanced undergraduate and graduate students of civil and environmental engineering and related academic fields. This book will also be an excellent reference for engineers and scientists. Water Environment Modeling provides fundamental theories and case studies to illustrate the formulations and applications of mathematical models that simulate water flow and chemical transport in rivers, lakes, groundwater, estuaries, coasts, and ocean waters. This book emphasizes the importance of both simple analytical models and comprehensive numerical models. In general, simple models are used for preliminary assessment of a specific water environment, while comprehensive models are used to provide simulations with more detailed spatial and temporal variations of the fate and transport of pollutants in water environments.
ISBN 9780367442439 — Copyright Year 2022
Published by CRC Press — Taylor & Francis Group
334 pages, 147 b/w Illustrations
| Water Environment Modeling can be obtained from CRC Press — Taylor and Francis Group, Amazon, Barnes&Noble, and all major bookstores. |
The purpose of the scholarship is to further knowledge of Hawai‘i’s natural waters by providing financial assistance that may be used for anything related to costs of attendance or research. The scholarship will be awarded to either part- or full-time University of Hawai‘i students. Application deadline is April 29, 2022.
Congratulations Dr. Brytne Okuhata!
On 9 March 2022, Brytne successfully defended her dissertation “Assessment of groundwater age and transport in West Hawai‘i aquifers.” Her hard work and perseverance helped her to earn her Doctorate degree during these extraordinary times.
Brytne is an ‘Ike Wai graduate research assistant, 2019 Harold T. Stearns Fellowship recipient, and a published scholar. Her interest lies in Hawai‘i’s hydrogeology.
Aloha Dr. Roger Babcock
It’s with mixed emotions that we say aloha to WRRC faculty member Dr. Roger Babcock. After 25 years of research and instruction at the University of Hawai‘i WRRC and the Dept. of Civil and Environmental Engineering, he has accepted the position of Director of Dept. of Environmental Services (ENV) for the City and County of Honolulu.
Roger’s knowledge and research in numerous areas such as biological and on-site wastewater treatment, water recycling, effects of sea level rise of wastewater infrastructure, stormwater runoff management with green roofs, and bioremediation will be invaluable in his new position as ENVs’ Director.
We are happy to announce that he is not completely severing ties to our ‘Ohana, he will continue his collaboration with WRRC as an affiliate faculty member.
With best wishes from the WRRC ‘Ohana, Mahalo nui loa Roger!
WRRC Rings in the Lunar Year with a New Faculty Member
The WRRC ‘Ohana is happy to announce Dr. Aurora Kagawa-Viviani’s joint appointment with WRRC and Dept. of Geography and Environment (GEO). Dr. Kagawa-Viviani brings knowledge of the ecosystems, climate, and peoples of Hawaiʻi derived from her upbringing in Honolulu and nearly 20 years of work in communities across the islands. She currently serves on the Hawaiʻi Commission for Water Resources Management, the entity responsible for implementing the Hawaiʻi Water Code and overseeing management of the state’s water resources. Her research background and understanding of Hawaiʻi led to her selection from among a very strong pool of candidates. Her research on vegetation-water interactions, service in local water management, and insights as a Native Hawaiian researcher and educator will fill a significant gap in WRRC and GEO programs.
2022 NEW PUBLICATIONS: JANUARY TO FEBRUARY
As part of a WRRC project lead by Leah Bremer, a team of University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa researchers, including Henrietta Dulai and Celia Smith, compiled results of previous hydrological and algal studies to investigate the relationship between SGD and algal species in southeast O‘ahu and used those findings to illustrate the urgent need to improve the situation and prevent further coastal ecosystem deterioration. (click here to view the full article)
Find out more about this study in the December 2021 edition of Limnology and Oceanography Letters — Risk to native marine macroalgae from land-use and climate change-related modifications to groundwater discharge in Hawaiʻi. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/lol2.10232
Hydrogeology Journal: 2021 Editors’ Choice Article
WRRC is proud to announce faculty member Dr. Leah Bremer’s collaborative article on the ‘Ike Wai work in Pu‘uloa was selected by the Hydrogeology Journal Editors as one of ten Editors’ Choice articles for the 2021 publication year. The selection of Effects of land-cover and watershed protection futures on sustainable groundwater management in a heavily utilized aquifer in Hawai‘i (USA) was based on several categories, including outstanding science, innovative approach, and potentially important conclusions.
Congratulations to Dr. Bremer and her co-authors Ahmed Elshall, Christopher Wada, Laura Brewington, Jade Delevaux, Aly El-Kadi, Clifford Voss, and Kimberly Burnett for this prestigious honor.
New Publication by Michael Mezzacapo—Water Resources Extension: Empowering Action Through Knowledge
Congratulations to Michael Mezzacapo (WRRC affiliate researcher) and colleagues who published “Water Resources Extension: Empowering Action Through Knowledge” in the Journal of Contemporary Water Research and Education (Issue 174: Water Resources Extension).
Critical water issues such as access to safe drinking water, flooding, drought, and much more are highlighted in a new special edition journal on water resource extension, co-edited by experts from the University of Hawai‘i Sea Grant College Program and the Water Resources Research Center.
View article at: https://ucowr.org/journal/current-issue/
WRRC Receives Grants From NSF and NOAA!
This is the first time the National Science Foundation (NSF) has funded a mesonet (mesoscale network) system under its competitive Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) Program. The NSF awarded the University of Hawaii at Manoa (UHM) a three-year $1.33M grant to establish 84 climate stations across the state. The primary objective of the “Hawaii Mesonet” research project is to better understand and forecast the vast and complex weather and climate that affects the Hawaiian Islands, which is equivalent to a continent compressed into a small area.
The mesonet or mesoscale network will consist of state-of-the-art climate monitoring stations deployed across Hawaii, which will enable long-term observations of rainfall, temperature, and soil conditions that are currently not available in many areas. The 84 stations will each have a data logger, power supply with solar charging, and data telecom device that allows for real-time data transmission. The valuable information acquired from the climate stations will benefit atmospheric science, hydrology, and ecosystems science.
Thomas Giambelluca, the project’s principal investigator and UH Water Resources Research Center director stated, “The Hawaii Mesonet will meet the needs of researchers, weather forecasters, farmers, conservation organizations, and many others by providing high-quality, comprehensive measurements over the whole state.”
This Hawaii Mesonet project will also provide hands-on learning experience to UHM students and post-doctoral researchers. The participants will gain invaluable field experience in instrument installation, calibration, maintenance, and interact with a variety of stakeholders.
Mesonet News Releases:
UH News: https://www.hawaii.edu/news/2021/10/10/hawaii-mesonet-project/
Hawaii Public Radio: https://www.hawaiipublicradio.org/local-news/2021-10-14/university-of-hawaii-climate-project-gets-federal-support
Maui News: https://mauinow.com/2021/10/11/uh-receives-1-3-million-grant-for-project-deploying-84-climate-stations/
Global climate change is increasingly linked to extreme weather conditions such as floods, droughts, heatwaves, and wildfires. To address this issue, the US National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) awarded $6.36M over five-years to support research providing communities in the Pacific region with solutions to build climate resiliency.
Pacific RISA, one of eleven US RISA programs, emphasizes engaging the community, government, and business stakeholders to develop effective policies in building resilience in key areas such as water resource management, coastal and marine resources, fisheries, agriculture, tourism, disaster management, and public health.
To meet these needs, the University of Hawaii at Manoa (UHM) Water Resources Research Center (WRRC) is collaborating with the East-West Center (EWC), Arizona State University (ASU) and other stakeholders to implement the next phase of the ongoing Pacific Regional Integrated Science and Assessment (Pacific RISA) program. With the additional funding, Phase IV “Building Equitable and Just Climate Solutions for Pacific Island Resilience to Compound Disasters and Extreme Events” will focus on regional and specific climate challenges facing Hawaii and the US-Affiliated Pacific Islands (USAPI), which includes two US Territories (American Samoa and Guam), the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and three independent countries (the Republic of Palau, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Federated States of Micronesia).
Thomas Giambelluca, UH WRRC director stated “With all the recent news of catastrophic extreme weather globally, nationally and here in Hawaii, the Pacific RISA project’s focus on climate-change-driven extreme weather events in Hawaii and the USAP is both timely and critically important to decision makers and communities in the region. The UH has a major responsibility, as the research center for the Pacific, to bring scientific expertise to bear on critical issues surrounding climate change adaptation.”
To work on building community resilience, Phase IV will host peer-to-peer exchanges between project participants and strive to maintain and expand Pacific RISA’s role as a source of use-inspired research and as a trusted climate boundary organization. The focus will be to address how the stakeholders can support and develop sustainable, equitable, and just climate solutions that increase resilience to compound disasters and extreme events.
Christopher Schuler, UH WRRC researcher with a RISA project added, “It’s great that as a society, we are finally getting to a place where everyone recognizes that climate change is real. Now, we’re left with the question of how to manage it.”
More information on the Pacific RISA program can be found at: www.PacificRISA.org
UH News NOAA award news release: https://www.hawaii.edu/news/2021/09/30/pacific-climate-change-resilience-grant/
Congratulations to Victor Chen, Jade Cox, and Mavis Liang!
Among the finalists at the 2020 American Samoa Island Wide Science Fair were three students supported by the University of Hawai‘i WRRC in part or as needed through mentoring, funding, access to equipment, or data material. These three outstanding finalists focused their research on the sustainability of American Samoa’s water resources: overall co-winner Victor Chen, who used WRRC data for his project “Calculating Evapotranspiration on Tutuila Island with Python”; third-place winner Jade Cox for “Stormwater Infiltration Injection Well”; and finalist Mavis Liang for “How Much Water Can American Samoa Sustainably Harvest from Its Streams?”
The Science Fair is a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) related competition to inspire young scientists, engineers, and innovators of the future and presents a venue to showcase academic excellence. The top ninth to twelfth grade winners in their categories were eligible to represent American Samoa at the 2020 Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) in Anaheim, California. Due to COVID restrictions, the 2020 Regeneron ISEF fair was held virtually. In a normal competitive year, Regeneron ISEF finalists vie for almost $5 million in awards, prizes, and scholarships. While no awards were given in 2020, Victor Chen was among the 1,300 finalists who were honored in the online publication of the 2020 Virtual Regeneron ISEF.
The virtual 2020 Regeneron ISEF finalist directory can be viewed here and includes the American Samoa winners Victor Chen, Vincent Maverick Jagon (Determining the Effects of Natural Mulching Components on Bok-Choy Plant Growth), and Yasminna Sanchez (The Impacts of Human Habitation on the Health Condition of Variations of Fish Caught in Industrialized vs. Non-Industrialized Watershed Areas).
The full article can be found here.
Sayed Bateni Honored with the Faculty Research Award
A joint appointee of WRRC and CEE, Dr. Sayed Bateni was honored by the University of Hawaii College of Engineering with their 2021 Faculty Research Award for his outstanding research accomplishments and contributions. The College of Engineering annually recognizes its faculty, staff, and students who made outstanding contributions to the academic community.
The WRRC ‘Ohana is proud to congratulate Sayed for the tremendous scientific impact he continues to make.
WRRC Welcomes A New Faculty Member
WRRC is happy to announce that Professor Tao Yan has joined the Center’s ‘Ohana. Concurrently, he will be holding a joint position with the UH Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. He is widely recognized for his research in coastal water quality and wastewater microbiology. Recently, Professor Yan has been in the news for his work to detect levels of the COVID-19 virus in Hawai‘i’s wastewater.
QF-NASA OASIS Mission: The Search for Water
During his sabbatical on a Fulbright Scholarship in Qatar, Professor Sayed Bateni collaborated with Dr. Essam Heggy and others on the joint Qatar Foundation (QF) and NASA OASIS (Orbiting Arid Subsurfaces and Ice Sheet Sounder) mission. Their objective is to design a satellite mission using radar technology to discover and monitor underground sources of fresh water (aquifers) in the sand dunes and ice sheets of the driest places on earth. The current sources of aquifers in the deserts are being rapidly depleted by the needs of local communities. As a member of the OASIS science team, Professor Bateni focuses on using remotely sensed deep-layer soil moisture observations in data assimilation and machine learning approaches to estimate groundwater level in arid areas.
To find out more about the NASA OASIS mission, visit: https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/us-qatar-partnership-aims-to-find-buried-water-in-earths-deserts
Image: The OASIS project seeks to study fresh water aquifers in the desert as well as ice sheets in places like Greenland. This illustration shows what a satellite with a proposed radar instrument for the mission could look like. Source: NASA/JPL-Caltech (from Oasis Project Study, 23 Sept 2020).
O‘ahu’s primary source of water, the Puʻuloa or Pearl Harbor aquifer may need further protection to ensure long-term sustainability. In a context of climate change, withdrawing water from the aquifers at the current sustainable yield limit could potentially render this aquifer unusable as a future public water supply while also threatening culturally and ecologically important springs.
Leah Bremer, lead author with UHERO Environmental Policy and Planning Group and the Water Resources Research Center said, “The current legal limits of withdrawing from the Pu‘uloa aquifer may not be sufficient to protect this important resource. Excessive water withdrawal into the future, could negatively impact not only the aquifer viability as a primary drinking water source in the future but also cultural and ecological springs that feed Sumida Farm, loʻi kalo systems, coastal wetlands, and nearshore ecosystems.”
J. Uluwehi Hopkins, Recipient of the 2021 L. Stephen Lau Scholarship
The most recent recipient of the L. Stephen Lau Water Research Endowed Scholarship is J. Uluwehi Hopkins. Her winning research proposal focused on the community aspects of water rights and management by exploring the regulations and laws used in Hawai‘i prior to western influence, during the transition from Hawaiian to Western-based legal codes, and after those laws were applied.
Ms. Hopkins is a PhD candidate in History with a focus on the history of Hawai‘i. She earned her B.A. and M.A. in Hawaiian Studies from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa and has been teaching at both Mānoa and UH West O‘ahu for several years. Her Master’s Thesis was on Emma Nakuina, the only female Commissioner for Private Ways and Water Rights in the Hawaiian Kingdom and during the Republic era, which led to her exploration of water and the human environment.
In recognition of her innovative research protecting Hawaii’s precious water resources, Helaleh Khoshkam was honored with the Doak and Richard Cox Award. Her research using novel approaches to forecast evapotranspiration and rainfall will benefit Hawaii’s farmers with real-time decisions for optimal irrigation scheduling and efficient water resources management. In addition to irrigation scheduling and water use efficiency, the project should reduce farmers’ cost of water and labor, and increase the net returns by enhancing crop yields and quality.
Helaleh was accepted into the Fall 2021 Ph.D. program at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. She has both a BS and an MS degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering. The objective of her research is to demonstrate how farmers can conserve water and be more effective in utilizing water resources by implementing an innovative new method to model and forecast daily rainfall and evaporation in irrigation areas, while supporting the local food production, and reducing the cost of vegetable crops in Hawaii.
CONGRATULATIONS FROM THE WRRC OHANA LIONEL!!
A postdoctoral scholar at WRRC, Lionel Benoit has accepted a position as a research scientist in his native France, at the National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food, and Environment (INRAE).
INRAE was formed on 1 January 2020 with the merger of the National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA) and the National Research Institute of Science and Technology for the Environment and Agriculture (IRSTEA). These respected and well-known institutions combined their research and considerable infrastructures (e.g., observatories, technical platforms, data repositories) to address a variety of issues such as the emergence of sustainable agricultural and food production systems throughout the world.
Lionel will begin his new position on 1 September 2021. At INRAE, he will be combining sensor network observations, geostatistics, and applications to hydro-meteorology to better estimate the water resources of the vadose zone (i.e., from the top of the ground surface to the water table) and their impact on agriculture. For now, Lionel will continue to collaborate with WRRC in his Hawai‘i-based research.
New Water Commissioner on Board—Dr. Aurora Kagawa-Viviani
WRRC is proud to announce faculty member Dr. Aurora Kagawa-Viviani’s appointment as a Water Commissioner with the Department of Land and Natural Resources, Commission on Water Resource Management. For the duration of her term (July 2021 to June 2025), Aurora and the six other commissioners will be responsible for the care and protection of Hawai‘i’s most important resource—Water.
Summer 2021 WRRC Faculty Tenure and Promotion
Congratulations to Dr. Leah Bremer, promotion to Associate Specialist of Environmental Management – WRRC and The Economics Research Organization of the University of Hawai‘i
April 12 –15, 2021
11 am – 3 pm Hawaii Standard Time
INTERNATIONAL TROPICAL ISLANDS WATER CONFERENCE
Tropical Island Water Futures: Water for People and Ecosystems in the Face of Change
On behalf of the University of Hawai‘i Water Resources Research Center and the Hawai‘i EPSCoR, we are pleased to announce the International Tropical Islands Water Conference. Join us for this virtual event to learn and discuss the importance of managing and understanding our water resources across a broad range of tropical island settings.
University of Hawai‘i Offers a New Hands-on Research Course Designed for Undergraduates for Fall 2021
Transformational Research Experiences for Early Undergraduates (TReX) is an introductory course that provides discovery-based investigation and hands-on experiences in a wide range of science fields. The course is divided into 4-week learning modules that will be taught by researchers at four UH Mānoa research facilities on and off campus:
• Hawaiʻi Institute of Marine Biology
• Lyon Arboretum
• UH Cancer Center
• Water Resources Research Center
No prerequisites. For Fall 2021.
To register for the course, or request more information, contact:
Dr. Judy Lemus, email@example.com
Forest Restoration and Ecohydrology Researcher Aurora Kagawa-Viviani Joins WRRC
Dr. Aurora Kagawa-Viviani is leading the two-year project “Understanding Forest Restoration in Hawai‘i,” focused on gathering and synthesizing knowledge about forest restoration and ecohydrology in Hawai‘i. The aim of this important study is to provide resource managers and communities with the tools and approaches to guide their future decisions impacting Hawai‘i’s forested landscapes.
This project is supported through a partnership with the UH Hilo Hawaiʻi Cooperative Studies Unit, UH Mānoa Water Resources Research Center, and the USGS Pacific Islands Ecosystems Research Center.
Book Release by Dr. Niels Grobbe — Seismoelectric Exploration: Theory, Experiments, and Applications
WRRC’s affiliate researcher Dr. Niels Grobbe and co-authors André Revil, Zhenya Zhu, and Evert Slob have published a book entitled “Seismoelectric Exploration: Theory, Experiments, and Applications (Geophysical Monograph Series).”
Why is seismoelectric exploration so significant? The seismoelectric method is the naturally occurring coupling of seismic waves to electromagnetic fields, and can provide insight into important properties of porous media. This method has diverse potential uses in the geological, environmental and engineering fields, such as characterizing groundwater aquifers, contaminant plumes, earthquake detection, and oil and gas exploration—and offers a number of advantages over conventional geophysical methods.
American Geophysical Union
Seismoelectric Exploration: Theory, Experiments, and Applications can be obtained from Wiley, Amazon, and all major bookstores.
Dr. Roger Babcock Joins Honolulu Mayor Blangiardi’s Cabinet
The WRRC ohana is proud to announce Roger Babcock’s appointment as the Director and Chief Engineer of the Department of Facility Maintenance for the City and County of Honolulu. Dr. Babcock’s distinguished contributions at WRRC and in Civil and Environmental Engineering at UH ensure he will be an excellent addition to Mayor Rick Blangiardi’s cabinet.
Facebook Hawaii News Now—Blangiardi holds first news conference as mayor, January 2, 2021. https://www.facebook.com/
Cesspools: Hawai‘i’s Dirty Little Secret
Congratulations to Michael Mezzacapo (WRRC Outreach Specialist) and colleagues who recently published an article in the Journal of Contemporary Water Research and Education. Upgrading Hawai‘i’s antiquated cesspools is challenging and requires collaboration from many key sectors, including government, nonprofits, local businesses, and academia. This paper provides an overview of the ongoing problem through multiple disciplines and can be used as (1) a resource for policy-makers drafting future conversion plans, and (2) applied to Pacific communities with similar onsite sewage disposal system (OSDS) concerns.
Approximately 88,000 cesspools in Hawai‘i release nearly 55 million gallons per day (mgd) of sewage into the ground. These OSDS are substandard because they lack primary treatment and discharge pathogens and nutrients into groundwater and eventually, the ocean. This timely and significant review by a team of University of Hawai‘i researchers reviewed the status of wastewater pollution around the Hawaiian Islands and the associated impacts to water resources, nearshore ecosystems, and human health. The results of their research highlighted the urgency to upgrade a majority of the cesspools currently used in Hawai‘i and for the creation of a statewide cesspool conversion plan with a transparent, adaptable framework.
Find out more in “Hawai‘i’s Cesspool Problem: Review and Recommendations for Water Resources and Human Health.” Link to article: https://ucowr.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/Issue-170.pdf
Photo: Cesspool—courtesy of Laulea Engineering, LLC
Please welcome geoscientist Dr. Lionel Benoit, an Early Postdoc Mobility research fellow from the Swiss National Science Foundation. At WRRC, his research will investigate how topography and atmospheric circulation interact to generate the steep gradients of precipitation observed in most tropical islands, and in particular in Hawai‘i. The goal of the project is to develop a stochastic model that is able to explore the space-time variability of rainfall over the Hawaiian Islands and its possible evolution from climate change.
Photo: Rain gauge installation in the Swiss Alps (left) and Tahiti (right)
In 2018, the Environmental Center Project (ECP) was established to preserve the unique and crucial documents accumulated by the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa Environmental Center (EC) since its inception in 1970. Through hard work and a logistically challenging process, the ECP—lead by Kieko Matteson, Associate Professor of Environmental and French History in the UH History Department; Dr. Sara Bolduc, an urban planner; and their four student assistants—have made substantial progress in this massive undertaking. While much more work needs to be done, at least a third of the 1,400 historically significant hardcopies have been preserved, converted, and uploaded on the web to enable present and future generations free access to the information.
The full article by Dr. Matteson is available at this link.
View article at University of Hawai‘i News (4 November 2020): https://www.hawaii.edu/news/2020/11/04/project-protects-environmental-history/
Congratulations to Leah Bremer and colleagues who published “Increasing Decision Relevance of Ecosystem Service Science” in the journal Nature Sustainability.
New research published in Nature Sustainability (link) demonstrates that sound environmental policy requires improved understanding of the diverse ways that people benefit from and relate to these systems. The study emphasizes the importance of inclusive and people-focused research as a key ingredient for nature to be better included and factored into policies, sustainable development plans, and other management decisions.
Dr. Leah Bremer, a co-author on this study, emphasizes that, “we need truly collaborative, community-engaged, and interdisciplinary work that incorporates multiple perspectives and world views on the diverse ways that people relate to and depend on ecosystems. Equity and inclusion need to be centered in this work.”
Photo caption: Nature matters to people in many different ways. Old growth forest in the Ecuadorian Amazon, for example, is an ancestral home for indigenous communities, a natural water filtering system for downstream settlements, and a site of inspiration and spirituality for local communities and visitors alike. Focusing on the many ways this forest matters to people is central in its effective and just management.
Leah Bremer is a research faculty member with the Water Resources Research Center (https://www.wrrc.hawaii.edu/directory/faculty-detail/?smid=324) and an Assistant Specialist with the University of Hawai‘i Economic Research Organization (https://uhero.hawaii.edu/people/leah-bremer/). She focuses on interdisciplinary, applied, and problem-driven research related to water and watershed policy and management in Hawaiʻi and Latin America.
View article at University of Hawai‘i News: https://www.hawaii.edu/news/2020/10/22/environmental-policy-people/
The devastating West Coast wildfires highlight the importance of preparation and understanding the threat as it applies to Hawai‘i. To address this, a UH team—lead by Sayed Bateni (Principal Investigator, Associate Professor in Civil and Environmental Engineering and WRRC), Clay Trauernicht (Co-Principal Investigator, Extension Specialist in the Department of Natural Resources), and Tom Giambelluca (Co-Principal Investigator, Director of WRRC)—was awarded nearly $1 million in funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency through partnership and cooperation with the Hawai‘i Emergency Management Agency and UH Mānoa.
View article at University of Hawai‘i News:
Prakit Saingam, Recipient of the 2020 L. Stephen Lau Scholarship
I am very grateful to receive the 2020 L. Stephen Lau Water Research Endowed Scholarship. The scholarship will significantly help to support my PhD study at the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa dealing with enterococci and the effect on humans, water monitoring, and the management of water quality.
My educational background began in Bangkok, Thailand. I have been fascinated by the diversity of microbes and their useful applications. In college, I majored in biotechnology and benefitted from experiencing the various disciplines of microbiology. For my graduate studies (Master’s and PhD), I chose to pursue environmental microbiology following my inspiration to apply the knowledge of microbiology to help sustain a clean environment and protect the public health. My research interest is the microbiological quality of waters based on direct pathogen detection. I would like to pursue a career as a researcher and contribute to the field of water quality monitoring.
Ahmed Afifi, the first recipient of the prestigious Doak and Richard Cox Award, is conducting research using novel approaches to forecast evapotranspiration and rainfall for the benefit of Hawai‘i’s farmers and thereby protecting our precious water resources. The real-time decisions on irrigation scheduling are primarily made based on the agricultural water demand (which strongly depends on evapotranspiration) and rainfall predictions. Hence, accurate forecasting of evapotranspiration and rainfall plays a key role in optimal irrigation scheduling and efficient management of water resources. The benefits of this project are (1) scheduling irrigation to optimize crop water use efficiency, (2) reducing farmers’ cost for water and labor, and (3) increasing net returns by enhancing crop yields and quality.
This summer, Ahmed will receive an MS degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, and will enter the PhD program in Fall 2020. He has a bachelor’s degree in construction engineering from the American University in Cairo (AUC) and a master’s degree in environmental law from the University of Denver Sturm College of Law (DU). His passion for water resources emerged while he was an intern with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) focusing on regional water conflicts. His goal is to “further develop water resources forecasting and management plans that would initiate cooperation rather than fuel conflicts.”
Faced with the economic downturn of the local economy with the coronavirus pandemic, it is imperative that Hawai‘i reflects on the past to turn the current situation to our advantage with win-win solutions. We have the opportunity to create and promote jobs that benefit Hawai‘i’s water quality and economy on the whole, not just tourism.
One of the solutions to stabilize the economy and create jobs would also protect the public health, environment, and Hawai‘i’s waters. We propose to jumpstart the cesspool conversion process by creating 400 shovel-ready projects across the state. The goal is to replace 100 of the worst cesspools in the top priority areas in O‘ahu, Maui, Kaua‘i, and the island of Hawai‘i. This would make an impact towards fulfilling the cesspool conversion mandate to update over 88,000 cesspools in Hawai‘i by 2050, and perhaps alleviate future Environmental Protection Agency penalties.
This proposal encompassed months of brainstorming to address urgent needs and long-term goals, with input and expertise from Stuart Coleman (Executive Director and Co-Founder of the non-profit Wastewater Alternatives & Innovations [WAI]), Elizabeth Benyshek (WAI), Roger Babcock (University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa [UHM]), Rachel Solemsaas (HCC), Michael Mezzacapo (UHM), and Thomas Giambelluca (UHM). Contributions were also made by Sea Grant College Program (UHM), UH Community Colleges, and the Wastewater Branch of the Hawai‘i State Department of Health.
Mr. Coleman has a Civil Beat article that further discusses Hawai‘i’s cesspool problem at: https://www.civilbeat.org/2020/07/how-hawaii-can-lead-in-wastewater-management/
Congratulations to WRRC Director Tom Giambellica and colleagues who published “Fire and Rain: The Legacy of Hurricane Lane in Hawai‘i“
During a four-day period in August 2018, Hurricane Lane devastated the Hawaiian Islands despite the category 5 hurricane never making landfall. The record breaking torrential rainfall caused severe flooding and landslides on the islands of Hawai‘i, O‘ahu, and Maui, while the high-intensity winds contributed to multiple wildfires in the drought areas of west Maui and O‘ahu. This study documents the compounding hazards of fire and rain generated from a single storm, what conditions may have contributed to the intensity, and why further research is needed to understand whether this may become more common in the future. The research team was led by University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa (UHM) Atmospheric Sciences Alison Nugent, and team members Ryan Longman (Geography & Environment, UHM; and East-West Center), Clay Trauernicht (Natural Resources and Environmental Management, UHM), Matthew Lucas (Geography & Environment, UHM; and Hawai‘i Data Science Institute, UH), Henry Diaz (Geography & Environment, UHM), and Thomas W. Giambelluca (WRRC Director; and Geography & Environment, UHM). The published study can be found in Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.
Photo caption: Hurricane Lane brought heavy rain and strong winds that caused severe flooding in Wailuku River, Hawai‘i, and wildfires on Maui. (Photo credits: Crystal Richard, top photo [August 2018]; Maui Fire Dept., bottom photo )
View SOEST press release:
On Wednesday, June 10 at noon you have the opportunity to watch the latest Voice of the Sea episode and chat online with algae, cesspool, and water quality experts from UH and Wastewater Alternatives & Innovations to learn how invasive algae are being used to detect cesspool contamination.
During this fun and interactive YouTube Watch Party and Live Chat, UH Mānoa’s Dr. Celia Smith and Bri Ornelas, Michael Mezzacapo with Hawai‘i Sea Grant and the UH Water Resources Research Center, and Stuart Coleman with Wastewater Alternatives and Innovations will be available to answer your questions after the episode. This is great for all ages, so please share the information with your students and colleagues!
Congratulations to WRRC/CEE faculty member Sayed Bateni! He received the prestigious and distinguished Fulbright award to Qatar. More than 900 U.S. college and university faculty and administrators are awarded Fulbright awards annually.
This award will be applied to his research: Modeling Heat Waves in Qatar by Merging Remotely Sensed and in-situ Hydrologic Data within Machine Learning Approaches. Qatar is one of the fastest warming areas of the world. Over the past three decades, the air temperature increase in Qatar has accelerated. This air temperature rise is partly due to the rapidly warming shallow sea water in the North of Qatar. The high humidity from the sea water in the north prevents evaporation, making the air warming problem even worse, ultimately causing environmental and weather-related fatalities in Qatar. Heat waves also have negative economic impacts such as damaging agricultural products, depletion of water resources, etc. It is evident that the heat waves in Qatar have a significant impact on its health issues, energy consumption, agriculture, tourism, and economy. This study predicts heat waves duration and intensity in Qatar by merging remotely sensed land surface temperature (LST) and meteorological data within machine learning approaches.
Congratulations to Leah Bremer and colleagues who published “Who are We Measuring and Modeling for? Supporting Multilevel Decision-Making in Watershed Management” in the journal Water Resources Research.
Watershed management for a variety of benefits, including sustaining and enhancing clean and ample water supplies, is becoming more common worldwide. To achieve these ends, watershed management programs need the support of hydrologic data and models that are tailored to decision making contexts and user needs. We interviewed a wide range of participants in water management programs in Brazil and found five key areas where modeling and monitoring can support these programs: (1) inspire action and support, (2) inform investment decisions, (3) engage with potential participants, (4) prioritize location and types of activities at regional to national scales, and (5) evaluate program success.
Leah Bremer is a research faculty member with the Water Resources Research Center (https://www.wrrc.hawaii.edu/directory/faculty-detail/?smid=324) and the University of Hawai‘i Economic Research Organization (https://uhero.hawaii.edu/people/leah-bremer/). She is part of an interdisciplinary international collaborative research project, ClimateWIse, funded by the Belmont Forum, which focuses on understanding the current and future opportunities and challenges for watershed management programs in Brazil and the Andes in the context of climate change.
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Congratulations to WRRC/CEE faculty member Dr. Roger Babcock! He received the distinguished 2020 Board of Regents Medal for Excellence in Teaching from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. He was selected as one of 13 out of nearly 300 campus-wide nominations.
This prestigious award recognizes faculty members for their leadership, subject mastery and scholarship, teaching effectiveness and creativity and personal values that benefit students.
- Article can be found at http://www.cee.hawaii.edu/news/
February 11, 2020
The world is experiencing a variety of effects of global warming, and some parts of Hawaiʻi are seeing a decrease in relative humidity. Those are the unexpected results of research recently published (December 2019 issue in Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres) by a team including a PhD candidate in the Department of Geography and Environment Aurora Kagawa-Viviani and WRRC Director Tom Giambelluca.—news release by University of Hawaiʻi News, February 11, 2020.
View article at University of Hawai‘i News: https://www.hawaii.edu/news/2020/02/11/hawaii-seeing-decrease-in-humidity/
December 2019 issue in Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres can be found at: https://doi.org/10.1029/2019JD031571
WRRC adjunct faculty, Professor Tomo’omi Kumagai is a Biogeoscientist with The University of Tokyo. Recently, he participated in a two-part international NHK production (with Japan and France) on the “megafires” currently threatening the world. Part 1 focuses on the mechanisms of these fires. Part 2 concentrates on the environmental impacts and explores strategies to stop the fires.
As an expert on rainforests, Professor Kumagai was asked to share his views (in Part 2) on the effects of these devastating fires, specifically in the Amazon, which is accelerating global warming and leading to a climate change crisis.
The following is a link to the NHK World-Japan Documentary page, where the videos can be viewed. See videos: Megafires: Engulfing forests and cities, Part 1 (January 24, 2020) and Megafires: Engulfing forests and cities, Part 2 (January 25, 2020).
A team at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa has been awarded a $900,000 grant by the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) through a program that supports the conservation of private lands through funding projects centered in technology and innovation. The Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) program awarded a total of $12.5 million in 2019 to 19 different projects addressing areas including water quantity, urban agriculture, pollinator habitat, and accelerating the pace and scale of conservation adoption. The goal of CIG is to foster innovation providing solutions to the most pressing issues facing farmers today, using science to support agricultural conservation and sustainability.
UH’s project, “Forecasting daily reference evapotranspiration and rainfall for water resources conservation and sustainable agriculture,” is led by principal investigators Dr. Sayed Bateni of the College of Engineering and the Water Resources Research Center (WRRC), Dr. Jonathan Deenik and Jensen Uyeda of the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, and Dr. Aly El-Kadi of the School of Ocean and Earth Science Technology and WRRC. The team aims to demonstrate how farmers can conserve water and be more effective in utilizing water resources by using an innovative new method to model and forecast daily rainfall and evaporation in irrigation areas. The approach centers on using an artificial neural network that breaks down the complex long-term time-series into simpler units, providing more accurate forecasting. — News release (modified) by Kim Perez Hults, UHM College of Engineering, December 20, 2019
Speakers: Celia Smith Ph.D. (Professor, UH Mānoa Botany Department) and Robert Whittier, Environmental Health Specialist with the Hawai’i Department of Health. The lecture will be held on December 3, 2019, from 11:00am-noon in HIG #210.
Dr. Niels Grobbe was honored as the first place recipient of the “Innovation Award,” presented at the Fifth International Conference on Engineering Geophysics (ICEG 2019, a collaboration with the Society of Exploration Geophysicists [SEG]), held in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates, October 21–24, 2019. His contribution entitled ‘Seismoelectric Surface Wave Analysis for Characterization of Formation Properties, Using Dispersive Relative Spectral Amplitudes’ was selected as the winning contribution after a highly competitive evaluation procedure, which included a 4-page extended conference abstract, a white paper, letters of recommendation, a 45 minutes presentation, and a 40 minutes Q&A.
As the first place winner, Dr. Grobbe was awarded $10,000.
Dr. Grobbe is an Assistant Researcher in hydrogeophysics and applied geophysics at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, and holds a joint position with the Water Resources Research Center and the Hawai‘i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology. Dr. Grobbe would like to thank his colleague, Dr. Sjoerd de Ridder from the University of Leeds, United Kingdom, for collaborating with him on this exciting innovation.
Photos can be seen on:
Thomas Giambelluca, director of the University of Hawaii’s Water Resources Research Center, said research shows that temperature in Hawaii has been increasing over the past 100 years, and this year, since about May, temperatures have been extreme, with many records broken. (Friday, October 18, 2019)
download at: https://www.wrrc.hawaii.edu/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Honolulu-Star-Advertiser-18-Oct-2019.pdf
The WRRC ohana is proud to announce the appointment of Dr. Thomas W. Giambelluca as its new Director, effective August 1, 2019. Tom succeeds Interim Director Darren T. Lerner, and together they have worked to make the leadership transition as seamless as possible. Tom has an impressive resume of research and accomplishments dealing with the challenge of global environmental change. With an academic background in geography and experience in a variety of leadership positions (most recently, the Associate Director of Social Science Research Institute) and research topics (such as climate variability, interaction between the atmosphere and land surface, and ecosystems), he is uniquely qualified to lead the Center as it moves forward to expand its research capabilities.
Summer 2019 WRRC Faculty Tenure and Promotions
Congratulations to Dr. Marek Kirs and Dr. Sayed Bateni who have achieved tenure and promotion appointments.
Marek Kirs, promotion to Associate Researcher – WRRC
Sayed Bateni, promotion to Associate Professor – WRRC and Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
The University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa Department of Earth Sciences, Hawai‘i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology, and Water Resources Research Center offers Summer Fieldschool course: GG 699 Hydrogeophysics in Volcanic Environments.
This program aims to identify and quantify groundwater flow and its distribution in the old stream valley at Makapu‘u on the island of O‘ahu. Participants will be trained in a wide variety of multi-geophysical methods, including ambient noise seismics, nodal-based, true 3D electrical resistivity tomography, and self-potential.
The course covers the entire geophysical workflow, including data acquisition planning, data collection in the field, data processing, imaging, and hydrogeological interpretations. Special emphasis is on the integration of hydrogeophysical data and hydrologic modeling — a skill that is transferable to the reservoir scale in exploration geophysics. Participants will become familiar with the challenges and solutions for data acquisition and imaging in basaltic environments.
Varied Dates: June 2-22, 2019
Course Fee: $226
Course Info: Please contact Niels Grobbe: firstname.lastname@example.org
or call 808-956-5857 for more information.
WRRC Welcomes New Water Resources Outreach Specialist
WRRC is pleased to welcome our newest faculty member, Michael Mezzacapo. He has a joint position with WRRC and the University of Hawaiʻi Sea Grant. As a Water Resources Outreach Specialist, Michael will play a critical role serving as a statewide and regional liaison to government organizations, resource managers, NGOs, community groups, and decision-makers to provide state-of-the-art research information, technology and tools. He will also work in partnership with university staff and stakeholders to develop programs to provide education and collaborative outreach to address pressing water resource challenges across the Pacific region.
Previously, Michael was the 2017-2018 Michigan Sea Grant Fellow at the International Joint Commission in Windsor, Ontario (Canada), where he assisted with public health research, science communications, and contributed to technical reports addressing transboundary water quality between the United States and Canada. Michael holds a Bachelor’s degree from Widener University in Health Science and a Master’s degree in Environmental Studies from Green Mountain College.
In his spare time, you can find him hiking, gardening, cooking and traveling with his partner Ashley. He is also a licensed helicopter pilot and hopes to complete his glider certification in the future.
Please join us in congratulating Michael on his appointment and welcoming him to our WRRC Ohana!
Dr. Roger Babcock Receives 2019 Engineer of the Year Award
Congratulations to Dr. Roger Babcock, Water Resources Research Center and Civil and Environmental Engineering professor, who was awarded the prestigious 2019 Engineer of the Year by the Hawaii Society of Professional Engineers. See featured article in Wiliki O Hawaii, February 2019.
Full Proposals due Friday, April 26, 2019 on eProjects for the 2020-2022 Grant Program for Hawai’i and American Samoa. REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS ARE NOW CLOSED
Water Resources Research Center’s Dr. Sayed Bateni has received a major award from the US Department of Agriculture’s Conservation Innovation Grants program.