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by Jessica McDunn, University Relations

With global climate change a very prominent topic throughout the world today, scientists and students at HPU are part of cutting-edge research to study the effects of climate change on Hawai‘i and the global environment.

The HPU Marine Sciences program is conducting a pilot project that provides monthly monitoring of environmental conditions in Kane‘ohe Bay and the waters offshore of East O‘ahu. HPU marine sciences students have been conducting the environmental monitoring work aboard HPU’s research boat, the R/V Kaholo.

By participating in the data collection project, marine biology senior Lucas Kearns sees the relationship between water quality and sea- animal life.

“ In the past, Kane‘ohe Bay has been used for wastewater disposal, so a lot of organic matter is in the bay’s sediments. As it breaks down, it releases more CO2,” Kearns said. “That makes it a good source to gather data and to set up models on what could happen in the future.”

HPU Marine and Environmental Science Program Director Dr. Christopher Winn is coordinating the research effort, which was awarded to HPU through a $75,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Education Campus Compact Program. The Kane‘ohe Bay monitoring project is the kind of work Winn says distinguishes budding scientists.

“ It’s a terrific opportunity for our undergraduate students to participate in significant ocean research,” said Winn. “This monitoring project could be an important initiative over the next decade. We need people trained for this.”

Winn credits HPU’s affiliation with Oceanic Institute (OI), the nation’s largest applied marine research and aquaculture facility, as the key to receiving the research grant.

“ HPU and OI have given me a strong foundation in the basics of oceanographic research,” said Ginger Lee Jahn (2006 B.S. in marine biology).

According to Winn, Kane‘ohe Bay is a particularly significant and interesting region for long-term study because of the extensive history of research in the bay, along with the human influences on it, over the past century.

“ We hope this long-term monitoring effort will help us better understand how the bay and the surrounding marine environment are responding to the continuing influence of coastal development, non-point source pollutant input, and impending climate change,” said Winn.

Assistant Professor of biology Dr. Valerie Franck is studying the effects of decades-long dumping in Kane‘ohe Bay by researching nutrient cycling in ocean waters over time.

HPU scientists offer worldwide environmental experience. Before focusing on island ecology, Franck conducted scientific research in Greenland. “I have spent some time in Antarctica and am interested in the comparison between the Arctic and Antarctica in terms of marine science and wildlife,” said Franck. “I’ve heard a great deal from researchers from around the world about the effects of global warming on Arctic marine ecosystems and finally saw those changes for myself.”
Dr. Susan Carstenn, HPU assistant professor of environmental science, is continuing a research project on using controlled fires to enhance recovery of the Florida Everglades. Carstenn and her collaborators are working on a book outlining the study. She will present her findings at the Eco-Summit in China in May.

Dr. Stephen Allen, HPU assistant professor of chemistry, is collaborating with other scientists to develop a carbon fuel cell that uses a renewable fuel created from green waste. Allen also will teach a course at HPU in the fall 2007 semester that will offer certification in the solar technology field.

For more information on HPU’s College of Natural Sciences and HPU’s affiliate organization Oceanic Institute, please contact natsci@hpu.edu or 236-5853.

 


(Left to right) HPU Assistant biology Professor Dr. Kristi West, natural sciences senior Joshua Spaulding, biology sophomore Tarah Pierson, Oceanic Institute finfish researcher Chad Callan, marine biology junior Alexandra White, Assistant environmental science Professor Dr. Susan Carstenn, and marine biology junior Dean Kline examine water samples taken from offshore East O‘ahu.

Courtesy OI

 

 

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