Channel: The Kaʻū Calendar News Briefs, Hawaiʻi Island
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Ka`u Calendar News Briefs Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Saturday is the final 2016 Sanctuary Ocean Count of humpback whales. Aerial footage of unusual whale behavior is available at hawaiihumpbackwhale.noaa.gov. See more below. Photo from NOAA
HAWAI`I DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH yesterday reported no new confirmed cases of dengue fever since one was reported last Friday. Presently, the total number of confirmed cases since the beginning of the outbreak is 262, including 236 residents and 26 visitors.
      DOH urges residents to prevent mosquito bites. Wear clothing that minimizes exposed skin, use mosquito repellent on skin that cannot be covered, and avoid areas of high mosquito concentration during the early morning and late afternoon periods when mosquito activity is greatest.
      To read comments, add your own and like this story, see facebook.com/kaucalendar.

SEN. MAZIE HIRONO CO-INTRODUCED the Coral Reef Sustainability Through Innovation Act, legislation that would jumpstart research related to coral reef conservation.
      “In the past two years, Hawai`i’s coral reefs have experienced two serious coral bleaching events, and with rising ocean temperatures, we can expect these events to become more commonplace,” Hirono said. “There is much to be learned about mitigation and the long-term effects of coral bleaching, and this legislation will spur research to better protect this precious natural resource.”
      Hirono said coral reef ecosystems are marine biodiversity hotspots that provide food for millions of people and also protect our shorelines from storms and erosion. Coral reefs in Hawai`i alone are worth $385 million per year to the local economy, and taking into account all of the services, they have a net present value of $10 billion.
      The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has declared a worldwide coral bleaching event that will impact 95 percent of U.S. coral reefs, including reefs in Hawai`i. Long-term coral bleaching leaves reefs vulnerable to disease outbreaks and death.
Coral reefs, which are being damaged by bleaching events,
contribute millions to Hawai`i's economy.
Photo from XL Catlain Seaview Survey
      This no-cost bill would encourage the 12 federal agencies on the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force, which includes NOAA, the Coast Guard and the Department of Defense, to collaboratively use existing funds across agencies to carry out a competitive prize competition. The legislation also allows the federal agencies to work with private entities to both fund and administer the prize competitions. Prize competitions that encourage public-private partnerships like this have a history of incentivizing innovative research that can be integrated into a Federal ocean management strategy.
      “Ocean Conservancy applauds Sen. Hirono and Rep. (Mark) Takai for their leadership in protecting coral reefs and the livelihoods that depend on them,” said Julia Roberson, director of Ocean Conservancy’s Ocean Acidification Program. “Corals are under threat from ocean acidification, bleaching and warming, and yet reef fisheries support thousands of our fishermen, and millions of Americans travel every year to marvel at the beauty of coral ecosystems. The Coral Reef Sustainability Through Innovation Act applies American ingenuity to tackle some of the most pressing problems our corals face.”
      To read comments, add your own and like this story, see facebook.com/kaucalendar.

HAWAIIAN VOLCANO OBSERVATORY scientists discuss vog in the current issue of Volcano Watch.
      “The first few months of 2016 have brought a range of wind and weather conditions to the Island of Hawai`i,” the article states. “As is typical during strong El Niño events, there’s been a notable absence of trade winds and minimal rainfall. Periods of Kona winds (winds with a southerly component) interspersed with light and variable winds have brought noxious volcanic pollution (vog) to many parts of the island, as well as to our neighbor islands to the northwest.
      “Vog forms as volcanic gases bubble out of Kilauea’s active lava lake at Halema`uma`u and from the vents and lava flows in and around Pu`u `O`o. The main culprit in the formation of vog is sulfur dioxide gas (SO2), which is released in ample supply from the volcano. In 2015, Kilauea released roughly 800,000 metric tons of the pungent gas, more than five times the amount released by the dirtiest coal-burning power plant in the United States.
The summit of Mauna Loa rises above a layer of vog.
Photo from USGS/HVO
      “The voluminous visible plumes emitted from Kilauea are composed mainly of water vapor, carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide gases, as well as small amounts of ash, other gases and particles. SO2 gas is invisible, but once released from the volcano, it reacts chemically in the atmosphere to form tiny liquid acid droplets and fine solid particles. These particles fall into a category of air pollution referred to as PM2.5, particulate matter with diameters of 2.5 microns (0.0001 inch) or less – smaller than the diameter of one strand of a spider’s web or of a human hair. These tiny particles, which are good at scattering light, are largely responsible for the visible haze associated with vog. 
      “The term ‘vog’ is generic, with the actual proportion of gases and particles dependent on how much time it has had to react in the atmosphere. Close to the gas emission sources, vog can contain significant amounts of unreacted SO2 gas. The longer SO2 gas has to react in the atmosphere, the more complete the SO2 gas to particle conversion is. So, farther away from the volcano, vog is composed primarily of particles.
      “The dual gas and/or particle nature of vog means that people are exposed to different vog cocktails, depending on location. In areas closer to Kilauea, such as Ocean View and Pahala, which are downwind of the volcano during prevailing northeasterly trade winds, people are chronically exposed to a mixture of SO2 gas and particles. During non-trade wind conditions, communities in the Hilo and Puna districts are frequently voggy, and, because they are relatively close to the emission sources, there is also a mixture of SO2 gas and particles in the vog. On neighbor islands, and in communities on the western and northern areas of Hawai`i Island, people are mainly exposed to particles.
The Volcano Measurement & Prediction Project
forecasts vog.
      “According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, high concentrations of SO2 gas and particles can cause a variety of effects, including aggravation of existing heart and lung disease, increased asthma symptoms, emergency department visits and hospital admissions for respiratory illnesses. Even healthy people can experience eye, nose and throat irritation, coughing, phlegm, chest tightness and shortness of breath. 
      “In Hawai`i, current vog concentrations are expected to have the highest impact on sensitive populations – people with preexisting medical conditions, the elderly and children. However, minor symptoms are reported by many people exposed to vog, consistent with the effects expected from SO2 and particle exposures.
      “Many websites provide information on current SO2 gas and particle conditions, protective actions for when pollution levels are elevated and other air quality data.
      “The Hawai`i Department of Health provides 15-minute SO2 gas concentration data at www.hiso2index.info and PM2.5 data at http://emdweb.doh.hawaii.gov/air-quality/. PM2.5 data and advice are also available through the multi-agency AirNow website (www.airnow.gov).
      “SO2 gas and PM2.5 data for Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park are available at http://www.hawaiiso2network.com/.
      “The Volcano Measurement and Prediction Project (weather.hawaii.edu/vmap/) provides a modeled two-day forecast for volcanic SO2 gas and particles.
      “Finally, the International Volcanic Health Hazard Network (www.ivhhn.org) provides additional information.
      “Kilauea continues to release large amounts of volcanic gas each day. Learning to identify when vog is present and how to protect ourselves and our families is a sensible adaptation to living with the active volcano in our backyard.”
      See hvo.wr.usgs.gov.
      To read comments, add your own and like this story, see facebook.com/kaucalendar.

DEMONSTRATIONS OF VARIOUS Hawaiian games take place tomorrow from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Kilauea Visitor Center's lanai in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park. Free; park entrance fees apply.

NA`ALEHU PUBLIC LIBRARY hosts a free Blacksmithing Demonstration tomorrow at 2 p.m. All ages are welcome; young children must be accompanied by an adult.
      Call 939-2442 for more information.

DISCOVERY HARBOUR COMMUNITY Association accepts items for its upcoming Volunteer Fire Department rummage sale tomorrow and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The sale takes place Friday and Saturday.
      For more information, call 929-9576.

HAWAI`I HUMANE SOCIETY meets with Ka`u residents Thursday at 6 p.m. at Ocean View Community Center. Representatives discuss available programs and resources.           For more information, call Roxy at 329-1175.

THURSDAY IS THE FINAL DAY to register for Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary’s last 2016 count of the mammals. Volunteers gather on Saturday to count and record whales’ behavior at various locations, including Miloli`i, Ka Lae, Punalu`u and Ka`ena Point. See sanctuaryoceancount.org.


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