New Tool – Vog Measurement and Prediction Project

A paper published this month by University of Hawaiʻi and Hawaiian Volcano Observatory researchers in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society details the development and utility of a computer model for the dispersion of volcanic smog or “vog,” which forms when volcanic sulfur dioxide gas interacts with water and coverts it to acid sulfate aerosol particles in the atmosphere.

Vog poses a serious threat to the health of Hawaiʻi’s people as well as being harmful to the state’s ecosystems and agriculture. Even at the low concentrations, which can be found far from the volcano, vog can provoke asthma attacks in those with prior respiratory conditions. It also damages vegetation and crops downwind from the volcano.

vmap

Click to check out the project

News tools for predicting vog

Scientists from the UH Mānoa School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), under the leadership of Professor of Meteorology Steve Businger, and in collaboration with researchers at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, developed a computer model for predicting the dispersion of vog. The vog model uses measurements of the amount of sulfur dioxide (SO2) emitted by Kīlauea, along with predictions of the prevailing winds, to forecast the movement of vog around the state.

The team of scientists developed an ultraviolet spectrometer array to provide near-real-time volcanic gas emission rate measurements; developed and deployed SO2 and meteorological sensors to record the extent of Kīlauea’s gas plume (for model verification); and developed web-based tools to share observations and model forecasts, providing useful information for safety officials and the public and raising awareness of the potential hazards of volcanic emissions to respiratory health, agriculture and general aviation.

“Comparisons between the model output and vog observations show what users of the vog model forecasts have already guessed—that online model data and maps depicting the future location and dispersion of the vog plume over time are sufficiently accurate to provide very useful guidance, especially to those who suffer allergies or respiratory conditions that make them sensitive to vog,” said Businger.

A statewide concern

Kīlauea volcano, the most active volcano on earth, is situated in the populous State of Hawaiʻi. The current eruption has been ongoing since 1983, while a new summit eruption began in 2008.

The most significant effect of this new eruption has been a dramatic increase in the amount of volcanic gas that is emitted into Hawaiʻi’s atmosphere. While the effects of lava eruption are limited to the southeastern sector of the Big Island, the volcanic gas emitted by Kīlauea is in no way constrained; it is free to spread across the entire state.

“Higher gas fluxes from Kīlauea appear to be the new norm. For the State of Hawaiʻi to understand the effects of vog and then come up with strategies to efficiently mitigate its effects, accurate forecasts of how vog moves around the state are vital,” said Businger.

The American Recovery Act award that originally funded the development of the vog model program has long since expired. Funding for a PhD candidate, Andre Pattantyus, to help keep the online vog products available has been provided by SOEST and the Joint Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research.

Because Pattantyus, the lead vog modeler, is set to graduate this winter, the vog program is at a crossroads. Businger is working with stakeholders that include federal, state, commercial and private interests to jointly fund an ongoing vog and dispersion modeling capability for the residents of Hawaiʻi.

Public support of the vog modeling program is critical for the program to continue providing vog plume predictions in future.

Kona Attorneys Recognized for Volunteer Service to the West Hawaii Community

Thirty attorneys were recognized for their volunteer service during the Self-Help Recognition Awards on November 6, at the Kona Courthouse in Kealakekua.

These attorneys provided free legal information to West Hawaii residents who visited the Self-Help Desk at the Kona Courthouse.

These attorneys provided free legal information to West Hawaii residents who visited the Self-Help Desk at the Kona Courthouse.

The Kona Self-Help Desk was established in October 2013 as part of the Hawaii State Judiciary’s commitment to increasing access to justice in the courts.  Since opening, the Self-Help Desk has helped more than 1,000 people, with volunteer attorneys providing approximately 400 hours of legal information on District and Family Court civil matters, such as temporary restraining orders and divorce.  These services have been provided at almost no cost to the state.

“I am grateful to the attorneys who volunteer their time at our Self-Help Desk, assisting individuals who must represent themselves in court.  The generous donation of professional services by these attorneys has been essential to advancing our goal of ensuring that all Hawaii residents have equal access to justice,” said Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald.

The volunteers were recognized by Hawaii Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald, Third Circuit Chief Judge Ronald Ibarra, Deputy Administrative Director of the Courts Iris Murayama, District Family Court Judge Aley Auna, Chief Court Administrator of the Third Circuit Lester Oshiro, and Third Circuit Deputy Chief Court Administrators Dawn West and Cheryl Salmo.

The individual attorneys who were honored are as follows:  Joanna Sokolow (recognized for the most volunteer shifts), Al Lerma, Charlie McCreary, Herman Heimgartner, Dean Kauka, Kaua Jackson, Dawn Henry, Kim Taniyama, Cynthia Tai, Michael Schlueter, Jason Kwiat, Catherine Gibson, Mark Van Pernis, Rebecca Colvin, Daniel Peters, Gerald Garcia, Fred Gianinni, Ann Datta, Stephen Whittaker, Mitch Roth, Jennifer Heimgartner, John Powell, Andrew Kennedy, Shawn Nakoa, Mike Matsukawa, Bob Borns, Wendy DeWeese, Peter Olson, Carol Kitaoka, and Robert Olson.

Also acknowledged were Erin Henschel, Madeline Taomia, and Heather Basham, the AmeriCorps Advocates who, through the Legal Aid Society of Hawaii, organize the Self-Help Desk at the Kona Courthouse each week.

Dawn Henry, Managing Attorney for the Legal Aid Society of Hawaii in Kona said, “I am so pleased by the support the West Hawaii Bar Association and our local attorneys have given to this effort.  Every week, West Hawaii residents use the Self-Help Desk to gain information on how to file court papers and be active participants in legal actions.  The Kona Self-Help Desk is the result of a statewide collaboration of the Hawaii State Judiciary, the Hawaii State Bar Association, the Hawaii Access to Justice Commission and the Legal Aid Society of Hawaii, and our local bar has enthusiastically gotten behind the effort. With the donation of their time, today’s honorees are helping to make justice a living reality in our community.”

The Chief Justice also thanked the West Hawaii Bar Association, the Hawaii State Bar Association, the Legal Aid Society of Hawaii, and the Access to Justice Commission for their support of the Self-Help Desk.

For more information on the Kona Self-Help Desk as well as the Self-Help Center at Hale Kaulike in Hilo see:  http://bit.ly/1MpcAOd

Hawaii Is the State with the 3rd Lowest Uninsured Rate Post-Obamacare

With the third open-enrollment period for health insurance upon us and 11.7 percent of the U.S. population still lacking coverage, the personal finance website WalletHub conducted an in-depth analysis of 2015’s States with the Highest & Lowest Uninsured Rates.

Click to view entire list

Click to view entire list

For the second year in a row, WalletHub’s analysts drew upon the most reliable data to estimate the rates of uninsured pre- and post-Obamacare for the 50 states and the District of Columbia. For a broad perspective of those rates, we broke the national figures down to the state level and other categories, including age, race and income level.

Health Insurance Coverage in Hawaii:

  • Obamacare reduced the children’s uninsured rate by 15.29 percent between 2010 and 2014.
  • Obamacare reduced the adult uninsured rate by 35.52 percent between 2010 and 2014.
  • The uninsured rate for whites is 1.51 percent lower than that for Hispanics.
  • The uninsured rate for higher-income households is 57.03 percent lower than that for lower-income households.
  • The rate of publicly insured is 30.61 percent.
  • The rate of privately insured is 69.39 percent.
  • The rate of employer-based health insurance coverage increased by 8.03 percent between 2010 and 2014.
  • The uninsured rate pre-Obamacare was 7.89 percent and has fallen to a current rate of 5.27 percent, with 31,653 persons gaining health insurance coverage.

For the full report, please visit:
https://wallethub.com/edu/rates-of-uninsured-by-state-before-after-obamacare/4800/

UHSU Commentary – Hawaii Community College Student Wants Answers on Student Funding

United Hawai’i Student Union (UHSU) member Asia Olsen sent the following email to Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs at Hawaii Community College Jason Cifra.

Asia Olsen

Asia Olsen Facebook picture

He is required by state law to respond within 10 business days. UHSU will keep you posted on his response.

See you at the #MillionStudentMarch this Thursday 10-4pm Library Lanai.
Facebook event here

Aloha Jason Cifra,

Per the Freedom of Information Act and the Sunshine Law I would like to request answers and / or corresponding documentation to the following:

Currently what are the names all of the individual Chartered Student Organizations (CSOs) of HawCC?

Please provide me with all of the individual CSOs of HawCC’s constitutions, charters and/ or bylaws.

Please provide me with all of the budgets for the past five years of all of HawCC’s CSOs.

How much money was collected in student fees this fiscal year?

Please provide the amount of student fees collected over the individual past 5 fiscal years.

What paid positions are paid for out of HawCC’s CSOs budgets?

Please provide the names of the individuals whose positions are funded by HawCC student fees.

Please provide the job descriptions of all positions paid for by HawCC student fees.

Please provide the names of the individuals and their job descriptions of all positions paid for by HawCC student fees over the past 5 fiscal years.

Please provide the names and job descriptions of all employees in the student affairs department at HawCC.

Please provide me with any and all documentation, guidelines, rules, policies and/or regulations of pertaining to the allocation of student fees.

Does the Student Life Center receive funding from student fees?

Please provide the current fiscal year budget for the Student Life Center.

Please provide the budgets and receipts of the Student Life Center over the past 5 fiscal years.

Who is currently in charge of the Student Life Center?

Who is the designated representative by the board of regents at HawCC who may withdraw funds on behalf of Chartered Student Organizations in reference to: §304A-2257 University of Hawaii student activities revolving fund?

Mahalo for your cooperation,

Asia Olsen
Hawaii Community College student
United Hawaii Student Union member

Operation Compassion Collects Over 70 Kits for Abused Children and Victims of Domestic Violence

The Big Island Substance Abuse Council’s CEO, Dr. Hannah Preston-Pita and her daughter, Deannah Che Preston worked for two months on project, Operation Compassion to help collect therapeutic kits for abused children and victims of domestic violence.

This mother and daughter team with the help of the Big Island Substance Abuse Council successfully collected over 70 completed kits. Each backpack included a blanket, stuffed animal, hygiene kits, coloring books, notebooks, pencils, crayons, and a storybook.

This mother and daughter team with the help of the Big Island Substance Abuse Council successfully collected over 70 completed kits. Each backpack included a blanket, stuffed animal, hygiene kits, coloring books, notebooks, pencils, crayons, and a storybook.

High School senior, Deannah Che wanted to make a difference in children’s lives.  “It really saddens me when children have to experience abuse, especially alone.”  Her purpose was to show them that they are not alone and that people care.  Together, they have seen the outpouring of support.  “We are so fortunate to live in a community that everyone pulls together to inspire change and we are humbled and grateful for all the support” says, Dr. Hannah.

Due to this support, BISAC will continue this as an annual campaign to benefit the Children’s Justice Center a program which provides support to abused children and victims of domestic violence.

Since 1964, the Big Island Substance Abuse Council has been inspiring individuals and families to reclaim and enrich their lives.  “These kits will continue our mission and hopefully make a difference in our community” says, Dr. Hannah.    If you want to donate please contact 969-9994 ext. 827.

TMT Site Preparations Beginning

While workers associated with the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) on Mauna Kea on Hawaii Island begin maintenance and repair activities, hunting and other recreational activities and research also continue on the mountain.

Suzanne Case, Chairperson of the Department of Land and Natural Resources said, “Mauna Kea is very much a multiple-use area for a wide array of cultural, recreational and research activities. Our goal is to ensure that people on the mountain conduct themselves responsibly and with respect for other users. As local workers prepare to begin work at the TMT site, we want to remind people of other simultaneous activities that may be occurring on the mountain.”

TMT laser

November 16-17, 2015 and again December 14-15, 2015 the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) will conduct animal control activities specifically for trapping mouflon/feral sheep hybirds, as well as staff hunting and/or aerial shooting from helicopters for feral goats, sheep, mouflon and mouflon/sheep hybrids.  These activities will occur within critical palila habitat in the Mauna Kea Forest Reserve (Unit A), Mauna Kea Ice Age Natural Area Reserve (Unit K) and the Ka’ohe Game Management Area (Unit G). Aerial shooting is required by federal court order to improve and maintain critical habitat for the palila, a bird endemic to Hawaii.  Please see this link for the news release announcing these animal control activities: http://dlnr.hawaii.gov/blog/2015/09/28/nr15-149/

Also the 2015-2016 game bird hunting season began on November 7, 2015 and continues through Sunday, Jan. 31, 2016 on private and public lands.  This includes multiple game management units, forest reserves and other public lands on Mauna Kea.  For specific information on game bird hunting rules and specific hunting areas please refer to this news release: http://dlnr.hawaii.gov/dofaw/announcements/nr15-160f/.

Case added, “We want everyone conducting customary and traditional practices, enjoying recreational activities, or exercising their free speech rights on Mauna Kea to understand that they are sharing the mountain with many others and we want an atmosphere where kama’aina and visitors can all enjoy their activities, safely.