New Hawaiian Volcano Observatory Scientist-In-Charge

The U.S. Geological Survey is pleased to announce the selection of Christina (Tina) Neal to serve as the new Scientist-in-Charge of the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. Neal succeeds Jim Kauahikaua, who served in the position for the past ten years.

Christina Neal, Scientist-in-Charge, USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory

Christina Neal, Scientist-in-Charge, USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory

It is a fitting coincidence that Neal, only the second woman to lead USGS HVO in its 103-year-long history, takes the helm on March 8, International Women’s Day, a day established to celebrate the achievements of women around the world.

“Tina brings to the HVO Scientist-in-Charge position the required breadth of scientific background, strong communication skills, and eruption response experience, including much work with various communities at risk. I was thrilled when she accepted the position, because I knew that both HVO and the communities that it serves will be in good hands going forward,” said Tom Murray, Director of the USGS Volcano Science Center, which oversees all five U.S. volcano observatories.

Neal comes to Hawai‘i from Alaska, where she spent almost 25 years working as a USGS geologist with the Alaska Volcano Observatory. After so many years in the land of the midnight sun, swapping snowshoes for ‘slippahs’ (flip-flops) might seem a drastic change, but she’s no stranger to the aloha state—or HVO.

From 1983 to 1989, Neal lived in Volcano, and worked on the staff at HVO.  Her work included monitoring Kīlauea Volcano during the early years of its ongoing East Rift Zone eruption, as well as Mauna Loa during its 1984 eruption. She fondly recalls one day in March 1984, when she spent the morning working atop the erupting Mauna Loa and the afternoon collecting lava samples from the active Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō vent on Kīlauea.  For a volcanologist, simultaneous eruptions on two volcanoes made for an unforgettable workday.

As part of the Big Island Mapping Project, Neal mapped the summit of Kīlauea, resulting in the USGS publication “Geologic Map of the Summit Region of Kīlauea Volcano, Hawaii.” She also mapped Kīlauea’s Southwest Rift Zone for the “Geologic Map of the Island of Hawai‘i.”

In 1990, Neal moved to Alaska to work at the newly-created AVO in Anchorage.  There, she monitored and studied a number of Alaskan volcanoes and their eruptions, including Redoubt (1989–1990 and 2009), Mount Spurr (1992), Augustine (2005–2006), and Okmok (2008). Working on remote Alaskan stratovolcanoes is not for the faint-hearted—the steep-sided, glacier-covered volcanic mountains are hazardous even when not erupting—a tip-off to the mettle of which Neal is made.

In 1998, Neal accepted a two-year assignment in Washington, D.C., as the first USGS geoscience advisor to the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance, within the U.S. Agency for International Development, which is responsible for coordinating U.S. government responses to disasters overseas. Her travels during this assignment took her to Thailand, Nepal, Ecuador, Colombia, Kazakhstan, and other foreign countries, where she reviewed or assisted with the implementation of hazard mitigation programs.

When Neal returned to AVO in 2000, she resumed her work as a geologist—mapping and studying active Alaskan volcanoes. With colleagues, she strengthened the Alaska-based interagency response system for volcanic eruptions and coordinated AVO’s eruption monitoring and crisis response efforts with Russian volcanology counterparts. She is also internationally recognized for her efforts to reduce the risk of volcanic ash to aviation in the North Pacific and globally.

In addition to outstanding geologic work, Neal honed her managerial skills during two details as Chief of Staff and Deputy Regional Director for the USGS Western Regional Office in 2009–2010 and as Acting Scientist-in-Charge at AVO in 2010.

Over the years, Neal has maintained ties to HVO.  In 2012, she helped with HVO’s 100th Anniversary Open House, and in October 2014, she spent two weeks at HVO assisting with monitoring efforts and community meetings as Kīlauea’s active lava flow moved toward Pāhoa.

10th Annual Building and Design Expo

The Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce will hold its 10th annual Building & Design Expo February 6 – 8 at the Keauhou Convention Center at the Sheraton Keauhou Bay Resort & Spa.Building and Design ExpoFriday evening the expo is open to the public from 5 p.m. – 8 p.m. and includes a musical performance by Randy Ressler. Saturday expo hours are from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Visit over 40 exhibits featuring home design, construction and remodel ideas including home decorating; fine art; windows and doors; flooring and window treatments; kitchen and baths, home energy products and more. The booths will present products, services and information relating to the building and improvement of homes, apartments and condos. Enter to win giveaways and drawings at vendor booths.

Attendees can also enter to win a grand prize: a 2-night stay at the Sheraton Keauhou Bay Resort & Spa.

For additional information regarding the Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce Building & Design Expo, go to www.kona-kohala.com or call the Chamber office at 329-1758.

Hōkūleʻa Ventures Furthest from the Equator in Her History

Traditional Polynesian voyaging canoe Hōkūle’a achieved a new milestone in her journey around the word. During this leg of the Worldwide Voyage, she successfully completed the roundtrip sail from Wellington to Golden Bay, New Zealand. This marks the furthest into the Southern Hemisphere that Hōkūleʻa has sailed in four decades of voyaging. The crew returned safely to Wellington on Saturday, and Hōkūleʻa is now in route to Napier, New Zealand.

Hokulea equator

This leg of the Worldwide Voyage was an ambitious journey, taking Hōkūle’a far beyond the warm waters of the Pacific in which she has travelled extensively over the past four decades. The harsh sea and weather conditions along New Zealand’s South Island and beyond will continue to push the boundaries of contemporary Polynesian voyaging as Hōkūleʻa sails around the world.

hokulea equator3

“On March 8th, 1975, Hōkūle’a was launched with the vision of one voyage to Tahiti and back,” said Bruce Blankenfeld, Pwo (master) navigator with the Polynesian Voyaging Society. “She has been restored and reenergized through the aloha and good mana of our large voyaging community, young and old, from near and far. In 2015, 40 years later, she continues to afford us the opportunity to explore new horizons.”

While on South Island on January 21, 2015, crew had the opportunity to visit and honor the place where a 600-year-old voyaging canoe was recently rediscovered.

hokulea equator 2

Making this connection between Hōkūle’a and her ancient predecessor honors Polynesians’ ability to explore the ocean world, proving the strength and vitality of these voyaging vessels. This ancient Polynesian double-hulled canoe “is the reason why Hōkūleʻa sailed to Mohua Bay,” said the captain for this leg of the voyage, Kālepa Baybayan. “It is to pay homage, to recognize the importance of this artifact.”

“This is the farthest south we have ever gone to a part of the ocean that is notoriously rough,” said Nainoa Thompson, Pwo navigator and president of the Polynesian Voyaging Society. “It was accomplished because of unprecedented collaborations and support, and Kālepa Baybayan’s good leadership. This leg of the Worldwide Voyage was extensive, exceptional, and honored our traditions. It was foundational to our ability to do well as we prepare to depart Polynesia.”

The Hawaiian name for this journey, Mālama Honua, means “to care for our Island Earth” and is taking Hōkūleʻa and her sister canoe Hikianalia across Earth’s oceans to grow a global movement toward a more sustainable world. The Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage, sponsored by Hawaiian Airlines, will cover 47,000 nautical miles, 85 ports, 26 nations, including 12 of UNESCO’s Marine World Heritage sites, through June 2017.

Tiki Shark Art and Author S.P Grogan Confirm Dates for Big Bash on the Big Island to Celebrate New Novel Release

Renowned local artist Brad “Tiki Shark” Parker along with award winning author S.P. Grogan are hosting a free public event to inaugurate their second novel in collaboration titled – Atomic Dreams at The Red Tiki Lounge.

SP Grogan and Brad "Tiki Shark" Parker

S.P. Grogan and Brad “Tiki Shark” Parker

Tiki Shark Art Inc., Big Island based, owned by Parker has confirmed that the book signing event will be held on March 6th from 6 PM to 9 PM at the Kona Oceanfront Gallery and on March 7 from 3:30 PM to 7:30 PM at The Royal Kona Resort – Don The Beachcomber Bar area.

“I am excited to be doing another book with Brad” commented Grogan, “it is always a pleasure to be back on the Big Island” he added.

Author S.P. Grogan

Author S.P. Grogan at his last book signing

Part of sales proceeds generated from this high profile two day event will be donated to The Food Basket, Hawai’i Island’s Food Bank.  “We are fortunate to have been chosen by our friends at Tiki Shark Art” commented En Young Executive Director, “We also love the fact that this event is taking place right here and their willingness to support the local charities is a blessing,” he added.

Brad "Tiki Shark" Parker in his studio.

Brad “Tiki Shark” Parker in his studio.

“The novel is written and built around my existing works of art and is a fast paced action piece set in 1946 with lots of romance and Hawaiian History” exclaimed Brad “Tiki Shark” Parker.

Free entertainment will be provided at both events by teenage Aidan James, the YouTube star ukulele player.

Parker with YouTube sensation Aidan James

Parker with YouTube sensation Aidan James

“I am stoked to share the spotlight with uncle Brad at this event” commented the youngster who is making his debut appearance in Kona. Celebrities from the iconic surf brand Body Glove will be in attendance who along with Brad and S.P. Grogan will be there to sign limited edition surf memorabilia.

Brad “Tiki Shark” Parker – (www.tikishark.com)
After working for Marvel & DC Comics for many years, he gave it all up and moved to the Big Island of Hawaii over a decade ago. Through his Kailua Kona based company Tiki Shark Art Inc., Parker sells his art though galleries in the USA and around the world. His unmistakable, lurid style of art reflects influences as diverse as the Flemish masters, comic books, and Hawaiian tourist kitsch. His designs can be seen on products from surfboards to skate boards to beach towels and calendars.

Brad “Tiki Shark” Parker is a truly a master and a world class, award winning creator of Polynesian Pop Surrealistic Art with a Hawaiian twist.

About S.P. Grogan – (www.spgrogan.com)

A resident of Las Vegas NV, Grogan has had a career in writing as magazine editor, and a past Shubert Fellow in Playwriting.  In 2011, his novel, Captain CookedHawaiian Mystery of Romance, Revenge…and Recipes” was an island favorite featuring 25 recipes from the top chefs and restaurants on the Big Island with part of the proceeds of  book sales going to The Food Basket program.

Captain Cooked used GPS in its plotting and the book won a prestigious Ka Palapala Po‘okela award from the Hawai’i Book Publishers Association. The book cover was from a Brad ‘Tiki Shark’ Parker painting which started a friendship and dialogue towards the new novel.

Going With the Flow: Documenting Kilauea’s Latest Movements

On February 16, 2015 at the Lyman Museum in Hilo, two noted geologists and volcanologists, Dr. Ken Hon and Dr. Cheryl Gansecki of UH-Hilo, will present a special program on the June 27th lava flow.

Photo by Jose “Vamanos” Martinez

Photo by Jose “Vamanos” Martinez

Ken and Cheryl have been studying and filming the eruption and flow activity since the summer of 2014, and their presentation tonight brings together the science and the visual beauty of the ongoing event.  Don’t miss their latest footage and findings!

The nationally accredited and Smithsonian-affiliated Lyman Museum showcases the natural and cultural history of Hawai`i.  Located in historic downtown Hilo at 276 Haili Street, the Museum is open Monday through Saturday, 10:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.  For additional information, call (808) 935-5021 or visit www.lymanmuseum.org.

Hawaiian Electric Companies Propose Plan to Sustainably Increase Rooftop Solar

As part of its transformation to deliver a more affordable, clean energy future for Hawaii, the Hawaiian Electric Companies are proposing a new program to increase rooftop solar in a way that’s safe, sustainable and fair for all customers.

In conjunction with this “Transitional Distributed Generation” program, the utilities expect to be able to help the growth of solar by more than doubling the threshold for neighborhood circuits to accept solar systems. This would eliminate in most of those cases the need for a longer and costly interconnection study.

Sustainable Solar

Under the proposal, existing Net Energy Metering (“NEM”) program customers and those with pending applications would remain under the existing NEM program. Any program changes from this proposal would apply only to new customers.

The initiative is part of the Hawaiian Electric Companies’ clean energy transformation to lower electric bills by 20 percent, increase the use of renewable energy to more than 65 percent, triple the amount of distributed solar by 2030, and offer customers expanded products and services.

“We want to ensure a sustainable rooftop solar program to help our customers lower their electric bills,” said Alan Oshima, Hawaiian Electric president and CEO. “That means taking an important first step by transitioning to a program where all customers are fairly sharing in the cost of the grid we all rely on.”

Jim Alberts, Hawaiian Electric senior vice president of customer service, added, “At the end of 2013, the annualized cost shift from customers who have rooftop solar to those who don’t totaled about $38 million. As of the end of 2014, the annualized cost shift had grown to $53 million – an increase of $15 million. And that number keeps growing. So change is needed to ensure a program that’s fair and sustainable for all customers.”

New Transitional Program

Currently, NEM customers use the electric grid daily. Their rooftop solar systems send energy into the grid, and they draw power when their systems do not provide enough for their needs, including in the evenings and on cloudy days. However, many NEM customers are able to lower their bills to the point that they do not help pay for the cost of operating and maintaining the electric grid.

As a result, those costs are increasingly being shifted from those who have solar to those who don’t.

The new transitional program would create a more sustainable system and ensure the costs of operating and maintaining the electric grid are more fairly shared among all customers.

Under the current NEM program, customers receive credit on their electric bills at the full retail rate for electricity they produce. This credit includes the cost of producing electricity plus operation and maintenance of the electric grid and all other costs to provide electric service.

The Transitional Distributed Generation program would credit customers at a rate that better reflects the cost of the electricity produced by their rooftop solar systems. This is consistent with how Kauai Island Utility Co-Op compensates its solar customers.

Increasing PV Integration

If this transitional program is approved, the Hawaiian Electric Companies expect to be able to modify their interconnection policies, more than doubling the solar threshold for neighborhood circuits from 120 percent of daytime minimum load (DML) to 250 percent of DML. In many cases, this will eliminate the need for a longer and costly interconnection study.

To safely integrate higher levels of solar, rooftop systems will need to implement newly developed performance standards, including those established using results of a collaboration among Hawaiian Electric, SolarCity and the Electric Power Research Institute. Through this partnership, the performance of solar inverters was tested at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado. These standards can reduce the risk of damage to electronics in a customer’s home and to utility equipment on the grid, safety hazards for electrical line workers, and even widespread power outages.

The Hawaiian Electric Companies will also make strategic and cost-effective system improvements necessary to integrate more rooftop solar. They will work with the solar industry to identify areas where demand for upgrades is highest. Planning for these upgrades will also consider the needs of the State of Hawaii’s Green Energy Market Securitization (GEMS) program, which will make low-cost loans available to customers who may have difficulty financing clean energy improvements like solar.

To further support even more customers adding solar on high solar circuits, Hawaiian Electric will also be doing several pilot projects for “Non-Export/Smart Export” solar battery systems with local and national PV companies in Hawaii. These projects will provide real-world operational experience on their capability to increase solar interconnections on high-penetration circuits.

The company is also developing a community solar program as another option to help make the benefits of solar available to all customers, including those who may not be able to install rooftop solar (for example, renters or condo dwellers).

Hawaiian Electric is asking the PUC to approve the new program within 60 days. Under the utilities’ proposal, the Transitional Distributed Generation program would remain in effect while the PUC works on a permanent replacement program, to be developed through a collaborative process involving stakeholders from across the community, including the solar industry.

The PUC has stated it believes programs designed to support solar energy need to change. In an Order issued in April 2014, the PUC said:

“It is unrealistic to expect that the high growth in distributed solar PV capacity additions experienced in the 2010 – 2013 time period can be sustained, in the same technical, economic and policy manner in which it occurred, particularly when electric energy usage is declining, distribution circuit penetration levels are increasing, system level challenges are emerging and grid fixed costs are increasingly being shifted to non-solar PV customers.”

Across the three Hawaiian Electric Companies, more than 51,000 customers have rooftop solar. As of December 2014, about 12 percent of Hawaiian Electric customers, 10 percent of Maui Electric customers and 9 percent of Hawaii Electric Light customers have rooftop solar. This compares to a national average of one-half of 1 percent (0.5 percent) as of December 2013, according to the Solar Electric Power Association.

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Pahoa Community Aquatic Center to Open for Nighttime Swim Sessions

The County of Hawai‘i Department of Parks and Recreation will keep the Pāhoa Community Aquatic Center open until 8 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays to accommodate nighttime swim sessions.

Pahoa Pool

Swimmers of all ages are invited to the free open-swim sessions that start Wednesday, January 21. Children younger than 11 years old must be accompanied and supervised by a parent, guardian or responsible adult.

Nighttime swim sessions at the Pāhoa Community Aquatic Center are being offered on a trial basis to gauge patron interest and to meet the needs of swimmers who requested extended operating hours.

Information regarding County of Hawai‘i swimming pools is available at www.hawaiicounty.gov/pr-aquatics/.

For more information, please contact Jason Armstrong, Public Information Officer, at 961-8311 or jarmstrong@hawaiicounty.gov.

Medical Marijuana “Collective” Opens on the Big Island of Hawaii

Alternative Pain Management Pu`uhonua’s Collective is Now Open.

Medical MarijuanaMembers must have a valid Hawai`i medical marijuana (cannabis) certification, a Hawai`i State I.D. card & complete a membership intake & agreement and confidentiality statement.

We are a diverse group of the medical cannabis community dedicated to raising awareness and to educating the public and politicians alike, about the unique and dynamic physical, psycho-emotional, and spiritual issues related to chronic pain and chronic disease management. Each collective member comes from a different walk of life and contributes his or her unique perspectives, credentials, education and experiences.

We come together as a magnificent blend of support and diversity.  We encourage each other to pursue high quality and fulfilling lives, by using alternative health management modalities and lifestyle modifications. It becomes possible for all our members needs to be met by linking qualifying patients and caregivers together with one another while providing enhanced safety and quality control. Our collective strives to maintain an uninterrupted supply of medicine in all forms, for all our members.

We are your one stop shop for all of your medical cannabis needs.

Like us on Facebook @ www.facebook.com/apmch808 or email alternativepainmanagementclub@gmail.com

 

Parker Ranch Partners with NextEra Energy Resources

 Parker Ranch announced earlier today that Parker Ranch Foundation Trust (PRFT) has entered into an agreement with an affiliate of NextEra Energy Resources, LLC. This agreement provides NextEra Energy Resources with long-term access rights to PRFT lands to develop renewable energy derived from PRFT’s wind resources.

“We have been aggressively seeking ways to reduce the cost of electricity for our community and our island by using the potential renewable energy resources available on PRFT’s Hawaii Island lands,” said Neil (“Dutch”) Kuyper, President and CEO of Parker Ranch. “During this time, we have also been seeking capital and technical expertise from potential development partners. We have been working collaboratively with NextEra Energy Resources for more than a year and believe that they are the ideal partner to utilize PRFT’s wind resources.”

In 2013, Parker Ranch, Inc. commenced a utility-grade integrated resource planning effort with assistance from Siemens, Booz Allen Hamilton and Pace Global to evaluate alternative energy strategies for Parker Ranch and the surrounding communities of Waimea and North Kohala as well as the Island of Hawaii.

“Our work with Siemens identified several valuable scenarios utilizing PRFT’s wind resources, combined with storage, that could drive down electricity rates and cut our excessive vulnerability to volatile imported oil prices,” said Kuyper. “Reducing Hawaii Island electricity rates, slashing our reliance on imported oil and decreasing carbon emissions are all important to us because the cost of energy is tied to everything we do.”

Through its Paniolo Power Company subsidiary, Parker Ranch, Inc. is continuing to evaluate the merits of pumped-storage hydro and the economics of utility-scale battery solutions in the generation mix.

“Our community is inherently at the center of our mission and core values,” said Kuyper. “We will continue to engage our neighbors and friends in the process of pursuing our renewable energy and sustainability goals.”

The potential for renewable energy on PRFT’s lands is unique on Hawaii Island and in the State due to the size and scale of the wind resource.  PRFT’s mission is focused on the sustainability of the Waimea community, the hometown of Parker Ranch, by providing perpetual support for PRFT’s four Waimea-based beneficiaries.

PRFT and Parker Ranch, Inc. have recently completed comprehensive strategic planning efforts and each has decided to elevate the pursuit of renewable energy-related opportunities to be one of their highest strategic priorities.

NextEra Energy Resources is one of the largest developers of clean and low-cost renewable energy in North America and is the largest producer of zero-emissions energy from wind resources.

Hawaiian Host to Acquire Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut

Hawaiian Host, Inc. announced today that the company has entered into an agreement with The Hershey Company to acquire the Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Corporation.

Hawaiian HostHawaiian Host is one of Hawai‘i’s premier brands and the originator of chocolate covered macadamias with its history dating back to 1927. When the acquisition is completed, Mauna Loa will join Hawaiian Host as a subsidiary. Both companies will continue operating as two distinct, separate brands.

“This acquisition will create a great opportunity for both companies, our employees and the community. It brings Mauna Loa back under Hawai‘i ownership, joins together two strong, local brands, and lays the foundation for continued success,” said Keith Sakamoto, president and chief executive officer of Hawaiian Host. “We are excited to welcome Mauna Loa’s outstanding employees to the Hawaiian Host family. Both companies have a long history of operating in Hawai‘i and sharing our products with the world. And we remain committed to continuing to offer the same quality products our customers have grown to know and expect.”

In 1946, Mauna Loa planted its very first macadamia nut trees near Kea‘au, just south of Hilo, where its facilities and visitor center are currently located on 136 acres of land. Mauna Loa is one of the largest and most experienced macadamia nut processors in the world with the seasonal capacity to process approximately 40 million pounds of macadamias. They also produce chocolate covered macadamias and flavored macadamia nut products that are distributed locally, nationally and internationally. In 2004, The Hershey Company acquired Mauna Loa.

“Both Hawaiian Host and Mauna Loa have a long history of supporting our local growers and farmers as well as our community. And with our more than 300 employees in Hawai‘i we will continue that legacy together,” added Sakamoto.

The acquisition is expected to be finalized in the first quarter of 2015. There are no immediate staff changes planned and details of the acquisition will not be released.

Hawaiian Host was founded by Mamoru Takitani, a third-generation Japanese descendent who dreamed of becoming a candy maker. After moving to Honolulu from the island of Maui, Takitani purchased Ellen Dye Candies, a local confectioner since 1927, and renamed it Hawaiian Host. Since then, Hawaiian Host has grown to become “Hawai‘i’s Gift to the World” and remains the leader in chocolate-covered macadamia products. Today, Hawaiian Host has more than 250 products that are sold in more than 23 countries around the world.

Hawaiian Host supports the Mamoru & Aiko Takitani Foundation which provides grants to numerous community organizations and provides academic scholarships for higher education to benefit the young people of Hawai‘i. Since its inception, the Mamoru and Aiko Takitani Foundation has provided more than $2 million dollars in scholarships to students from every eligible high school in Hawai‘i.

For more information, visit www.hawaiianhost.com.

 

NASA Robot Plunges Into Volcano to Explore Fissure

Volcanoes have always fascinated Carolyn Parcheta. She remembers a pivotal moment watching a researcher take a lava sample on a science TV program video in 6th grade.

“I said to myself, I’m going to do that some day,” said Parcheta, now a NASA postdoctoral fellow based at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

Carolyn Parcheta, a postdoctoral fellow at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, plans to take this robot, VolcanoBot 2, to explore Hawaii's Kilauea volcano in March 2015. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Carolyn Parcheta, a postdoctoral fellow at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, plans to take this robot, VolcanoBot 2, to explore Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano in March 2015. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Exploring volcanoes is risky business. That’s why Parcheta and her co-advisor, JPL robotics researcher Aaron Parness, are developing robots that can get into crevices where humans wouldn’t be able to go, gaining new insights about these wondrous geological features.

“We don’t know exactly how volcanoes erupt. We have models but they are all very, very simplified. This project aims to help make those models more realistic,” Parcheta said.

Parcheta’s research endeavors were recently honored in National Geographic’s Expedition Granted campaign, which awards $50,000 to the next “great explorer.” Parcheta was a finalist, and was voted number 2 by online participants for her research proposal for exploring volcanoes with robots.

“Having Carolyn in the lab has been a great opportunity for our robotics team to collaborate with someone focused on the geology. Scientists and engineers working together on such a small team is pretty rare, but has generated lots of great ideas because our perspectives on the problems are so different,” Parness said.

The research has implications for extraterrestrial volcanoes. On both Earth and Mars, fissures are the most common physical features from which magma erupts. This is probably also true for the previously active volcanoes on the moon, Mercury, Enceladus and Europa, although the mechanism of volcanic eruption — whether past or present — on these other planetary bodies is unknown, Parcheta said.

“In the last few years, NASA spacecraft have sent back incredible pictures of caves, fissures and what look like volcanic vents on Mars and the moon. We don’t have the technology yet to explore them, but they are so tantalizing! Working with Carolyn, we’re trying to bridge that gap using volcanoes here on Earth for practice. We’re learning about how volcanoes erupt here on Earth, too, and that has a lot of benefits in its own right,” Parness said.

VolcanoBot 1

VolcanoBot 1

Parcheta, Parness, and JPL co-advisor Karl Mitchell first explored this idea last year using a two-wheeled robot they call VolcanoBot 1, with a length of 12 inches (30 centimeters) and 6.7-inch (17-centimeter) wheels. It is a spinoff of a different robot that Parness’s laboratory developed, the Durable Reconnaissance and Observation Platform (DROP).

“We took that concept and redesigned it to work inside a volcano,” Parcheta said.

For their experiments in May 2014, they had VolcanoBot 1 roll down a fissure – a crack that erupts magma – that is now inactive on the active Kilauea volcano in Hawaii.

Finding preserved and accessible fissures is rare. VolcanoBot 1 was tasked with mapping the pathways of magma from May 5 to 9, 2014. It was able to descend to depths of 82 feet (25 meters) in two locations on the fissure, although it could have gone deeper with a longer tether, as the bottom was not reached on either descent.

“In order to eventually understand how to predict eruptions and conduct hazard assessments, we need to understand how the magma is coming out of the ground. This is the first time we have been able to measure it directly, from the inside, to centimeter-scale accuracy,” Parcheta said.

VolcanoBot 1 is enabling the researchers to put together a 3-D map of the fissure. They confirmed that bulges in the rock wall seen on the surface are also present deep in the ground, but the robot also found a surprise: The fissure did not appear to pinch shut, although VolcanoBot 1 didn’t reach the bottom. The researchers want to return to the site and go even deeper to investigate further.

Specifically, Parcheta and Parness want to explore deeper inside Kilauea with a robot that has even stronger motors and electrical communications, so that more data can be sent back to the surface. They have responded to these challenges with the next iteration: VolcanoBot 2.

VolcanoBot 2 is smaller and lighter than its predecessor, at a length of 10 inches (25 centimeters). Its vision center can tip up and down, with the ability to turn and look at features around it.

“It has better mobility, stronger motors and smaller (5 inch, or 12 centimeter) wheels than the VolcanoBot 1. We’ve decreased the amount of cords that come up to the surface when it’s in a volcano,” Parcheta said.

While VolcanoBot 1 sent data to the surface directly from inside the fissure, data will be stored onboard VolcanoBot 2. VolcanoBot 2 has an electrical connection that is more secure and robust so that researchers can use the 3-D sensor’s live video feed to navigate.

The team plans to test VolcanoBot 2 at Kilauea in early March.

The California Institute of Technology manages JPL for NASA.

Hawaii Parents Informed of Higher Learning Expectations for Public School Students

Public schools across the state today welcomed back students after a three-week winter break. Students were given a letter to take home to their parents as a reminder of the upcoming spring assessments for English language arts and math.

Click to read letter

Click to read letter

The new assessments, known as Smarter Balanced, are aligned to the Hawaii Common Core standards implemented statewide at the start of the school year. The letter from Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi also included sample exercises explaining how students are being asked deeper questions that require critical thinking.

“New expectations for student learning mean we need new ways to measure how our students are performing,” stated Superintendent Matayoshi. “These new tests measure not only what students know, but also how well they can apply their knowledge in real-world situations.”

Smarter Balanced assessments will be administered beginning in March to students in grades three through eighth and high school juniors to measure their reading, math, writing, listening, research and thinking skills. Hawaii is a governing member of a multi-state consortium that has worked with teachers, parents and higher education faculty to develop the Smarter Balanced assessments. Over three million students across the consortium participated in the field test last year to ensure questions are valid, reliable and fair for all students.

“While this is a step forward in our plans to raise student achievement, we expect the change to the new test will result in lower scores as compared to previous years,” said Superintendent Matayoshi. “However, because it is a new test aligned to new standards, we will not be comparing the results to that of the old test. Results from this year are a new starting point for students.”

The results also benefit teachers. The Smarter Balanced Assessment System offers information during the year to give teachers and parents a better picture of where students are thriving and where they need help.

A number of schools held Smarter Balanced parent nights with activities during the fall. The parent letter includes additional assessment examples and tips for helping with homework.

For more information on how the Hawaii State Department of Education is striving higher with new learning standards and assessments, visit HawaiiPublicSchools.org.

24/7 Streaming Coverage of Pahoa Lava Flow Now Available on TV

In partnership with the U.S. Geological Survey, Hawaii County Civil Defense, and the town of Hilo, Oceanic Time Warner Cable has dedicated a channel on its digital TV lineup to provide 24/7 streaming coverage of the Pahoa lava flow as it advances on the Big Island. The company has placed two cameras mounted in a company truck on land that is being donated by Bryson’s Cinders, Inc. in a strategic location to the lava flow.

Oceanic Setting up Camera

“Oceanic sympathizes with the people impacted by the Pahoa lava flow,” said Gregg Fujimoto, President of Oceanic, “and we are honored to be able to assist the USGS and the Civil Defense in providing a consistent level of information to all the people of the state through this live coverage.”

The special programming will continue indefinitely and is available on digital channels 128/1128.

New Satellite Images Show Extent of Lava Flow

This satellite image was captured on Thursday, December 25, by the Advanced Land Imager instrument onboard NASA’s Earth Observing 1 satellite.

The yellow outline is the flow margin as mapped on Monday, December 22.   Click to enlarge

The yellow outline is the flow margin as mapped on Monday, December 22. Click to enlarge

Although this is a false-color image, the color map has been chosen to mimic what the human eye would expect to see. Bright red pixels depict areas of very high temperatures and show active lava. White areas are clouds. The yellow outline is the flow margin as mapped on Monday, December 22.

The image above shows a close-up of the June 27th lava flow in the area of Kaohe Homesteads and Pāhoa. Although the leading tip of the flow stalled earlier this week, active breakouts have persisted a short distance upslope of this stalled front. The image shows active breakouts (red pixels) roughly 150 meters (160 yards) upslope of the stalled tip, with additional breakouts scattered upslope.

The yellow outline is the flow margin as mapped on Monday, December 22.  (click to enlarge)

The yellow outline is the flow margin as mapped on Monday, December 22. (click to enlarge)

This satellite image was captured on Thursday, December 25, by the Advanced Land Imager instrument onboard NASA’s Earth Observing 1 satellite. Although this is a false-color image, the color map has been chosen to mimic what the human eye would expect to see. Bright red pixels depict areas of very high temperatures and show active lava. White areas are clouds.

The image above shows the extent of the entire June 27th lava flow, from its vent on Puʻu ʻŌʻō to the flow front near Pāhoa, and provides an overview of the distribution of active breakouts on the flow. Near the vent, an area of active breakouts is present about 3 km (2 miles) northeast of Puʻu ʻŌʻō. Farther downslope, breakouts are active in the area of ground cracks. Closer to the flow front, breakouts are scattered just uplslope of the stalled tip of the flow.

Hawaii Supreme Court Amends Rules Regarding Electronic/Photographic Coverage of Courts

The Hawaii Supreme Court has amended Rule 5.1, 5.2 and 5.3 regarding electronic/photographic coverage of court proceedings, technical guidelines when extended coverage is permitted, and use of electronic devices in courtrooms.
U.S. citizen Berenson attends a hearing which reviews her parole at an anti-terrorism court in Lima
Here is a link to the modified rules, which were just posted today on their website:

http://www.courts.state.hi.us/docs/court_rules/pdf/2015/2014_rsch5.1_5.2_5.3am_ada.pdf

To summarize the rules:

  • The extended coverage application process remains the same
  • The number of video cameras remains the same (one pool camera and the judge may grant a second camera for live coverage at his/her discretion)
  • The number of still cameras remain the same (one still photographer allowed and the judge may allow a second still photographer).  The only change to this rule is that a still photographer may also video record proceedings (this was at the request of Civil Beat and other online media that would like to be able to take video clips with their still cameras)
  • Another modification to the rule is that media used to be able to audio record a court proceeding using a hand-held recorder.  That technology has become almost obsolete, so a member of the public or an individual from the media may now use electronic devices such as laptops, tablets, cell phones or smart phones for audio recordings of the proceeding, with the prior permission of a judge
  • The judge may also grant a timely request by a member of the public or individuals from the media to use electronic devices for note-taking purposes as well.  This request is not included in the extended coverage application nor does it have to be in writing.  Media or members of the public can ask a judge’s law clerk prior to a proceeding or work with our office in advanced for this prior permission from the judge
  • In all other cases, electronic devices cannot be used during a court proceeding.  The members of the bar, judiciary personnel and self-represented litigants may use electronic devices under specific conditions (for court-related business).
  • Electronic devices may be brought inside the courtroom, but ring tones and other sounds shall be silenced and the devices cannot be used to make or receive calls inside the courtroom
  • A presiding judge may prohibit or further restrict the use of any electronic devices prior to the proceedings to protect the interests of security, safety, privacy of parties, jurors, witnesses, attorneys, etc.

Community Invited to Informational Display on Proposed Kona Judicary Complex

The Hawai`i State Judiciary invites the public to see an informational display of preliminary design concepts for the proposed Kona Judiciary Complex.
Kona Judiciary
While no formal program is planned, officials from the Judiciary and DAGS, and consultants from Architects Hawaii, will be available and welcome any questions, comments and/or input.

Plans call for building the new courthouse on a 10-acre parcel in Keahuolū, North Kona. The site is located mauka of Queen Ka`ahumanu Highway, and across Makala Boulevard from the Makalapua Center. The complex will be three stories high and cost $90 million to construct.

  • WHAT:   Informational Display on Proposed Kona Judiciary Complex
  • WHO:     Representatives from the Hawaii State Judiciary, Department of Accounting and General Services (DAGS), and Architects Hawaii
  • WHEN:   Tuesday, December 16, 2014, from 4:30pm to 6:30pm
  • WHERE: West Hawaii Civic Center, Building G (The “Hale”) 74-5044 Ane Keohokalole Hwy, Kailua-Kona

 

Fire at Waiakea-Uka Gym Causes Change in Venue for Winter Intersession Program

The Winter Intersession Program slated for Hilo’s Stanley Costales Waiākea-Uka Gymnasium will be held at Andrews Gym due to fire damage sustained at Waiākea-Uka Gym.

Waiakea FireOriginal program dates and times will apply to the new venue located within Waiākeawaena Park at 33 West Kawailani Street in Hilo. Open to keiki enrolled in the first through six grades, the winter Intersession classes will be held from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m. weekdays starting December 22 and running through January 8, 2015.

The Department of Parks and Recreation regrets any inconvenience caused by the venue change and thanks program participants for their understanding.

For more information, please contact Jason Armstrong, Public Information Officer, at 961-8311 or jarmstrong@hawaiicounty.gov.

Police detectives are investigating a fire at the Waiākea Uka Gym in Hilo.

The fire was reported at approximately 4:30 a.m. Wednesday (December 10). Police and firefighters responded and found the fire concentrated at the northwest corner of the building.

Fire personnel extinguished the flames and estimated the damage to the walls and roof area at $65,000.

The cause of the fire is unknown at this time but is being investigated.

Police ask anyone with information about this incident to call the Police Department’s non-emergency line at 935-3311 or contact Detective Norbert at 961-2383 or nserrao@co.hawaii.hi.us.

 

New Fee Added to Electric Bills to Support Green Energy Market Securitization (GEMS) Program

A new line on electric bills starting this month will finance the State of Hawaii Green Energy Market Securitization (GEMS) program. However, a corresponding reduction of the monthly Public Benefits Fund surcharge, collected to pay for the State’s conservation and energy efficiency programs, means most customers will likely see little net change on their electric bills. For a typical residential customer using 600 kWh a month, the green infrastructure fee will be $1.29 per month.

GEMS Office

The new line item, titled “Green Infrastructure Fee,” will appear under the listing of “Current Charges: Electric Service” beginning with December 2014 monthly bills of all Hawaiian Electric, Maui Electric, and Hawaii Electric Light customers.

As required by law and authorized by the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission, all residential and commercial customers will pay the Green Infrastructure Fee. The new fee will enable the State of Hawaii to borrow $150 million for its GEMS program. The State Department of Business, Economic Development will initially administer GEMS. The program will make low-cost loans so green infrastructure improvements are more affordable and accessible for customers who cannot afford upfront costs or cannot qualify for other financing.

The GEMS program will initially focus on clean energy investments so customers can take advantage of green initiatives such as photovoltaic systems, energy storage, advanced inverters and energy monitoring devices.

To learn more, visit the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism Energy Office website (http://energy.hawaii.gov/testbeds-initiatives/gems) or call 808.586.2407.

Lava Breakouts Remain Active Around Ground Crack System and Well Site

The farthest downslope breakouts today are still situated around the ground crack system, near the abandoned well site. The front of these breakouts was about 500 m (0.3 miles) northeast of the well site, and about 1.9 km (1.2 miles) west of Kaohe Homesteads.

These breakouts were covering the existing flow and burning forest on its margins.  (Click to enlarge)

These breakouts were covering the existing flow and burning forest on its margins. (Click to enlarge)

Much of the active lava was covering the existing flow around the ground crack system, with small portions entering the forest at the flow margins.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

The activity in the forest triggered brush fires and frequent methane explosions.

An HVO geologist examines a ground crack into which lava was pouring near the flow margin, producing large amounts of steam.  Click to enlarge

An HVO geologist examines a ground crack into which lava was pouring near the flow margin, producing large amounts of steam. Click to enlarge

Nominations Sought For The Hawaii Big Tree Competition

The holiday season marks the beginning of the annual Hawaii Big Tree Competition.  Sponsored by the Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Forestry and Wildlife and American Forests, the program focuses attention on the largest trees in each species, as a way to raise awareness about the importance of healthy trees and forests.

In 2014, a coconut palm in Hawaii Kai, Coco, was crowned the national Big Tree winner and the National Ultimate Big Tree after several weeks of online voting.

In 2014, a coconut palm in Hawaii Kai, Coco, was crowned the national Big Tree winner and the National Ultimate Big Tree after several weeks of online voting.

The Hawai‘i Big Tree Competition does not have a champion for the following Hawaiian species that are eligible for the National Big Tree Program.  Therefore, any tree nominated from the following list will likely be crowned a champion.

Big Tree

The 10 current Hawai‘i champions are listed below. To replace a current champion, the challenger tree must have more total points.  Total Points = Trunk Circumference (inches) + Height (feet) + ¼ Average Crown Spread (feet).

  • Niu (Cocos nucifera) in Hawea Heiau Complex and Keawawa Wetland, O‘ahu
    (Circumference: 13.5) (Height: 112) (Crown Spread: 16.42)
  • Wiliwili (Erythrina sandwicensis) in Waikoloa Dry Forest, Hawai‘i Island
    (Circumference: 186.96) (Height: 40) (Crown Spread: 43.50)
  • Olopua (Nestegis sandwicensis) in Pu‘u wa‘awa‘a Forest Reserve, Hawai‘i Island  (Circumference: 204.52) (Height: 32) (Crown Spread: 42.58)
  • Pāpalakēpau (Pisonia brunoniana) in Pu‘u wa‘awa‘a Forest Reserve, Hawai‘i Island (Circumference: 52.46) (Height: 28) (Crown Spread: 15.25)
  • Māmane (Sophora chrysophylla) in Pu‘u wa‘awa‘a Forest Reserve, Hawai‘i Island (Circumference: 165) (Height: 24) (Crown Spread: 25.5)
  • Kōlea lau nui (Myrsine lessertiana) in Pu‘u wa‘awa‘a Forest Reserve, Hawai‘i Island (Circumference: 85.14) (Height: 32) (Crown Spread: 25.5)
  • Koa (Acacia koa) in Kona Hema Preserve, South Kona, Hawai‘i Island
    (Circumference: 343) (Height: 115) (Crown Spread: 93)
  • Hau (Hibiscus tiliaceus) in Hulihe‘e Palace, Kailua-Kona, Hawai‘i Island
    (Circumference: 110) (Height: 20) (Crown Spread: 25)
  • A‘ali‘i (Dodonaea viscosa) in Maui Nui Botanical Gardens, Hawai‘i Island
    (Circumference: 23) (Height: 17) (Crown Spread: 16)
  • Mānele (Sophora chrysophylla) in Volcanoes National Park, Hawai‘i Island
    (Circumference: 30) (Height: 73) (Crown Spread: 57)

To nominate a tree, contact Hawai‘i Big Tree coordinator Kylee Ah Choy at (808) 587-0164 and provide the tree height, trunk circumference, and average crown spread.  Also, please know your tree’s specific location (GPS coordinates are appreciated).

Big Tree Madness 1 from Hawaii DLNR on Vimeo.

For more on the Hawaii Big Tree Program: dlnr.hawaii.gov/forestry/info/big-tree/
For more on the National Big Tree Program: www.americanforests.org/bigtrees/bigtrees-search/