September 27-28, 2010

Air Temperatures
The following maximum temperatures were recorded across the state of Hawaii Monday afternoon:

Lihue airport, Kauai –  83
Honolulu airport, Oahu –  87
Kaneohe MCAS, Oahu –  85
Molokai airport – 85
Kahului airport, Maui – 88
Ke-ahole airport (Kona) –   83
Hilo airport, Hawaii –   85

Air Temperatures ranged between these warmest and coolest spots near sea level – and on the highest mountain tops…as of 4pm Monday afternoon:

Barking Sands, Kauai – 84
Hilo, Hawaii
– 79 

Haleakala Crater –    55 (near 10,000 feet on Maui)
Mauna Kea summit – 48 (near 14,000 feet on the Big Island)

Precipitation Totals The following numbers represent the largest precipitation totals (inches) during the last 24 hours on each of the major islands, as of Monday afternoon: 

0.01 Omao, Kauai  
0.11 Kahuku Training Area, Oahu
0.00 Molokai 
0.00 Lanai
0.00 Kahoolawe
0.09 Ulupalakua, Maui
0.28 Ahumoa, Big Island

Marine WindsHere’s the latest (automatically updated) weather map showing a high pressure system far to the northeast, and to the north-northwest of our islands. Our local trade winds will light to locally moderate Tuesday into Wednesday.

Satellite and Radar Images: To view the cloud conditions we have here in Hawaii, please use the following satellite links, starting off with this Infrared Satellite Image of the islands to see all the clouds around during the day and night. This next image is one that gives close images of the islands only during the daytime hours, and is referred to as a Close-up visible image. This next image shows a larger view of the Pacific…giving perspective to the wider ranging cloud patterns in the Pacific Ocean. Finally, here’s a Looping IR satellite image, making viewable the clouds around the islands 24 hours a day. To help you keep track of where any showers may be around the islands, here’s the latest animated radar image.

Hawaii’s MountainsHere’s a link to the live webcam on the summit of near 14,000 foot Mauna Kea on the Big Island of Hawaii. The tallest peak on the island of Maui is the Haleakala Crater, which is near 10,000 feet in elevation. These two webcams are available during the daylight hours here in the islands…and when there’s a big moon rising just after sunset for an hour or two! Plus, during the nights and early mornings you will be able to see stars, and the sunrise too…depending upon weather conditions.

Tropical Cyclone activity in the eastern and central Pacific – Here’s the latest weather information coming out of the
National Hurricane Center, covering the eastern north Pacific. You can find the latest tropical cyclone information for the central north Pacific (where Hawaii is located) by clicking on this link to the Central Pacific Hurricane Center. Here’s a tracking map covering both the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. A satellite image, which shows the entire ocean area between Hawaii and the Mexican coast…can be found here. Of course, as we know, our hurricane season won’t end until November 31st here in the central Pacific.

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Rising surf along all our beaches…advisory on north shores


Winds will be on the light side…although the trade winds will be locally a bit stronger.  Early season gale and storm force low pressure systems are active far to our north…as shown on this weather map. These inclement weather producers won’t affect our islands directly, although there will be a couple of influences nonetheless. The first is that our trade wind producing high pressure ridge will remain close by to the north and northeast of Hawaii. This in turn will keep light trade winds in place through the first half of this new work week…locally a bit stronger. The second part of this influence will be the arrival of active periods of relatively large surf…breaking along our north and west facing shores. It will take until later this weel, before we find a return to our regular trade winds…continuing on into the weekend.

As the winds remain on the light side, we’ll see a combination of leeward daytime sea breezes, and light to almost moderately strong trade winds brushing the windward sides. Typically under this type of weather regime, we find clear mornings, with slightly cooler than normal temperatures at sea level. As the rising sun heats the islands, clouds form over and around the mountains…leading to some form of localized upcountry shower activity. If the trade winds do in fact remain in place, even in this lighter form, we would see a few night windward showers falling here and there. Meanwhile, an early season cold front will arrive around Wednesday or Thursday, bringing an increase in showers. As the trade winds return in the wake of the frontal cloud band, they could sweep in a few more showers onto the windward sides of the islands into the coming weekend. By the way, we can see high clouds to our southwest on that satellite image above, which will get carried up into the state on the upper winds aloft…providing some nice color at sunset and sunrise too.

It’s Monday evening as I begin writing this last section of today’s narrative update. As noted above, the trade winds will prevail, although somewhat lighter than they have been lately…perhaps going light and variable around mid-week. This will keep some influences of both a trade wind weather pattern, and a mild convective weather pattern in place. The storminess mentioned in the first paragraph, will send a cold front pushing down towards the tropics…as shown in the paragraph just above. It won’t reach us until later in the week, although keep our trade wind producing high pressure ridge anchored close to our north and northeast. This close proximity of the ridge is the reason our winds will remain on the light side of the wind spectrum. Later in the week, the frontal boundary will reach our islands, bringing some welcome shower activity, followed by more trade winds into the weekend. ~~~ Here in Kihei before I leave for the drive back upcountry to Kula, it’s partly cloudy, breezy and warm. The clouds packed up against the slopes of the Haleakala Crater, and then extended coastward in places. Looking over towards the windward sides from here, it looks totally clear. The winds will calm down, and the skies will clear after dark, which will provide another beautiful morning on Tuesday. I’ll meet you here then, when I’ll have your next new weather narrative ready for you. I hope you have a great Monday night until then! Aloha for now…Glenn.

Extra: Dawning is the Day – The Moody Blues

Interesting: The world’s aquifers are being used faster than they can be replenished and, in some cases, at rates that have more than doubled since the 1960s. It is mostly agricultural irrigation that is driving the increase, because it accounts for 70 to 80 percent of global groundwater usage. An aquifer is an underground layer of water-bearing permeable rock or unconsolidated materials (gravel, sand, silt, or clay) from which groundwater can be usefully extracted using a water well. The study of water flow in aquifers and the characterization of aquifers is called hydrogeology.

Some examples of major aquifers follow: The Great Artesian Basin situated in Australia is arguably the largest groundwater aquifer in the world. It plays a large part in water supplies for Queensland and remote parts of South Australia. The Guarani Aquifer is shared by Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay. The Ogallala Aquifer of the central United States is one of the world’s great aquifers, but in places it is being rapidly depleted by growing municipal use, and continuing agricultural use. 

This huge aquifer, which underlies portions of eight states, contains primarily fossil water from the time of the last glaciation. Annual recharge, in the more arid parts of the aquifer, is estimated to total only about 10 percent of annual withdrawals. An example of a significant and sustainable carbonate aquifer is the Edwards Aquifer in central Texas. This carbonate aquifer has historically been providing high quality water for nearly 2 million people, and even today, is completely full because of tremendous recharge from a number of area streams, rivers and lakes.

Disputes about diminishing essential elements may come to "dominate relations between countries", according to the chief executive of the UK’s Royal Society of Chemistry, Richard Pike. Far from being an issue restricted to concerns about the REEs or rare metals, Pike says the biggest threat may come from the availability of elements needed in agriculture, most particularly phosphorus.

A team led by Marc Bierkens of the Utrecht University and the International Groundwater Resources Assessment Center at Deltares in the Netherlands recently used a model of water flow across the landscape to estimate how much water soaks into, runs off of or evaporates from parcels of land across the globe. They combined this with the best available information on groundwater usage to calculate the net amount of water leaving or returning to aquifers.

Certain areas emerged as potential zones of groundwater depletion: northeastern China, northwestern India, Iran, northeastern Pakistan, southeastern Spain, the central United States, California’s Central Valley and Yemen, findings that are consistent with local studies of these regions, the authors said. The team published their findings in Geophysical Research Letters. While over a third of the world’s population suffers from water stress, the most important consequences of overusing groundwater will be in agriculture, where most groundwater is used.

"A lot of this is abstracted by small farmers with small wells," Bierkens said. "It doesn’t mean that the water is depleted immediately, but it could mean that the small farms wouldn’t be able to reach it anymore." "If you run out of water you cannot grow crops anymore," he added.

"You are basically extending your crop production on borrowed water." Slowing groundwater use will require using more sophisticated irrigation techniques that use less water, developing crop types that can survive on lower quantities of water, and redirecting water on the landscape so that a higher proportion soaks back in to replenish the groundwater.

Aquifer Storage and Recovery is the re-injection of potable water back into an aquifer for later recovery and use. This has been done for municipal, industry and agriculture use. The first agriculture recovery wells were put into service in Oregon in the autumn of 2006. "We’ve known that groundwater depletion is becoming more and more of an issue," said Matthew Rodell of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., who has used satellite data to come to similar conclusions about groundwater usage.

Interesting2: Elevated concentrations of nitrogen and phosphorus, nutrients that can negatively impact aquatic ecosystems and human health, have remained the same or increased in many streams and aquifers across the United States since the early 1990’s, according to a new national study by the U.S. Geological Survey. This USGS report provides the most comprehensive national-scale assessment to date of nitrogen and phosphorus in our streams and groundwater," said Marcia McNutt, USGS Director.

"For years we have known that these same nutrients in high concentrations have resulted in ‘dead zones’ when they reach our estuaries, such as during the spring at the mouth of the Mississippi, and now we have improved science-based explanations of when, where, and how elevated concentrations reach our streams and aquifers and affect aquatic life and the quality of our drinking water."

"Despite major Federal, State and local efforts and expenditures to control sources and movement of nutrients within our Nation’s watersheds, national-scale progress was not evident in this assessment, which is based on thousands of measurements and hundreds of studies across the country from the 1990’s and early 2000’s," said Matthew C. Larsen, USGS Associate Director for Water.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, nutrient pollution has consistently ranked as one of the top three causes of degradation in U.S. streams and rivers for decades. USGS findings show that widespread concentrations of nitrogen and phosphorus remain two to ten times greater than levels recommended by the EPA to protect aquatic life. Most often, these elevated levels were found in agricultural and urban streams.

These findings show that continued reductions in nutrient sources and implementation of land-management strategies for reducing nutrient delivery to streams are needed to meet EPA recommended levels in most regions. Nutrients occur naturally in water and are needed for plant growth and productive aquatic ecosystems; however, in high concentrations nutrients often result in the growth of large amounts of algae and other nuisance plants in streams, lakes and estuaries.

The decay of these plants and algae can cause areas of low dissolved oxygen, known as hypoxic, or "dead," zones that stress or kill aquatic life. Some forms of algae release toxins that can result in health concerns. The study also found that nitrate is a continuing human-health concern in many shallow aquifers across the Nation that are sources of drinking water.

In agricultural areas, more than one in five shallow, private wells contained nitrate at levels above the EPA drinking water standard. The quality and safety of water from private wells — which are a source of drinking water for about 40 million people — are not regulated by the Federal Safe Drinking Water Act and are the responsibility of the homeowner.

Because nitrate can persist in groundwater for years and even decades, nitrate concentrations are likely to increase in aquifers used for public drinking-water supplies during at least the next decade, as shallow groundwater with high nutrient concentrations moves downward into deeper aquifers.

"Strategies designed to reduce nutrient inputs on the land will improve the quality of water in near-surface parts of aquifers; however, decades may pass before quality improves in deeper parts of the aquifer, which serve as major sources for public-supply wells," said Neil Dubrovsky, USGS hydrologist and lead scientist on this study. "Unfortunately, similar time delays for improvements are expected for streams that receive substantial inputs of groundwater"

A variety of sources can contribute nutrients to surface and groundwater, such as wastewater and industrial discharges, fertilizer and manure applications to agricultural land, runoff from urban areas, and atmospheric sources. USGS findings show that nutrient sources and resulting concentrations vary across the Nation. For example, concentrations of nitrogen generally are highest in agricultural streams in the Northeast, Midwest, and the Northwest, which have some of the most intense applications of fertilizer and manure in the Nation.

Differences in concentrations across the Nation also are due to natural features and human activities. For example, concentrations of nitrogen in streams draining parts of the agricultural Midwest are increased by contributions from artificial subsurface tile drains that are used to promote rapid dewatering of poorly drained soils. Conversely, concentrations of nitrate in streams draining parts of the Southeast appear to dissipate faster as a result of enhanced natural removal processes in soils and streams.

"This nationwide assessment of sources and natural and human factors that control how nutrients enter our streams and groundwater helps decision-makers anticipate where watersheds are most vulnerable to contamination and set priorities and management actions in different geographic regions of the country," said Dubrovsky.

Interesting3: Magma has worked its way up to just under the surface in a remote region of northwest Saudi Arabia, causing a flurry of small to moderate quakes and threatening to form a new volcano, researchers said Sunday. A swarm of 30,000 quakes shook the region of Harrat Lunayyir from May to June last year and opened a 5-mile long rift, the U.S. Geological Survey team reported. A wary Saudi government evacuated 40,000 residents at the time but has since let them move back home.

But the residents should be ready to leave again if the ground starts to shake, the USGS team reported in the journal Nature Geoscience. "This finding indicates that the region is at risk from significant geohazards," John Pallister of the USGS and colleagues at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere wrote. The area is known for its lava fields, called harrat in Arabic, as well as small volcanic cones and volcanic ash called tephra.

Interesting4: Warnings have already surfaced about water wars. Now the prospect of "element wars" is raising its ugly head. Chinese customs officials are blocking shipments to Japan of rare earth elements (REEs) and companies have been informally told not to export them, says The New York Times. The move puts more pressure on relations already tested by the capture of a Chinese fishing boat captain in disputed waters earlier this month.

The captain was finally released on friday, says the Financial Times, but the ban on exports appears to remain in place. The ruckus comes amid mounting concern over the supply of REEs from China. The country has been imposing export quotas for some time, perhaps in an effort to preserve stockpiles to meet growing demand at home, and also to process the raw materials itself.

REEs have uses in electronics, medicine and defense. They find their way into everything from computer hard drives to catalytic converters, wind turbines to hybrid cars, and sunglasses to lasers. Right now China has an almost complete monopoly on mining REEs. Despite having just 37 per cent of the world’s estimated reserves, a whopping 97 per cent of world production now comes from China, according to a British Geological Survey report. That’s making the US nervous.

The House of Representatives reviewed a bill yesterday that could end the US’s dependency on China. The US has its own rare earth mine at Mountain Pass in California, but it was closed in 2002 because of environmental issues. REEs are not the only type of element we can expect to see trouble over. Three years ago New Scientist reported on the alarming rate at which some of the world’s reserves of rare metals are being used up.

The report examined how long our supplies of various metals will last and where they are located. The Earth clearly has insufficient resources for the global population to live as those the west do, and if wealthy countries do not change their ways, that can only end in bitter quarrels.