MAUNA KEA, Hawaii – The ‘ōhi’a tree may be be a window into historical conditions on Mauna Kea.
Recently, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s Global Environmental Science graduate Justin Thayer and his mentor, Oceanography Professor Axel Timmermann, set out to evaluate whether the carbon isotopic composition of ‘ōhi’a trees at Hakalau on Mauna Kea could provide a reliable indicator of past climate conditions. The form of carbon a plant takes in during photosynthesis can be influenced by environmental factors, such as rainfall.
In a media release Thayer said, “Given the numerous parameters that influence the Hawaiian climate, elucidating the climate history of the Hawaiian Islands is pertinent to understanding and predicting future climate conditions. Since ʻōhiʻa grows in a wide range of climate types and given its potential long lifespan, the carbon isotope signature of ʻōhiʻa may be the perfect tool to provide high-resolution reconstructions of the climate history in the Hawaiian Islands.”
The media release included another news item about a research project examining present day stressors on the He’eia Fishpond. According to the University of Hawaii:
The GES program at the UHM School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST) trains high-quality students to be knowledgeable in Earth-system science and think creatively about the challenges facing communities and natural resources now and in the future. As a GES degree requirement, each student performs original scientific research, writes a senior thesis and presents findings publically. Mentors include SOEST faculty – global leaders in the fields of ocean, earth and space science. Throughout the GES degree program, students are engaged in field work, laboratory work and field trips, and have access to deep ocean and coastal research vessels, SOEST’s world-class Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology, and an active volcano.University of Hawaii media release