Chesapeake Bay Climate Study Partnership: Undergraduate Student Experiential Learning on Microclimates at the University of Hawai‘i, Hilo

Monday, 14 December 2015: 16:35
303 (Moscone South)
Gulnihal Ozbay, Delaware State University, Dover, DE, United States, Shobha Sriharan, Virginia State University, Washington, DC, United States, Chunlei Fan, Morgan State University, Greenbelt, MD, United States, Jason Adolf, University of Hawaii at Hilo, Hilo, HI, United States and Chesapeake Bay Climate Education Partnership
Undergraduate student experiential learning activities focused on microclimates of Hawai‘i Island, Hawai‘i. Six students from Virginia State University, three students from Delaware State University and faculty advisors were hosted by the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo (UHH) Department of Marine Science. This partnership provided integrated, cohesive, and innovative education and research capabilities to minority students on climate change science. Activities included a summer course, instrumentation training, field and laboratory research training, sampling, data collection, logging, analysis, interpretation, report preparation, and research presentation. Most training activities used samples collected during students’ field sampling in Hilo Bay. Water quality and phytoplankton data were collected along a 220 degree line transect from the mouth of the Wailuku River to the pelagic zone outside of Hilo Bay into the Pacific Ocean to a distance of 15.5 km. Water clarity, turbidity, chlorophyll, physical water quality parameters, and atmospheric CO2 levels were measured along the transect. Phytoplankton samples were collected for analysis by Scanning Electron Microscopy and Flow Cytometry. Data showed the extent of anthropogenic activity on water quality, with implications for food web dynamics. In addition, atmospheric CO2  concentration, island vegetation, and GPS points were recorded throughout the island of Hawai‘i to investigate how variations in microclimate, elevation, and land development affect the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, vegetation, and water quality. Water quality results at locations near rivers were completely different from other study sites, requiring students’ critical thinking skills to find possible reasons for the difference. Our data show a correlation between population density and CO2 concentrations. Anthropogenic activities affecting CO2 and ocean conditions in Hawaiian microclimates can potentially have deleterious effects on the life that call these areas home.