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Summit Lava Lake at Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park Reaches New High Level

April 24, 2015
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Halema‘uma‘u from Jaggar Museum viewing area on April 24, 2015 at 5:13 a.m. NPS Photo/S. Geiger

USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory: Tiltmeters at Kīlauea’s summit recorded continued inflation over the past day, marking a total of about 4.5 microradians since inflation started on Tuesday afternoon (April 21). Mirroring this trend, the level of the summit lava lake has risen to its highest level since the summit eruption began in March 2008. It was measured at 20 m (66 ft) below the rim of the Overlook crater yesterday afternoon, and is at least a few meters (yards) higher this morning.

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Collapse on April 24, 2015 at 5:20 a.m. – NPS Photo/S.Geiger

The surface of the lava lake came into view yesterday afternoon, when observed from the Jaggar Museum overlook, and remains in view this morning. The high level triggered a small collapse from the overhanging west wall and rim of the Overlook crater at about 5:20 AM this morning, triggering a small explosive event that threw spatter out onto the Halema`uma`u crater floor.

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The lava lake is just visible from Jaggar Museum this morning – NPS Photo/S. Geiger

S.U.V. vs. Volcano

April 24, 2015

The following is this week’s edition of the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory‘s Volcano Watch:

suv verses the volcano

Images by University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science

Mauna Loa Observatory: The Keeling Curve recognized as landmark science

On April 30, 2015, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the American Chemical Society will commemorate Earth’s pre-eminent modern atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) record started at the Mauna Loa Observatory, a NOAA atmospheric research facility located at 3,350 m (11,000 ft) above sea level on Mauna Loa’s north flank. As part of this recognition, the CO2 data set itself will become officially recognized as a National Historic Chemical Landmark.

Continuous CO2 monitoring began on Mauna Loa in 1958, when Charles David Keeling installed state-of-the-art instrumentation high on the remote north flank of the volcano and began carefully measuring the amount of CO2 in the air.  This new data became crucial to an ongoing discussion about whether the CO2 released by industrial processes, such as power generation, was building up in Earth’s atmosphere.

Once established, the record showed convincingly that CO2 buildup was indeed taking place. In fact, the technique worked so well that during summer months it easily detected the seasonal uptake of CO2 by increased vegetation. During winter months, when foliage in the northern hemisphere is scarcer, CO2 levels measured at the Mauna Loa location climbed. This seasonal trend superimposed on the long term increasing background atmospheric CO2 record has since been demonstrated at a parallel measurement location in Barrow, Alaska.

But Mauna Loa is also an active volcano, and USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) scientists are sometimes asked if gas released from the mountain affects the ambient CO2 values reported by MLO. The short answer is no. Although instrumentation at MLO can easily detect CO2 emissions from the rift and summit caldera emission sources when winds blow from that direction, MLO scientists are careful to exclude these data from the background CO2 record.

Remarkably, MLO staff have shown how to use these volcanically “contaminated” CO2 records to actually estimate the amount of CO2 discharged by the volcano.  Their published findings show that Mauna Loa, when it’s not erupting, releases a fraction of the CO2 emitted by its younger and more exuberant neighbor, Kīlauea. USGS measurements during Mauna Loa’s most recent eruption in 1984 found emissions comparable with Kīlauea’s current daily rate—about 15,000 tons per day.

Fifteen thousand tons—an amount equivalent to the annual emissions from 2,400 sport utility vehicles—is a lot of CO2. However, careful examination of global volcanic CO2 emissions by USGS scientist Terry Gerlach showed that only during rare and very large explosive eruptions do total volcanic emission rates come close to the rate of CO2 produced in the modern industrialized world. For example, the same amount of CO2 emitted during the 9-hour catastrophic eruption of Mount St. Helens in 1980 is released every 2.5 hours by human activity. On average, though, the proportion released by volcanoes is much less. All of Earth’s volcanoes taken together emit less than one percent of the CO2 produced each year by humans.

The data set that Charles David Keeling established nearly 50 years ago at MLO, which eventually became known as the “Keeling Curve,” is truly worthy of the recognition it will receive next week. Besides documenting the steady upward trend of CO2 concentration in Earth’s atmosphere, this precise and modern CO2 record has been used to reconstruct temperature and CO2 concentration records as far back as 500,000 years ago.  To accomplish this, scientists combined the current record, global temperature data, and studies of CO2 and deuterium isotope concentrations found in the air trapped in ice cores.

Keeling’s modern record, along with the ice core studies, show conclusively that CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere are higher than they’ve been in at least half a million years. They also show that the sharpest and most significant CO2 increase coincided with Earth’s industrialization, and that this increase is mimicked by average global temperatures.

The news isn’t all bad, though. As climate scientists work to understand implications of the MLO CO2 record, other data sets at the observatory, inspired partly by Keeling’s work, are documenting progress towards lowering human-generated greenhouse gases, such as chlorofluorocarbons. As HVO continues to study what goes on beneath the surface of Hawaiian volcanoes, we applaud the Mauna Loa Observatory’s efforts to better understand the workings of Earth’s atmosphere.

Tourism to the National Park of American Samoa Creates $952,500 in Economic Benefits

April 23, 2015

A new National Park Service report shows that 13,952 visitors to the National Park of American Samoa in 2014 spent $782,500 in villages near the park. That spending supported nine jobs in the local area and had a cumulative benefit to the local economy of $952,500.

“The National Park of American Samoa is proud to welcome visitors from throughout American Samoa and around the world,” said Acting Superintendent Barbara Alberti. “We are delighted to share the story of this place and the experiences it provides. We also feature the park as a way to introduce our visitors to this part of the South Pacific and all that it offers. National park tourism is a significant driver in the national economy—returning $10 for every $1 invested in the National Park Service, and it’s a big factor in our local economy as well. We appreciate the partnership and support of the villages and are glad to be able to give back by helping to sustain local communities.”

Ranger Pua on-board a cruise ship chats with passenger before his ranger talk.

Ranger Pua on-board a cruise ship chats with passenger before his ranger talk.

The peer-reviewed visitor spending analysis was conducted by U.S. Geological Survey economists Catherine Cullinane Thomas and Christopher Huber and National Park Service economist Lynne Koontz. The report shows $15.7 billion of direct spending by 292.8 million park visitors in communities within 60 miles of a national park. This spending supported 277,000 jobs nationally; 235,600 of those jobs are found in these gateway communities. The cumulative benefit to the U.S. economy was $ 29.7 billion.

According to the 2014 report, most park visitor spending was for lodging (30.6 percent) followed by food and beverages (20.3 percent), gas and oil (11.9 percent), admissions and fees (10.2 percent) and souvenirs and other expenses (9.9 percent).

To download the report visit http://www.nature.nps.gov/socialscience/economics.cfm. This report includes information for visitor spending at individual parks, states, and territories.

To learn more about the National Park of American Samoa and how the National Park Service works with the American Samoa villages to help preserve local history, conserve the environment, and provide outdoor recreation, go to http://www.nps.gov/americansamoa.

Tourism to Haleakalā National Park Creates Over $70 Million and 837 Jobs in Local Economy

April 23, 2015
Ranger Dee Krause leads a cultural demo in the Kīpahulu District.

Ranger Dee Krause leads a cultural demo in the Kīpahulu District.

A new National Park Service (NPS) report shows that 1,142,040 visitors to Haleakalā National Park in 2014 spent over $70 million in communities near the park. That spending supported 837 jobs in the local area and had a cumulative benefit to the local economy of over $84 million.

“Haleakalā National Park is proud to welcome visitors from across the country and around the world,” said Superintendent Natalie Gates. “We are delighted to share the story of this special place and the experiences it provides. National park tourism is a significant driver in the national economy – returning $10 for every $1 invested in the National Park Service – and it’s a big factor in our local economy as well. We appreciate the partnership and support of our neighbors and are glad to be able to give back by helping to sustain local communities.”

Summit Sunset.

Summit Sunset.

The peer-reviewed visitor spending analysis was conducted by U.S. Geological Survey economists Catherine Cullinane Thomas and Christopher Huber and National Park Service economist Lynne Koontz. Nationwide, the report shows $15.7 billion of direct spending by 292.8 million park visitors in communities within 60 miles of a national park. This spending supported 277,000 jobs nationally; 235,600 of those jobs are found in these gateway communities. The cumulative benefit to the U.S. economy was $29.7 billion.

According to the 2014 report, most park visitor spending was for lodging (30.6 percent) followed by food and beverages (20.3 percent), gas and oil (11.9 percent), admissions and fees (10.2 percent) and souvenirs and other expenses (9.9 percent). To download the report visit http://www.nature.nps.gov/socialscience/economics.cfm. The report includes information for visitor spending at individual parks and by state.

To learn more about national parks in Hawai`i and how the National Park Service works with communities in Hawai`i to help preserve local history, conserve the environment, and provide outdoor recreation, go to www.nps.gov/hi.

Maui Job Corps Facilities Maintenance interns celebrate Earth Day at Haleakalā

April 23, 2015
Maui Job Corps Facilities Maintenance interns at the summit.

Maui Job Corps Facilities Maintenance interns at the summit.

Maui Job Corps Facilities Maintenance interns celebrated ‪‎Earth Day‬ at Haleakalā National Park on April 22nd, by working with the Volunteer In Park’s program doing a one day service trip.

They were exposed to conservation career work by doing invasive plant identification in the park’s mule pasture. They pulled hundreds of invasive fire weeds (Senecio madagascariensis). By removing this weed from the pasture, they helped to limit the chance this weed will get carried in on the mules hoofs, while packing supplies into the parks back country wilderness .

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Other work included cutting invasive Mexican weeping pine (Pinus patula) on Pu’u Nianiau along the parks boundary, and also litter removal from Haleakalā Summit look out at 10,023′ elevation.

Students in the program come from places like Palau, Samoa, Kosrae, Guam, Moloka’i, and Maui. Gaining a diverse amount of job skills to jump start a future career is the goal of the program.

To volunteer for Haleakalā National Park, call 808-572-4487, or email, Adrian_Boone@nps.gov.

That’s What Friends Are For

April 22, 2015
Sal and Jackie receiving their special trophy from their close friend John Johann.

Sal and Jackie receiving their special trophy from their close friend John Johann.

John Johann emailed us last February that his two closest friends will be coming to the National Park of American Samoa to complete their quest to visit all 59 national parks. Park Ranger Pai helped John to coordinate receiving a special award–a trophy–in the mail to surprise them during their extra special visit.

The trophy reads:
LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD presented to SAL & JACKIE RODRIGUEZ for visiting all 59 national parks of the United States of America.

Congratulations to Sal and Jackie! We’re grateful to have been part of your special day.
‪#‎FindYourPark‬ ‪#‎SailiLouPakaFaasao‬

Jackie and Sal with Park ranger Pai.

Jackie and Sal with Park ranger Pai.

Earth Day 2015

April 22, 2015

Every April 22nd, we celebrate Earth Day as an annual event worldwide to demonstrate our support for environmental protection. This day is honored to broaden the base of support for environmental program, rekindles public commitment and builds community activism around the world.

What can you do for Earth Day? The possibilities are endless! Change a habit, Reduce-Reuse-Recycle! Help launch a community garden. Do something nice for the Earth, have fun, meet new people, and make a difference!

But you need not to wait for April 22, EARTH DAY IS EVERY DAY! To build a better future, we all must commit to protect our environment year-round.

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