NEWS | Council District 7 – Honolulu City Council |

Updates for Our Airport Area Neighbors

Aloha,

Ongoing utility relocation activities on Ualena Street, Lagoon Drive, and Waiwai Loop will continue this week. Daytime flagging will be implemented from Monday to Friday on the makai side of Waiwai Loop between 7 AM to 5 PM. 
 This weekend, crews are scheduled to begin drilling operations on Ualena Street. Please anticipate the one-way traffic pattern next week Sunday, September 27. 

Roadway Safety During Construction
Active construction sites bring changes in roadway conditions as well as the overall visual landscape. We encourage motorists to drive slowly and proceed with caution for the safety of pedestrians, other motorists and construction crews using the area. 
 Lastly, a virtual project-wide Business and Community Meeting is scheduled for next Tuesday, September 29, from 1:30 to 2:30 PM. To receive reminders for the meeting, please RSVP through HART’s Event Page on Facebook through this link https://fb.me/e/32ZIiykRM

LANE CLOSURES

SEPTEMBER 21 TO 28, 2020

Please keep in mind this schedule is subject to change due to weather and unforeseen underground obstructions.

Ualena Street
24/7 One-Way
Begins 9/27/2020
  • One-way traffic will operate westbound.
  • Eastbound motorists will be detoured to Ohohia Street, Koapaka Street, then Lagoon Drive to access Ualena Street.
Ualena Street
Daytime Flagger Control: Weekdays 7 AM to 5 PM | Sundays as needed
Ongoing through December 2020
Refer to 
CN 67B: Ualena Street Daytime Flagging
  • Both lanes of Ualena Street between Ohohia Street and Lagoon Drive will be under flagger control as needed.
  • Street parking available except where marked. 
  • Business access will be maintained. 
Ualena Street
Nighttime Closure: Weekdays 8 PM to 4 AM 
Ongoing through project duration
Refer to CN 34: Ualena Street Nightwork
  • Utility relocation work will be performed on Ualena Street between STG’s 4 Lots Yard and Lagoon Drive.
  • No street parking will be permitted in the work area (marked in red on the map) between 8 PM and 4 AM.
  • Traffic in both directions will be closed during construction hours. Local access for businesses will be maintained.
  • Trenched work areas will be covered with steel plates during daytime hours.
Lagoon Drive Lane Closure (Mauka-Bound)
Daytime: 7 AM to 5 PM
Ongoing through May 2021
  • The far-right lane of Lagoon Drive mauka-bound will be closed between Aolele Street and Waiwai Loop to facilitate construction of the Āhua Station.
  • Motorists will be able to turn into Waiwai Loop. Access to Ke‘ehi Lagoon Beach Park will be maintained.
Lagoon Drive Lane Closure (Mauka-Bound)
Nighttime: 8 PM to 4 AM 
Ongoing through December 2020
Refer to CN 65B: Lagoon Drive

North-bound (mauka-bound) lanes may be closed. Two-way traffic will be contraflowed on south-bound (makai-bound) lanes. Motorists may access Waiwai Loop on the mauka end of the loop.

Lagoon Drive Lane Closure (Makai-Bound)
Nighttime: 8 PM to 4 AM 
Ongoing through December 2020
Refer to CN 65B: Lagoon Drive

The south-bound (makai-bound) lanes will be closed. Traffic wil be contraflowed on the north-bound (mauka-bound) lanes to permit two-way traffic. Motorists will be detoured to Koapaka Street and Ohohia Street to access Ualena Street.

Waiwai Loop Intermittent Closure (Makai)
Daytime: 7 AM to 5 PM 
Ongoing through December 2020
Refer to CN 62B: Waiwai Loop Intermittent Lane Closure
  • Both lanes of Waiwai Loop will be under flagger control as needed.
  • No street parking available within the designated work area.
  • Business access will be maintained.
Waiwai Loop Intermittent Closure (Makai)
Nighttime Closure: Weekdays 8 PM to 4 AM | Sunday 8 PM to 4 AM 
Ongoing through December 2020
Refer to: CN 36C: Waiwai Loop Makai Nightly Lane Closure
  • Waiwai Loop from Lagoon Drive to the Hawaii Employers Council will be closed between 8 PM and 4 AM for utility relocation work.
  • No street parking will be permitted in the work area (marked in red on the map).
  • Local access for businesses will be maintained. Trenched work areas will be covered with steel plates during daytime hours.

CONSTRUCTION NOTICES
(REACH D: AIRPORT INDUSTRIAL AREA)

CN 34: Ualena Street Night Work

CN 67B: Ualena Street Daytime Flagging

CN 65B: Lagoon Drive

CN 36C: Waiwai Loop Makai Nightly Lane Closure

CN 62B: Waiwai Loop Intermittent Lane Closure

“Fish to Dish” Program Supports Local Families and Businesses

PRESS RELEASE MAYOR KIRK CALDWELL CITY AND COUNTY OF HONOLULU

HONOLULU – The “Fish to Dish” program, which supports Hawai‘i’s longline fishing industry and distributes fresh fish to communities across the island of Oʻahu, kicked off this week. “As we all do our part to make Oahu COVID-safe for one another, we must also take bold steps toward economic recovery and revitalization,” said Mayor Kirk Caldwell. “The way we rebuild is by constantly asking ourselves how we can better use the resources and abilities of our own people to help each other in this time of great need. ‘Fish to Dish’ is one way that the City and County of Honolulu is adapting to the ever-changing crisis and acting on the best ideas.”  The “Fish” portion of the program will provide CARES Act funds to more than 140 vessels of the Hawai‘i Longline Association. The Association will distribute the funds to help cover vessel operating fees over a three-month period. The fishing industry is one of many local sectors that have been hit hard by the severe downturn in customer demand that resulted from the COVID-19 crisis. Fishing boats who are part of the program will then deliver fish to the Honolulu fish auction for purchase. At the fish auction, the Hawai‘i Seafood Council will initiate the “Dish” part of the program by purchasing over 100,000 pounds of fish fillet that will be turned into 350,000 servings. These fillets will be provided to the Hawai‘i Foodbank to distribute through its partner organizations. Prepared fish will be served to kupuna and other hungry families across Oʻahu for five months. This part of the program is especially critical due to the spike in food insecurity being experienced by the people of Hawai‘i during this pandemic.  “The partnerships in this program give me so much confidence that we will win the fight against COVID-19,” said Mayor Caldwell. “My thanks the Hawai‘i Longline Association, Hawai‘i Seafood Council, Hawai‘i Foodbank and its partner organizations, and all the government employees who worked so hard to build this program to help so many across our island. This is what we can achieve when we work together as one community.”   In addition to “Fish to Dish,” the City and County of Honolulu recently made small commercial fishermen eligible for its Small Business Relief and Recovery Fund applicant pool. Furthermore, the State of Hawai‘i has agreed to pick up funding support for the Hawai‘i Longline Association after the initial three-month period funded by the City and County of Honolulu. Together, these policies will help the critically important Hawaii fishing industry during this economic downturn and, at the same time, will help supply fresh fish to the people of Oʻahu through the end of this year. More information about the Small Business Relief and Recovery Fund can be found at www.oneoahu.org/small-business. For information about receiving food assistance from the Hawaii Foodbank, please visit www.hawaiifoodbank.org

—PAU— 

Adam LeFebvre
OFFICE OF MAYOR KIRK CALDWELL
Direct:  (808) 768-4023
Cell:      (808) 779-4920

“Farm to Car” Program Returns to Support Local Farmers

PRESS RELEASE MAYOR KIRK CALDWELL. OFFICE OF ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT DEPARTMENT OF ENTERPRISE SERVICES CITY AND COUNTY OF HONOLULU

HONOLULU – The “Farm to Car” program returns this week to provide O‘ahu residents with affordable fresh fruits, vegetables, eggs and other produce from local farmers. The innovative program is a partnership between the City and County of Honolulu and the Hawai‘i Farm Bureau. “Making O‘ahu COVID-safe depends on everyone supporting each other and creating partnerships that help the people of our island,” said Mayor Kirk Caldwell. “The Hawai‘i Farm Bureau and approximately 20 farmers recognized the need to give people access to locally grown food at a reasonable cost and create a way for farms to become more financially sustainable. Partnerships like this help to create COVID-era economic opportunities and get businesses and people back on their feet.” Starting September 20 and continuing every week through December, people can pre-order local farm products online at www.farmtocarhawaii.org. Then on Saturdays, starting September 26, from 9 a.m. to noon, customers can safely pickup their order with minimal personal contact at the Ewa side of the Neal S. Blaisdell Center (enter via Ward Ave.). See attached graphic of pick-up area. People should bring their receipt to the pick-up area. All orders are guaranteed and will be distributed according to the receipt number. During April’s Stay at Home/Work at Home Emergency Order, the response of the community was overwhelming – over 10,000 people signed up for the program.
Under the Mayor’s Emergency Order 2020-26, farmers’ markets are declared an Essential Business and delivering fruits and vegetables are deemed an Essential Activity.

For more information on “Farm to Car”, visit www.farmtocarhawaii.org or call the Hawaiʻi Farm Bureau at (808) 848-2074. For more information about Essential Businesses and Essential Activities, please visit www.oneoahu.org/faqs

. —PAU—

Adam LeFebvre
OFFICE OF MAYOR KIRK CALDWELL
Direct:  (808) 768-4023
Cell:      (808) 779-4920

(Civil Beat) CARES-Funded Lab Hitting Delays In Delivering Coronavirus Tests

(SOURCE: CIVIL BEAT)

The University of Hawaii’s lab is a key part of the city’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

A University of Hawaii lab that was envisioned to ramp up Honolulu’s ability to conduct widespread COVID-19 testing has been struggling to get off the ground.

The partnership between Honolulu and UH, announced in May, was supposed to provide nearly 100,000 tests to people on Oahu. With the help of $3.9 million in CARES Act funds from the city, the John A. Burns School of Medicine was going to provide “surge capacity” of 50,000 traditional diagnostic tests by the end of the year, conduct 49,000 antibody tests, and develop new methods to test for the coronavirus, officials said at a press conference.

At the time, the city said the new lab should be operational within six weeks.

The JABSOM lab aims to provide 1,000 diagnostic tests per day but hasn’t started accepting samples yet.
Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Nearly four months later, the lab has yet to conduct a single test. Delays in delivering funding and setting up the lab infrastructure mean the program hasn’t accepted any patient samples and doesn’t know when it will be able to, according to Rosie Alegado, a UH professor and community liaison for the lab. 

“On paper, the six weeks number was if we had the money today, we would be able to order the machines, do X, Y, and Z and do all of this,” she said. “But of course, there are many things out of our control.”

On Monday, Mayor Kirk Caldwell announced the results of a federal surge testing effort: the virus is not circulating widely islandwide but rather is confined to certain populations and areas. Overall, the island has a low positivity rate, the mayor said.

The next step is more targeted testing of areas experiencing high case counts, which includes the Pacific Islander and Filipino communities, Caldwell said.

While the city has 30,000 remaining tests left over from the feds, officials are still looking to the UH lab to create extra on-island capacity. The hope is that UH’s testing efforts, along with the contact tracing and isolation efforts funded by city CARES money, can help keep case counts in check as the island endeavors to open up businesses, according to Josh Stanbro, the city’s chief resilience officer who is helping to lead the city’s pandemic response.

Meanwhile, the clock is ticking. CARES Act funds need to be spent before Dec. 31, or they’ll need to be returned to the federal government.

Setting Up A New Lab Takes Time

With over 4,000 tests being conducted every day in Hawaii, according to the Department of Health, the JABSOM lab would increase Oahu’s testing capacity by 25%.

But UH has encountered numerous obstacles in trying to make this program happen, according to Alegado.

Funding was one of them. In order for the JABSOM lab to receive the first batch of funding from Honolulu, it needed the approval of the UH Board of Regents. Members approved the program at their monthly meeting on June 18. Approximately $200,000 from the Rockefeller Foundation didn’t arrive until July, Alegado said.

“We really got off and running in July,” Alegado said.

The lab also had to get testing machines and materials, which were in high demand around the world, Alegado said.

“One of the biggest hurdles is just, as usual, Hawaii is at the end of a long global supply chain,” she said.

As of last week, the JABSOM lab does have its testing machines and is calibrating them to ensure they work properly, according to Alegado. That can take a week to 10 days, she said.

The team is still working on establishing a communication system that connects community health care centers, where the patients are, to the lab. Then they have to ensure the lab can send results to patients’ doctors and the Hawaii Health Information Exchange. HHIE is a nonprofit intermediary that shares data with the Hawaii Department of Health.

The communication of health information needs to happen in a way that doesn’t jeopardize patient privacy, which is protected by federal law.

“What we’re in the process of doing now is running those test codes to see, OK, we have a result and we’re running it through HHIE. Can we make it all the way to DOH?” she said. “We have to get through all the way to DOH.”

DOH itself is decades behind technology-wise and relies on two fax machines to intake information for its contact tracing program. JABSOM will provide its results digitally, Alegado said, but they’re still working out the kinks.

“It’s just that for a new entity, you know, there’s always some troubleshooting that needs to happen,” she said.

It is unclear when exactly the program will be able to resolve all these issues and start testing, according to Alegado.

“Until we can get the data workflow finalized, I cannot give you a clear date,” she said. “I will say that on the lab side, we will be ready to go in a very short period of time.”

UH still needs to obtain a CLIA (Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments) Certificate of Compliance, which will happen after the lab successfully completes an on-site inspection. However, the lab can begin patient testing before then, according to Alegado, once it completes the validation and verification of its equipment and protocols and completes competency checks of personnel.

Honolulu ‘Not Concerned Yet’

Honolulu pursued the deal with UH at a time when Caldwell was frustrated with a lack of testing at the state level, said Stanbro.

The Caldwell administration tried to take testing into its own hands by purchasing thousands of test kits from the Texas-based company Everlywell. However, the DOH objected because of concerns about the reliability of the tests, and Honolulu backed off.

“DOH, at the time, was saying we don’t need more tests,” Stanbro said. “We thought otherwise.”

The city was trying to be as aggressive as possible to expand the island’s testing capacity, Stanbro said, and a deal with UH was one way to accomplish that.

“When we first looked at it in May, it looked like a straight path to get there, and there has been a lot of curves,” he said. “We’re trying to do projects that usually take months and months of negotiating, have lawyers get involved, set up reporting parameters, and phased funding – all that we’re doing in a matter of weeks.”

Having on-island testing capacity is the difference between a one- to two-day turnaround on results versus a three- to five-day turnaround with a lab on the mainland, according to Stanbro. Acting faster can help contain the spread of the virus, he said.

“If they get their positive reading back quickly, then they can isolate and not be exposing others while waiting for a test result,” he said.

As of right now, Hawaii has enough testing capacity to meet the state’s needs, according to Edward Desmond, DOH’s State Laboratories Administrator. But that could change.

“For right now, people are comfortable with their ability to run 4,000 samples per day,” said Desmond, who conducts a monthly survey of lab capacity. “If you take answers labs give me at face value, they think we are capable of running 7,000 per day, but we couldn’t keep that up for long.”

Honolulu could have partnered with an existing lab on the island instead of standing up a new lab from scratch. But Stanbro said the city preferred to partner with an academic institution.

The cost per test is lower than it would be otherwise, he said. Plus, it’s designed to serve the public good instead of subsidizing a private company.

“Having a functioning research lab that is publicly owned, publicly operated for the value of the public is something that is far more valuable than just additional private testing capacity,” he said. 

In the long run, the lab seeks to build long-term capacity to identify, monitor and diagnose COVID-19 variations and other rare infectious diseases so that Hawaii can be on the “leading edge of pandemic preparedness,” according to the program’s goals.

In the short term, if all goes well, JABSOM aims to provide 1,000 diagnostic tests per day. But Alegado said UH’s contract with the city allows flexibility to adjust the testing goals announced at the press conference as need dictates.

Among the program’s central goals is to provide testing to “underserved, uninsured, and front-line workers who may require multiple tests for safety at their workplaces.”

The lab seeks to build long-term capacity to identify, monitor and diagnose COVID-19 variations and other rare infectious diseases so that Hawaii can be on the “leading edge of pandemic preparedness.”

That could include hotel workers, public housing residents and city employees like firefighters, Stanbro said. As of Monday, 24 firefighters have tested positive for COVID-19, according to an agency spokesman.

“It’s a cost-effective way to do routine testing on our ambulance workers, our fire department, our frontline public safety workers,” Stanbro said. 

The Pacific Islander and Filipino communities are also in need of regular testing, Alegado said.

Non-Hawaiian Pacific Islanders made up 16% of the state’s COVID-19 deaths despite representing only 4% of the population, and Filipinos represented 24% of deaths even though they are only 16% of the population, according to DOH data released last month.

So far, UH has received only the first batch of its CARES funds, approximately $1.2 million, Alegado said. Future releases are based on hitting benchmarks. In other words, the University of Hawaii has about 100 days to spend millions of dollars that the city hasn’t even released to the institution yet.

“Once lab machines are validated and data workflow is running, we can receive the next round of funding which is almost completely dedicated to covering test and processing costs,” Alegado said.

Stanbro said he’s “not concerned yet” that the clock will run out before all $3.9 million can be spent.

However, testing needs and technological advances can shift rapidly.

In October or November, if the island no longer needs the lab as originally envisioned, Stanbro said the city can pull back some of funds and allocate them elsewhere, such as rent relief. Either way, UH is expected to carry on operations of the lab after the new year, Stanbro said.

“It took longer than we would’ve liked to get it up, but once it’s up, it’ll be a permanent asset for not just Oahu but the entire state,” he said.

(Science Daily) Ancient volcanoes once boosted ocean carbon, but humans are now far outpacing them

(SOURCE: SCIENCE DAILY)

The closest analog to modern times is no longer very close, study finds

A new study of an ancient period that is considered the closest natural analog to the era of modern human carbon emissions has found that massive volcanism sent great waves of carbon into the oceans over thousands of years — but that nature did not come close to matching what humans are doing today.

A new study of an ancient period that is considered the closest natural analog to the era of modern human carbon emissions has found that massive volcanism sent great waves of carbon into the oceans over thousands of years — but that nature did not come close to matching what humans are doing today. The study estimates that humans are now introducing the element three to eight times faster, or possibly even more. The consequences for life both in the water and on land are potentially catastrophic. The findings appear this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Researchers at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory examined ocean conditions 55.6 million years ago, a time known as the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM). Before this, the planet was already considerably warmer than it is today, and the soaring CO2 levels of the PETM drove temperatures up another 5 to 8 degrees C (9 to 14 degrees F). The oceans absorbed large amounts of carbon, spurring chemical reactions that caused waters to become highly acidic, and killing or impairing many marine species.

Scientists have known about the PETM carbon surge for years, but until now, have been shaky on what caused it. Aside from volcanism, hypotheses have included the sudden dissolution of frozen methane (which contains carbon) from ocean-floor muds, or even a collision with a comet. Researchers have also been uncertain about how much carbon dioxide was present in the air, and thus how much the oceans took in. The new study solidifies both the volcano theory, and the amount of carbon that was released into the air.

The research is directly relevant to today, said lead author Laura Haynes, who did the research as a graduate student at Lamont-Doherty. “We want to understand how the earth system is going to respond to rapid CO2 emissions now,” she said. “The PETM is not the perfect analog, but it’s the closest thing we have. Today, things are moving much faster.” Haynes is now an assistant professor at Vassar College.

Up to now, marine studies of the PETM have relied on scant chemical data from the oceans, and assumptions based on a certain degree of guesswork that researchers fed into computer models.

The authors of the new study got at the questions more directly. They did this by culturing tiny shelled marine organisms called foraminifera in seawater that they formulated to resemble the highly acidic conditions of the PETM. They recorded how the organisms took up the element boron into their shells during growth. They then compared these data with analyses of boron from fossilized foraminifera in Pacific and Atlantic ocean-floor cores that span the PETM. This allowed them to identify carbon-isotope signatures associated with specific carbon sources. This indicated that volcanoes were the main source — probably from massive eruptions centered around what is now Iceland, as the North Atlantic ocean opened up, and northern North America and Greenland separated from northern Europe.

The researchers say the carbon pulses, which others estimate lasted for at least 4,000 to 5,000 years, added as much as 14.9 quadrillion metric tons of carbon to the oceans — a two-thirds increase over their previous content. The carbon would have come from CO2 emitted directly by the eruptions, the combustion of surrounding sedimentary rocks, and some methane welling up from the depths. As the oceans absorbed carbon from the air, waters became highly acidic, and remained that way for tens of thousands of years. There is evidence that this killed off much deep-sea life, and probably other marine creatures as well.

Today, human emissions are causing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to skyrocket, and the oceans are again absorbing much of it. The difference is that we are introducing it much faster than the volcanoes did — within decades instead of millennia. Atmospheric levels have shot up from about 280 parts per million in the 1700s to about 415 today, and they are on a path to keep rising rapidly. Atmospheric levels would already be much higher if the oceans were not absorbing so much. As they do, rapid acidification is starting to stress marine life.

“If you add carbon slowly, living things can adapt. If you do it very fast, that’s a really big problem,” said the study’s coauthor Bärbel Hönisch, a geochemist at Lamont-Doherty. She pointed out that even at the much slower pace of the PETM, marine life saw major die-offs. “The past saw some really dire consequences, and that does not bode well for the future,” she said. “We’re outpacing the past, and the consequences are probably going to be very serious.”


Story Source:

Materials provided by Earth Institute at Columbia University. Original written by Kevin Krajick. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.



(Science Daily) Possible marker of life spotted on venus

(SOURCE: SCIENCE DAILY)

Astronomers have discovered a rare molecule — phosphine — in the clouds of Venus. On Earth, this gas is only made industrially or by microbes that thrive in oxygen-free environments. Astronomers have speculated for decades that high clouds on Venus could offer a home for microbes — floating free of the scorching surface but needing to tolerate very high acidity. The detection of phosphine could point to such extra-terrestrial ‘aerial’ life.

Planet Venus (stock image; elements furnished by NASA).

An international team of astronomers today announced the discovery of a rare molecule — phosphine — in the clouds of Venus. On Earth, this gas is only made industrially or by microbes that thrive in oxygen-free environments. Astronomers have speculated for decades that high clouds on Venus could offer a home for microbes — floating free of the scorching surface but needing to tolerate very high acidity. The detection of phosphine could point to such extra-terrestrial ‘aerial’ life.

“When we got the first hints of phosphine in Venus’s spectrum, it was a shock!,” says team leader Jane Greaves of Cardiff University in the UK, who first spotted signs of phosphine in observations from the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope (JCMT), operated by the East Asian Observatory, in Hawai’i. Confirming their discovery required using 45 antennas of the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile, a more sensitive telescope in which the European Southern Observatory (ESO) is a partner. Both facilities observed Venus at a wavelength of about 1 millimetre, much longer than the human eye can see — only telescopes at high altitude can detect it effectively.

The international team, which includes researchers from the UK, US and Japan, estimates that phosphine exists in Venus’s clouds at a small concentration, only about twenty molecules in every billion. Following their observations, they ran calculations to see whether these amounts could come from natural non-biological processes on the planet. Some ideas included sunlight, minerals blown upwards from the surface, volcanoes, or lightning, but none of these could make anywhere near enough of it. These non-biological sources were found to make at most one ten thousandth of the amount of phosphine that the telescopes saw.

To create the observed quantity of phosphine (which consists of hydrogen and phosphorus) on Venus, terrestrial organisms would only need to work at about 10% of their maximum productivity, according to the team. Earth bacteria are known to make phosphine: they take up phosphate from minerals or biological material, add hydrogen, and ultimately expel phosphine. Any organisms on Venus will probably be very different to their Earth cousins, but they too could be the source of phosphine in the atmosphere.

While the discovery of phosphine in Venus’s clouds came as a surprise, the researchers are confident in their detection. “To our great relief, the conditions were good at ALMA for follow-up observations while Venus was at a suitable angle to Earth. Processing the data was tricky, though, as ALMA isn’t usually looking for very subtle effects in very bright objects like Venus,” says team member Anita Richards of the UK ALMA Regional Centre and the University of Manchester. “In the end, we found that both observatories had seen the same thing — faint absorption at the right wavelength to be phosphine gas, where the molecules are backlit by the warmer clouds below,” adds Greaves, who led the study published today in Nature Astronomy.

Another team member, Clara Sousa Silva of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the US, has investigated phosphine as a “biosignature” gas of non-oxygen-using life on planets around other stars, because normal chemistry makes so little of it. She comments: “Finding phosphine on Venus was an unexpected bonus! The discovery raises many questions, such as how any organisms could survive. On Earth, some microbes can cope with up to about 5% of acid in their environment — but the clouds of Venus are almost entirely made of acid.”

The team believes their discovery is significant because they can rule out many alternative ways to make phosphine, but they acknowledge that confirming the presence of “life” needs a lot more work. Although the high clouds of Venus have temperatures up to a pleasant 30 degrees Celsius, they are incredibly acidic — around 90% sulphuric acid — posing major issues for any microbes trying to survive there.

ESO astronomer and ALMA European Operations Manager Leonardo Testi, who did not participate in the new study, says: “The non-biological production of phosphine on Venus is excluded by our current understanding of phosphine chemistry in rocky planets’ atmospheres. Confirming the existence of life on Venus’s atmosphere would be a major breakthrough for astrobiology; thus, it is essential to follow-up on this exciting result with theoretical and observational studies to exclude the possibility that phosphine on rocky planets may also have a chemical origin different than on Earth.”

More observations of Venus and of rocky planets outside our Solar System, including with ESO’s forthcoming Extremely Large Telescope, may help gather clues on how phosphine can originate on them and contribute to the search for signs of life beyond Earth.

This research was presented in the paper “Phosphine Gas in the Cloud Decks of Venus” to appear in Nature Astronomy.

The team is composed of Jane S. Greaves (School of Physics & Astronomy, Cardiff University, UK [Cardiff]), Anita M. S. Richards (Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics, The University of Manchester, UK), William Bains (Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA [MIT]), Paul Rimmer (Department of Earth Sciences and Cavendish Astrophysics, University of Cambridge and MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge, UK), Hideo Sagawa (Department of Astrophysics and Atmospheric Science, Kyoto Sangyo University, Japan), David L. Clements (Department of Physics, Imperial College London, UK [Imperial]), Sara Seager (MIT), Janusz J. Petkowski (MIT), Clara Sousa-Silva (MIT), Sukrit Ranjan (MIT), Emily Drabek-Maunder (Cardiff and Royal Observatory Greenwich, London, UK), Helen J. Fraser (School of Physical Sciences, The Open University, Milton Keynes, UK), Annabel Cartwright (Cardiff), Ingo Mueller-Wodarg (Imperial), Zhuchang Zhan (MIT), Per Friberg (EAO/JCMT), Iain Coulson (EAO/JCMT), E’lisa Lee (EAO/JCMT) and Jim Hoge (EAO/JCMT).

An accompanying paper by some of team members, titled “The Venusian Lower Atmosphere Haze as a Depot for Desiccated Microbial Life: A Proposed Life Cycle for Persistence of the Venusian Aerial Biosphere,” was published in Astrobiology in August 2020. Another related study by some of the same authors, “Phosphine as a Biosignature Gas in Exoplanet Atmospheres,” was published in Astrobiology in January 2020.


Story Source:

Materials provided by ESONote: Content may be edited for style and length.

LANE AND SIDEWALK CLOSURE NOTICE

Puuhale Road and Mokauea Street (Off Dillingham Boulevard)

Estimated Start: Mid-September 2020 | 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. | Approximately 4-6 Weeks

The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART) and Nan, Inc. would like to notify area residents and businesses of lane and
sidewalk closures on: (1) Puuhale Road, between Dillingham Boulevard and Colburn Street, (2) Mokauea Street, between Dillingham
Boulevard and Kalani Street. These traffic controls are required to safely relocate utilities for the Honolulu Rail Transit Project. For those
living and working close to the work zone, please pardon the inconvenience. You may experience increased traffic and noise levels.

TRAFFIC PLANS

  • Lane and sidewalk closures on Puuhale Road (Dillingham Boulevard to Colburn Street)
  • Detours will be in place, and on-street parking may be restricted in the work zone during work hours.
  • Residential driveways and business access will be maintained in the work zone.
  • On-site special duty ocers/aggers will assist pedestrians and commuters as needed.
  • For safety, please observe posted speed limits, trac directional signs, and/or special instructions.
  • Bus service may be impacted. For up-to-date bus information, visit http://www.TheBus.org or call (808) 848-5555.
  • Lane and sidewalk closures on Mokauea Street (Dillingham Boulevard to Kalani Street)

For real time bus arrival information, visit hea.thebus.org.

(KITV) A gas found on Earth that signifies life has been detected in the clouds on Venus

(SOURCE: KITV)

It’s our closest planetary neighbor, but it spins backward compared to other planets.

(CNN) — A gas on Earth has also been detected in the atmosphere of Venus. The “entirely surprising” discovery of phosphine could hint at unknown processes occurring on Earth’s “twin.”

Phosphine suggests the presence of life on Earth. And the idea of aerial life in the clouds of Venus is intriguing. But it’s not likely.

On Earth, phosphine is a flammable, foul, toxic gas produced by bacteria that doesn’t require oxygen — like those in swamps, wetlands, sludge or even animal guts. Its odor has been likened to decaying fish or garlic. It can also occur when organic matter breaks down.

Venus is similar in size to Earth and often referred to as Earth’s twin, but it’s not really.

Venus is an unusual planet that scientists are still trying to understand. It’s our closest planetary neighbor, but it spins backward compared to other planets. The planet’s thick atmosphere helps to trap heat, and its surface is hot enough to melt lead.

Above its hot surface, which is 900 degrees Fahrenheit, the upper cloud deck that’s 33 to 39 miles above the planet’s surface is much more temperate. But Venus’ clouds are very acidic, which should quickly destroy phosphine. So how did it get there?

“Something completely unexpected and highly intriguing is happening on Venus to produce the unexpected presence of tiny amounts of phosphine gas,” said Sara Seager, study coauthor and astrophysicist and planetary scientist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in an email.

The study authored by Cardiff University professor Jane Greaves and her colleagues published Monday in the journal Nature Astronomy.

Researchers used the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope in Hawaii in 2017 and the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array in 2019 to study Venus. Their data revealed a spectral signature unique to traces of phosphine in the planet’s atmosphere. The scientists estimated 20 parts-per-billion of the gas is present in Venus’ clouds.

The research team considered surface sources like volcanoes, lightning, delivery via micrometeorites or chemical processes occurring in the clouds as potential causes. But the scientists weren’t able to determine how the phosphine was produced.

The researchers were left with rather extreme possibilities, Seager said.

“(One) is that some unknown chemistry is occurring in the Venus atmosphere, surface, or subsurface,” she said in an email statement. “We find this explanation tough to accept because (of) Venus’s temperature and pressure range and the fact that Venus has nearly zero hydrogensmean(s)phosphineis not the natural form of the element phosphorus. Instead phosphorus should be present as phosphates.”

Future observations could reveal the source, as well as modeling to show why the gas is present in the atmosphere. And a future potential mission that could sample the clouds and surface may also shed light on the source.

However, it could be an indication of chemical or geological processes occurring on Venus that haven’t been discovered yet or thought possible under the conditions on Venus.

Previously, a 2019 study, on which Seager was an author, suggested that phosphine may act as a biosignature for life if detected in “tremendous amounts” on rocky exoplanets. This large amount could be at an accumulated level that future telescopes, like NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, could detect.

“Phosphine on Earth doesn’t exist outside of life’s production because, like on Venus, Earth’s environment is so very not favorable for phosphine production,” Seager said. “Because Venus is so close and bright our study found much smaller amounts than are predicted to be needed on an exoplanet.”

However, studying the atmospheres of rocky planets in our solar system provides a key test bed for trying to understand the atmospheres of exoplanets, or planets outside of our solar system, and if they could support life.

The research team will continue its search for the origin of the phosphine gas detected on Venus, as well as look for other unexpected gases in its atmosphere.

The discovery of phosphine on Venus elevates it to an area of interest worth exploring in our solar system alongside the ranks of Mars and “water world” moons like Enceladus and Europa, Seager said.

“Our hoped-for impact in the planetary science community is to stimulate more research on Venus itself, research on the possibilities of life in Venus’ atmosphere, and even space missions focused to find signs of life or even life itself in the Venusian atmosphere,” Seager said.

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(Science Daily) High-fidelity record of Earth’s climate history puts current changes in context

(SOURCE: SCIENCE DAILY)

Source: University of California – Santa Cruz

Summary: Scientists have compiled a continuous, high-fidelity record of variations in Earth’s climate extending 66 million years into the past. The record reveals four distinctive climate states, which the researchers dubbed Hothouse, Warmhouse, Coolhouse, and Icehouse. These major climate states persisted for millions and sometimes tens of millions of years, and within each one the climate shows rhythmic variations corresponding to changes in Earth’s orbit around the sun.

For the first time, climate scientists have compiled a continuous, high-fidelity record of variations in Earth’s climate extending 66 million years into the past. The record reveals four distinctive climate states, which the researchers dubbed Hothouse, Warmhouse, Coolhouse, and Icehouse.

These major climate states persisted for millions and sometimes tens of millions of years, and within each one the climate shows rhythmic variations corresponding to changes in Earth’s orbit around the sun. But each climate state has a distinctive response to orbital variations, which drive relatively small changes in global temperatures compared with the dramatic shifts between different climate states.

The new findings, published September 10 in Science, are the result of decades of work and a large international collaboration. The challenge was to determine past climate variations on a time scale fine enough to see the variability attributable to orbital variations (in the eccentricity of Earth’s orbit around the sun and the precession and tilt of its rotational axis).

“We’ve known for a long time that the glacial-interglacial cycles are paced by changes in Earth’s orbit, which alter the amount of solar energy reaching Earth’s surface, and astronomers have been computing these orbital variations back in time,” explained coauthor James Zachos, distinguished professor of Earth and planetary sciences and Ida Benson Lynn Professor of Ocean Health at UC Santa Cruz.

“As we reconstructed past climates, we could see long-term coarse changes quite well. We also knew there should be finer-scale rhythmic variability due to orbital variations, but for a long time it was considered impossible to recover that signal,” Zachos said. “Now that we have succeeded in capturing the natural climate variability, we can see that the projected anthropogenic warming will be much greater than that.”

For the past 3 million years, Earth’s climate has been in an Icehouse state characterized by alternating glacial and interglacial periods. Modern humans evolved during this time, but greenhouse gas emissions and other human activities are now driving the planet toward the Warmhouse and Hothouse climate states not seen since the Eocene epoch, which ended about 34 million years ago. During the early Eocene, there were no polar ice caps, and average global temperatures were 9 to 14 degrees Celsius higher than today.

“The IPCC projections for 2300 in the ‘business-as-usual’ scenario will potentially bring global temperature to a level the planet has not seen in 50 million years,” Zachos said.

Critical to compiling the new climate record was getting high-quality sediment cores from deep ocean basins through the international Ocean Drilling Program (ODP, later the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program, IODP, succeeded in 2013 by the International Ocean Discovery Program). Signatures of past climates are recorded in the shells of microscopic plankton (called foraminifera) preserved in the seafloor sediments. After analyzing the sediment cores, researchers then had to develop an “astrochronology” by matching the climate variations recorded in sediment layers with variations in Earth’s orbit (known as Milankovitch cycles).

“The community figured out how to extend this strategy to older time intervals in the mid-1990s,” said Zachos, who led a study published in 2001 in Science that showed the climate response to orbital variations for a 5-million-year period covering the transition from the Oligocene epoch to the Miocene, about 25 million years ago.

“That changed everything, because if we could do that, we knew we could go all the way back to maybe 66 million years ago and put these transient events and major transitions in Earth’s climate in the context of orbital-scale variations,” he said.

Zachos has collaborated for years with lead author Thomas Westerhold at the University of Bremen Center for Marine Environmental Sciences (MARUM) in Germany, which houses a vast repository of sediment cores. The Bremen lab along with Zachos’s group at UCSC generated much of the new data for the older part of the record.

Westerhold oversaw a critical step, splicing together overlapping segments of the climate record obtained from sediment cores from different parts of the world. “It’s a tedious process to assemble this long megasplice of climate records, and we also wanted to replicate the records with separate sediment cores to verify the signals, so this was a big effort of the international community working together,” Zachos said.

Now that they have compiled a continuous, astronomically dated climate record of the past 66 million years, the researchers can see that the climate’s response to orbital variations depends on factors such as greenhouse gas levels and the extent of polar ice sheets.

“In an extreme greenhouse world with no ice, there won’t be any feedbacks involving the ice sheets, and that changes the dynamics of the climate,” Zachos explained.

Most of the major climate transitions in the past 66 million years have been associated with changes in greenhouse gas levels. Zachos has done extensive research on the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), for example, showing that this episode of rapid global warming, which drove the climate into a Hothouse state, was associated with a massive release of carbon into the atmosphere. Similarly, in the late Eocene, as atmospheric carbon dioxide levels were dropping, ice sheets began to form in Antarctica and the climate transitioned to a Coolhouse state.

“The climate can become unstable when it’s nearing one of these transitions, and we see more deterministic responses to orbital forcing, so that’s something we would like to better understand,” Zachos said.

The new climate record provides a valuable framework for many areas of research, he added. It is not only useful for testing climate models, but also for geophysicists studying different aspects of Earth dynamics and paleontologists studying how changing environments drive the evolution of species.

Coauthors Steven Bohaty, now at the University of Southampton, and Kate Littler, now at the University of Exeter, both worked with Zachos at UC Santa Cruz. The paper’s coauthors also include researchers at more than a dozen institutions around the world. This work was funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG), Natural Environmental Research Council (NERC), European Union’s Horizon 2020 program, National Science Foundation of China, Netherlands Earth System Science Centre, and the U.S. National Science Foundation.


Story Source:

Materials provided by University of California – Santa Cruz. Original written by Tim Stephens. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

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Journal Reference:

  1. Thomas Westerhold, Norbert Marwan, Anna Joy Drury, Diederik Liebrand, Claudia Agnini, Eleni Anagnostou, James S. K. Barnet, Steven M. Bohaty, David De Vleeschouwer, Fabio Florindo, Thomas Frederichs, David A. Hodell, Ann E. Holbourn, Dick Kroon, Vittoria Lauretano, Kate Littler, Lucas J. Lourens, Mitchell Lyle, Heiko Pälike, Ursula Röhl, Jun Tian, Roy H. Wilkens, Paul A. Wilson, James C. Zachos. An astronomically dated record of Earth’s climate and its predictability over the last 66 million yearsScience, 2020 DOI: 10.1126/science.aba6853

(Hawaii News Now) Hawaii’s COVID-19 death toll now at 99 as 114 new infections are reported

(SOURCE: Hawaii News Now)

By HNN Staff| September 11, 2020 at 12:06 PM HST – Updated September 14 at 5:12 AM 

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) – Hawaii reported 114 new coronavirus infections on Sunday along with two new COVID-related deaths, pushing the state’s death toll from the virus in Hawaii to 99.

Since the pandemic began, Hawaii has had a total of 10,700 infections. Oahu reported 96 of Sunday’s new cases; 16 were on Hawaii Island, and two were on Maui.

Some 3,565 people have been released from isolation, while 636 people required hospitalization.

Meanwhile, the state’s death toll still does not include at least 10 recent fatalities at a Hilo veterans home. The Health Department said it is aware of those deaths and awaiting “medical records from the facility.”

Officials tracking the outbreak there said Saturday morning a total of 66 residents and 27 employees have so far tested positive for COVID-19. Four residents are hospitalized at the Hilo Medical Center. There were no new deaths to report.

In a rare press conference Saturday, Big Island Mayor Harry Kim called for drastic administrative changes at the facility. 

Of the states total cases, more than 7,100 are “active,” which means patients have not been released from isolation.

Daily, triple-digit increases of COVID-19 cases on Oahu in August prompted the city to issue the “stay-at-home” order, closing non-essential businesses and banning non-essential activities.

On Tuesday, the city extended that order by two more weeks. The only difference: Solo activities — like walking and sunbathing — are now allowed at beaches, parks and on trails.

The island-by-island breakdown of cases is below:

Oahu

  • 9,654 total cases
  • 2,969 released from isolation
  • 562 required hospitalization
  • 86 deaths

Hawaii County

  • 587 total cases
  • 306 released from isolation
  • 24 required hospitalization
  • 3 deaths

Maui County

  • 375 total cases
  • 233 released from isolation
  • 47 required hospitalization
  • 9 deaths

Kauai

  • 58 total cases
  • 57 released from isolation
  • 1 required hospitalization
  • 0 deaths

Out-of-state

  • 26 total cases
  • 2 required hospitalization
  • 1 death

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