Lava flow

Aerial view of Kīlauea’s Kamoamoa fissure (Photo courtesy U.S. Geological Survey Hawaiian Volcano Observatory)

This is one in a series of articles featured in “The Sky Is Not the Limit,” a special tabloid produced for the University of Hawaiʻi Innovation Initiative by the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

Asthmatics and others with breathing sensitivities have a tool to navigate the voggy weather that has plagued us of late. The University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology runs the Vog Measurement and Prediction Project, part of which predicts the vog plume’s movement.

Co-principal investigators Steve Businger and Keith Horton head the vog project. Businger says, “Vog represents a tangible health hazard for those of us in Hawaiʻi who are sensitive to it. During vog episodes, every breath can cause distress. For folks who suffer from allergies, emphysema or asthma, having a vog model that forecasts the position of the plume helps them plan their activities to minimize their exposure.”

Good planning depends on good science. Sea-level rise is a longer-term example of this. Seas have been rising for more than 100 years among the Hawaiian Islands, which has caused widespread coastal erosion and worsened the impact of tsunami and flooding during heavy rains. SOEST Associate Dean Charles “Chip” Fletcher says climate change will probably cause an increase in sea-level rise that worsens existing problems and leads to new ones.

Read more about how the school’s research informs residents’ understanding of air quality and water safety in the article “Every breath you take” by Jolyn Okimoto Rosa.