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Kirsten Oleson

A cocktail of land-based sources of pollution threatens coral reef ecosystems, and addressing these has become a key management and policy challenge in the State of Hawaii, other US territories, and globally. In West Maui, Hawai'i, nearly one quarter of all living corals were lost between 1995 and 2008. Onsite disposal systems (OSDS) for sewage leak contaminants into drinking water sources and nearshore waters. In recognition of this risk, the Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) is prioritizing areas for cesspool upgrades. Independently, we applied a decision analysis process to identify priority areas to address sewage pollution from OSDS in West Maui, with the objective of reducing nearshore coral reef exposure...
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"The nation's economic accounts provide objective, regular, and standardized information routinely relied on by public and private decision-makers. But they are incomplete. The United States and many other nations currently do not account for the natural capital--such as the wildlife, forests, grasslands, soils, and water bodies--on which all other economic activity rests. By creating formal natural capital accounts (NCA) and ecosystem goods and service (EGSA) accounts, governments and businesses could better understand the past, peer into the future, innovate, conserve, and plan for environmental shocks. They would standardize, regularly repeat, and aggregate diverse natural resource, environmental, and social...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation
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Coral ecosystems of West Maui support a vibrant tourism industry and provide tangible economic benefits to the community. Hawaiian nearshore reefs generate about $800 million in annual revenue, not including the ecosystem services they provide - such as critical habitat for diverse fish species and buffering coasts from storm surges. The Hawaiian economy depends on healthy coral ecosystems, yet reefs are currently facing multiple threats, including changing climate conditions, local land-based pollution, and sediment erosion. Erosion of soils into nearshore coastal zones is a chief concern facing land managers in West Maui. Intermittent rainfall can carry sediment from sources such as dirt roads, agricultural fields,...
Episodic runoff carries suspended sediment to the nearshore, where it blocks light used for photosynthesis, smothers corals, inhibits coral recruitment, and triggers increases in macroalgae. Even small rainfalls create visible plumes over a few hours. Sediment affects coastal user enjoyment by deteriorating both ecosystem quality and visibility. Sources of erosion include unimproved roads, fallow and active agricultural fields, disturbed forests, local development, and streambanks. In this project, USGS used mapping, field experiments and monitoring, and analysis of recent (July 19–20, 2014) and historic rainfall to estimate sources of land-based pollution for watersheds in West Maui, Hawaii. USGS constructed an...
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As one of the lowest-lying island nation-states in the world, the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) is acutely vulnerable to sea-level rise, flooding, and the associated intrusion of saltwater into crucial freshwater supplies. Persistent drought is further affecting agricultural production in the RMI. Many Marshallese communities are already experiencing these changes and are migrating to larger islands within the RMI and to other countries like the U.S. to, among other things, seek alternative means of making a living and access healthcare. The number of Marshallese residing in the U.S. has rapidly risen over the past two decades, from 7,000 in 2000 to 22,000 in 2010. There is also substantial internal migration,...
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