Conditions in the West Hawai‘i (Kona Coast) Region


The graphics below depict monthly sea surface temperature (SST) in the West Hawai‘i region, also known as the Kona Coast (outlined in white on the map on the left). This region is the focus of the West Hawai‘i Integrated Ecosystem Assessment (IEA) Project.
We used the NOAA Pathfinder-GAC data to compute mean SST in the region. That dataset was discontinued in Apr. 2016, and replaced with the NOAA GOES-POES product, which we use for more recent months.

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The graphics below depict monthly chlorophyll a concentration from the MODIS Aqua sensor in the West Hawai‘i region, also known as the Kona Coast (outlined in white on the map on the left).
Higher chlorophyll a concentrations indicate more productive waters.

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In the West Hawai‘i region (also known as the Kona Coast) eddies (gyres) form due to the funneling of the northeast trade winds through the Alenuihāhā Channel, between Hawai‘i Island and Maui, as well as around the southern flank of Mauna Loa at South Point. As a result, cyclonic (counterclockwise, cold core) ocean eddies are commonly formed in the North region and anticyclonic (clockwise, warm core) eddies are commonly formed in the South region of West Hawai‘i.
Eddies have important biological implications : Cyclonic eddies can drive upwelling of cooler, nutrient rich water that influences ocean temperatures and fuels a localized increase in phytoplankton production, an essential source of energy for higher trophic groups.

Eddy Kinetic Energy (EKE) is a measure of eddy activity. Higher EKE values are an indicator of increased eddy activity and, therefore, a potentially greater influence on marine ecosystem processes.
We looked at EKE in the northern and southern parts of the West Hawai‘i region separately in order to capture the strength of the cyclonic and anticyclonic eddies in the respective regions. EKE has a prominent North-South split, with the South region characterized by more active eddy activity.


You can click and drag to zoom in on a specific portion of the graphs, double click to zoom out, or use the slider below the graph to select a specific time period.