Drone expertise to assist restoration, resilience of Native Hawaiian fishponds

Drone technology aid restoration, resilience of Native Hawaiian fishponds
Aerial view of Honokea loko iʻa in Keaukaha, Hilo throughout low tide. Credit score: Kainalu Steward

Scientists and kiaʻi loko (fishpond practitioners) have a brand new software to assist their efforts to revive and make sure the resilience of Native Hawaiian fishponds. Researchers from the College of Hawai’i (UH) and fishpond stewards in Hilo, Hawai’i revealed a examine within the Journal of Distant Sensing highlighting using uncrewed aerial autos (UAVs) to assist built-in coastal zone administration, together with at cultural heritage websites.

“We found that drones are efficient and cost-efficient instruments for mapping loko iʻa on the group degree, offering kiaʻi loko iʻa with higher insights into the timing and areas of flooding and future sea degree rise impacts on their fishponds,” mentioned Kainalu Steward, lead writer of the examine and Earth sciences doctoral pupil within the UH Mānoa Faculty of Ocean and Earth Science and Know-how (SOEST).

Loko iʻa, conventional Hawaiian fishponds positioned alongside the shoreline, have traditionally supplied sustainable seafood sources. These culturally necessary websites are present process revitalization by community-driven restoration efforts. Nevertheless, as sea degree rise poses a major climate-induced menace to coastal areas, loko iʻa managers are in search of adaptive methods to deal with associated considerations akin to flooding, water high quality, and the viability of native fish species.

King Tides as estimate of future sea degree

The researchers’ surveys decided that by 2060, the typical sea degree alongside the Keaukaha shoreline in Hilo might be just like the intense tidal occasions, referred to as King Tides, throughout summer season 2023. Steward and Brianna Ninomoto, a grasp’s pupil in tropical conservation biology and environmental science at UH Hilo, devised a plan to analyze how future sea degree rise will have an effect on loko iʻa by assessing the impacts of the summer season 2023 King Tides.

Drone technology aid restoration, resilience of Native Hawaiian fishponds
UH Hilo M.S Pupil and co-author, Brianna Ninomoto, goes over the fieldwork plan with interns and employees from the Pacific Internship Program for Exploring Science (PIPES) at Laehala. Credit score: Kainalu Steward

All through the summer season, together with throughout the excessive excessive tide occasions, researchers collected drone imagery in actual time and monitored water ranges utilizing sensors submerged at every loko iʻa. With this, they in contrast flooding predicted from drone-derived topography fashions and extra generally used Gentle Detection and Ranging (LiDAR)-derived fashions to the noticed flooding documented by drone imagery.

The crew discovered that digital elevation fashions derived from drone surveys precisely estimated noticed flooding throughout excessive excessive tide occasions, whereas LiDAR flood fashions, that are almost 20 years previous for the Hilo area, considerably overestimated noticed flooding by two to 5 instances.

Loko iʻa practitioners, nonetheless, reported that often throughout extreme climate and huge swell occasions, these specific areas modeled from LiDAR knowledge do flood. This means that knowledge collected by LiDAR affords a extra conservative and cautious understanding of coastal flooding, emphasizing that UAV-derived and LiDAR-based knowledge are necessary parts of the suite of coastal administration instruments.

The undertaking, “Quantifying Vulnerability to Sea Stage Rise Throughout A number of Coastal Typologies,” led by co-author and SOEST assistant professor of Earth sciences, Haunani Kane, engages underrepresented populations by all kinds of initiatives.

“One of many targets of this undertaking is to extend the capability of Native Hawaiian college students in assessing and evaluating impacts of sea degree rise upon cultural useful resource websites,” mentioned Kane. “This undertaking helps 5 undergraduate college students and three native Native Hawaiian college students as they work in direction of acquiring their Grasp’s and Doctorate levels in science on the College of Hawaiʻi.”

“This analysis is necessary for enhancing coastal group adaptation, resilience, and meals safety within the face of local weather change,” mentioned Ninomoto. “This work was finally executed to assist loko iʻa practitioners alongside Keaukaha and the long run administration of their ʻāina because the impacts of flooding develop into extra extreme.”

Drone technology aid restoration, resilience of Native Hawaiian fishponds
Native highschool college students from the Venture Hōkūlani STEM internship program, who assisted with this examine, are clearing sediment and particles at Kaumaui loko iʻa to create extra habitat and permit enough water move. Credit score: Kainalu Steward

One other part of the undertaking is storytelling and outreach to the group. John Burns, examine co-author and UH Hilo affiliate professor in marine science and knowledge science, and the MEGA Lab have a group lab house at Mokupāpapa Discovery Middle in Downtown Hilo the place the analysis crew makes use of digital actuality and brief movies to share tales and have interaction the group in discussions of how local weather change is impacting coastal assets in Hawaiʻi.

UH researchers plan to proceed working with the kiaʻi loko iʻa in Keaukaha, to supply up-to-date aerial imagery of their fishpond to assist restoration efforts.

“Loko iʻa are examples of how our kūpuna have tailored to modifications in local weather for generations, and we need to contribute in direction of their resilience and perpetuation by integrating trendy expertise,” mentioned Steward.

Extra info:
Kainalu Okay. Steward et al, Highlighting the Use of UAV to Enhance the Resilience of Native Hawaiian Coastal Cultural Heritage, Distant Sensing (2024). DOI: 10.3390/rs16122239

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College of Hawaii at Manoa

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