Tracking dramatic changes at Lake Waiau, Hawaiʻi’s only alpine lake

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Lake Waiau’s surface area dropped to unusually low (if not unprecedented) levels during 2010-2013
We used high resolution satellite imagery to monitor the changes
The shrinking of the lake is consistent with the ongoing drought
The lake area has rebounded significantly over the past winter, but is still below normal

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Tracking dramatic changes at Lake Waiau, Hawaiʻi’s only alpine lake

  1. 1. Matthew Patrick US Geological Survey – Hawaiian Volcano Observatory Tracking dramatic changes at Lake Waiau, Hawaiʻi’s only alpine lake Thanks to James Kauahikaua (HVO), Donna Delparte (Idaho State), Fritz Klasner (OMKM)
  2. 2. Lake Waiau’s surface area has diminished greatly over the past few years • High resolution satellite imagery provides an easy way to monitor these changes • We used Worldview, Quickbird, and IKONOS images to monitor changes since 2000 • These images have resolution down to 0.5 m
  3. 3. The drop in surface area began in 2010 By the end of 2013, the area was just a few percent of normal
  4. 4. Lake Waiau’s surface area, 2000-2013
  5. 5. Field visit on September 26, 2013
  6. 6. Field visit on September 26, 2013
  7. 7. Are these changes unusual, or even unprecedented? Brigham, 1909 • Historical record includes aerial photos (back to 1950s), field photos (back to late 1800s) and field descriptions (back to early 1800s) • Result: Yes, these changes are highly unusual, if not unprecedented, in historic record
  8. 8. Lake Waiau surface area over the past 100+ years
  9. 9. Hale Pohaku (visitor center) precipitation data
  10. 10. Hawaiʻi drought index Courtesy National Drought Mitigation Center
  11. 11. Lake Waiau surface area has rebounded over past winter
  12. 12. • Lake Waiau’s surface area dropped to unusually low (if not unprecedented) levels during 2010-2013 • We used high resolution satellite imagery to monitor the changes • The shrinking of the lake is consistent with the ongoing drought • The lake area has rebounded significantly over the past winter, but is still below normal Summary

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