Maui News

UH Showcases $20 Million ‘Ike Wai Project at International Water Conference

Listen to this Article
3 minutes
Loading Audio... Article will play after ad...
Playing in :00

  • Climate Station located at Lyon Artoretum, Honolulu, HI. Photo Courtesy: UH
  • Undergraduate student and research advisor conducting oceanographic fieldwork on Hawaiʻi island. Photo Courtesy: UH

At the International Tropical Islands Water Conference being held virtually today through April 15, researchers of the University of Hawai‘i’s ʻIke Wai project are sharing significant project results that could provide decision support for improved water resource management around the globe.

Researchers have learned much during the first four years of the Hawai’i EPSCoR ‘Ike Wai project, which is entering its final year. The collaborative project began in 2016, when the National Science Foundation awarded $20 million to UH to conduct this five-year, groundbreaking study of water sustainability issues.

‘Ike Wai aims to ensure Hawai‘i’s future water security through an integrated program of research, education, community engagement and decision support. The project collected new hydrological and geophysical data to develop actionable and informative models of two of Hawai‘i’s important aquifers, their water flow and transport processes. In addition, the project aims to develop an advanced cyberinfrastructure platform to serve as a data repository and visualization and decision support tool.  


‘Ike Wai, in partnership with the UH Water Resources Research Center, is hosting the International Tropical Islands Water Conference to engage with water scientists, water managers and community members. The virtual event is in collaboration with partner water centers from Guam, the Virgin Islands and the United States Geological Survey. 

“This important conference will showcase the work of the entire ‘Ike Wai research team and share the major outcomes with colleagues in tropical island environments,” said Gwen Jacobs, UH Director of Cyberinfrastructure and Hawai‘i EPSCoR Project Director. “This information exchange between scientists is vital to sustaining water resources in island communities.” 

International interest


Including participation from eight countries, the conference explores a variety of themes to share cutting-edge research and aims to provide a platform to discuss and learn from each other’s experiences in managing and understanding water resources across a broad range of tropical island settings.

Conference themes include climate change, watershed management, managing water for ecosystems and people, Indigenous and local knowledge, perspectives and management, leading-edge technological advances in water science and more. Virtual field trips also will be featured.

“Unlike previous WRRC-hosted conferences, this one is reaching out to the international community,” said Tom Giambelluca, UH Water Resources Research Center Director and Geography Professor. “It is an opportunity to talk with and listen to colleagues in corresponding positions, including scientists, water managers and stakeholders, in island communities that, while widely separated around the world, share a lot in common.”


‘Ike Wai science gateway

The online platform,, which will be demonstrated at the conference, is a science gateway developed by the ‘Ike Wai project. It serves as the central location for data management, analysis, visualization and dissemination of all data and data products generated by the project. Geophysical, geochemistry, precipitation and marine geophysics data are among the publicly available data sets collected by the ‘Ike Wai project. 

Data such as the marine controlled source electromagnetic imaging of freshwater plumes and the submarine aquifer off the west coast of Hawai‘i Island (which demonstrated twice as much freshwater is stored offshore than was previously thought), is available to download on the site. 

Available data also includes compiled current and historical data sets from government, private and university sources such as water quality, well and rainfall data. Additionally, Hawaiian newspaper translations which aided in directing and educating the local community and the ‘Ike Wai research team in the understanding of water in Kona, Hawai‘i and ‘Ewa, O‘ahu are also available through interactive story maps.

Hawai‘i EPSCoR participants have published 137 peer-reviewed publications and ‘Ike Wai participants have submitted 122 proposals resulting in awards totaling $30,268,420 including 9 National Science Foundation awards to date. Overall, 135 individuals have participated in ‘Ike Wai including 33 faculty, five postdoctoral fellows, 24 graduate students, six non-technical support staff, 13 technical support staff, 54 undergraduate researchers and various stakeholders from the community. Student trainees have completed 14 Ph.D. or MS degrees.

Sponsored Content

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Stay in-the-know with daily or weekly
headlines delivered straight to your inbox.
Scroll Down for Comments


This comments section is a public community forum for the purpose of free expression. Although Maui Now encourages respectful communication only, some content may be considered offensive. Please view at your own discretion. View Comments