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Scientific Studies and History of the Ala Wai Canal, an Artificial Tropical Estuary in Honolulu

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Title: Scientific Studies and History of the Ala Wai Canal, an Artificial Tropical Estuary in Honolulu
Authors: Glenn, Craig R.
McMurtry, Gary M.
Issue Date: Oct 1995
Publisher: University of Hawaii Press
Citation: Glenn CR, McMurtry GM. 1995. Scientific studies and history of the Ala Wai Canal, an artificial tropical estuary in Honolulu. Pac Sci 49(4): 307-318.
Abstract: Fifteen studies of the Ala Wai Canal, O'ahu, Hawai'i, initially
were spawned by two federally funded summer research programs designed to
introduce high-school students from around the state of Hawai'i to the challenges,
practicalities, and excitement of work in the natural sciences and engineering.
This special issue reports on the end products of 10 of those studies.
The canal is an artificial estuary created in the 1920s to drain coastal wetlands
and borders the present tourist mecca of Waikiki. Today, it is polluted and
hypereutrophic, and it receives high levels of nutrients that sustain levels of
primary production that rival all but a few of the world's water bodies. Acting
as a sediment trap for the combined drainage of the Manoa and Palolo
Streams, the midportion of the canal contains two large sedimentary sills that
restrict seawater exchange. This restricted flow and the high rain rate of organic
matter result in severe oxygen depletion behind the sill. The canal's small
reservoir size, variably oxygenated water column and sediments, single oceanic
outlet, and receipt of natural freshwater drainage-within the confines of a
rapidly developed major metropolitan area-combine to make it an excellent
aquatic laboratory for the study of present and historical water exchange
characteristics; phytoplankton, zooplankton, and benthic foraminifer behavior;
biogeochemical responses of shallow, tropical water masses to hypereutrophication;
and historical records of heavy metals, radionuclides, and other pollutants
over the past 60 yr. We believe this special issue will attract the attention of a
variety of scientists and academicians, as well as administrators and others
interested in the environmental quality of Hawai'i.
ISSN: 0030-8870
Appears in Collections:Pacific Science Volume 49, Number 4, 1995

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