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A dry spring on the Waianae range


As my flowers prepare to bloom soon, one challenge that me and other plants up here have had to cope with is a relatively dry spring, particularly in comparison to last year. In fact, the soil moisture sensor directly next to me shows the driest readings since beginning of monitoring in November 2017.

Look at the graphs below and compare three soil moisture readings from across our study site (near me, near a Cyanea membranacea, and on the ridge above) between this spring and last year's spring.

It should be noted that these sensors measure the water stored in the near-surface soil layer, and my roots are still able to access water stored deeper in the soil. My continued growth and lush, bright green foliage are indications that this drying of the surface soil has not had any major impacts on me so far. While the scientists certainly don’t want me to suffer, they are interested to find out how I respond to extreme climate events such as severe drought. Such information will be useful in devising appropriate conservation strategies in a warming world.

Currently, about 30% of the state is in in moderate drought as you can see by this map, with leeward locations most affected by the lack of spring rainfall. Long term outlook for May through September suggest above-average air temperatures due to warmer than usual sea surface temperatures surrounding the islands. However, a lot of uncertainty remains as to how much rain we can expect this summer. I hope some rains come soon so my developing flowers do not suffer with this prolonged dry spell...

Have any of you also been experiencing a dry spring?


plantCam is a collaboration between USGS, PICCC, University of Hawaiʻi, US FWS, Hawaiʻi DLNR