About IOOS

Welcome to the Ocean Atlas of Hawai‘i

Hawaii photo from shuttle P. Flament, S. Kennan, R. Lumpkin, M. Sawyer, and E. D. Stroup

This is a description of the ocean around Hawai‘i — marine climate, water properties, currents, tides, waves. We are hoping to provide a primary reference for the general public — whether your interest is surfing, sport fishing, yachting, swimming, or simple curiosity, and for the professionals — fishermen, beach guards, civil defense, search and rescue, ship operators.

Water motions occur over a wide range of time and space scales. At the largest scales are basin-wide currents, the average ocean circulation, slow interannual changes such as the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO), and seasonal variations. At intermediate scales (weeks to months and tens to hundreds of kilometers) are ocean eddies and fronts. Tides have periods from a few hours to a day. Surface waves occur at periods of seconds to minutes. Finally, at the smallest scales of centimeters and seconds, is ocean turbulence — small eddies that eventually mix water properties, much like stirring coffee in a cup.

All other water motions, except tides and tsunamis, result directly or indirectly from interactions with the atmosphere at the surface, through the horizontal force of the wind, heating or cooling by the air and by radiation, and precipitation and evaporation. Global variations of these processes determine the large scale ocean circulation; local variations shape regional characteristics.

© P. Flament (1996)

Please consider acknowledging PacIOOS in any distribution or publication of data as follows: Data provided by PacIOOS (www.pacioos.org), which is a part of the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS®), funded in part by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Award #NA11NOS0120039.