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gulf of mexico

Natural solutions could save $50 billion in Gulf Coast flood damages

As coastal development skyrockets and the effects of climate change escalate, flooding is becoming an increasingly common threat. A new statistical analysis of the costs and benefits of various coastal protection methods along the U.S. Gulf Coast suggests communities could prevent a significant amount of flood damage by implementing a combination of natural defenses and built infrastructure.

10 Aug 2018

Tracking Hurricane Harvey's freshwater plume

On Aug. 25, 2017, Hurricane Harvey made landfall along the Texas coast as an unexpected Category 4 storm, with maximum sustained winds of 209 kilometers per hour. After rapidly intensifying over the Gulf of Mexico, it hovered over southeastern Texas for days, slowly weakening as it dumped 68 trillion liters of water onto the land — more than three times the volume of the Great Salt Lake in Utah.

30 Jun 2018

Which warm waters boosted Hurricane Harvey?

Last August, Hurricane Harvey walloped Texas, dropping more than 100 centimeters of rain on Houston and nearby areas, and causing more than $125 billion in damage. But almost nobody saw it coming. In the days before Harvey made landfall 60 kilometers east of Corpus Christi, the tropical storm barely registered as a threat, but within 30 hours it escalated from a tropical storm into a Category 4 hurricane. Using data collected before and during the storm, scientists are piecing together how Harvey became so ferocious so fast, an effort that could help scientists better predict which future storms might have similarly rapid intensifications.

30 May 2018

Fossil reefs show sea level rose in bursts

Off the coast of Texas, a collection of fossil coral reefs sits under 60 meters of water — relics from 20,000 years ago, when the sea surface was much lower than today. In a new study, researchers created high-resolution maps of the reefs that suggest they drowned as sea levels rose in rapid bursts — each lasting decades to centuries — instead of at a steady rate, as has long been assumed.

06 Feb 2018

Above oil seeps, photosynthetic life flourishes

The direct effects of oil and gas releases in the ocean are typically negative — as in the case of 2010’s Deepwater Horizon oil well disaster, which devastated marine ecosystems in the Gulf of Mexico. But scientists have now found that when natural oil and gas seeps upwell toward the ocean’s surface, they can also carry nutrients such as nitrates and nitrites from the seafloor that feed communities of phytoplankton, which flourish as a result.

30 May 2016

Methane lingered after Gulf blowout

Between April 20, 2010, when BP’s Macondo oil well blew out, and July 15, when the well was finally capped, more than 4 million barrels of oil were released into the Gulf of Mexico. Along with it came up to 500,000 metric tons of natural gas, mostly methane. Previously, researchers tracking the fate of those chemicals and their impacts on the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem estimated that most of the methane had been consumed by methane-oxidizing bacteria by the end of August 2010.

30 Sep 2014

Water Wise: An oil plume at depth, and NOAA vs. the White House

There is definitely a deep plume of oil in the Gulf of Mexico, and it was definitely produced by BP’s damaged Macondo well, according to a report published today in Science. Scientists from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) in Massachusetts reported unequivocal evidence of a plume at a depth of about 1,100 meters that was at least 35 kilometers long, as of the end of June. The plume, they said, was traveling to the southwest, largely driven by the topography of the seafloor.

20 Aug 2010

Gulf oil spill threatens subsurface biodiversity

Brown pelicans mired in oily mud along the Louisiana coast are icons of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill, daily reminders of the ongoing disaster’s impact on the Gulf coast. Yet, says a leading marine ecologist, the greater long-term danger to wildlife may be occurring out of sight, deep beneath the oily surface of the water.

14 Jun 2010

Water Wise: Where will the oil spilled in the Gulf go?

It’s been about eight weeks since an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig damaged a wellhead in the Gulf of Mexico and triggered the onset of the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history, with oil washing up on shores from Louisiana to northwestern Florida.

14 Jun 2010

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