Taxonomy term

oceanography

Radium levels suggest Arctic Ocean chemistry is changing

Rising temperatures have already caused changes in the Arctic environment, like diminishing sea ice and thawing permafrost. Now, it appears that sea-ice loss could be throwing Arctic Ocean chemistry out of whack.

24 Apr 2018

Unprecedented exploration of undersea volcano yields surprising results

Underwater volcanic eruptions happen every day, but because of the vastness of the ocean and the great depth of water blocking the view, catching an active eruption is a game of chance. In fact, the largest-known underwater eruption of the past century was something of a fluke discovery. In July 2012, an airline passenger spotted a huge pumice raft floating in the South Pacific during a flight to Auckland, New Zealand. Upon landing, she alerted researchers, and scientists confirmed the 400-square-kilometer pumice raft near the Havre Seamount using NASA satellite imagery.

18 Apr 2018

Benchmarks: April 4, 2011: Air France Flight 447 wreckage found using modern oceanography tools

In the early morning hours of March 8, 2014, Malaysia Airlines flight 370 (MH370), en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, lost communication with air traffic control during the transition between Malaysian and Vietnamese air space. It then disappeared, along with all 239 people aboard.

04 Apr 2018

Disrupting the deep: Ocean warming reaches the abyss

Since the 1970s, just 7 percent of the heat associated with humancaused warming has melted snow and ice or warmed the land and atmosphere. The other 93 percent was absorbed by the oceans, where temperatures are now increasing at nearly all latitudes and depths, threatening to fundamentally alter our planet by disrupting ocean circulation. 
20 Mar 2018

Gyres spin up, currents get muddled

In addition to polynya formation and warming-induced surface freshening, other factors may also impact open-ocean convection in the Southern Ocean. The warming atmosphere is shifting global climatic zones and their associated wind fields poleward in both hemispheres. In the Weddell Sea Gyre, one of two clockwise-spinning circulation patterns in the Southern Ocean, this shift has resulted in a dramatic increase in wind stress curl (the strength of the wind’s influence on ocean water flow) over the past two years.

20 Mar 2018

Down to Earth With marine geoscientist Harold Tobin

As a boy growing up on the East Coast, Harold Tobin loved being outdoors but was not all that excited by geology or the region’s ancient rocks. But the catastrophic eruption of Washington state’s Mount St. Helens in 1980, when Tobin was 15, and the notion that tectonic plates must be moving beneath the Pacific Northwest, captured his imagination. A few years later, while a student at Yale University, he volunteered as a summer intern at Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument. That experience, along with his undergraduate curriculum, convinced Tobin to become a geologist.

02 Mar 2018

Down to Earth With: Deep-sea biologist Stace Beaulieu

People often find their way to the geosciences after a college class sparks their interest. But not Stace Beaulieu, a senior research specialist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) in Woods Hole, Mass. — she knew what she wanted to do at age 6. Beaulieu grew up in Florida and spent her childhood snorkeling and reading science magazines with pictures of deep-sea creatures that tantalized her imagination and piqued her curiosity. “I had a one-track mind pretty much from elementary school through grad school — I never changed my mind. I was so excited about learning about what was deeper. I still am today.”

02 Nov 2017

How the Arctic became salty

The Arctic Ocean hasn’t always been as salty as other oceans. In the Eocene, between 56 million and 34 million years ago, the water surrounding the North Pole — freshened by melt from sea ice and river runoff — was cut off from the Atlantic and Pacific oceans by land bridges. At some point, plate tectonic processes opened the North Atlantic, submerging the land bridges and allowing saltwater to pour into the Arctic, but the timing and details of these events are largely unknown. New research suggests a tipping point may have been reached as one particular land bridge submerged far enough below the ocean surface.

25 Sep 2017

Bottom dropping out of coral reefs

Coral reefs provide habitat for 25 percent of all marine life, support fishing and tourism economies, and protect shorelines from surging waves and storms. But since the 1970s, coral populations have been waning because of warming waters, coastal development and pollution. Recently, scientists studying several beleaguered reef systems have discovered an unexpected consequence of their decline — the seafloor around the reefs is eroding, leaving coastal communities more vulnerable to high winds and waves.

17 Jul 2017

The mackerel year: Tambora changed how New England fished

The 1815 eruption of Indonesia’s Tambora Volcano led to a 1- to 1.5-degree-Celsius drop in the average global temperature, prompting 1816 to be called the “year without a summer.” New research analyzes weather data and historical records from New England to explain why, in the northeast U.S., 1816 was also called the “mackerel year.” As eruption-induced extreme weather triggered food scarcity in some areas, including a reduction in alewife numbers along the U.S. Atlantic coast, fishermen in the Gulf of Maine turned to mackerel fisheries farther offshore that had been neglected while more easily fished coastal and freshwater species were available.

06 Jun 2017

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