Taxonomy term

oceanography

Oceanographers solve mysterious beach explosion

Late on the morning of Saturday, July 11, 2015, Kathleen Danise, a 60-year-old nurse and grandmother from Waterbury, Conn., was enjoying a sunny day at Salty Brine State Beach on the shores of Block Island Sound in Narragansett, R.I., when an explosion knocked her from her beach chair. She landed a few meters away near a rock jetty, unconscious and suffering a concussion, two fractured ribs and bruising for which she was hospitalized overnight.
 
29 Dec 2015

Ocean oxygen levels control seafloor carbon burial

Residual organic carbon from dead marine phytoplankton and other oceanic life can follow two pathways: It can be deeply buried in seafloor sediments or it can be oxidized, either in the water column or in shallow sediment layers. The balance between these two processes and the extent of organic carbon burial over time are crucial in the global carbon cycle, but a complete understanding of the factors and rates controlling organic carbon burial versus oxidation in the oceans has been lacking. In a recent study in Geology, scientists improved on an approach to quantify organic carbon oxidation and provided a glimpse of marine organic carbon burial in the Precambrian, when the oceans were anoxic and Earth’s atmosphere was in the early stages of oxygenation.
 
05 Dec 2015

No laughing matter: Ocean nitrous oxide emissions greater than thought

Nitrous oxide is a potent greenhouse gas and, since the banning of chlorofluorocarbons in 1987, it has become the main driver of ozone loss from the stratosphere. Most atmospheric nitrous oxide is emitted from agricultural land and soils, but roughly a third is thought to come from the ocean. However, marine sources and sinks of the gas are not well understood. 
 
27 Nov 2015

Opalescent pools shimmer beneath Santorini

With its bright blue waters and dramatic cliffside villas, Santorini, Greece, is an idyllic vacation destination, but lurking beneath the Aegean waves lay the remains of one of the most active volcanoes in human history. Because of its eruptive past and proximity to population centers, the Santorini Caldera is closely monitored, but a recent expedition revealed something never before seen there or anywhere else: shimmering opalescent pools of carbon dioxide sequestered on the seafloor.
 
15 Nov 2015

Ocean 'sneezes' spread algae-infecting virus

Microscopic phytoplankton, or microalgae, permeate ocean surfaces, sometimes forming huge blooms visible from space. Nutrient concentrations in seawater are known to regulate such blooms, which play a major role in oceanic food chains and carbon cycling, and occasionally prove harmful to other marine life as well as humans. Less understood are the other factors that influence a bloom’s onset and demise. New research sheds light on one such influence, demonstrating that an algae-infecting virus can become airborne and travel long distances, potentially infecting and eradicating parts of a bloom hundreds of kilometers away.
 
27 Aug 2015

Counting 'tree' rings in fish skulls provides climate clues

Most fish have little structures in their skulls that record growth patterns — periods of feast and famine — just like tree rings. Now, scientists are using these structures, called otoliths, to show how fish size may decrease as a result of a changing ocean. 

16 Jun 2015

Down to Earth With: Marine Geophysicist Maya Tolstoy

Growing up in Scotland, Maya Tolstoy was drawn to the theater, and even briefly considered majoring in the subject in college. Instead, she chose to follow another lifelong passion and became a marine geophysicist.

21 May 2015

Sharks collect storm data

Sharks are among the planet’s most prolific travelers, with some species swimming up to 50 kilometers a day in search of food and mates. Now, a program at the University of Miami plans to harness these top predators’ wandering ways to help study hurricanes.

06 Mar 2015

Benchmarks: February 17, 1977: Hydrothermal vents are discovered

In early February 1977, as scientists aboard the research vessel (R/V) Knorr made their way across the Pacific waters off the northwest coast of South America, they had reason to suspect their expedition might find the success that had eluded others. Previous missions had identified their destination — a site on the ocean surface about 330 kilometers northeast of the Galápagos Islands, below which two tectonic plates rift apart — as a promising location from which to search for their intended target. Once there, the researchers would deploy a variety of tools, including manned and unmanned submersibles, to the ocean bottom in the hopes of directly spotting hydrothermal vents.

17 Feb 2015

Wealth of seafloor features emerges from new survey

A new survey of Earth’s deep ocean — 80 percent of which remains unmapped — has revealed a wealth of previously unknown features, including thousands of seamounts as well as a variety of undersea tectonic features that are either buried under too much sediment or were simply too small to be seen before.

14 Feb 2015

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