Life Goes On For Marine Ecosystems After Cataclysmic Mass Extinction

2017-10-24T16:09:55+00:00 October 24, 2017|

One of the largest global mass extinctions did not fundamentally change marine ecosystems, scientists have found. An international team of scientists, including Dr. Alex Dunhill from the University of Leeds, has found that although the mass extinction in the Late Triassic period wiped out the vast proportion of species, there appear to be no drastic changes to the way marine ecosystems functioned.

Jon White – From the President’s Office: 10-23-2017

2017-10-24T12:25:25+00:00 October 23, 2017|

You may have heard of speed dating, but how about speed mentoring? I was honored to be asked to participate in a speed mentoring event with D.C.’s Women’s Aquatic Network WAN) last Wednesday. While it was rewarding (and exhausting) to impart my perspective and advice to 14 developing ocean leaders in 70 minutes, I was also inspired [...]

Member Highlight: Melting Glaciers Could Raise Sea Levels In Sharp Bursts, Reef Fossils Show

2017-10-24T12:15:52+00:00 October 23, 2017|

If all the land ice present on Earth today were to melt, it would raise the global sea levels by about 70 meters (230 feet), according to the United States Geological Survey. Under the onslaught of global warming, sea levels have been rising steadily in the recent years, but researchers looking at historical data have found these rise could happen in sharp bursts instead.

Sticky Tech: Robots That Mimic Remoras Could Expand Ocean Exploration

2017-10-24T12:32:27+00:00 October 18, 2017|

Scientists studied how remoras hitch rides on sharks, rays, and other animals to develop a device that does the same and that potentially could be used to study marine life and further the reach of underwater autonomous vehicles. Li Wen first noticed remoras in 2012. A postdoc at Harvard University at the time, he was working on 3D printing of synthetic shark skin. “I tried to find a nice image of a real shark online, then I noticed that there is always a parasitic fish attached to the shark,” said Wen, now a professor of bio-robotics at Beihang University in Beijing.

Giant Sea Bass Worth More Alive As Undersea Wonders Than As Commercial Catch

2017-10-24T12:33:17+00:00 October 18, 2017|

Almost as large as a Smart car, giant sea bass can weigh more than 500 pounds and grow longer than 6 feet. At this size, they are the largest bony fish found along the California coast. Once commercially important, these gentle giants were overfished in the 1900s, leading to the collapse of the fishery in the 1970s. Now, they are classified as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, making them as imperiled as the black rhino.

NOAA’s Office Of National Marine Sanctuaries And Liquid Robotics Collaborate To Protect Vulnerable Marine Sanctuaries And Ecosystems

2017-10-17T15:45:19+00:00 October 17, 2017|

Liquid Robotics and NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries (ONMS) Pacific Islands Region (PIR) announced a multi-year agreement to develop solutions to help protect and preserve the Hawaiian and American Samoa marine sanctuaries and monuments. Liquid Robotics’ Wave Glider, an autonomous surface ocean robot, will be the core technology to conduct long-term environmental monitoring and surveillance of the Pacific’s most diverse and endangered underwater ecosystems. This partnership will help address the critical long-term monitoring and scientific data collection gaps that are not economically feasible with traditional research assets.

Avoiding Clashes Between Ocean Researchers And Indigenous Communities

2017-10-17T15:26:48+00:00 October 17, 2017|

The University of Alaska has produced a procedure for what scientists on research vessels should do to avoid disrupting Indigenous communities’ traditional hunts. The university’s Brenda Konar hopes that other vessels will adopt codes of conduct. The Arctic Ocean is rapidly changing, and researchers are rushing to understand those changes. That means more research expeditions are coming into more frequent contact with Indigenous communities and the marine animals they depend on. To avoid those conflicts, a recent paper by researchers at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks lays out a “Community and Environmental Compliance Standard Operating Procedure,” or CECSOP.

Scientists Develop Tool Which Can Predict Coastal Erosion And Recovery In Extreme Storms

2017-10-17T15:12:49+00:00 October 17, 2017|

The damage caused to beaches by extreme storms on exposed energetic coastlines and the rate at which they recover can now be accurately predicted thanks to new research led by the University of Plymouth. Working with the University of New South Wales, scientists have developed a computer model which uses past wave observations and beach assessments to forecast the erosion and/or accretion of beach sediments over the coming year.

Jon White – From the President’s Office: 10-16-2017

2017-10-24T12:44:58+00:00 October 16, 2017|

As the news about hurricane-induced damage and devastation to islands and coasts of the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, and Gulf of Mexico continues to unfold, the fires in the forests of California provide another heartbreaking reminder of our fragility and susceptibility to our environment. Any time we experience natural disasters such as these, part of [...]

Independent Science Review, Gulf Of Mexico Ecosystem Restoration Council

2017-10-16T13:54:33+00:00 October 16, 2017|

The Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council invites you to engage in the independent science review of Gulf of Mexico ecosystem restoration projects and programs being considered for funding by the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council (the Council) that was created as part of the Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities, and Revived Economies of the Gulf Coast [...]

Member Highlight: Research In The Arctic: Discovering Changes In The Ecosystem

2018-01-02T13:51:54+00:00 October 16, 2017|

Arctic research has been ongoing for several decades, yet there is still a clear need for additional studies to better understand the processes driving the Arctic marine ecosystem as a whole—even more so as Arctic sea ice continues to retreat at an increasing rate. Changes in sea ice timing, presence, extent, or thickness will have profound influences on coastal communities, marine mammals, seabirds, fishes, plankton, and oceanography.

Member Highlight: Research In The Arctic: Discovering Changes In The Ecosystem

2017-10-16T11:47:32+00:00 October 16, 2017|

Arctic research has been ongoing for several decades, yet there is still a clear need for additional studies to better understand the processes driving the Arctic marine ecosystem as a whole—even more so as Arctic sea ice continues to retreat at an increasing rate. Changes in sea ice timing, presence, extent, or thickness will have profound influences on coastal communities, marine mammals, seabirds, fishes, plankton, and oceanography.

There’s Enough Wind Energy Over The Oceans To Power Human Civilization, Scientists Say

2017-10-16T16:36:59+00:00 October 12, 2017|

New research published on Monday finds there is so much wind energy potential over oceans that it could theoretically be used to generate “civilization scale power” — assuming, that is, that we are willing to cover enormous stretches of the sea with turbines, and can come up with ways to install and maintain them in often extreme ocean environments. It’s very unlikely that we would ever build out open ocean turbines on anything like that scale — indeed, doing so could even alter the planet’s climate, the research finds.

Official Fish Trade ‘Hugely Underestimates’ Global Catches

2017-10-16T16:39:36+00:00 October 12, 2017|

Conservation of dwindling fish stocks is being severely hampered by poor controls on global trade, according to research published today (Monday, October 9, 2017) in Scientific Reports. The study carried out by the Ecosystems and Environment Research Centre at the University of Salford looked at global production and trade statistics of the popular 'snapper' fishes and uncovered wide inconsistencies in records meant that the officially reported snapper trade may be underestimated by more than 70%.

Satellites Spy Antarctic ‘Upside-Down Ice Canyon’

2017-10-11T16:45:52+00:00 October 11, 2017|

Scientists have identified a way in which the effects of Antarctic melting can be enhanced. Their new satellite observations of the Dotson Ice Shelf show its losses, far from being even, are actually focused on a long, narrow sector. In places, this has cut an inverted canyon through more than half the thickness of the shelf structure. If the melting continued unabated, it would break Dotson in 40-50 years, not the 200 years currently projected. "That is unlikely to happen because the ice will respond in some way to the imbalance," said Noel Gourmelen, from the University of Edinburgh, UK. "It's possible the area of thinning could widen or the flow of ice could change. Both would affect the rate at which the channel forms. But ...

Microbes Dictate Regime Shifts Causing Anoxia In Lakes And Seas

2017-10-11T16:37:17+00:00 October 11, 2017|

Gradual environmental changes due to eutrophication and global warming can cause a rapid depletion of oxygen levels in lakes and coastal waters. A new study led by professors Jef Huisman and Gerard Muyzer of the University of Amsterdam (UvA) shows that microorganisms play a key role in these disastrous regime shifts. The researchers' findings were published in the journal Nature Communications on 6 October. Regime shifts are abrupt, large and persistent changes in the structure and function of ecosystems triggered by gradual changes in environmental conditions. Regime shifts have been described for a large variety of ecosystems.

Jon White – From the President’s Office: 10-9-2017

2017-10-24T12:49:28+00:00 October 10, 2017|

Some good news about the ocean you have missed last week amidst the prevailing current events: Vulcan Inc. committed $40 million to develop and deploy SkyLight, a near real-time illegal fishing intelligence and research program. Malta announced the introduction of a beverage container refund scheme by 2019 to ensure 70% of plastic bottles generated on its [...]

Member Highlight: Fueling The Future

2017-10-10T12:59:21+00:00 October 10, 2017|

A group of Jackson School scientists and students embark on a high-stakes research mission. Standing on the helideck of the Helix Q4000 with nothing but waves in sight, Peter Flemings is bleary eyed and exhausted. But, for this moment at least, the Jackson School of Geosciences professor and chief scientist of the coring mission is relieved and something akin to happy. The scene marks a seminal moment in a ground-breaking project, an $80-million, multi-year national effort that the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) picked the Jackson School to lead. Flemings and his team have finally hit pay dirt, pulling a core of frozen methane hydrate from about 1,300 feet under the Gulf floor, through a mile of water, and to the deck of the deep-water coring vessel, while still keeping the methane hydrate under pressure.

Member Highlight: Fueling The Future

2018-01-02T13:52:04+00:00 October 10, 2017|

A group of Jackson School scientists and students embark on a high-stakes research mission. Standing on the helideck of the Helix Q4000 with nothing but waves in sight, Peter Flemings is bleary eyed and exhausted. But, for this moment at least, the Jackson School of Geosciences professor and chief scientist of the coring mission is relieved and something akin to happy. The scene marks a seminal moment in a ground-breaking project, an $80-million, multi-year national effort that the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) picked the Jackson School to lead. Flemings and his team have finally hit pay dirt, pulling a core of frozen methane hydrate from about 1,300 feet under the Gulf floor, through a mile of water, and to the deck of the deep-water coring vessel, while still keeping the methane hydrate under pressure.

Smallest Ichthyosaurus Ever Found Was Squid-Eating Newborn, Research Reveals

2017-10-12T18:04:52+00:00 October 5, 2017|

A museum specimen has revealed details of the early life of a marine reptile from the Age of Dinosaurs. Not all new palaeontology discoveries are made on dramatic rocky outcrops. Sometimes dusty drawers in the back-rooms of museums are the source of exciting discoveries. A new study by Dean Lomax, a researcher at the University of Manchester, and colleagues on a previously neglected specimen in the the Lapworth Museum of Geology, University of Birmingham, UK, has increased our knowledge of how the youngest ichthyosaurs - a group of extinct marine reptiles - lived and fed.

Who’s Eating Jellyfish? Penguins, That’s Who

2017-10-12T18:06:27+00:00 October 3, 2017|

There are not many jellyvores in the world, or so scientists have long thought. Gelatinous sea animals, like jellyfish and ctenophores, have traditionally been regarded as “dead ends” in food webs. Because they are so low in calories (jellyfish are about 95 percent water), it was thought that most predators would not benefit from eating them. But a recent study has identified a new, unexpected jelly-eater: penguins.

What Scientists Are Learning About The Impact Of An Acidifying Ocean

2017-10-03T16:43:44+00:00 October 3, 2017|

The effects of ocean acidification on marine life have only become widely recognized in the past decade. Now researchers are rapidly expanding the scope of investigations into what falling pH means for ocean ecosystems. The ocean is becoming increasingly acidic as climate change accelerates and scientists are ramping up investigations into the impact on marine life and ecosystems. In just a few years, the young field of ocean acidification research has expanded rapidly – progressing from short-term experiments on single species to complex, long-term studies that encompass interactions across interdependent species.

Erosion From Ancient Tsunami In Northern California

2017-10-03T10:12:53+00:00 October 3, 2017|

When you're investigating complex questions, you've often got to dig deep to find answers. A group of UC Santa Barbara geologists and their colleagues studying tsunamis did exactly that. The team used ground-penetrating radar (GPR) to search for physical evidence of a large tsunami that pounded the Northern California coast near Crescent City some 900 years ago. They discovered that the giant wave removed three to five times more sand than any historical El Niño storm across the Pacific Coast of the United States. The researchers also estimated how far inland the coast eroded. Their findings appear in the journal Marine Geology.

Jon White – From the President’s Office: 10-2-2017

2017-10-24T12:49:38+00:00 October 2, 2017|

Last week, I had the chance to take a behind-the-scenes tour of our nation’s Capitol. Staring up at the Apotheosis of Washington  underneath the Capitol dome from the rotunda, I was struck by the six groups of figures surrounding the perimeter of the painting, representing the principle values of the U.S. as understood at the time it [...]

Newly Discovered Hermit Crab Species Lives In ‘Walking Corals’

2017-09-29T09:33:51+00:00 September 29, 2017|

Hermit crabs are well known for their ability to turn an empty shell into protective armour, but it seems that shells aren’t the only armour around. A new species of hermit crab that shelters in solitary corals has been discovered in southern Japan. Details of the discovery, made by scientists at Kyoto University, have just been published in the journal PLOS ONE.

Researchers Find Way To Chart Changes In The Speed Of Deep-Ocean Currents Using The Most Modest Of Materials—Mud

2017-09-28T15:38:49+00:00 September 28, 2017|

(Click to enlarge)  (Credit: Leo Pena) Researchers have found a way to chart changes in the speed of deep-ocean currents using the most modest of materials – mud. The approach, reported in the journal Deep-Sea Research Part I, could provide scientists with a better basis for understanding the behaviour of ancient ocean currents and, [...]

Deep Sleep: Even Jellyfish Need Their Slumber

2017-09-27T08:51:45+00:00 September 27, 2017|

Even a jellyfish - one of Earth’s first and most ancient animals - needs its sleep. Scientists said on Thursday they have demonstrated that a primitive type of jellyfish called Cassiopea goes to sleep nightly. While sleep has been confirmed in other invertebrates such as worms and fruit flies, the jellyfish is the most evolutionarily ancient animal that has been shown to slumber.

Why Tearing Down Dams Could Help Save Endangered Killer Whales

2017-09-27T08:41:44+00:00 September 27, 2017|

Dams, pollution and development have taken a toll on salmon populations in Washington State. Now researchers find that the lack of fish is causing pregnant orcas to miscarry, further imperiling the endangered killer whales. Writing in 1916, conservationist John Muir noted that “there is not a ‘fragment’ in all nature, for every relative fragment of one thing is a full harmonious unit in itself.” A century later, in the Pacific Northwest, land managers, tribal leaders, environmental stewards, lawmakers and business interests are locked in a fight over which harmonious units and relative fragments can be rearranged to satisfy all parties.

Big Antarctic Iceberg Edges Out To Sea

2017-09-26T17:57:33+00:00 September 26, 2017|

The giant berg A-68 looks finally to be on the move. Recent weeks have seen it shuffle back and forth next to the Antarctic ice shelf from which it broke away. But the latest satellite imagery now indicates the near-6,000 sq km block is swinging out into the Weddell Sea.

Protected Waters Foster Resurgence Of West Coast Rockfish

2017-09-26T17:48:48+00:00 September 26, 2017|

Recovering species likely seeding surrounding waters with offspring, new research shows. West Coast rockfish species in deep collapse only 20 years ago have multiplied rapidly in large marine protected areas off Southern California, likely seeding surrounding waters with enough offspring to offer promise of renewed fishing, a new study has found.

Catching Diversity Of Fish Species Means More Stable Income For Fishers

2017-09-25T17:23:20+00:00 September 25, 2017|

Catching a diversity of fish species—instead of specializing—means more stable income for fishers. For people who make a living by harvesting natural resources, income volatility is a persistent threat. Crops could fail. Fisheries could collapse. Forests could burn. These and other factors—including changing management regulations and practices—can lower harvests, which depresses income for farmers, fishers and timber harvesters. But the ways that these forces interact to impact income have been difficult to track, especially at the level of the individual worker.

Now We Know How Much Glacial Melting ‘Watermelon Snow’ Can Cause

2017-09-25T17:14:20+00:00 September 25, 2017|

Algae that tinge snow red are to blame for about a sixth of the snowmelt at an Alaskan ice field. Microbes are pushing glacial snow into the red. An alga species that grows on glaciers gives the snow a crimson hue, which increases the amount of sunlight that the snow soaks up and makes it melt faster, new measurements confirm. On Alaska’s Harding Icefield, these microbes are responsible for about a sixth of the snowmelt in algae-tinged areas, researchers report September 18 in Nature Geoscience. The finding suggests that future climate simulations, unlike current ones, should account for the effects of these algae when making predictions about glacial melt.

Jon White – From The President’s Office: 09-25-2017

2017-09-25T16:19:59+00:00 September 25, 2017|

You’ve heard about Alaska’s Gold Rush, but what about Alaska’s “Blue Rush?” I used this term during a panel I was on last week at MTS/IEEE’s OCEANS ‘17, which brought together hundreds of attendees from ocean technology industries, academic institutions, and government agencies focused around ocean science and technology. As I’ve written of before, I [...]

Sea Turtles Appear To Be Bouncing Back Around The World

2017-09-22T09:47:16+00:00 September 22, 2017|

On this planet, so many plants and animals are disappearing that scientists worry we’re experiencing a sixth mass extinction. Many of these organisms are taking hits from a variety of angles — habitat loss, climate change and more — that it’s hard to get a grasp on how to stop their declines. Conservation success stories are rare. But sea turtles may be an exception, according to an comprehensive analysis of global sea turtle abundance published Wednesday in Science Advances. Antonios Mazaris, an ecologist at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece and a team of international researchers found that globally, most populations of sea turtles are bouncing back after historical declines. Their research helps clarify why some conservation and research groups have reported both increases and decreases for individual nesting sites over the past decade.

Mathematics Predicts A Sixth Mass Extinction

2017-09-22T09:34:19+00:00 September 22, 2017|

By 2100, oceans may hold enough carbon to launch mass extermination of species in future millennia. In the past 540 million years, the Earth has endured five mass extinction events, each involving processes that upended the normal cycling of carbon through the atmosphere and oceans. These globally fatal perturbations in carbon each unfolded over thousands to millions of years, and are coincident with the widespread extermination of marine species around the world.

A Little Giant

2017-09-22T09:17:20+00:00 September 22, 2017|

A fossil skull might indicate the location of a prehistoric whale breeding ground. Found in Hiroshima, Japan, the roughly 16 million year old fossil is of an extinct baleen whale Parietobalaena yamaokai. It’s not the only one of its kind. Multiple specimens of the Miocene mysticete have been found in this place. But what makes this cranium stand out, paleontologist Cheng-Hsiu Tsai notes, is an open suture at the back of the skull. Skulls can be a rough way to tell a mammal's age. In younger mammals, the skull bones haven’t fused together yet. There may be gaps between them, bridged by cartilage, or the sutures running between each piece are easily visible.

Estuarine Hydrodynamic Modeling PhD Research Assistant, Mississippi State University

2017-09-21T17:04:07+00:00 September 21, 2017|

Estuarine hydrodynamic modeling PhD research assistant. This PhD position will be housed in the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering at Mississippi State University under the supervision of Dr. Anna Linhoss. The position requires a background in hydrodynamic or hydrologic modeling and BS and/or MS in engineering. Experience with coastal/estuarine hydrodynamics is preferred. The position will be [...]

Trump Sets Record With Delay In Nominating Administrator

2017-09-21T11:45:46+00:00 September 21, 2017|

(Click to enlarge) The U.S. Capital at night. (Credit: Will Ramos) It's official: Donald Trump has waited longer than any president in history to pick a NOAA administrator. Trump yesterday broke the record set by Republican President George W. Bush, who delayed his decision until Sept. 19, 2001, when he nominated former Navy Vice [...]

Study: ‘Unprecedented’ Rain, Warmth For Alaska By End Of Century

2017-09-21T10:42:49+00:00 September 21, 2017|

If current carbon emissions and climate trends hold, the Far North can join the hurricane-soaked South as a place of wet-weather extremes, new research shows. Climate warming is likely to bring more episodes of heavy rain, above-freezing winter thaws and scorching hot summer days in the coming decades, says a study by scientists at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. By the end of the century, one-day maximum rainfalls will be 53 percent heavier than what is now considered the norm — the weather recorded from 1981 to 2010 — and maximum five-day rainfalls will be 50 percent heavier, according to the study.

The High Cost Sand Mining Extracts From Coastal Ecosystems

2017-09-21T10:21:21+00:00 September 21, 2017|

Researchers say the world faces a sand crisis as skyrocketing demand for the building material leads to the destruction of coastal environments and marine life. When people picture sand spread across idyllic beaches and endless deserts, they understandably think of it as an infinite resource. But as we discuss in a just-published perspective in the journal Science, overexploitation of global supplies of sand is damaging the environment, endangering communities, causing shortages and promoting violent conflict.

Guess What’s Showing Up In Our Shellfish? One Word: Plastics

2017-09-21T10:05:45+00:00 September 21, 2017|

Sarah Dudas doesn't mind shucking an oyster or a clam in the name of science. But sit down with her and a plate of oysters on the half-shell or a bucket of steamed Manila clams, and she'll probably point out a bivalve's gonads or remark on its fertility. "These are comments I make at dinner parties," she said. "I've spent too much time doing dissections. I've done too many spawnings." And lately, the shellfish biologist is making other unappetizing comments to her dinner party guests — about plastics in those shellfish.

Satellites Measuring Earth’s Melting Ice Sheets To Go Dark

2017-09-20T09:05:25+00:00 September 20, 2017|

A sentinel of Earth’s climate is going dark. After running for a decade beyond its planned life, the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) is nearly out of fuel and will soon make its final science run, NASA announced late yesterday. The tandem of satellites—called GRACE-1 and GRACE-2—measure minute shifts in Earth’s gravity to chart flows of mass across the planet, such as the unexpectedly rapid melt of polar ice sheets and the drawdown of underground water reservoirs called aquifers.

Six New Sponge Species And New Symbiotic Associations From The Indonesian Coral Triangle

2017-09-20T09:03:14+00:00 September 20, 2017|

Comprising more than 17,000 islands, the Indonesian archipelago is one of the world's most biodiverse places on Earth. Sponges, aquatic organisms whose bodies consist of numerous pores to allow the ingress of water, are key components of this richness and play a fundamental role in the survival of coral reef habitats. Furthermore, they are also known for their medicinal benefits.

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