Eric Orenstein

Eric Orenstein has written 19 posts for oceanbites

Dawn of the age of Aquarius…total alkalinity measurements

While not as exciting as the new era of peace predicted by 5th Dimension, it is pretty cool that scientists can measure ocean chemistry from space. The marvels of modern technology, amiright?


Senators propose bill to ensure independence of federal researchers

Last week, a group of Senators introduced legislation that aims to preserve the independence of U.S. government scientists. The Scientific Integrity Act instructs executive branch administrators to implement policies to ensure that data and results be disseminated in a timely and open manner. The bill, if enacted, would help separate the government’s scientific output from partisan politics.


Studying plankton from an atmospheric satellite

Scientists found a way to repurpose data from an atmospheric satellite to study the tiny creatures at the base of most ocean food webs. The instrument, originally designed to study aerosols, allowed researchers to build the most complete record of polar plankton activity ever assembled.


Sub sea ice technology aims to expand Arctic plankton surveys

A German research team tested out three devices for studying plankton in Arctic sea ice. These new methods might allow scientists to expand Arctic primary production studies and yield new insight into these important, understudied ecosystems.

Courtesy Evan-Amos via wikipedia (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Pumpkin-Pie-Slice.jpg)

The ocean is my cake

Or, to be more thematically appropriate, pie. Pumpkin pie. Because, if we’re being honest, pumpkin pie is the superior Thanksgiving pie. [Editor’s note: This is merely the author’s opinion. Clearly, chocolate pudding pie is the superior Thanksgiving pie]

From pixabay: https://pixabay.com/p-997907/?no_redirect

Ghost ships, adorable flotsam, and measuring surface currents

The ocean is teeming with floating objects. Some of them are creepy, rusted, abandoned boats. Others are cute little bath toys. All are nerdy Halloween costumes waiting to happen! Not to mention their utility as oceanographic tools to learn about currents.


The physics of tiny jellyfish hunting

Tiny jellyfish live, swim, and eat in a viscous environment. How they capture their food is something of a mystery. A University of Oregon group took advantage of several fancy imaging techniques to shed some light on the matter.

Courtesy of Vilisvir via wikipedia.org

The dark side of the…cephalopod eye?

Cephalopods are among the most colorful creatures in the ocean but only see in black and white. A father/son team recently proposed a new theory explaining how these organisms might sense and understand color. Besides explaining a decades old mystery, their idea might force us to reconsider what it means to see in color.


Pluto perhaps not so icy after all

Pluto, the ex-planet at the far reaches of our solar system, recently had a nice photo op as a NASA vehicle drifted by. The pictures gave an unprecedented view of the object and, perhaps, point to the presence liquid water.

This artist’s impression shows how Mars may have looked about four billion years ago. The young planet Mars would have had enough water to cover its entire surface in a liquid layer about 140 metres deep, but it is more likely that the liquid would have pooled to form an ocean occupying almost half of Mars’s northern hemisphere, and in some regions reaching depths greater than 1.6 kilometres. (M. Kornmesser via Wikipedia)

Paleo-oceanography from satellite data reveal ancient tsunamis…on Mars?!

Extraplanetary tsunamis. Need I say more?


Double, double methane and trouble: Quantifying natural and man-made methane seeps

Researchers from Texas A&M and Woods Hole tested out a new, 3D camera system designed to look at deep sea methane seeps. The high resolution, high frame rate videos yielded new insights into bubble dynamics that could influence how we respond to oil and gas spills.


Coral! At The Disco: Using fluorescence (and computer science) to label reef data

A group of scientists and engineers have leveraged two emerging technologies to develop a new system for studying coral in their natural habitat. The team dramatically improved automatic labeling of coral images by combining a novel camera set up with powerful machine learning techniques. The result is fast, accurate, and has the potential to change how coral ecologists do their research.


Arctic could become more biologically productive as ice melts

As Arctic sea-ice melts away, organisms will be exposed to more light and, potentially, more nutrients. Recent model work suggests that this combination will result in a more biologically active Arctic. But the net result might not be as positive as you think.


One person’s noise, is another person’s data

Measuring the heat content of deep ocean waters is critical to understanding how our global climate system works. It is also very difficult to do on a large scale. A group at the University of Georgia recently proposed a new technique to take the temperature of the deep ocean using only ambient noise and passive hydrophones.

Photo courtesy of 
Richard Corfield (via flickr.com)

Ringing in the New Year

Join us as we “Ring in the New Year” with a series of posts about sound in the ocean. Learn about the neat things sound does in the sea and how scientists use it to learn about all kinds of interesting phenomena.


Kelp: It’s whats for dinner (or where you live)

Kelp is a kind of large algae that supports diverse ecosystems. These kelp forests may start receding as a result of ocean warming. How the organisms that live in these forests respond to the warmer environment and damaged kelp may determine how quickly that happens.


If it you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kelp forest!

Kelp is a kind of algae that supports diverse ecosystems in the nearshore ocean. As the climate and ocean warms, however, these kelp could begin to die off. How, when, and why the kelp die has important consequences for species diversity that will affect ecosystem and fisheries management.

Figure 1: An example of images captured from the Imaging FlowCytoBot at the Texas Observatory for Algal Succession Timeseries (TOAST). This particular montage was made from pictures taken on the 12th of October 2015. Each individual box is automatically cropped from a larger frame taken as the organisms flow past the camera. (Courtesy of Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System, TOAST)

There’s a storm coming, Plankton. And we all best be ready when she does.

Oceanographers have long known that large storms cause changes in the near-shore ocean environment. But how those changes effect the marine ecosystem is still a grey area. A new study out of Texas A&M sheds some light on how plankton, the tiny creatures at the base of the food web, respond to these large atmospheric events.

Figure 1 Image of an appendicularian taken with an in situ microscope off the coast of California. The head is the oval pointing toward the top right corner of the image. The tail is the long, thin line pointing back from the head. The rest of the material is the goo-house the appendicularian uses to capture food. All the little dots are bits of carbon rich particles it has picked up. (Scripps Plankton Camera; spc.ucsd.edu)

Eating Snow: How detritus gets broken down

Marine snow is a critical part of the ocean ecosystem. Much of this carbon rich matter ends up in the deep ocean or on the sea floor. But what about the rest of it? Read on to find out!

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