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Michael Philben

Michael Philben has written 12 posts for oceanbites

Who benefits from more CO2? Harmful algae.

Climate change will produce both winners and losers, but we might not like who ends up winning! New research shows that toxic cyanobacteria can rapidly adapt to increasing CO2 concentrations and outcompete other more desirable types of algae. Michael PhilbenI recently completed a PhD in Marine Science at the University of South Carolina and am […]

Do coral reefs help fight climate change?

Coral reefs are called the rainforests of the sea for their stunning biodiversity. But can they, like forests on land, absorb CO2 and help reduce global warming? Michael PhilbenI recently completed a PhD in Marine Science at the University of South Carolina and am now a postdoc at Memorial University of Newfoundland. I research the […]

The Dirty Blizzard: how oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill reached the seafloor

Oil floats on water, yet oil spills are still devastating for marine life living on the seafloor. How does it get there? A new study shows that it can hitch a ride on sinking particles during an algae bloom, turning marine snow into a “dirty blizzard”. Read on to find out more! Michael PhilbenI recently […]

Why iron fertilization hasn’t worked

Fertilizing the ocean with iron to help algae store more carbon in the deep sea was once heralded as a solution for global warming. But decades of research has suggested it doesn’t work as advertised. What went wrong? Read on to find out! Michael PhilbenI recently completed a PhD in Marine Science at the University […]

Dust detectives: tracing the origins of Antarctic ice core debris

Tiny dust particles punch above their weight by delivering nutrients to remote ecosystems. A new study uses the chemical fingerprint of dust particles to retrace their origins and how this important process has changed over the last 800,000 years. Read on to learn more! Michael PhilbenI recently completed a PhD in Marine Science at the […]

Manipulating ship wakes to reflect light could help fight climate change

The tiny bubbles produced by ship’s wakes reflect light and cool the planet. Could they be manipulated to counteract global warming? Michael PhilbenI recently completed a PhD in Marine Science at the University of South Carolina and am now a postdoc at Memorial University of Newfoundland. I research the effects of climate change on soil […]

A cloudy future for climate engineering

Pumping reflective aerosols into the atmosphere may hold promise for cooling the climate. But once we start, we won’t be able to stop. Michael PhilbenI recently completed a PhD in Marine Science at the University of South Carolina and am now a postdoc at Memorial University of Newfoundland. I research the effects of climate change […]

Was the California drought the worst in history?

California has seen longer droughts and drier years in the past, but a new reconstruction shows that 2012-2015 was the driest 4-year period in the last 2000 years. Michael PhilbenI recently completed a PhD in Marine Science at the University of South Carolina and am now a postdoc at Memorial University of Newfoundland. I research […]

How we broke radiocarbon dating

CO2 from fossil fuel burning doesn’t contain C-14. That’s bad news for the future of radiocarbon dating. Michael PhilbenI recently completed a PhD in Marine Science at the University of South Carolina and am now a postdoc at Memorial University of Newfoundland. I research the effects of climate change on soil organic matter in boreal […]

Oil spill first responders: how tiny algae cultivate oil-degrading bacteria

After an oil spill, millions of oil-degrading bacteria are on the scene almost immediately. But how do they survive in regions with no oil pollution? A new study shows that tiny cyanobacteria produce enough oil to maintain a small population of oil-degraders, capable of rapidly multiplying in response to the sudden influx of oil from […]

Estimating carbon sequestration from plankton poop

Copepod fecal pellets—plankton poop—transport carbon from the ocean surface to the deep where it is stored for thousands of years. A new study presents a framework for scaling up our understanding of this process from observations of single organisms to the global ocean. Michael PhilbenI recently completed a PhD in Marine Science at the University […]

Microbes foil attempts to increase deep ocean carbon sequestration

Most carbon emitted to the atmosphere ends up in the ocean, much of it in organic molecules. While most is quickly respired back to CO2, a fraction is transformed by microbes to apparently stable compounds that persist in the ocean for centuries. Could we manipulate the microbial community to hold even more? A new study […]

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