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Zoe Gentes

Zoe Gentes has written 27 posts for oceanbites
A Greenland ice core segment, extracted from the ice sheet. Ice cores trap past climate conditions, allowing researchers to study paleoclimates. Credit: wikicommons.

The Bipolar See-Saw: Dansgaard-Oeschger Events and the Antarctic Climate

Within large timescales of glacial and interglacial periods, mini, rapid climate shifts may occur thanks to oceanic circulation processes and balancing global ocean budgets. The events in question originate in the North Atlantic; but, how do they affect the Antarctic?

Congress can be a confusing place. This brief guide will help you become better informed and more active. Credit: wikicommons.

Keeping Up the Fight: Tips for Science Policy Engagement

Concerned for the future of science? I’ve highlighted a few things you can do to stay engaged in 15 minutes a day.

The Lilypad Wave Energy Converter (WEC). Credit: Energy Island.

New Year, new innovations: energy and climate science

Research in marine renewable energy and climate systems will grow ever more important in the future. The research for these areas are not just done on the coast, however – I ventured into the mountains to learn more.

Figure 1: There are five major ocean-wide gyres — the North Atlantic, South Atlantic, North Pacific, South Pacific, and Indian Ocean gyres. Credit: wikemedia/NOAA.

Eat Organic at Your Local Gyre Margin

Paper: Letscher, Robert T., et al. 2016. Nutrient budgets in the subtropical ocean gyres dominated by lateral transport. Nature Geoscience, v.9: 815–819 If you were a marine organism looking for some grub, where could you find something nutritious? Nutrients in the ocean accumulate in the bodies of living things, which tend to sink to deeper waters […]

Figure 2: Pacific Decadal Oscillation. Credit: Wikicommons.

The Pacific Pacemaker: Using Models to Explain Warming Hiatus

While the Earth’s mean surface temperature is slowly increasing, there are occasional, temporary slowdowns in the overall trend. The Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation, a strong, varying climate pattern, may be held accountable for the phenomenon.

Super Typhoon Nina approaching the Philippines, 1987. Image produced from NOAA data. Credit: NOAA, wikipedia.

A Cluster of Typhoons: Intensification over the last three decades

Tropical Cyclones in the western Pacific Ocean have been intensifying in recent decades, but different data sets and methodologies made it hard to create accurate comparisons and models. Researchers adjusted these data sets to find that cyclones that make landfall are intensifying at faster rates than those that stay in the open ocean, and that the intensification is tied to rising ocean temperature.

Figure 1(a): Plate tectonic reconstruction of the Tethys realm at 249 Ma. A rift forms off the north coast of South Pangea (Gondwana) and piece of continental shelf (Cimmera) moves north, pushing up the Paleo-Tethys ocean and creating the Neo-Tethys. (b) Plate tectonic reconstruction of the Tethys realm at 100 Ma. The Neo-Tethys is present where the Paleo-Tethys once was, and Gondwana has started to break apart into recognizable continents.

Mediterranean Magnetism shows Ancient Oceanic Crust

Compared to the continents, oceanic crust is relatively young, less than 200 million years. But in a corner of the Mediterranean Sea, a remnant of the ancient Neo-Tethys Ocean lurks from the time of Pangaea.

Credit: Society for Conservation Biology

Highlights from the International Marine Conservation Congress, Newfoundland, Canada

At the International Marine Conservation Congress this year, I got a first-timer’s look into the world of marine conservation research and in-depth discussions about the future of conservation.

Meltwater flows through off the Greenland Ice Sheet. Credit: Wikicommons.

Greenland ice melt may impact Atlantic Ocean temperature and climate

Paper: Claus W. Böning, et al. 2016.  Emerging impact of Greenland meltwater on deepwater formation in the North Atlantic Ocean. Nature Geoscience, v.9: 523–527. We know the ocean is warming due to climate change. But did you also know there are huge paths that heat and energy takes through the global ocean? Although the ocean […]

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Sea Lions and goose chases – a day at the Marine Mammal Center

I spent a morning learning about the Marine Mammal Center at Moss Landing in California, helped with the intake of a sea lion, and went out on a call with the team.

Dr. Jerry Miller (far right) with (R to L) Ms. Shere Abbott, and Dr. John Holdren of OSTP, President Barack Obama, Ms. Nancy Sutley, Mr. Michael Boots, and Mr. Michael Weiss of CEQ as President Obama signs Executive Order 13547 establishing the National Ocean Policy. Credit: Science for Decisions.

National Ocean Policy: a look inside Congress

Ever wondered what your government does for the oceans? Here’s a brief glimpse.

Credit: Gérald Tapp.

Iceberg Buffet: How giant icebergs bring food to plankton

While icebergs are calving from Antarctic glaciers at alarming rates, they may provide a negative feedback for the carbon cycle. Giant icebergs bring large amounts of iron to iron-poor areas of the Southern Ocean, stimulating primary productivity and boosting carbon sequestration.

Pacific sardines live in a sensitive coastal ecosystem. Recently warm winter waters on the US west coast have caused many sardines to seek more northern, colder waters. Credit: NOAA’s National Ocean Service.

Ports, Pups, Policy, and Low Sardine Stocks

While sardine stocks are seeing disturbingly low numbers along the US west coast, affecting fishermen and marine mammals that depend on them, scientists are working hard to provide forecast modeling and data than can better assist fishery managers to avoid this situation in the future.

Hubbard Glacier in the St. Elias mountain range, Alaska. Credit: wikicommons.

Mountains vs. Climate, Recorded in Marine Sediment

Mountain ranges can actively evolve with Earth’s climate. A new study of the St. Elias Range in coastal Alaska demonstrates how dynamic and coupled our planet’s crust is to climate, and how we can investigate past erosion through marine sediments.

With the Voices of the Sea interactive exhibit, you can explore acoustics from various marine mammals including whales, dolphins, and seals. The exhibit is featured in various aquariums throughout the US. Credit: voicesinthesea.org

A Career in Marine Mammal Acoustics and the Arctic

This week, I interviewed Joshua Jones, a Ph.D. student in biological oceanography at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. The focus of his thesis research is marine mammals in the Arctic, their acoustic behavior and relationships with sea ice, and the effects of human activities on the underwater acoustic environment.

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Beyond the Science (Part 2): Sci-Com, Media, and Policy at GSA

I attended the annual meeting for the Geological Society of America as a first-timer, joining scientists, educators, policy-makers, industry buffs, and students from the international community at the second-largest geology conference in the United States. I had attended a geology conference before, but I had not been involved to the extent that I was at GSA. The conference provided me with so much more than just a platform to speak to a wide audience.

The US Capitol. Congressional Visits Day incorporated visits with offices in both the House Representative side and the Senate side.

A First-Timer’s Look at a Scientist Congressional Visits Day

At Geosciences Congressional Visits Day, 2015, I joined a diverse group of over 60 geoscientists that gathered in Washington, D.C. to learn how to speak to policymakers and how to craft our message requesting continued strong federal support for earth sciences.

Chesapeake Bay. Credit: NASA Landsat.

The Down, Up, and Down Again of Chesapeake Bay

The Chesapeake Bay region is a densely populated area, and also experiences more rapid sea level rise than anywhere else along the North American Atlantic Coast. Why? Scientists look to the lithosphere for answers, finding that the subsidence of an ancient lithospheric bulge may be partially to blame, and will continue for millennia.

Barrier islands commonly are home to communities and tourism. Credit: Betsy C Knapp

Climate Transgressions and Barrier Islands

Barrier Islands support local economies, residents, tourism, fragile environments, and sometimes valuable resources. Yet, they are extremely susceptible to storms and sea level change. A new study examines the past 12,000 years in sediments to try to understand how these coastal landforms may be affected in the future.

Changes in Temperature and CO2 over the past 422,000 years. Data obtained from Vostok ice cores in Antarctica. Credit: NOAA.

Balancing Act: Marine Sediments Reveal Past Carbon Cycle Fluxes

Researchers conducted a study that looks at marine sediment records to investigate sediment weathering patterns over long-term climate cycles. Somewhat surprisingly, it appears the Earth may have a mechanism for balancing variations in weathering during these glacial-interglacial cycles and mediating carbon cycle fluxes.

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