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Physical oceanography

This category contains 57 posts

Deep Breathing Underwater

The Labrador Sea is one of the lungs of the ocean. A new study finds that it is taking an even deeper breath than expected—making it more vulnerable to climate change than thought. Emily ChuaI am a Ph.D. candidate at Boston University where I am developing an underwater instrument to study the coastal ocean.  I […]

Impact of Climate Change on Antarctic Waters

A recent study demonstrate the critical importance of Antarctic winds and meltwater to modeling the recent observed changes in Southern Ocean physical and biogeochemical properties. These results have implications for improving future climate projections. Channing PrendI’m a physical oceanography PhD student at Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, California. I use a combination of […]

Key Role of Sea Ice in Glacial Cycles

A recent study using an idealized model finds that changes in Antarctic sea ice and circulation, triggered by atmospheric cooling, stimulate carbon drawdown and thus play a large role in glacial-interglacial transitions. Channing PrendI’m a physical oceanography PhD student at Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, California. I use a combination of numerical models, […]

Phytoplankton Bloom Driven by Volcanic Eruption

A large volcanic eruption in 2018 deposited tons of lava into the Pacific Ocean. Scientists were puzzled that the lava-impacted region of the ocean had explosive growth of microalgae called phytoplankton. They discovered that the lava was heating nutrient-rich waters at the seafloor, which made them rise up to the surface. Channing PrendI’m a physical […]

How important is carbon export by ocean eddies?

A recent paper uses an ocean model to investigate the relative importance of carbon sequestration by eddies transporting phytoplankton into the ocean interior. Results suggest that eddies may not be as important as we thought due to the compensation between transport by clockwise and counter-clockwise eddies. Channing PrendI’m a physical oceanography PhD student at Scripps […]

Antarctic phytoplankton blooms linked to seafloor topography

A recent study uses observations from robotic floats to examine phytoplankton blooms in the Southern Ocean. The data show that biological productivity is closely linked to seafloor topography. This is because currents flowing over seamounts cause enhanced mixing that delivers nutrients to the sunlit upper ocean where phytoplankton grow. Channing PrendI’m a physical oceanography PhD […]

What caused a massive hole in Antarctic sea ice?

In 2016 and 2017, a massive hole developed in the Antarctic sea ice. Scientists investigated the processes that led to this formation and found that it was related to anomalous saltiness and storm activity in the region. Channing PrendI’m a physical oceanography PhD student at Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, California. I use […]

Rugged Southern Ocean phytoplankton weather the storm(s)

Phytoplankton from the “wild west” of the world’s oceans have learned to regrow after storms… over and over and over again. Nyla HusainI’m a PhD student at the University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography. I use models to study how small-scale physical processes at the air-sea interface – like waves – impact wind […]

Reevaluating the Ocean Conveyer Belt

A recent study suggests that surface processes in the Indian and Pacific Oceans may be more important to global ocean circulation than previously thought. This has implications for our understanding of the global climate system. Channing PrendI’m a physical oceanography PhD student at Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, California. I use a combination […]

Phytoplankton Expanding Northward as Arctic Sea Ice Retreats

A recent study uses satellite data to show that Arctic sea ice retreat is causing changes in the timing and location of spring phytoplankton blooms, which play a large role in the regional ecosystem and carbon cycle. Channing PrendI’m a physical oceanography PhD student at Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, California. I use […]

Mixing Up Microalgae

A recent study shows that within the mixed layer—the region of the upper ocean where temperature and salinity are homogeneous—biological properties may not actually be well mixed. These results have implications for our understanding of phytoplankton biomass distribution. Channing PrendI’m a physical oceanography PhD student at Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, California. I […]

Productivity Comes In Waves

How do waves in the ocean affect phytoplankton? Check out this post to learn more! Melanie FeenI am a first year graduate student at the Graduate School of Oceanography at University of Rhode Island. I use robots and satellites to research the biological carbon pump, which is a series of processes that transfer carbon dioxide […]

Antarctic Eddies Suck Carbon from the Atmosphere

A recent study from researchers at the University of Tasmania investigates the relationship between ocean eddies and phytoplankton growth in the Southern Ocean using satellite data. The results can help us understand and predict how the ocean’s ability to regulate climate might change in the future. Channing PrendI’m a physical oceanography PhD student at Scripps […]

Walking on a Fine Line

What is a WireWalker? You might initially picture someone walking along a tightrope across some crazy abyss. From an observational oceanographer perspective, Wirewalkers are a type of marine robot we use to collect data in the ocean. Instead of walking horizontally, the Wirewalker traverses up and down a wire from the surface to the deep […]

Seasonal Ice Melt Shows Signs of Blooms

Floats collected data underneath the ice during the winter and when the ice melted there were signs of phytoplankton blooms! Check this article out to learn more about why this occurs and how it was detected! Melanie FeenI am a first year graduate student at the Graduate School of Oceanography at University of Rhode Island. […]

Sea Ice Modifies Biological Processes

A recent study investigates the relationship between sea ice variability and phytoplankton growth in climate models. Phytoplankton are responsible for most of the transfer of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to the ocean, therefore this work can help us understand and predict how the ocean’s ability to regulate climate might change in the future.     Channing […]

When life gives you global warming, make pancake ice in ocean wave models

Sea ice is retreating, the Arctic is opening up, and wave activity is increasing. What does this mean for the ocean and atmosphere? The refreezing season of autumn may have some answers. Nyla HusainI’m a PhD student at the University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography. I use models to study how small-scale physical […]

Sea Ice Drives Global Circulation

A recent study uses observational data from the Antarctic to show that sea ice processes help drive the global current system called the overturning circulation. This result suggests that changes to sea ice extent in the Antarctic could impact large-scale circulation as well as the ocean’s uptake of heat and carbon dioxide. Channing PrendI’m a […]

Turn Up The Heat, Turn Down the Productivity

What happens if we do not curb carbon emissions? In a recent study, Moore and co-authors (2018) predict the implications of sustained carbon emissions. Ocean nutrients may be redistributed leaving much of the global ocean in a state of declining biological production! Check out this article to learn more! Melanie FeenI am a first year graduate […]

Predicted Change to the Southern Ocean Silicate Front

The Southern Ocean Silicate Front (SF) is an important boundary separating waters that are silicate-rich and waters that are silicate-poor. The position of the SF determines where microorganisms like diatoms (that need silicate to form their shells) can grow. A new study predicts a poleward shift in the Southern Ocean Silicate Front by the end […]

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