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Physical oceanography

This category contains 27 posts

‘The conservationist is ready to see you’: triaging marine ecosystems in times of climate change

Climate change affects ecosystems worldwide, but how do conservationists decide which of planet earth’s ecosystems are most in need?

Oceans absorb more carbon with weaker ocean circulation

A team of researchers investigate why the ocean has been absorbing more carbon from the atmosphere in recent decades, and find ocean circulation could be responsible.

Antarctica’s bottom waters freshen up

A team of researchers went back to the same part of Antarctic after a decade to see how the deep ocean had changed, and were surprised to find the deep ocean was fresher than they expected.

Earth’s strongest current even stronger than previously thought

The Antarctic Circumpolar current, which wraps around Antarctica and connects the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans, is notoriously difficult to measure. Recently a group of researchers tackled the wild current, and found it was 30% stronger than scientists previously thought.

A toxic toasty blob: warm water in the Pacific provides a happy home for poisonous algae

A warm blob at the ocean surface, fishery closures, and unhappy marine mammals – what do all these things have in common? The answer is microscopic: a toxic type of algae called Pseudo-nitzschia thrives when temperatures are warm and nutrients are plentiful. It poisons the shellfish that feed marine mammals and support a multi-million dollar fishing industry.

Melting ice shelves could be slowing down ocean circulation: Elephant seals lend a flipper to find out

Wanted: Antarctic researchers to study the formation of deep water in the coastal Antarctic seas. Job requirements: Plenty of blubber and a healthy appetite for bottom-dwelling sea creatures.

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.

A salty ocean makes a happy home (planet)

The first things we learn about the ocean are that it’s big and salty. We know that its bigness is an important factor for earth’s climate; the authors of this paper demonstrate that its saltiness is too, and that this can affect whether other earth-like planets are truly habitable.

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 […]

Seals put on their thinking caps for under-ice science

Scientists investigate warm water that drives melting in Antarctica with the help of some seals with high-tech hats.

Ocean circulation keeping it cool in Antarctica

A group of scientists have delved deeper to solve the puzzle of why the ocean around Antarctica has been cooling, while the rest of the ocean is rapidly warming.

Not all freshwater is created equal

Glacial runoff, precipitation, and sea ice melt all contribute to the freshwater content of the upper ocean along the west Antarctic Peninsula. Using oxygen isotope samples from water found in different areas of the continental shelf, researchers were able map the areas where different sources of freshwater are more important.

12,000 feet under the sea, from space

A pair of scientists have figured out how to track deep ocean currents using gravity measurements from space.

Little penguins have little tolerance for high temperatures

New technology lets researchers track the 3D motion of penguins in the ocean to learn exactly where they catch their food. They catch the most when water is cooler than average, which could become a problem as ocean temperatures warm.

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Beat the Heat: Predicting Eastern U.S. Hot Days using the Pacific Ocean

Get ready for summer! Scientists have found a new way to predict the extremely hot days that occur throughout summer, using rainfall over land and the temperature of the Pacific Ocean. Read on to learn more!

The Atlantic Ocean is the Culprit in the Case of the Cooling Eastern Pacific

A classic climate “Whodunit”? Can researchers get to the bottom of the mystery of the cooling eastern Pacific Ocean, three decades in the making?

Storm Troopers! Robots collect ocean data during hurricanes

Hurricane prediction models are constantly improving as we create more innovative ways to study the growth and development of storms. In 2011, a team from Rutgers University sent an autonomous underwater vehicle into the projected path of Hurricane Irene to measure ocean conditions before, during, and after it passed.

Ocean robots record California’s latest hot year

Using underwater gliders, researchers explain what caused the extremely warm ocean along the coast of California in 2014-2015 and what this might mean for local ecosystems.

Can the ocean take the heat?

Things heat up as scientists investigate deeper to find out how much heat the ocean can take.

Miles-deep currents seen from miles high

The system of currents that moves water and heat around the globe and regulates global climate may be slowing down. For the first time, researchers are able to track the changes from space.

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