Tag Archives: ocean currents

Model Suggests Ocean Currents Shape Europa’s Icy Shell in Ways Critical for Potential Habitats

AUSTIN, Texas — In a finding of relevance to the search for life in our solar system, researchers at The University of Texas at Austin’s Institute for Geophysics, the Georgia Institute of Technology, and the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research have shown that the subsurface ocean on Jupiter’s moon Europa may have deep currents and circulation patterns with heat and energy transfers capable of sustaining biological life.

Scientists believe Europa is one of the planetary bodies in our solar system most likely to have conditions that could sustain life, an idea reinforced by magnetometer readings from the Galileo spacecraft detecting signs of a salty, global ocean below the moon’s icy shell. (more…)

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Undersea mountains provide crucial piece in climate prediction puzzle

A mystery in the ocean near Antarctica has been solved by researchers who have long puzzled over how deep and mid-depth ocean waters are mixed.

They found that sea water mixes dramatically as it rushes over undersea mountains in Drake Passage – the channel between the southern tip of South America and the Antarctic continent. Mixing of water layers in the oceans is crucial in regulating the Earth’s climate and ocean currents.

The research provides insight for climate models which until now have lacked the detailed information on ocean mixing needed to provide accurate long-term climate projections. The study was carried out by the University of Exeter, the University of East Anglia, the University of Southampton, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, the British Antarctic Survey and the Scottish Association for Marine Science and is published in the journal Nature. (more…)

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Sturgeon search

Scientists use satellites, underwater robot to study Atlantic sturgeon migrations

More than a century ago, an estimated 180,000 female Atlantic sturgeon arrived from the coast in the spring to spawn in the Delaware River and fishermen sought their caviar as a lucrative export to Europe. Overfishing contributed to steep population declines, however, and today numbers have dwindled to fewer than 300 adults.

Researchers at the University of Delaware and Delaware State University are using satellites, acoustic transmitters, an underwater robot and historical records to pinpoint the ocean conditions that the fish prefer during migrations — and potentially help fishermen avoid spots where they might unintentionally catch this endangered species. (more…)

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Pine Island Glacier: A Scientific Quest in Antarctica to Determine What’s Causing Ice Loss

*Researchers study heat delivered by ocean currents to bottom side of glacier that releases more than 19 cubic miles of ice each year*

An international team of researchers, funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and NASA, will helicopter onto the Pine Island Glacier ice shelf, one of Antarctica’s most active, remote and harsh spots, in mid-December 2011–weather permitting.

The project’s mission is to determine how much heat ocean currents deliver to the underside of the Pine Island Glacier as it discharges into the sea. Quantifying this heat and understanding how much melting it causes is key to developing reliable models to predict glacier acceleration and therefore predict how much ice will be delivered from land into the ocean thus contributing to sea level rise. (more…)

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Aquarius Yields NASA’s First Global Map of Ocean Salinity

PASADENA, Calif. – NASA’s new Aquarius instrument has produced its first global map of the salinity of the ocean surface, providing an early glimpse of the mission’s anticipated discoveries.

Aquarius, which is aboard the Aquarius/SAC-D (Satélite de Aplicaciones Científicas) observatory, is making NASA’s first space observations of ocean surface salinity variations — a key component of Earth’s climate. Salinity changes are linked to the cycling of freshwater around the planet and influence ocean circulation. (more…)

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Emerging Explorers Award to WHOI’s Kakani Katija

Kakani Katija, a postdoctoral scholar at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), has been selected as one of 14 National Geographic Emerging Explorers for 2011 for her investigation into the role swimming animals might play in mixing and moving the oceans and other large bodies of water.

National Geographic’s Emerging Explorers Program recognizes and supports uniquely gifted and inspiring adventurers, scientists and storytellers making a significant contribution to world knowledge through exploration while still early in their careers. The Emerging Explorers each receive a $10,000 award to assist with research and to aid further exploration. The program is made possible in part by the Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation, which has supported the program since its inception in 2004. (more…)

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