Tag Archives: oceanography

Understanding the Ocean’s Role in Greenland Glacier Melt

The Greenland Ice Sheet is a 1.7 million-square-kilometer, 2-mile thick layer of ice that covers Greenland. Its fate is inextricably linked to our global climate system.

In the last 40 years, ice loss from the Greenland Ice Sheet increased four-fold contributing to one-quarter of global sea level rise.  Some of the increased melting at the surface of the ice sheet is due to a warmer atmosphere, but the ocean’s role in driving ice loss largely remains a mystery. (more…)

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Using earthquake sensors to track endangered whales

The fin whale is the second-largest animal ever to live on Earth. It is also, paradoxically, one of the least understood. The animal’s huge size and global range make its movements and behavior hard to study.

A carcass that washed up on a Seattle-area beach this spring provided a reminder that sleek fin whales, nicknamed “greyhounds of the sea,” are vulnerable to collision when they strike fast-moving ships. Knowing their swimming behaviors could help vessels avoid the animals. Understanding where and what they eat could also help support the fin whale’s slowly rebounding populations. (more…)

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Maintaining a Satellite Link: GTRI Agile Aperture Antenna Technology is Tested on an Autonomous Ocean Vehicle

Antenna technology originally developed to quickly send and receive information through a software-defined military radio may soon be used to transmit ocean data from a wave-powered autonomous surface vehicle. The technology, the lowest-power method for maintaining a satellite uplink, automatically compensates for the movement of the antenna as the boat bobs around on the ocean surface.

The Agile Aperture Antenna technology developed by the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) is expected to provide a more reliable and faster method of transmitting video, audio and environmental data – such as salinity, temperature, fluorescence and dissolved oxygen – from an ocean vehicle to land via satellite. (more…)

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Study reveals how fishing gear can cause slow death of whales

Using a “patient monitoring” device attached to a whale entangled in fishing gear, scientists showed for the first time how fishing lines changed a whale’s diving and swimming behavior. The monitoring revealed how fishing gear hinders whales’ ability to eat and migrate, depletes their energy as they drag gear for months or years, and can result in a slow death.

The scientists in this entanglement response suction-cupped a cellphone-size device called a Dtag to a two-year-old female North Atlantic right whale called Eg 3911. The Dtag, developed at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), recorded Eg 3911’s movements before, during, and after at-sea disentanglement operations. (more…)

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In Financial Ecosystems, Big Banks Trample Economic Habitats and Spread Fiscal Disease

Like the impact of an elephant herd grazing on grassland, multinational banks shape the financial environment to an extent that far outweighs their small number. And like a contagious person on a transnational flight, when these giant, interconnected banks succumb to financial ills, they are uniquely positioned to infect wide swaths of the financial system.

Researchers from Princeton University, the Bank of England and the University of Oxford applied methods inspired by ecosystem stability and contagion models to banking meltdowns and found that large national and international banks wield an influence and potentially destructive power that far exceeds their actual size. (more…)

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Going with the Flow

Scientists studying ocean currents and oil spills with large-scale experiment

Scientists are releasing hundreds of floating GPS devices into the Gulf of Mexico this week near the Deepwater Horizon site to study the role of ocean currents in oil spills. The experiment is the largest in scale of its kind, deploying 300 satellite-tracked, untethered buoys, called drifters, over the course of two and a half weeks.

“We’re trying to use the drifters as a simulation of an oil spill,” said Dennis Kirwan, Mary A.S. Lighthipe Professor of Marine Studies in the University of Delaware’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment. “This is a big event in oceanography.” (more…)

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Scientists Identify Microbes Responsible for Consuming Natural Gas in Deepwater Horizon Spill

*Water temperature played key role*

In the results of a new study, scientists explain how they used DNA to identify microbes present in the Gulf of Mexico following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill–and the particular microbes responsible for consuming natural gas immediately after the spill.

Water temperature played a key role in the way bacteria reacted to the spill, the researchers found. (more…)

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NSF’s Nathaniel B. Palmer Sails with Sweden’s Oden to Study Antarctic Peninsula Ecosystem

*Amundsen Sea Polynya International Research Expedition (ASPIRE) Combines Research and Education*

In a unique and complex example of “science diplomacy,” teams of U.S. and Swedish scientists are sailing this month aboard two research vessels to study the ecology of the Amundsen Sea, one of the least-explored and most productive bodies in Antarctic waters, and to gauge the potential effects of a changing climate on the Southern Ocean.

The joint American and Swedish expedition, involving the U.S. icebreaking research vessel Nathaniel B. Palmer and the Swedish icebreaker Oden, was cooperatively planned and is being carried out by the National Science Foundation’s Office of Polar Programs and the Swedish Polar Research Secretariat (SPRS). (more…)

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