Tag Archives: pacific ocean

In ancient fish teeth, a tale of ecological resilience

Microscopic fish teeth may carry a message of hope from an ecological upheaval in the distant past, scientists at Yale University and the University of California-San Diego (UCSD) have found.

An analysis of tooth fossils and shark scales from the sea floor indicates that a massive die-off of species 66 million years ago did not, in fact, leave uniformly dead oceans around the world. In the Pacific Ocean, at least, some small fish species actually flourished. (more…)

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How Radioactive is Our Ocean?

Citizen science campaign aims to collect ocean samples and fund radiation analysis

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) marine chemist Ken Buesseler began sampling and analyzing seawater surrounding the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant three months after the 2011 disaster. Today, he launched a crowd sourcing campaign and citizen science website to collect and analyze seawater along the West Coast of North America as the radioactive plume travels 5,000 miles across the Pacific Ocean.

“Whether you agree with predictions that levels of radiation along the Pacific Coast of North America will be too low to be of human health concern or to impact fisheries and marine life, we can all agree that radiation should be monitored, and we are asking for your help to make that happen,” says Ken Buesseler, WHOI senior scientist and director of the Center for Marine and Environmental Radioactivity (CMER). (more…)

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Is There Really a Giant Island of Plastic in the Pacific Ocean?

Make no mistake about it: plastic waste is a huge problem and one that has been posing a very serious threat to our oceans for decades. What’s worse is that there hasn’t been any real strides made into solving the problem; while recycling and better waste disposal are on the up, so is our rate of plastic consumption. Around the world, we still only recycle around 1% of our unwanted plastic – an alarming amount of the remained ends up in landfill, and a depressing 10% of it ends up in the world’s oceans.

It’s a problem which was highlighted in a scientific white paper that surfaced around 1988, in which ecologists predicted a giant patch of plastic garbage probably existed somewhere in the North Pacific. These predictions didn’t create much fanfare until nearly a decade later, when Charles Moore – a racing boat captain and founder of the Algalita Marine Research Foundation – came across a shocking find while taking an unconventional route during a sailing race. Moore describes the scene: (more…)

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Mercury levels in Pacific fish likely to rise in coming decades

ANN ARBOR — University of Michigan researchers and their University of Hawaii colleagues say they’ve solved the longstanding mystery of how mercury gets into open-ocean fish, and their findings suggest that levels of the toxin in Pacific Ocean fish will likely rise in coming decades.

Using isotopic measurement techniques developed at U-M, the researchers determined that up to 80 percent of the toxic form of mercury, called methylmercury, found in the tissues of deep-feeding North Pacific Ocean fish is produced deep in the ocean, most likely by bacteria clinging to sinking bits of organic matter. (more…)

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Newly discovered ocean plume could be major source of iron

Study reveals micronutrient riches rising from the Southern Mid-Atlantic Ridge

Scientists have discovered a vast plume of iron and other micronutrients more than 1,000 km long billowing from hydrothermal vents in the South Atlantic Ocean. The finding, soon to be published in the journal Nature Geoscience, calls past estimates of iron abundances into question, and may challenge researchers’ assumptions about iron sources in the world’s seas.

“This study and other studies like it are going to force the scientific community to reevaluate how much iron is really being contributed by hydrothermal vents and to increase those estimates, and that has implications for not only iron geochemistry but a number of other disciplines as well,” says Mak Saito, a WHOI associate scientist and lead author of the study. (more…)

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2013 Summer Could be Similar to Last Summer, MU Researcher Says

Farmers should prepare for possible drought conditions through July

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Last summer, the Midwest experienced one of the hottest and driest summers on record. While a few rain showers have occurred across the Midwest the past few weeks, it appears that the region is in for another dry summer. A University of Missouri researcher says that an opposing weather pattern could bring more favorable weather conditions to the Midwest, but won’t be here until after this summer. (more…)

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Study Provides New Insights on Drought Predictions in East Africa

Research May Also Help Determine Effects of Global Warming in the Region

With more than 40 million people living under exceptional drought conditions in East Africa, the ability to make accurate predictions of drought has never been more important. In the aftermath of widespread famine and a humanitarian crisis caused by the 2010-2011 drought in the Horn of Africa—possibly the worst drought in 60 years— researchers are striving to determine whether drying trends will continue.

While it is clear that El Niño can affect precipitation in this region of East Africa, very little is known about the drivers of long-term shifts in rainfall. However, new research described in the journal Nature helps explain the mechanisms at work behind historical patterns of aridity in Eastern Africa over many decades, and the findings may help improve future predictions of drought and food security in the region. (more…)

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