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  • richardmitnick 2:29 pm on February 23, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Labor(art)ory at sea", , , , Oceanography, , The Art of Angela Rossen   

    From Schmidt Ocean Institute: “Labor(art)ory at sea” 

    From Schmidt Ocean Institute

    Angela Rossen

    Nearly five weeks ago I left the quiet and solitude of my studio to embark on this voyage of deep ocean discovery on the invitation of the Schmidt Ocean Institute with R/V Falkor. This gift of an adventure to some of the most remote, most unexplored parts of our biosphere was an unexpected and a wonderful surprise. My work is usually with the near-shore marine environment, so it is strange to be on the water, but not in it. I gaze at an array of screens revealing the depths kilometres below, where deep ocean animals are interrupted for a moment in time by our noise and light. It has been a time of learning, of working with others, of long hours, of comradery that grows from being side by side in exciting times.

    Marco and Angela blending art and science in the laboratory.

    Challenges and Opportunities

    My studio in the dry lab places me amongst the technical and engineering team. It has been fascinating to watch the engineers work cooperatively to solve glitches as they come up. Their attitude is that a problem or breakdown is a welcome challenge. They work until the matter is fixed, which can be all day, through night – and beyond if need be. The ROV operations are central to the scientific objectives of this mission, but so too is the collation, cataloguing, storing and sharing of data that is generated by the scientific teams. It has been inspirational listening to these technological geniuses solving complex issues with their patient and methodical collaborative labour. Through their work I have glimpsed the intricacies of coding, and the process of working within this world – and for the first time, I feel that it is less intractable and unfamiliar.

    The ROV team work under the searing Australian sun to maintain the vehicle ready for each new mission.

    It seems that each of us on the ship comes from a different place of the globe, and at each meal the dining room is full of laughter, discussion and the music of many accents and languages. The cooks have created a cuisine of incredible multicultural variety considerate of all food preferences. The Captain’s sure-hand has carried us through wild weather, and his team manages the smooth day-to-day running of the ship with smiles and laughter. It has been an amazing experience, seeing people working together in real friendship.

    Biologist Ana visits Angela in her studio

    Many of my scientific colleagues have been generous with sharing their excitement in discovery and it has been my pleasure to photograph their precious specimens brought up each day. This expedition has brought scientists together from our own West Australian Museum, the faculties of Science and Engineering at the University of Western Australia, as well as the Italian contingent from the Institutes of Marine and Polar Sciences in Bologna. The daily exploration live stream has been narrated by Marco Taviani: an inspired thinker, scientist and master storyteller. Whilst it is not possible to mention everybody by name, many have taken the time to explain to me the aims and objectives of their particular projects.

    This research trip has woven together the mapping the ocean floor, as well as the stories of the foraminifera that settle on the rocky ledges and sandy floors; sampling for stable and radioisotopes in the water column; the crustaceans and worms that live in these deep silent dark places; and animal forests of soft corals with associated invertebrate communities; the large eyed fish; the rock corals whose very lineaments tell the story of water composition and temperature over great timescales; and the rocks, whose story can be read by those who understand their language.

    A collection of tiny sea creatures photographed by Angela Rossen.

    The specimens – carefully labelled and packaged – will lead to scientific understanding gained on this historic trip that will take years to unravel. I will return to my studio with my journal, sketches, paintings, and photographs where my work will also continue. It has been a time of great learning that I will share through displays and workshops with children in schools throughout Western Australia. I look forward to that. It has been an amazing trip.

    ‘Bremer Canyon Ensemble’ one of the artworks created by Angela Rossen on this expedition.

    Angela taking photographs on deck aboard R/V Falkor

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Our Vision
    The world’s oceans understood through technological advancement, intelligent observation, and open sharing of information.

    Schmidt Ocean Institute RV Falkor

    Schmidt Ocean Institute ROV Subastian

    Schmidt Ocean Institute is a 501(c)(3) private non-profit operating foundation established in March 2009 to advance oceanographic research, discovery, and knowledge, and catalyze sharing of information about the oceans.

    Since the Earth’s oceans are a critically endangered and least understood part of the environment, the Institute dedicates its efforts to their comprehensive understanding across intentionally broad scope of research objectives.

    Eric and Wendy Schmidt established Schmidt Ocean Institute in 2009 as a seagoing research facility operator, to support oceanographic research and technology development focusing on accelerating the pace in ocean sciences with operational, technological, and informational innovations. The Institute is devoted to the inspirational vision of our Founders that the advancement of technology and open sharing of information will remain crucial to expanding the understanding of the world’s oceans.

  • richardmitnick 11:27 am on February 15, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: (DIC)-Dissolved Inorganic Carbon, (TA)-Total Alkalinity, , , , , Oceanography, , , The wet lab then becomes a bedlam of buckets containing rocks; corals; sponges; and shell fragments; occasional deep sea litter; and an assortment of marine creatures that I have never seen before., You need to know how to tie knots.   

    From Schmidt Ocean Institute: “Darling it’s better, Down in a Wet(ter) Lab at Sea” 

    From Schmidt Ocean Institute

    Jill Brouwer

    Cruise Log: The Great Australian Deep-Sea Coral and Canyon Adventure

    Trying to understand a constantly moving ocean system is a huge challenge. Accurately measuring the chemistry of the ocean is important for understanding many processes, including nutrient and carbon cycling; ocean circulation and movement of water masses; as well as ocean acidification and climate change. On this expedition, the water chemistry team has the important job of analyzing the seawater in three canyon systems. We are measuring Dissolved Inorganic Carbon (DIC) and Total Alkalinity (TA) on board, while also saving samples for later analysis of stable isotopes, trace elements, and nutrients.

    Jill and Carlin using the CTD rosette to collect water samples from the depths of the Bremer Canyon.

    Knotty and Nice

    There are some quirks of successfully doing chemistry at sea that I definitely did not consider before this voyage. Firstly, you need to know how to tie knots. Making sure all the instruments, reagent bottles, and yourselves are secured is just as important as doing the actual chemistry. The precious sample counts for nothing if it flies across the room because you forgot to put it on a non-slip mat. The movement of the boat transforms normal lab activities into fun mini challenges – opening oven or fridge doors as the ship moves with the weather, pipetting as you hit a large wave, storing sample vials in a giant freezer. It is weird (but comforting) to see our analytical instruments strapped to the bench, and doing most of my work out of a sink – the safest place to keep samples. I particularly enjoy the arts and crafts component that comes with bubble wrapping and storing samples to prevent them from being damaged by sudden movements.

    After the chemistry work is done for the day, ROV SuBastian [below] comes aboard with all kinds of creepy-crawlies from the deep sea. All the biology and geology samples that have been collected from the dive are carried into the wet lab to be sorted, processed, and archived. The lab then becomes a bedlam of buckets containing rocks, corals, sponges, shell fragments, occasional deep sea litter, and an assortment of marine creatures that I have never seen before. Surrounding these specimens is an eclectic mix of scientists who all bring their own unique interests and passions to the group.


    To name a few; Julie, Paolo, and their team are interested in finding calcifying corals for their paleoceanography studies. They study the chemistry of the ocean thousands of years ago, recorded by coral skeletons when they were formed. We also have Andrew from the Western Australian Museum, who is doing his PhD on specialized barnacles that live in sponges, but is interested in pretty much everything. It is not just the big things we are looking for either. Aleksey and Netra are on the lookout for tiny single-cell organisms called Foraminifera that we have found in the water column, sediments, and attached to things like corals and whale bones.

    Netra, Jill, and Angela investigating the latest samples to arrive in the wet lab of R/V Falkor.

    This Stephanocyanthus is a soft cup coral.

    This Caryophylliidae is from a family of stony corals.

    Working in a wet lab at sea has its share of challenges, but considering the important scientific discoveries that are facilitated by us being out here, the cool (and in some cases totally new) marine life we are encountering, as well as the incredible views of sun glint and waves through the lab window, I would not choose to be anywhere else. To all the undergraduate students reading this, I encourage you to seek out as much volunteer/work experience as you can. Getting involved in science firsthand is an invaluable experience: you get to work with incredible people, gain useful skills, and learn so much more about yourself and your areas of interest than you can from the classroom. Perhaps most importantly, you get to share all the exciting things you learn with others!


    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Our Vision
    The world’s oceans understood through technological advancement, intelligent observation, and open sharing of information.

    Schmidt Ocean Institute RV Falkor

    Schmidt Ocean Institute ROV Subastian

    Schmidt Ocean Institute is a 501(c)(3) private non-profit operating foundation established in March 2009 to advance oceanographic research, discovery, and knowledge, and catalyze sharing of information about the oceans.

    Since the Earth’s oceans are a critically endangered and least understood part of the environment, the Institute dedicates its efforts to their comprehensive understanding across intentionally broad scope of research objectives.

    Eric and Wendy Schmidt established Schmidt Ocean Institute in 2009 as a seagoing research facility operator, to support oceanographic research and technology development focusing on accelerating the pace in ocean sciences with operational, technological, and informational innovations. The Institute is devoted to the inspirational vision of our Founders that the advancement of technology and open sharing of information will remain crucial to expanding the understanding of the world’s oceans.

  • richardmitnick 2:35 pm on February 14, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Coral reefs: Centuries of human impact", , , , Oceanography,   

    From Arizona State University via phys.org: “Coral reefs: Centuries of human impact” 

    From Arizona State University



    February 14, 2020

    Credit: CC0 Public Domain

    Coral reefs account for one-third of all biodiversity in the oceans and are vital to humanity. But long-standing human stressors including agricultural run-off and overfishing and more recent ocean warming from climate change have all contributed to large-scale coral reef die-offs.

    “Coral reef ecosystems now appear to be unraveling before our eyes, with intensifying outbreaks of coral disease and bleaching threatening the persistence of reef habitats and the immense biodiversity they support,” said Katie Cramer, an assistant research professor at the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability at Arizona State University and an Ocean Science Fellow at the Center for Oceans at Conservation International.

    Cramer’s work focuses on reconstructing long-term change in coral reef ecosystems by combining paleoecological, historical, and modern survey data to pinpoint the mechanisms of reef declines and inform conservation efforts.

    In her AAAS talk, “Coral Reefs: Centuries of Human Impact,” Cramer outlines the evidence of the long-ago human footprints that set the stage for the recent coral reef die-offs we are witnessing today.

    “I am interested in going back to the scene of the crime when humans first began to impact coral reefs centuries to millennia ago, to understand when, why, and how much reefs have been altered by humans,” said Cramer.

    Her studies have examined the origins of Caribbean coral reef declines by tracking changes over the past 3,000 years in the composition of a variety of fossils found in reef sediment cores she collected from Panama, including coral skeletons, fish teeth, urchin spines, mollusk shells, and others.

    These studies revealed that long-standing local human impacts such as fishing and agriculture have been profoundly altering reefs at least centuries before the disease and bleaching epidemics that are commonly cited as drivers of coral loss.

    In addition, Cramer will also present the first evidence of her study that reconstructed changes in coral communities from reefs across the Caribbean, spanning the pre-human period to the present. This work is revealing that coral communities were being transformed by human activities much earlier than previously thought.

    The hope is that by listening to the echoes of past environmental change on coral reefs, Cramer’s efforts can better inform conservation efforts in a period of intensifying human-caused threats.

    “We need to resolve why and how much coral reefs have changed over human history to inform our responses to the current reef crisis. We need to understand how reefs have responded to past changes to best ensure their persistence into the future,” said Cramer.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    ASU is the largest public university by enrollment in the United States. Founded in 1885 as the Territorial Normal School at Tempe, the school underwent a series of changes in name and curriculum. In 1945 it was placed under control of the Arizona Board of Regents and was renamed Arizona State College. A 1958 statewide ballot measure gave the university its present name.
    ASU is classified as a research university with very high research activity (RU/VH) by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education, one of 78 U.S. public universities with that designation. Since 2005 ASU has been ranked among the Top 50 research universities, public and private, in the U.S. based on research output, innovation, development, research expenditures, number of awarded patents and awarded research grant proposals. The Center for Measuring University Performance currently ranks ASU 31st among top U.S. public research universities.

    ASU awards bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in 16 colleges and schools on five locations: the original Tempe campus, the West campus in northwest Phoenix, the Polytechnic campus in eastern Mesa, the Downtown Phoenix campus and the Colleges at Lake Havasu City. ASU’s “Online campus” offers 41 undergraduate degrees, 37 graduate degrees and 14 graduate or undergraduate certificates, earning ASU a Top 10 rating for Best Online Programs. ASU also offers international academic program partnerships in Mexico, Europe and China. ASU is accredited as a single institution by The Higher Learning Commission.

  • richardmitnick 11:51 am on February 6, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Climate change may be speeding up ocean circulation", , , , Oceanography, , The Great Ocean Conveyor Belt   

    From Science News: “Climate change may be speeding up ocean circulation” 

    From Science News

    Carolyn Gramling

    Since the 1990s, wind speeds have picked up, making surface waters swirl faster.

    Argo floats, such as this one being deployed in the Southern Ocean, measure water temperature, salinity and current speeds. Data from such floats suggest that ocean circulation has sped up. SOCCOM Project/Cara Nissen/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

    Winds are picking up worldwide, and that is making the surface waters of the oceans swirl a bit faster, researchers report. A new analysis of the ocean’s kinetic energy, measured by thousands of floats around the world, suggests that surface ocean circulation has been accelerating since the early 1990s.

    Some of that sped-up circulation may be due to naturally recurring ocean-atmosphere patterns, such as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, researchers report February 5 in Science Advances. But the acceleration is greater than can be attributed to natural variability alone — suggesting that global warming may also be playing a role, says a team led by oceanographer Shijian Hu of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Qingdao.


    The connected system of massive currents that swirl between the world’s oceans, sometimes called the Great Ocean Conveyor Belt, redistributes heat and nutrients around the globe and has a powerful effect on climate. Winds dominate mixing in the surface ocean: Prevailing winds in the tropics, for example, can push water masses aside, allowing deeper, nutrient-rich waters to surge upward.

    In the deeper ocean, differences in water density due to salt and heat content keep the currents flowing (SN: 1/4/17). For example, in the North Atlantic Ocean, surface currents carry heat north from the tropics, helping to keep northwestern Europe warm. As the waters arrive at the Labrador Sea, they cool, sink and then flow southward, keeping the conveyor belt humming along.

    How climate change might affect this Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation, or AMOC, has garnered headlines, as some simulations have predicted that global warming would lead to a slowdown in which could eventually bring a deep chill to Europe. In 2018, paleoceanographer David Thornalley of University College London and colleagues reported evidence that the AMOC has weakened over the last 150 years, although the question remains uncertain (SN: 1/31/19).

    But the new study focuses on “the amount of swirling around of upper ocean waters due to wind,” rather than the speed of that overturning circulation, says Thornalley, who was not involved in the work.

    Global warming has long been predicted to slow global wind speeds, called “global stilling.” That’s because the poles are warming faster than the equatorial region, and a smaller temperature gradient between the two zones might be expected to result in weaker winds (SN: 3/16/18). But recent studies, such as a report published November 2019 in Nature Climate Change, suggest that wind speeds around the world have actually been speeding up, at least since about 2010.

    The new study suggests that winds have actually been picking up over the oceans for several decades, leading to the faster-swirling surface waters especially in the tropics. The study used data collected by over 3,000 Argo floats, which measure temperature, salinity and speeds of currents down to about 2,000 meters, in oceans around the world. Then, the team combined these data with a variety of climate simulations to calculate the change in kinetic energy —energy from the wind motion that gets transferred to the water — in that upper part of the ocean.

    Each of the analyses that the team performed showed the same trend: On average around the world, there was a distinct uptick in kinetic energy beginning around 1990.

    The new analyses of wind speeds come from satellite, shipboard and other data previously collected and analyzed by other scientists. The team considered one possible culprit for those changing winds: the late-1990s onset of a “cold” phase of an El Niño–like ocean-atmosphere pattern called the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, which can bring stronger winds to the tropics. But, the researchers say, the observed acceleration is much larger than would be expected from natural variability alone, suggesting that it is part of a longer-term trend.

    Simulations of increasing greenhouse gas emissions over the last two decades, the team found, produce a similar uptick in winds, suggesting that climate change may be speeding up the winds too.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

  • richardmitnick 8:13 am on January 30, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Oceanography,   

    From Schmidt Ocean Institute: “Canyon Exploration Begins” 

    From Schmidt Ocean Institute

    An oasis of corals and associated animals in the Bremer Canyon. Schmidt Ocean Institute.

    Cruise Log: The Great Australian Deep-Sea Coral and Canyon Adventure.

    Jan. 29 2020

    Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) SuBastian [below] has returned after a journey of more than 3000m below the sea surface, searching through one of the previously unexplored and deepest parts of Bremer Canyon. So what do we hope to find and why has this expedition already generated much public interest?

    Co-chief scientists Julie Trotter and Marco Montagna recovering the first precious samples of the #DeepCoralAdventure.

    The Bremer Canyon is a system of submarine canyons, mostly interlocking, cutting into the edge of the continental shelf off South Western Australia.

    Geoscience Australia

    It is one of the largest systems in this region, and this week we have started to produce the highest resolution bathymetric maps yet available. This time of year brings a heightened, intense interest to the nearer shore surface waters of the Canyon: here, the largest seasonal populations of killer whales in the Southern Hemisphere congregate, as well as other important migratory marine life including sperm whales, the southern right whale, dolphins, sea lions, sharks, giant squid, and seabirds.

    Grzegorz Skrypek and Malcolm McCulloch looking for signs of marine megafauna from starboard side of R/V Falkor. Thom Hoffman

    But no one has yet explored the deep ocean here, so we have to ask: What is happening under the surface? Aims of this research include understanding why this is such a biodiversity hotspot, and how the nutrients that are driven upwards (upwelled) by the deep-sea canyon system influence the animal life gathering here. We also have large-scale, globally significant questions to answer. The canyon waters mostly originate in the Southern Ocean, where deep water masses are drawn to the surface as part of the global overturning circulation system, driven by strong westerly winds and currents encircling Antarctica. The northwards flowing arm of this current supplies most of the world’s upper oceans with nutrients, as well as acting as a disproportionately large sink for anthropogenic CO2 and greenhouse generated heat.

    The southern ocean facing Bremer Canyon is in the direct pathway of this globally important ocean current system. Because of this position, the canyon’s deep-sea corals and sediments have potentially been recording both recent anthropogenic, as well as longer term, changes in this global system. The skeletons of living corals and coral fossils act as historical archives of the conditions within the ocean they have lived. These records can span decades, centuries, and even millennia, providing a means to assess the vulnerability of corals and other calcifiers in extreme conditions. Corals can tell us about important environmental changes, including fluctuations in the temperature of these deeper waters, pH, nutrients, and dissolved calcium carbonate concentrations, that enable these animals to build their skeletons.

    Yesterday evening we launched the CTD, sampling the deepest (4200m) and coldest (~1 degree C) waters of the canyon. The key carbonate chemical properties are being measured in the Falkor wet lab, while other parameters will be measured in laboratories back on land, to trace the origin and (in the case of radiocarbon) depth to which anthropogenic CO2 has penetrated into these waters. We are just getting started, and we are excited that our research will help to better understand the major changes both regionally and worldwide that our oceans are now undergoing, the effects on deep-sea calcifiers and marine ecosystems, as well as their broader impacts on society in general. You can join us live on this voyage by following our livestream on YouTube and Facebook, and we will see what we discover together.

    ROV team and chief scientists watching the live feed from the control room on R/V Falkor. Angela Rossen.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Our Vision
    The world’s oceans understood through technological advancement, intelligent observation, and open sharing of information.

    Schmidt Ocean Institute RV Falkor

    Schmidt Ocean Institute ROV Subastian

    Schmidt Ocean Institute is a 501(c)(3) private non-profit operating foundation established in March 2009 to advance oceanographic research, discovery, and knowledge, and catalyze sharing of information about the oceans.

    Since the Earth’s oceans are a critically endangered and least understood part of the environment, the Institute dedicates its efforts to their comprehensive understanding across intentionally broad scope of research objectives.

    Eric and Wendy Schmidt established Schmidt Ocean Institute in 2009 as a seagoing research facility operator, to support oceanographic research and technology development focusing on accelerating the pace in ocean sciences with operational, technological, and informational innovations. The Institute is devoted to the inspirational vision of our Founders that the advancement of technology and open sharing of information will remain crucial to expanding the understanding of the world’s oceans.

  • richardmitnick 1:00 pm on January 25, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "European fish stocks on the move", , , Oceanography,   

    From University of Aberdeen: “European fish stocks on the move” 

    From University of Aberdeen

    24 January 2020

    Mackerel fish underwater

    Many European fish populations are on the move due to warming oceans and increasing numbers, according to new research from an international team of scientists led by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea and the University of Aberdeen.

    Marine fish are a diverse group of animals that play important roles in marine ecosystems but are also a major food source for marine and terrestrial mammals, most notably humans.

    A new study, just published in the journal Ecography, has shown that fish populations in the Northeast Atlantic are moving northwards, and species which were once limited to southern European waters, like hake, have expanded the area they occupy, whilst species found in northern European waters, such as cod, have contracted.

    These shifts in distribution are partly due to warming seas and partly due to the recovery of some species with reductions in overfishing. In particular, fish stocks from the south, such as anchovies, horse mackerel and sole, have moved into the North Sea, the Baltic and west of Scotland because these waters are now warmer.

    Over the past decade, some fish stocks have expanded the area they occupy with the success of fisheries management under the European Common Fisheries Policy, which has led to the recovery of many fish stocks. In particular, populations of mackerel have more than doubled in the last 15 years, whilst the amount of hake has increased fivefold in the same period.

    The team, which consists of 12 researchers from around Europe and the USA, received funding from the European funded projects ClimeFish and CERES to carry out the study. This was part of a major effort to assess how fish distributions have changed over the last 30 years and saw the team assess over 19 different species from 73 commercial fish ‘stocks’.

    The team also considered the implications of their findings for the management of European fisheries.

    Dr. Alan Baudron, who was at the University of Aberdeen when he led the study, explained: “Currently, the total catch for each fish stock is divided into quotas for various management areas using a fixed allocation key, known as Relative Stability. This allocation key was based on where and what the fleets were catching over 40 years ago, in the 1970s. The changes in distributions have created a potential mismatch between these fixed allocations and the abundances of fish within management areas. In fact, five of the 19 species investigated were found to have shifted distribution across management areas: herring, plaice, hake, sole and horse mackerel.”

    Professor Paul Fernandes, a fisheries scientist at University of Aberdeen’s School of Biological Sciences, and one of the authors of the study said: “Fish distribution changes have implications for fisheries management, with both economic and political repercussions. Notorious examples include the so-called ‘mackerel wars’ where political tensions between the EU, Norway, Iceland and the Faroe Islands, were created by the expansion of mackerel into Icelandic and Faroese waters. Or the more recent increase in hake in the North Sea which resulted in extensive discarding by the UK fleet: fishermen simply do not have sufficient hake quota and cannot avoid catching the massive amounts that are now present.”

    Professor Fernandes added: “As changes in the distribution of commercial fish becomes evident, a revision of how some quotas are allocated may be necessary if fish stocks are to be managed sustainably.”

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Founded in 1495 by William Elphinstone, Bishop of Aberdeen and Chancellor of Scotland, the University of Aberdeen is Scotland’s third oldest and the UK’s fifth oldest university.

    William Elphinstone established King’s College to train doctors, teachers and clergy for the communities of northern Scotland, and lawyers and administrators to serve the Scottish Crown. Much of the King’s College still remains today, as do the traditions which the Bishop began.

    King’s College opened with 36 staff and students, and embraced all the known branches of learning: arts, theology, canon and civil law. In 1497 it was first in the English-speaking world to create a chair of medicine. Elphinstone’s college looked outward to Europe and beyond, taking the great European universities of Paris and Bologna as its model.
    Uniting the Rivals

    In 1593, a second, Post-Reformation University, was founded in the heart of the New Town of Aberdeen by George Keith, fourth Earl Marischal. King’s College and Marischal College were united to form the modern University of Aberdeen in 1860. At first, arts and divinity were taught at King’s and law and medicine at Marischal. A separate science faculty – also at Marischal – was established in 1892. All faculties were opened to women in 1892, and in 1894 the first 20 matriculated female students began their studies. Four women graduated in arts in 1898, and by the following year, women made up a quarter of the faculty.

    Into our Sixth Century

    Throughout the 20th century Aberdeen has consistently increased student recruitment, which now stands at 14,000. In recent years picturesque and historic Old Aberdeen, home of Bishop Elphinstone’s original foundation, has again become the main campus site.

    The University has also invested heavily in medical research, where time and again University staff have demonstrated their skills as world leaders in their field. The Institute of Medical Sciences, completed in 2002, was designed to provide state-of-the-art facilities for medical researchers and their students. This was followed in 2007 by the Health Sciences Building. The Foresterhill campus is now one of Europe’s major biomedical research centres. The Suttie Centre for Teaching and Learning in Healthcare, a £20m healthcare training facility, opened in 2009.

  • richardmitnick 7:04 am on January 23, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Aquaculture, , , Ocean Resources, Ocean Twilight Zone, Oceanography,   

    From Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution: “Report reveals ‘unseen’ human benefits from ocean twilight zone” 

    From Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

    January 22, 2020
    Media Relations Office
    (508) 289-3340


    Did you know that there’s a natural carbon sink—even bigger than the Amazon rainforest—that helps regulate Earth’s climate by sucking up to six billion tons of carbon from the air each year?

    A new report from researchers at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) reveals for the first time the unseen—and somewhat surprising—benefits that people receive from the ocean’s twilight zone. Also known as the “mesopelagic,” this is the ocean layer just beyond the sunlit surface.

    The ocean twilight zone is a mysterious place filled with alien-looking creatures. The nightly, massive migration of animals from the zone to the surface waters to find food helps to cycle carbon through the ocean’s depths, down into the deep ocean and even to the seabed, where it can remain sequestered indefinitely.

    “We knew that the ocean’s twilight zone played an important role in climate, but we are uncertain about how much carbon it is sequestering, or trapping, annually,” says Porter Hoagland, a WHOI marine policy analyst and lead author of the report. “This massive migration of tiny creatures is happening all over the world, helping to remove an enormous amount of carbon from the atmosphere.”

    Exactly how much carbon is difficult to pinpoint because the ocean twilight zone is challenging to get to and is understudied. The WHOI Ocean Twilight Zone project, which launched in April 2018, is focused on changing that with the development of new technologies.

    It’s estimated that two to six billion metric tons of carbon are sequestered through the ocean’s twilight zone annually. By comparison, the world’s largest rain forest sucks in only about 544 million metric tons of carbon a year—five percent of the world’s annual 10 billion metric tons of carbon emissions.

    NYT A transparent hatchetfish, retrieved by researchers from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, which is seeking to understand better the creatures that occupy the sea from 600 to 3,300 feet deep.Credit Paul Caiger/Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

    A variety of myctophids, or lantern fish. The twilight zone contains about 250 different species of myctophids.Credit Paul Caiger/Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

    The photophores of a transparent hatchetfish. Credit Paul Caiger/Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

    Silver hatchetfish. Credit Paul Caiger/Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

    Glass squid Credit Paul Caiger/Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

    Common fangtooth Credit Paul Caiger/Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

    Value Beyond View: The Ocean Twilight Zone

    From NYT
    Daily journeys between the ocean’s layers


    Using a range of prices for carbon, reflecting future damages expected as a consequence of a changing climate, this “regulating” service has an estimated value of $300 to $900 billion annually, Hoagland notes. Without the ocean’s ability to sequester carbon, atmospheric carbon dioxide levels could be as much as 200 parts per million higher than they are today (about 415 ppm), which would result in a temperature increase of about six degrees Celsius or 10.8 degrees Fahrenheit.

    In addition to its role in the carbon cycle, the twilight zone likely harbors more fish biomass than the rest of the ocean combined, and it is home to the most abundant vertebrate species on the planet— the bristlemouth. While twilight zone fish are unlikely to ever end up on peoples’ dinner plates because of their small size and strange appearance, they do provide meals for larger, economically important fish, like tuna and swordfish, and for other top predators, including sharks, whales, seals, penguins, and seabirds.

    The twilight zone’s biological abundance makes it an attractive target for commercial fishing operations. Ocean twilight zone animals could be harvested to produce fish meal to support the rapidly growing aquaculture industry and to provide fish oils for nutraceutical markets. Because the twilight zone is situated largely in unregulated international waters, there is concern that its potential resources could be subject to unsustainable exploitation.

    The research team hopes that the report will be useful for decision makers, such as the United Nations delegates who will meet this spring in New York to continue developing a new international agreement governing the conservation and sustainable management of marine life on the high seas, in areas beyond the coastal waters managed by individual member States.

    “We need to think carefully about what we stand to gain or lose from future actions that could affect the animals of the twilight zone and their valuable ecosystem services,” says Hoagland. “Increasing scientific understanding is essential if we are going to move toward a goal of the sustainable use of the resources.”

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute

    Vision & Mission

    The ocean is a defining feature of our planet and crucial to life on Earth, yet it remains one of the planet’s last unexplored frontiers. For this reason, WHOI scientists and engineers are committed to understanding all facets of the ocean as well as its complex connections with Earth’s atmosphere, land, ice, seafloor, and life—including humanity. This is essential not only to advance knowledge about our planet, but also to ensure society’s long-term welfare and to help guide human stewardship of the environment. WHOI researchers are also dedicated to training future generations of ocean science leaders, to providing unbiased information that informs public policy and decision-making, and to expanding public awareness about the importance of the global ocean and its resources.
    Mission Statement

    The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is dedicated to advancing knowledge of the ocean and its connection with the Earth system through a sustained commitment to excellence in science, engineering, and education, and to the application of this knowledge to problems facing society.

  • richardmitnick 5:48 pm on January 17, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "At the Bottom of the Sea, , , Eight days after being deposited another alligator’s carcass was completely missing., , Oceanography, They Wait to Feast on Alligators"   

    From The New York Times: “At the Bottom of the Sea, They Wait to Feast on Alligators” 

    From The New York Times

    Jan. 17, 2020
    Asher Elbein

    Early last year, a team of researchers dropped three alligator carcasses over a mile deep into the Gulf of Mexico. The goal was to see what would turn up to eat them.

    Stephen Jessop/Alamy

    When dead whales and big logs fall to the bottom of the gulf, “there’s a whole host of species found on them that aren’t found anywhere else in the ocean,” said Craig McClain, a deep-sea biologist in Louisiana.

    The crocodile lineage dates to the Mesozoic Era, when the seas teemed with enormous marine reptiles. When those reptiles died, fossils show that marine scavengers happily devoured them [Biology Letters].

    So Dr. McClain and his team hypothesized that unique ocean creatures might be waiting for crocodyliform meals.

    “We wondered if we did alligator falls, if we’d recover species that haven’t been previously known to science — relics and refugees from a time when marine reptiles dominated the ocean,” he said. “Are we going to be able to uncover an ancient fauna?”

    The research, published last month in PLOS ONE, didn’t just turn up a new species that thrives on alligator bones, but also revealed surprises about the food web deep beneath the Gulf of Mexico, including how carbon from Earth’s surface gets recycled in the oceans.

    Usually, Dr. McClain’s lab studies how deep-sea creatures feed on trees swept into the Mississippi Delta. But they began wondering what happened to alligators.

    “There were three swimming behind my house in the harbor,” Dr. McClain said. “That got my lab thinking about alligators in general as potential food falls.”

    Alligators are found in coastal habitats from Texas to South Carolina, and occasionally venture into saltwater. When they die, some must sink into the deep ocean.

    Because alligators are protected in Louisiana, Dr. McClain’s team worked with state officials to acquire three euthanized alligators. They selected three sites around the undersea Mississippi Canyon, and lowered each carcass from the ship on a basket, or “benthic elevator.”

    The team left the alligators weighted down in the abyssal mud. When they sent a remotely operated vehicle back a day later to check one of the carcasses, they got a shock.

    Dr. McClain and his colleagues had guessed that the alligators’ tough hides would make it difficult — perhaps impossible — for undersea scavengers to devour them. But the carcass was swarming with giant isopods, a football-sized species of scavenging crustacean, which had gotten around the alligator’s armor by chewing through softer spots under the armpit.

    That wasn’t the only surprise. Eight days after being deposited, another alligator’s carcass was completely missing. Dr. McClain’s team initially thought they’d returned to the wrong site, until they found drag marks. The carcass’s 45-pound weight was 30 feet away, the rope severed.

    “It was completely dumbfounding to us,” Dr. McClain said, adding that the alligator must have been carried off by a sixgill or Greenland shark.

    “Those are the only two sharks that reach substantial enough lengths and live deep enough in the Gulf of Mexico,” he said.

    The last alligator was swarming with scavengers as well. Fifty-one days after its placement, it had been picked completely clean. The bones were covered in a species of Osedax “zombie worms.”

    Other Osedax bore into the bones of fallen whales, but these worms are the first of their kind known in the Gulf of Mexico, Dr. McClain said, and represent a species new to science.

    Additional research could prove whether these zombie worms are a Mesozoic-era holdover that specializes in eating reptiles that die in the ocean. For now, the study potentially reveals something about alligators’ role in feeding other marine life.

    The ocean bottom gets no sunlight, preventing the photosynthesis that sustains most ecosystems. So animals living in undersea deserts depend on carbon from decaying organisms from above.

    “What we find really interesting is that alligators can be a food source,” Dr. McClain said, “and a food source that’s quickly accessed and can enter into the deep-sea food web a number of different ways. Isopods. Worms. Sharks.”

    If an alligator falls in the deep ocean, in other words, it does make a sound. A dinner bell.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

  • richardmitnick 12:38 pm on January 13, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Stanford’s high-tech ocean solutions research in 2019", , , Oceanography,   

    From Stanford University: “Stanford’s high-tech ocean solutions research in 2019” 

    Stanford University Name
    From Stanford University

    January 7, 2020

    Taylor Kubota, Stanford News Service
    (650) 724-7707

    Stanford researchers used advanced technologies in 2019 to study and address a wide range of issues affecting our oceans and our relationship with them.

    A robotic buoy outfitted with sensors as part of the Biogeochemical-Argo network floats in polar waters, taking measurements that help scientists answer questions about the composition of phytoplankton communities and the uptake of carbon dioxide by the ocean. (Image credit: P. Bourgain)

    In 2019, technologies like floating robots, waterproof tagging systems and satellites aided Stanford University researchers in their efforts to better understand and solve challenges facing our oceans, including warming waters, flooding and seafood sustainability.

    “For millennia, our ability to protect the health of the oceans has been hampered by the fact that it has been impossible to know very much about what is happening in the water or even on the surface,” said Jim Leape, co-director of the Stanford Center for Ocean Solutions, in a Q&A on food security. “That is now rapidly changing, as new sensors in the water, on satellites, on boats and even on fishing nets provide a new era of transparency in the use of ocean resources.”

    Better understanding of the problems oceans, marine life and coastal communities are facing can lead to smarter action and policies to address these issues. This research also adds to fundamental knowledge about a massive piece of our planet that remains mysterious.

    Probing ocean life

    Ocean life, like algae and fish, form the backbone of many food systems – but there’s still a lot to learn about where those organisms live and the threats they face.

    A fleet of robots that surfed the Southern Ocean between Antarctica and the African continent in 2014 and 2015 led researchers from the School of Earth, Energy and Environmental Sciences (Stanford Earth) to investigate two strange blooms of microscopic ocean algae. Seeing these phytoplankton blooms where nutrients are scarce, Kevin Arrigo, a professor of Earth system science, and Mathieu Ardyna, a postdoctoral scholar, combined satellite and floating buoy data with the robots’ reports and found that deep hydrothermal vents were welling up nutrients, creating oases for algae.

    This finding [Nature Communications] was the first to show how iron rising from openings on the seafloor of the Southern Ocean could fuel these blooms and suggests these vents may affect life near the ocean’s surface and the global carbon cycle more than previously thought.

    Other robotic measurements – along with fishing records, satellite data and biological sampling – helped William Gilly, professor of biology in the School of Humanities and Sciences, and his collaborators identify shifting weather patterns and warmer waters in the Gulf of California that have likely contributed to the collapse of jumbo squid fisheries in the area.

    “You can think of it as a sort of oceanographic drought,” said Timothy Frawley, a former Stanford graduate student who worked with Gilly, in a story about the research. “Until the cool-water conditions we associate with elevated primary and secondary production return, jumbo squid in the Gulf of California are likely to remain small.”

    In an attempt to gain a better understanding of where fishing occurs and where fish are, researchers, including Barbara Block, the Prothro Professor of Marine Sciences at Stanford, combined satellite tracking of fishing fleets with maps of marine predator habitats – determined using a decade-long tracking program called Tagging of Pacific Predators (TOPP) – to identify areas of overlap. Focusing on international waters in the northeast Pacific, the researchers found [Science Advances March 2019] that vessels from Taiwan, China, Japan, the United States and Mexico accounted for over 90 percent of fishing in key habitat areas for seven shark and tuna species. Work like this could aid in developing more effective wildlife management on the high seas.

    A closer look at pressing issues

    In other research, technologies helped examine the ways oceans are changing and how rising seas impact our life on land.

    Hoping to improve predictions of sea-level rise, Dustin Schroeder, an assistant professor of geophysics at Stanford Earth, compared vintage ice-penetrating radar records of Thwaites Glacier – captured between 1971 and 1979 – with modern data. Schroeder and his team found the eastern ice shelf of the Antarctic glacier is melting faster than previously estimated.

    “It was surprising how good the old data is,” Schroeder said, in a story about this research [PNAS]. “They were very careful and thoughtful engineers and it’s much richer, more modern looking than you would think.”

    Meanwhile, in murkier waters, Oliver Fringer, professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford, has begun testing a drone equipped with a special camera, attuned to reveal high-resolution details of sediment flow and settling in the San Francisco Bay.

    “Mud is not glamorous, but mud is where all the contaminants collect and stick,” noted Fringer, in a story by the School of Engineering. Studying these sediments can tell researchers a lot about the health of waterways and hint at how they may respond to climate change.

    A coast away, Stanford researchers studied the effects of high-tide flooding that occurred in Annapolis, Maryland, in 2017. The researchers used parking meters, satellite imagery, interviews and other data to determine how would-be customers were dissuaded from visiting during flood hours at a popular business region near the water known as City Dock. They found the loss to City Dock businesses due to flooding was less than 2 percent of annual visitors but warned it could get worse as sea levels continue to rise.

    “So often we think of climate change and sea-level rise as these huge ideas happening at a global scale, but high-tide flooding is one way to experience these changes in your daily life just trying to get to your restaurant reservation,” said Miyuki Hino, who was a Stanford graduate student when she worked on this research, in an article about the study [Science Advances].

    Coastal hazards were also the focus of work in the Bahamas conducted by Stanford’s Natural Capital Project. These researchers combined information on storm waves and sea-level rise with census data and satellite maps to show the Bahamian government where investing in nature could provide the greatest benefits – and coastal protection – to people.

    Using their open-source software, the researchers were able to map the coastal risk reduction provided by coral reefs, mangroves and seagrass along the entire coast of the country. Their findings are part of a growing body of research showing that natural defenses can represent more climate-resilient alternatives to traditionally built shoreline protection – like seawalls and jetties – which is expensive to build and maintain.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Stanford University campus. No image credit

    Stanford University

    Leland and Jane Stanford founded the University to “promote the public welfare by exercising an influence on behalf of humanity and civilization.” Stanford opened its doors in 1891, and more than a century later, it remains dedicated to finding solutions to the great challenges of the day and to preparing our students for leadership in today’s complex world. Stanford, is an American private research university located in Stanford, California on an 8,180-acre (3,310 ha) campus near Palo Alto. Since 1952, more than 54 Stanford faculty, staff, and alumni have won the Nobel Prize, including 19 current faculty members

    Stanford University Seal

  • richardmitnick 6:13 am on January 12, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Re­mote but re­mark­able: Il­lu­min­at­ing the smal­lest in­hab­it­ants of the largest ocean desert", , , Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Oceanography   

    From Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology: “Re­mote but re­mark­able: Il­lu­min­at­ing the smal­lest in­hab­it­ants of the largest ocean desert” 

    Max Planck Gesellschaft

    From Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology

    Jul 2, 2019
    Molecular Ecology Group
    Dr. Greta Reintjes
    MPI for Marine Microbiology
    Celsiusstr. 1
    D-28359 Bremen, Germany
    Room: 1217
    Phone: +49 421 2028-928

    Department of Biogeochemistry
    Dr. Tim Ferdelman
    MPI for Marine Microbiology
    Celsiusstr. 1
    D-28359 Bremen, Germany
    Room: 3127
    Phone: +49 421 2028-632

    Head of Press & Communications
    Press Office
    Dr. Fanni Aspetsberger
    MPI for Marine Microbiology
    Celsiusstr. 1
    D-28359 Bremen, Germany
    Room: 2100
    Phone: +49 421 2028-947

    Sci­ent­ists make an in­vent­ory of mi­cro­bial life in the world’s most re­mote ocean re­gion, the South Pa­cific Gyre.

    The South Pacific Gyre is an ocean desert. However, due to its vast size the microbial inhabitants of the South Pacific Gyre contribute significantly to global biogeochemical cycles. In an unparalleled investigation, scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology in Bremen, Germany, have now made a comprehensive inventory of the microbial community of the South Pacific Gyre. This insight was achieved through the development of a novel tool that enables the on-board analysis of the ocean’s smallest inhabitants.

    Infinite waters: The South Pacific Gyre is the largest ocean gyre, covering 37 million km2. (© Tim Ferdelman / Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology)

    There are five major ocean-wide gyres—the North Atlantic, South Atlantic, North Pacific, Indian, and South Pacific Ocean Gyre. (© NOAA)

    Looking at our planet from the right side, there is a lot of water and little earth. RV Sonne crossed the SPG from Chile to New Zealand.

    Photo: The RV Sonne can deploy instruments into the deepest parts of the ocean. (ABC News: David Weber)

    The picture also shows chlorophyll concentrations derived from NASA imagery. Dark areas show the gyre middle or “desert”. (© modified from Google Earth / NASA)

    Bernhard Fuchs busy sampling during the expedition. (© Tim Ferdelman / Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology)

    The middle of the South Pa­cific is as far away from land as you can pos­sibly get. Solar ir­ra­di­ance is dan­ger­ously high, reach­ing a UV-in­dex that is la­belled ‘ex­treme’. There are no dust particles or in­flows from the land and as a res­ult these wa­ters have ex­tremely low nu­tri­ent con­cen­tra­tions, and thus are termed ‘ul­trao­l­i­go­troph­ic’. Chloro­phyll-con­tain­ing phyto­plank­ton (minute al­gae) are found only at depths greater than a hun­dred meters, mak­ing sur­face South Pa­cific wa­ters the clearest in the world. Due to its re­mote­ness and enorm­ous size – the South Pa­cific Gyre cov­ers 37 mil­lion km2 (for com­par­ison, the US cover less than 10 mil­lion km2) –, it is also one of the least stud­ied re­gions on our planet.

    Des­pite its re­mote­ness, both satel­lite and in situ meas­ure­ments in­dic­ate that the mi­croor­gan­isms liv­ing in the wa­ters of the South Pa­cific Gyre (SPG) con­trib­ute sig­ni­fic­antly to global biogeo­chem­ical cycles. Thus, the sci­ent­ists from Bre­men were in­ter­ested in dis­cov­er­ing which mi­crobes are liv­ing and act­ive in this ocean desert. Dur­ing a six-week re­search cruise on the Ger­man re­search ves­sel FS Sonne, or­gan­ized and led by the Max Planck In­sti­tute for Mar­ine Mi­cro­bi­o­logy, Greta Re­intjes, Bernhard Fuchs and Tim Fer­del­man col­lec­ted hun­dreds of samples along a 7000 kilo­metre track through the South Pa­cific Gyre from Chile to New Zea­l­and. The sci­ent­ists sampled the mi­cro­bial com­munity at 15 Sta­tions in wa­ter depths from 20 to more than 5000 metres, that is, from the sur­face all the way down to the sea­floor.

    Low cell numbers and unexpected distributions

    “To our sur­prise, we found about a third less cells in South Pa­cific sur­face wa­ters com­pared to ocean gyres in the At­lantic”, Bernhard Fuchs re­ports. “It was prob­ably the low­est cell num­bers ever meas­ured in oceanic sur­face wa­ters.” The spe­cies of mi­crobes were mostly fa­mil­iar: ”We found sim­ilar mi­cro­bial groups in the SPG as in other nu­tri­ent-poor ocean re­gions, such as Prochlorococcus, SAR11, SAR86 and SAR116”, Fuchs con­tin­ues. But there was also a sur­prise guest amongst the dom­in­ant groups in the well-lit sur­face wa­ters: AE­GEAN-169, an or­gan­ism that was pre­vi­ously only re­por­ted in deeper wa­ters.

    Re­intjes and her col­leagues dis­covered a pro­nounced ver­tical dis­tri­bu­tion pat­tern of mi­croor­gan­isms in the SPG. “The com­munity com­pos­i­tion changed strongly with depth, which was dir­ectly linked to the avail­ab­il­ity of light”, Re­intjes re­ports. Sur­pris­ingly, the dom­in­ant pho­to­syn­thetic or­gan­ism, Prochlorococcus, was present in rather low num­bers in the up­per­most wa­ters and more fre­quent at 100 to 150 meters wa­ter depth. The new player in the game however, AE­GEAN-169, was par­tic­u­larly nu­mer­ous in the sur­face wa­ters of the cent­ral gyre. “This in­dic­ates an in­ter­est­ing po­ten­tial ad­apt­a­tion to ul­trao­l­i­go­trophic wa­ters and high solar ir­ra­di­ance”, Re­intjes points out. “It is def­in­itely something we will in­vest­ig­ate fur­ther.” AE­GEAN-169 has so far only been re­por­ted in wa­ter depths around 500 metres. “It is likely that there are mul­tiple eco­lo­gical spe­cies within this group and we will carry out fur­ther meta­ge­n­omic stud­ies to ex­am­ine their im­port­ance in the most oli­go­trophic wa­ters of the SPG.”

    Methodological milestone

    The cur­rent re­search was only pos­sible thanks to a newly de­veloped method that en­abled the sci­ent­ists to ana­lyse samples right after col­lec­tion. “We de­veloped a novel on-board ana­lysis pipeline”, Re­intjes ex­plains, “which de­liv­ers in­form­a­tion on bac­terial iden­tity only 35 hours after sampling.” Usu­ally, these ana­lyses take many months, col­lect­ing the samples, bring­ing them home to the lab and ana­lys­ing them there. This pipeline com­bines next-gen­er­a­tion se­quen­cing with fluor­es­cence in situ hy­brid­isa­tion and auto­mated cell enu­mer­a­tion. “The out­come of our method de­vel­op­ments is a read­ily ap­plic­able sys­tem for an ef­fi­cient, cost-ef­fect­ive, field-based, com­pre­hens­ive mi­cro­bial com­munity ana­lysis”, Re­intjes points out. “It al­lows mi­cro­bial eco­lo­gists to per­form more tar­geted sampling, thereby fur­ther­ing our un­der­stand­ing of the di­versity and meta­bolic cap­ab­il­it­ies of key mi­croor­gan­isms.”

    Science paper:
    “On site analysis of bacterial communities of the ultra-oligotrophic South Pacific Gyre”
    Ap­plied and En­vir­on­mental Mi­cro­bi­o­logy

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    The Max Planck In­sti­tute for Mar­ine Mi­cro­bi­o­logy (MPIMM) was foun­ded in 1992 in the State of Bre­men and is part of the cam­pus of the Uni­versity of Bre­men. It be­longs to the Bio­logy & Med­ical Sec­tion of the Max Planck So­ci­ety. The main fo­cus of our re­search is on the di­versity and func­tions of mar­ine mi­croor­gan­isms and their in­ter­ac­tions with the mar­ine en­vir­on­ment. Start­ing from the be­gin­ning on re­search­ers at the MPIMM took part in in­ter­na­tional ex­ped­i­tions world­wide. They are in­ter­na­tion­ally re­cog­nized for their ex­pert­ise in mar­ine mi­cro­bi­o­logy and for the ana­lysis of pro­cesses. These strong suc­cess­ful ef­forts are re­war­ded by many pub­lic­a­tions in top sci­entific journ­als.

    Why marine Microbiology?

    Dur­ing two thirds of earth’s his­tory, mi­croor­gan­isms dom­in­ated our planet and de­veloped com­plex bi­ota in the oceans and in­land wa­ters. In the course of nearly four bil­lion years of evol­u­tion­ary his­tory, proka­ryotic or­gan­isms, i.e. bac­teria und ar­chaea, have de­veloped a great meta­bolic di­versity.
    To this day, mi­croor­gan­isms are primar­ily re­spons­ible for cata­lys­ing di­verse de­com­pos­i­tion pro­cesses of or­ganic und in­or­ganic sub­stances. They play a key role in con­trolling global ele­ment cycles and thereby help to keep our planet in­hab­it­able. They also en­sure that al­most all waste products are de­com­posed and re­cycled in the oceans, so that toxic com­pounds do not ac­cu­mu­late and en­danger fauna or flora.

    Al­though mar­ine mi­cro­bi­o­logy is not a new field of re­search, we still have very in­com­plete know­ledge about mar­ine mi­croor­gan­isms and their func­tional im­port­ance. Only about one per­cent of all spe­cies of mi­croor­gan­isms are known today, and new spe­cies with new cap­ab­il­it­ies con­tinue to be dis­covered. Ex­amples of such dis­cov­er­ies in­clude the sym­bi­osis between ar­chaea and bac­teria that de­com­pose the green­house gas meth­ane deep down in the ocean floor with the help of sulph­ate. This key pro­cess in the global car­bon cycle has long been known, but the mi­croor­gan­isms in­volved were only re­cently iden­ti­fied. An­other ex­ample is the an­aer­obic am­monium ox­id­a­tion (anam­mox) with ni­trite or ni­trate – a newly dis­covered pro­cess that may con­sti­tute the most im­port­ant ni­tro­gen sink in the oceanic ni­tro­gen cycle. The anam­mox mi­croor­gan­isms re­spons­ible for this pro­cess were first dis­covered in an in­dus­trial waste treat­ment plant in the early 1990s. The suc­cess­ful search for bac­teria with sim­ilar meta­bolic po­ten­tial in the ocean has ba­sic­ally changed our un­der­stand­ing of the mar­ine ni­tro­gen bal­ance.

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