Tagged: Oceanography Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • richardmitnick 9:11 am on May 1, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Antarctic Ice Sheet melting to lift sea level higher than thought, , , , , Oceanography,   

    From Harvard Gazette : “Antarctic Ice Sheet melting to lift sea level higher than thought, study says” 

    From Harvard Gazette


    Harvard University

    An iceberg in the Scotia Sea in 2007. Photo by Michael Weber.

    New calculations show the rise due to warming would be 30% above forecasts.

    Global sea-level rise associated with the possible collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet has been significantly underestimated in previous studies, meaning the sea level in a warming world will be greater than anticipated, according to a new study from Harvard researchers.

    The report, published in Science Advances, features new calculations for what researchers refer to as a water-expulsion mechanism. This occurs when the solid bedrock the West Antarctic Ice Sheet sits on rebounds upward as the ice melts and the total weight of the ice sheet decreases. The bedrock sits below sea level, so when it lifts it pushes water from the surrounding area into the ocean, adding to global sea-level rise.

    The new predictions show that in the case of a total collapse of the ice sheet, global sea-level rise estimates would be amplified by an additional meter, about 3 feet, within the next 1,000 years.

    “The magnitude of the effect shocked us,” said Linda Pan, a Ph.D. student in Earth and planetary science in the Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences who co-led the study with fellow graduate student Evelyn Powell. “Previous studies that had considered the mechanism dismissed it as inconsequential.”

    “If the West Antarctic Ice Sheet collapsed, the most widely cited estimate of the resulting global mean sea-level rise that would result is 3.2 meters,” said Powell. “What we’ve shown is that the water-expulsion mechanism will add an additional meter, or 30 percent, to the total.”

    This is not a story about impact that will be felt in hundreds of years. One of the simulations Pan and Powell performed indicated that by the end of this century, global sea-level rise caused by melting of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet would increase 20 percent by the water expulsion mechanism.

    “Every published projection of sea-level rise due to melting of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet that has been based on climate modeling, whether the projection extends to the end of this century or longer into the future, is going to have to be revised upward because of their work,” said Jerry X. Mitrovica, the Frank B. Baird Jr. Professor of Science in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences and a senior author on the paper “Every single one.”

    Pan and Powell, both researchers in Mitrovica’s lab, started this research while working on another sea-level change project but switched to this one when they noticed more water expulsion from the West Antarctic Ice Sheet than they were expecting.

    The researchers wanted to investigate how the expulsion mechanism affected sea-level change when the low viscosity, or the easy-flowing material of the Earth’s mantle beneath West Antarctica, is considered. When they incorporated this into their calculations they realized water expulsion occurred much faster than previous models had predicted.

    “No matter what scenario we used for the collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, we always found that this extra one meter of global sea-level rise took place,” Pan said.

    The researchers hope their calculations show that, in order to accurately estimate global sea-level rise associated with melting ice sheets, scientists need to incorporate both the water-expulsion effect and the mantle’s low viscosity beneath Antarctica.

    “Sea-level rise doesn’t stop when the ice stops melting,” Pan said. “The damage we are doing to our coastlines will continue for centuries.”

    This study was partially supported by the Star-Friedman Challenge for Scientific Research, the National Science Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, NASA, the American Chemical Society Petroleum Research Fund, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, the Canada Research Chair, and Fonds de Recherche du Québec–Nature et technologies.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Harvard University campus

    Harvard University is the oldest institution of higher education in the United States, established in 1636 by vote of the Great and General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. It was named after the College’s first benefactor, the young minister John Harvard of Charlestown, who upon his death in 1638 left his library and half his estate to the institution. A statue of John Harvard stands today in front of University Hall in Harvard Yard, and is perhaps the University’s best known landmark.

    Harvard University has 12 degree-granting Schools in addition to the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. The University has grown from nine students with a single master to an enrollment of more than 20,000 degree candidates including undergraduate, graduate, and professional students. There are more than 360,000 living alumni in the U.S. and over 190 other countries.

    The Massachusetts colonial legislature, the General Court, authorized Harvard’s founding. In its early years, Harvard College primarily trained Congregational and Unitarian clergy, although it has never been formally affiliated with any denomination. Its curriculum and student body were gradually secularized during the 18th century, and by the 19th century, Harvard had emerged as the central cultural establishment among the Boston elite. Following the American Civil War, President Charles William Eliot’s long tenure (1869–1909) transformed the college and affiliated professional schools into a modern research university; Harvard became a founding member of the Association of American Universities in 1900. James B. Conant led the university through the Great Depression and World War II; he liberalized admissions after the war.

    The university is composed of ten academic faculties plus the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. Arts and Sciences offers study in a wide range of academic disciplines for undergraduates and for graduates, while the other faculties offer only graduate degrees, mostly professional. Harvard has three main campuses: the 209-acre (85 ha) Cambridge campus centered on Harvard Yard; an adjoining campus immediately across the Charles River in the Allston neighborhood of Boston; and the medical campus in Boston’s Longwood Medical Area. Harvard’s endowment is valued at $41.9 billion, making it the largest of any academic institution. Endowment income helps enable the undergraduate college to admit students regardless of financial need and provide generous financial aid with no loans The Harvard Library is the world’s largest academic library system, comprising 79 individual libraries holding about 20.4 million items.

    Harvard has more alumni, faculty, and researchers who have won Nobel Prizes (161) and Fields Medals (18) than any other university in the world and more alumni who have been members of the U.S. Congress, MacArthur Fellows, Rhodes Scholars (375), and Marshall Scholars (255) than any other university in the United States. Its alumni also include eight U.S. presidents and 188 living billionaires, the most of any university. Fourteen Turing Award laureates have been Harvard affiliates. Students and alumni have also won 10 Academy Awards, 48 Pulitzer Prizes, and 108 Olympic medals (46 gold), and they have founded many notable companies.


    Harvard was established in 1636 by vote of the Great and General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. In 1638, it acquired British North America’s first known printing press. In 1639, it was named Harvard College after deceased clergyman John Harvard, an alumnus of the University of Cambridge(UK) who had left the school £779 and his library of some 400 volumes. The charter creating the Harvard Corporation was granted in 1650.

    A 1643 publication gave the school’s purpose as “to advance learning and perpetuate it to posterity, dreading to leave an illiterate ministry to the churches when our present ministers shall lie in the dust.” It trained many Puritan ministers in its early years and offered a classic curriculum based on the English university model—many leaders in the colony had attended the University of Cambridge—but conformed to the tenets of Puritanism. Harvard has never affiliated with any particular denomination, though many of its earliest graduates went on to become clergymen in Congregational and Unitarian churches.

    Increase Mather served as president from 1681 to 1701. In 1708, John Leverett became the first president who was not also a clergyman, marking a turning of the college away from Puritanism and toward intellectual independence.

    19th century

    In the 19th century, Enlightenment ideas of reason and free will were widespread among Congregational ministers, putting those ministers and their congregations in tension with more traditionalist, Calvinist parties. When Hollis Professor of Divinity David Tappan died in 1803 and President Joseph Willard died a year later, a struggle broke out over their replacements. Henry Ware was elected to the Hollis chair in 1805, and the liberal Samuel Webber was appointed to the presidency two years later, signaling the shift from the dominance of traditional ideas at Harvard to the dominance of liberal, Arminian ideas.

    Charles William Eliot, president 1869–1909, eliminated the favored position of Christianity from the curriculum while opening it to student self-direction. Though Eliot was the crucial figure in the secularization of American higher education, he was motivated not by a desire to secularize education but by Transcendentalist Unitarian convictions influenced by William Ellery Channing and Ralph Waldo Emerson.

    20th century

    In the 20th century, Harvard’s reputation grew as a burgeoning endowment and prominent professors expanded the university’s scope. Rapid enrollment growth continued as new graduate schools were begun and the undergraduate college expanded. Radcliffe College, established in 1879 as the female counterpart of Harvard College, became one of the most prominent schools for women in the United States. Harvard became a founding member of the Association of American Universities in 1900.

    The student body in the early decades of the century was predominantly “old-stock, high-status Protestants, especially Episcopalians, Congregationalists, and Presbyterians.” A 1923 proposal by President A. Lawrence Lowell that Jews be limited to 15% of undergraduates was rejected, but Lowell did ban blacks from freshman dormitories.

    President James B. Conant reinvigorated creative scholarship to guarantee Harvard’s preeminence among research institutions. He saw higher education as a vehicle of opportunity for the talented rather than an entitlement for the wealthy, so Conant devised programs to identify, recruit, and support talented youth. In 1943, he asked the faculty to make a definitive statement about what general education ought to be, at the secondary as well as at the college level. The resulting Report, published in 1945, was one of the most influential manifestos in 20th century American education.

    Between 1945 and 1960, admissions were opened up to bring in a more diverse group of students. No longer drawing mostly from select New England prep schools, the undergraduate college became accessible to striving middle class students from public schools; many more Jews and Catholics were admitted, but few blacks, Hispanics, or Asians. Throughout the rest of the 20th century, Harvard became more diverse.

    Harvard’s graduate schools began admitting women in small numbers in the late 19th century. During World War II, students at Radcliffe College (which since 1879 had been paying Harvard professors to repeat their lectures for women) began attending Harvard classes alongside men. Women were first admitted to the medical school in 1945. Since 1971, Harvard has controlled essentially all aspects of undergraduate admission, instruction, and housing for Radcliffe women. In 1999, Radcliffe was formally merged into Harvard.

    21st century

    Drew Gilpin Faust, previously the dean of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, became Harvard’s first woman president on July 1, 2007. She was succeeded by Lawrence Bacow on July 1, 2018.

  • richardmitnick 8:43 am on May 1, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "The 'Heat Bombs' Destroying Arctic Sea Ice", , , , Oceanography,   

    From Scripps Institution of Oceanography : “The ‘Heat Bombs’ Destroying Arctic Sea Ice” 

    From Scripps Institution of Oceanography


    UC San Diego

    Apr 23, 2021

    Robert Monroe

    San Nguyen.

    Unprecedented observations could revise forecasts of melt in polar ocean.

    A team led by physical oceanographers at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego shows in a new study how plumes of warm water are flowing into the Arctic Ocean from the Pacific Ocean and accelerating sea ice melt from below.

    The research primarily funded by the Office of Naval Research describes so-called underwater “heat bombs” as one of many mechanisms by which global warming-driven encroachment is changing the nature of the Arctic Ocean faster than nearly any other place on Earth. It adds to a growing body of evidence that suggests that Arctic sea ice, a source of global climate stability, could disappear for larger portions of the year.

    “The rate of accelerating sea ice melt in the Arctic has been hard to predict accurately, in part because of all of the complex local feedbacks between ice, ocean and atmosphere; this work showcases the large role in warming that ocean water plays as part of those feedbacks,” said Jennifer MacKinnon, a physical oceanographer at Scripps, chief scientist of the expedition, and lead author of the paper.

    The study appears today in the journal Nature Communications.

    The ‘heat bombs’ destroying Arctic sea ice.

    The Arctic is an unusual ocean in that it is stratified – or layered – by salinity instead of temperature. Most oceans of the world have warmer, lighter water near the surface and colder, denser water below. In the Arctic, however, there is a surface layer that is cold but very fresh, influenced by river outflow and accelerating ice melt. Warm, relatively salty water enters from the Pacific Ocean through the Bering Strait and then the Barrow Canyon off Alaska’s northern coast, which acts as a nozzle as the water flows through the narrow passage.

    Because this water is saltier than the Arctic surface water, it is dense enough to “subduct,” or dive beneath, the fresh Arctic surface layer. Its movement creates pockets of very warm water that lurk below surface waters. Scientists have been seeing these pockets of warm sub-surface water strengthen over the last decade.

    SODA researchers gather on deck of R/V Sikuliaq. Photo: Jim Thomson.

    These pockets known as “heat bombs” are just stable enough to be able to last for months or years, swirling far north beneath the main ice pack near the north pole, and destabilizing that ice as the heat in them gradually but steadily diffuses upwards to melt the ice. Until now, though, the process by which the warm water subducts has neither been observed nor understood. Without that understanding, climate scientists have been unable to include this important effect in forecast models, some of which under-predict accelerating sea ice melt rates. Given that the influx of warm Pacific origin water has been growing over the past decade or so, this work adds to a growing body of evidence that Arctic sea ice, a source of global climate stability, could disappear for large portions of the year.

    Researchers deploy a Fast CTD developed at Scripps Oceanography during the 2018 SODA cruise in the Arctic Ocean. Photo: San Nguyen.

    In a 2018 expedition funded by the Office of Naval Research (US), scientists for the first time caught one of these dramatic subduction events in the act. The group used a combination of novel oceanographic instruments developed by the Multiscale Ocean Dynamics group at Scripps, satellite observations analyzed by colleagues at the University of Miami (US), profiling float data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (US), biological samples collected by British and German colleagues working in a project known as Changing Arctic Ocean, and detailed data analysis by colleagues at several other institutions.

    “The group’s success highlights the new perspectives we can see on the natural world when we look at it in new ways,” said Scripps oceanographer Matthew Alford.

    “This detailed view of the complicated processes governing Arctic heat transport would not have been possible without multiple simultaneous instrument suites, including remote sensing and custom shipboard and autonomous profilers developed at Scripps,” he said.

    A SWIFT drifter developed by University of Washington (US) researcher Jim Thomson is deployed during the 2018 SODA cruise to the Arctic Ocean. Photo: San Nguyen.

    Instruments from the Scripps Multiscale Ocean Dynamics group include a custom-built “Fast CTD” sensor that makes very rapid profiles from the ship, and an autonomous “Wirewalker” that uses power from ocean waves to drive profiling measurements. These instruments allow scientists to obtain high-resolution images of complex ocean processes, and to thus better understand how they work in detail.

    This work also highlights the importance of collaboration across multiple institutions, between several US funding agencies, and with international partners; the depth of insight achieved here arises from the diversity of tools and perspectives that those collaborations bring.

    Collaborative work with scientists in the United Kingdom and Germany shows that this warm sub-surface water also carries unique biogeochemical properties into the Arctic. This mix of organisms and chemicals is expected to have important implications for the changing Arctic ecosystem.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    A department of UC San Diego, Scripps Institution of Oceanography (US) is one of the oldest, largest, and most important centers for ocean, earth and atmospheric science research, education, and public service in the world.

    Research at Scripps encompasses physical, chemical, biological, geological, and geophysical studies of the oceans, Earth, and planets. Scripps undergraduate and graduate programs provide transformative educational and research opportunities in ocean, earth, and atmospheric sciences, as well as degrees in climate science and policy and marine biodiversity and conservation.

    The University of California, San Diego, is a public research university located in the La Jolla area of San Diego, California, in the United States. The university occupies 2,141 acres (866 ha) near the coast of the Pacific Ocean with the main campus resting on approximately 1,152 acres (466 ha). Established in 1960 near the pre-existing Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego is the seventh oldest of the 10 University of California campuses and offers over 200 undergraduate and graduate degree programs, enrolling about 22,700 undergraduate and 6,300 graduate students. UC San Diego is one of America’s Public Ivy universities, which recognizes top public research universities in the United States. UC San Diego was ranked 8th among public universities and 37th among all universities in the United States, and rated the 18th Top World University by U.S. News & World Report ‘s 2015 rankings.

  • richardmitnick 8:30 am on April 26, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "The Speed of Ocean Currents Is Changing in a Major Way Scientists Warn", , , , Oceanography,   

    From Australian National University (AU) via Science Alert (AU) : “The Speed of Ocean Currents Is Changing in a Major Way Scientists Warn” 

    ANU Australian National University Bloc

    From Australian National University (AU)



    Science Alert (AU)

    (National Aeronautics Space Agency (US)/Goddard Space Flight Center (US) Scientific Visualization Studio)

    26 APRIL 2021

    Scientists already know the oceans are rapidly warming and sea levels are rising. But that’s not all. Now, thanks to satellite observations, we have three decades’ worth of data on how the speeds of ocean surface currents are also changing over time.

    In research published on 23 April in the journal Nature Climate Change we detail our findings on how ocean currents have become more energetic over large parts of the ocean.

    What are ocean eddies?

    If you looked down at the ocean from a bird’s eye view, you would see some mesmerizing circular motions in the water. These features are called “ocean eddies”. They give the ocean an artistic flavor, reminiscent of Van Gogh’s Starry Night.

    Van Gogh’s Starry Night. (1889)

    Eddies span somewhere between 10 and 100 kilometers (6 and 60 miles) across. They’re found all over the oceans. Certain regions, however, are particularly rich in eddies.

    These include the Gulf Stream in the North Atlantic, the Kuroshio Current in the North Pacific, the Southern Ocean which surrounds Antarctica and, closer to Australia, the East Australian Current — made famous by the film Finding Nemo.

    Ocean eddies are an integral part of ocean circulation. They move warm and cold waters from one location to others. They mix heat, carbon, salt and nutrients, and affect ocean conditions both regionally and globally.

    Gulf Stream Sea Surface Currents and Temperatures. SciTechDaily.

    Satellites constantly watch the ocean

    One way we monitor movement on the ocean’s surface is by using specialized, powerful satellites orbiting Earth. Although these satellites are thousands of kilometers above us, they can detect even just a few centimeters of change in the sea’s surface elevation.

    Then, through data analysis, we can take the change in sea surface elevation and translate it into ocean flow speeds. This can then tell us how “energetic” an ocean eddy is.

    By carefully analyzing satellite observations, our team discovered clear changes in the distribution and strength of ocean eddies. And these changes have never been detected before.

    How eddies have been changing

    Using available data from 1993 until 2020, we analyzed changes in the strength of eddies across the globe. We found regions already rich in eddies are getting even richer! And on average, eddies are becoming up to 5 percent more energetic each decade.

    One of the regions we found with the biggest change is the Southern Ocean, where a massive 5 percent increase per decade was detected in eddy activity. The Southern Ocean is known to be a hotspot for ocean heat uptake and carbon storage.

    Until recently, scientists could only observe changes in ocean eddies by using either sparse ocean measurements or the limited satellite record. The satellite record has only just become long enough for experts to draw robust conclusions about the likely longer-term trends of eddy behavior.

    Changing ocean mesoscale currents. Credit: josuena’at

    Why is this important?

    Ocean eddies play a profound role in the climate by regulating the mixing and transport of heat, carbon, biota and nutrients in the oceans. Thus, our research may have far-reaching implications for future climate.

    Scientists have known for decades that eddies in the Southern Ocean affect the overturning circulation of the ocean. As such, changes of the magnitude observed for eddies could impact the rate at which the ocean draws down heat and carbon.

    But eddies are often not taken into account in climate predictions of a warming world. Since they are relatively small, they remain practically “invisible” in current models used to project future climate.

    The impact of eddies is therefore either not resolved in climate projections, or is severely underestimated. This is particularly concerning in light of our discovery eddies are becoming more energetic.

    Our research emphasizes how crucial it is to incorporate ocean eddies into future climate projections. If we don’t, we could be overlooking a critical detail.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    ANU Campus

    Australian National University (AU) is a world-leading university in Australia’s capital city, Canberra. Our location points to our unique history, ties to the Australian Government and special standing as a resource for the Australian people.

    Our focus on research as an asset, and an approach to education, ensures our graduates are in demand the world-over for their abilities to understand, and apply vision and creativity to addressing complex contemporary challenges.

    Australian National University (AU) is regarded as one of the world’s leading research universities, and is ranked as the number one university in Australia and the Southern Hemisphere by the 2021 QS World University Rankings. It is ranked 31st in the world by the 2021 QS World University Rankings, and 59th in the world (third in Australia) by the 2021 Times Higher Education.

    In the 2020 Times Higher Education Global Employability University Ranking, an annual ranking of university graduates’ employability, Australian National University (AU) was ranked 15th in the world (first in Australia). According to the 2020 QS World University by Subject, the university was also ranked among the top 10 in the world for Anthropology, Earth and Marine Sciences, Geography, Geology, Philosophy, Politics, and Sociology.

    Established in 1946, ANU is the only university to have been created by the Parliament of Australia. It traces its origins to Canberra University College, which was established in 1929 and was integrated into Australian National University (AU) in 1960. Australian National University (AU) enrolls 10,052 undergraduate and 10,840 postgraduate students and employs 3,753 staff. The university’s endowment stood at A$1.8 billion as of 2018.

    Australian National University (AU) counts six Nobel laureates and 49 Rhodes scholars among its faculty and alumni. The university has educated two prime ministers, 30 current Australian ambassadors and more than a dozen current heads of government departments of Australia. The latest releases of ANU’s scholarly publications are held through ANU Press online.

  • richardmitnick 8:37 pm on April 24, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Red Sea is no longer a Baby Ocean", , , From King Abdulla University of Science and Technology جامعة الملك عبد الله للعلوم] [والتقنيةه‎ (SA), , GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel [Helmholtz-Zentrum für Ozeanforschung Kiel] (DE), Oceanography, University of Iceland [Háskóli Íslands] (IS)   

    From GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel [Helmholtz-Zentrum für Ozeanforschung Kiel] (DE) and From King Abdulla University of Science and Technology جامعة الملك عبد الله للعلوم] [والتقنيةه‎ and From University of Iceland [Háskóli Íslands] (IS) :”Red Sea is no longer a Baby Ocean” 

    From GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel [Helmholtz-Zentrum für Ozeanforschung Kiel] (DE)


    From King Abdulla University of Science and Technology جامعة الملك عبد الله للعلوم] [والتقنيةه‎ (SA)



    From University of Iceland [Háskóli Íslands] (IS)


    Bathymetric part of the Red Sea. Source: GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel [GEOMAR Helmholtz-Zentrum für Ozeanforschung Kiel](DE)

    Hidden structures reveal 13 million years of seafloor spreading.

    The Red Sea not only is one of the most important marine traffic routes of modern world trade. It is also a fascinating and still puzzling area of investigation for geoscientists. Controversial questions include its age and whether it represents a special case in ocean basin formation or if it has evolved similarly to other, larger ocean basins. Researchers from Germany, Saudi Arabia and Iceland have now published a new tectonic model of the Red Sea in the international journal Nature Communications. It suggests that it is not only a typical ocean, but also one that is more mature than thought before.

    It is 2,250 kilometers long, but only 355 kilometers wide at its widest point – on a world map, the Red Sea hardly resembles an ocean. But this is deceptive. A new, albeit still narrow, ocean basin is actually forming between Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. Exactly how young it is and whether it can really be compared with other young oceans in Earth’s history has been a matter of dispute in the geosciences for decades. The problem is that the newly formed oceanic crust along the narrow, north-south aligned rift is widely buried under a thick blanket of salt and sediments. This complicates direct investigations.

    In the international journal Nature Communications, scientists from GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, King Abdullah University for Science and Technology جامعة الملك عبد الله للعلوم و التقنية (SA) and the University of Iceland [Háskóli Íslands] (IS) have now published a study that makes a good case for the Red Sea being quite mature and having an almost classical oceanic evolution. “Using a combination of different methods, we can show for the first time that the structures in the Red Sea are typical for a young but already fully developed ocean basin.” says Dr. Nico Augustin from GEOMAR, lead author of the study.

    In addition to information from high-resolution seafloor maps and chemical investigations of rock samples, the team primarily used gravity and earthquake data to develop a new tectonic model of the Red Sea basin. Gravity anomalies have already helped to detect hidden seafloor structures such as rift axes, transform faults and deep-sea mountains in other regions, for example in the Gulf of Mexico, the Labrador Sea or the Andaman Sea.

    The authors of the current study compared gravity patterns of the Red Sea axis with comparable mid-ocean ridges and found more similarities than differences. For example, they identified positive gravity anomalies running perpendicular to the rift axis, which are caused by variations in crustal thickness running along the axis. “These so-called ‘off-axis segmentation trails’ are very typical features of oceanic crust originating from magmatically more active, thicker and thus, heavier areas along the axis. However, this observation is new for the Red Sea,” says Dr. Nico Augustin.

    Bathymetric maps as well as earthquake data also support the idea of an almost continuous rift valley throughout the Red Sea basin. This is also confirmed by geochemical analyses of rock samples from the few areas that are not overlain by salt masses. “All the samples we have from the Red Sea rift have geochemical fingerprints of normal oceanic crust,” says Dr. Froukje van der Zwan, co-author of the study.

    With this new analysis of gravity and earthquake data, the team constrains the onset of ocean expansion in the Red Sea to about 13 million years ago. “That’s more than twice the generally accepted age,” Dr. Augustin says. That means the Red Sea is no longer a baby ocean, but a young adult with a structure similar to the young southern Atlantic some 120 million years ago.

    The model now presented is, of course, still being debated in the scientific community, says the lead author, “but it is the most straightforward interpretation of what we observe in the Red Sea. Many details in salt- and sediment-covered areas that were previously difficult to explain suddenly make sense with our model.” While it has thus been able to answer some questions about the Red Sea, the model also raises many new ones that inspire further research in the Red Sea from a whole new scientific perspective.

    See the full article here.


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition


    The University of Iceland [Háskóli Íslands] is a public research university in Reykjavík, Iceland and the country’s oldest and largest institution of higher education. Founded in 1911, it has grown steadily from a small civil servants’ school to a modern comprehensive university, providing instruction for about 14,000 students in twenty-five faculties. Teaching and research is conducted in social sciences, humanities, law, medicine, natural sciences, engineering and teacher education. It has a campus concentrated around Suðurgata street in central Reykjavík, with additional facilities located in nearby areas as well as in the countryside.

    King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) (جامعة الملك عبد الله للعلوم و التقنية ) is a private research university located in Thuwal, Saudi Arabia. Founded in 2009, the university provides research and graduate training programs in English as the official language of instruction.

    KAUST is the first mixed-gender university campus in Saudi Arabia. In 2013, the university was among the 500 fastest growing research and citation records in the world. In the 2016 Nature Index Rising Stars, the university ranked 19th in the world of the fastest rising universities for high quality research output. In 2019 KAUST is ranked 8th fastest rising young universities (aged 50 and under) for their research output since 2015, as measured by fractional count (FC).

    In 2006, Ali Al-Naimi chaired a Saudi Aramco team to undertake the building and planning of the academics. Nadhmi Al-Nasr was chosen to lead the project. They employed the Washington Advisory Group’s Frank H. T. Rhodes and Frank Press to design the academic structure, SRI International to develop the four research institutes, and the architectural firm of HOK for the campus master plan, which included wind towers and solar panels. The location of the campus at Thuwal included 16.4 sq km on land and 19.6 sq km of marine sanctuary offshore. Ground breaking took place in Oct. 2007, and 178 scholarships were awarded in Jan. 2008.

    KAUST officially opened on September 23, 2009 at an inauguration ceremony, where King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud gave a speech where he stated that places like the University that “embrace all people are the first line of defence against extremists”. The University initially received a $10 billion endowment. Upon opening, the University admitted 400 students from over 60 countries and 70 faculty. The campus is home to Shaheen, Asia’s fastest supercomputer.

    Shaheen II Cray XC-40 supercomputer at KAUST

    The GEOMAR – Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel (GEOMAR) (DE) , is a research institute in Kiel, Germany. It was formed in 2004 by merging the Institute for Marine Science (Institut für Meereskunde Kiel, (IFM)) with the Research Center for Marine Geosciences (GEOMAR) and is co-funded by both federal and provincial governments. It was a member of the Leibniz Association till 2012 and is coordinator of the FishBase Consortium. Since 2012 it is member of the Helmholtz Association and named GEOMAR – Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel. The institute operates worldwide in all ocean basins, specialising in climate dynamics; marine ecology and biogeochemistry; and ocean floor dynamics and circulation. GEOMAR offers degree courses in affiliation with the Christian-Albrecht University of Kiel [Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel](DE), and operates the Kiel Aquarium and the Lithothek, a repository for split sediment core samples.

    Research divisions

    GEOMAR is structured into four research divisions:

    Ocean circulation and climate dynamics: This division, led by Katja Matthes and Mojib Latif, investigates climate from different time perspectives, with computer simulations and ocean current models that include meteorological, geological and oceanographic considerations. Current ocean measurements are made from research vessels at sea, and include the use of remote sensing.

    Marine biogeochemistry: Work in this division looks at the way the components of the marine biogeochemical processes interact with each other. These components include the material in the atmosphere, the sediment and oceanic reservoirs, and the biological organisms including humans. Particular attention is paid to the atmosphere/ocean interface and the sediment/ocean interface, as well as to elements and compounds which can cycle and cause radiative forcing. Research ranges from the atmosphere over the ocean, through the ocean surface layer into the water column, and then down to the marine sediments and the oceanic crust. Field work is also undertakes, as well as laboratory and mesocosm studies. The division also develops biological, chemical and isotope diagnostic tools for measuring proxy variables.

    Marine ecology: This division, led by Ulrich Sommer, aims to “understand the sensitivity of marine ecosystems to anthropogenic and natural changes, with a mid-term focus on climate change and overexploitation of marine bio-resources.” It is important to understand how much stress a given ecosystem can absorb before structural shifts occur. When a shift does occur, it is necessary to understand how this will impact the ecosystem populations and the degree to which the shift can be reversed. Structural shifts can result in invasions by harmful organisms, species collapse and a radical reconfiguring of the biogeochemical cycles. Traditional approaches group species broadly into size classes and trophic levels measured by productivity or biomass. But to understand how ecosystems react to natural and anthropogenic stressors, specific differences in the way individual species react must also be understood, particularly where keystone species are involved. Research within this division range from genes to ecosystems, including the “ecophysiology of key species and its genetic basis, dynamics and genetics of individual populations and of communities, interactions within and among species, structure and response of entire food webs.”

    Dynamics of the ocean floor: Research is focused on “processes that shape the oceanic lithosphere, and the impact of these processes on the environment, e.g. climate and natural hazards. These research themes are pursued in the three main geotectonic settings: divergent and convergent margins and in intraplate regions. These three settings represent critical stages in the life-cycle of the ocean floor. The ocean basins are created by the rifting apart of continents. Oceanic lithosphere then forms at mid-ocean ridges. It is subsequently modified by low and high temperature interactions with the overlying oceans, the addition of intraplate magmas, the deposition of marine sediments, and tectonic processes occurring at or near transform and convergent plate margins. When it subducts at convergent margins, the dehydration of the plate induces arc volcanism that creates and modifies the continental crust and transfers climate-relevant volatiles into the atmosphere. Such continental margins are sites of sediment accumulation, fluid exchange, important resources and major geo-hazards.”

  • richardmitnick 3:13 pm on April 22, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "WHOI and ADI Launch Ocean and Climate Innovation Accelerator", , , , Oceanography,   

    From Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution: “WHOI and ADI Launch Ocean and Climate Innovation Accelerator” 

    From Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

    April 20, 2021

    Today, WHOI and Analog Devices, Inc. (ADI) launched an Ocean and Climate Innovation Accelerator (OCIA) consortium, focused on the critical role of oceans in combatting climate change, and developing new solutions at the intersection of oceans and climate.

    First-of-its-kind consortium focused on the critical role of oceans in combatting climate change.

    Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and Analog Devices, Inc. (Nasdaq: ADI) today launched the Ocean and Climate Innovation Accelerator (OCIA) consortium. ADI has committed $3 million over three years towards the consortium which will focus on advancing knowledge of the ocean’s critical role in combatting climate change as well as developing new solutions at the intersection of oceans and climate.

    “Carbon emissions feature as a centerpiece in global efforts to mitigate climate change. Oceans are among our most important defense mechanisms against a warming planet – yet their ability to continue to play this critically important role is being threatened by the effects of climate change,” said Vincent Roche, CEO of Analog Devices. “Through the Ocean and Climate Innovation Accelerator, we are committed to engaging ADI’s engineers and technologies to advance knowledge of the oceans, in order to gain a better understanding of how oceans are impacted by climate change and to develop solutions to restore ocean health. By doing so, we hope to drive meaningful impact on the global fight against climate change.”

    The OCIA consortium is designed to be a highly scalable collaboration leveraging the unique resources and capabilities of its partner organizations. Among its goals, the consortium will focus on the development of the “networked ocean” – placing sensors across oceanographic environments that will continuously monitor critical metrics related to ocean conditions with the aim of informing business and policy decision makers, enabling evidence-based stewardship of ocean health and driving more accurate climate and weather predictions with real-time data.

    “On behalf of WHOI’s entire community of ocean scientists and engineers, we are incredibly excited about this collaboration,” said Dr. Peter de Menocal, president, and director of WHOI. “The formation of the OCIA consortium comes at a time when support for science and ocean research is at a critical juncture. We are building a research innovation ecosystem that will drive new understanding to tackle global challenges facing society. It provides a new, scalable model showing how corporations can engage deeply on the climate crisis.”

    The consortium will be jointly led by WHOI, a world leader in oceanographic research, technology, and education dedicated to understanding the ocean for the benefit of humanity, and ADI, a world leader in the design, manufacturing, and marketing of a broad portfolio of high-performance semiconductor solutions used in virtually all types of electronic equipment. Designed to act as an engine for continuous innovation and powered by some of the world’s leading minds and businesses, the OCIA consortium is open to participation by a wide range of leading organizations across business, academia and non-profits that recognize the inextricable links between ocean and climate and wish to have a positive impact on the global climate crisis.

    The OCIA consortium will also establish a robust, multi-stage innovation ecosystem, building on WHOI’s existing strengths in education and research to drive solutions-thinking and allow scientists and engineers to focus on high-impact problems. This will include the launch of a new Climate Challenge Grant Program which will award seed-funding for smaller, competitively selected projects.

    Initially, the OCIA will provide two types of awards:

    Incubation Awards: comprised of seed-funding awarded to dynamic individuals and teams. Incubation Awards will support design, exploration, and early execution of new, cutting-edge scientific initiatives that foster new avenues of research and engineering and encourage and incentivize collaborative engagement.
    Acceleration Awards: awarded to successful recipients of prior support for novel ideas and technologies, as well as other more mature projects, for the purpose of expanding these programs, increasing public engagement, and positioning and preparing projects to achieve lasting impact and receive durable outside support.

    As the consortium grows over time, OCIA programs may expand to invest in people through the establishment of fellowships and other awards, along with a portfolio of other activities such as support for collaboration hubs to drive innovations in data processing, machine learning, and transdisciplinary science and engineering.

    “Now more than ever, it is essential for people to understand that the ocean and climate are not two separate systems, but rather part of a single system that spans our entire ocean planet and affects the lives of people everywhere, even if they live far from the coast,” said de Menocal. “Recognizing this, it is critical for organizations like ADI and WHOI to find common cause and work in shared-mission partnerships to help mitigate the rapidly advancing threats brought on by a warming planet.”

    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.

    The Institution is organized into six departments, the Cooperative Institute for Climate and Ocean Research, and a marine policy center. Its shore-based facilities are located in the village of Woods Hole, Massachusetts(US) and a mile and a half away on the Quissett Campus. The bulk of the Institution’s funding comes from grants and contracts from the National Science Foundation(US) and other government agencies, augmented by foundations and private donations.

    WHOI scientists, engineers, and students collaborate to develop theories, test ideas, build seagoing instruments, and collect data in diverse marine environments. Ships operated by WHOI carry research scientists throughout the world’s oceans. The WHOI fleet includes two large research vessels (R/V Atlantis and R/V Neil Armstrong); the coastal craft Tioga; small research craft such as the dive-operation work boat Echo; the deep-diving human-occupied submersible Alvin; the tethered, remotely operated vehicle Jason/Medea; and autonomous underwater vehicles such as the REMUS and SeaBED.

    WHOI offers graduate and post-doctoral studies in marine science. There are several fellowship and training programs, and graduate degrees are awarded through a joint program with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology(US). WHOI is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. WHOI also offers public outreach programs and informal education through its Exhibit Center and summer tours. The Institution has a volunteer program and a membership program, WHOI Associate.

    On October 1, 2020, Peter B. de Menocal became the institution’s eleventh president and director.


    In 1927, a National Academy of Sciences(US) committee concluded that it was time to “consider the share of the United States of America in a worldwide program of oceanographic research.” The committee’s recommendation for establishing a permanent independent research laboratory on the East Coast to “prosecute oceanography in all its branches” led to the founding in 1930 of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution(US).

    A $2.5 million grant from the Rockefeller Foundation supported the summer work of a dozen scientists, construction of a laboratory building and commissioning of a research vessel, the 142-foot (43 m) ketch R/V Atlantis, whose profile still forms the Institution’s logo.

    WHOI grew substantially to support significant defense-related research during World War II, and later began a steady growth in staff, research fleet, and scientific stature. From 1950 to 1956, the director was Dr. Edward “Iceberg” Smith, an Arctic explorer, oceanographer and retired Coast Guard rear admiral.

    In 1977 the institution appointed the influential oceanographer John Steele as director, and he served until his retirement in 1989.

    On 1 September 1985, a joint French-American expedition led by Jean-Louis Michel of IFREMER and Robert Ballard of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution identified the location of the wreck of the RMS Titanic which sank off the coast of Newfoundland 15 April 1912.

    On 3 April 2011, within a week of resuming of the search operation for Air France Flight 447, a team led by WHOI, operating full ocean depth autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) owned by the Waitt Institute discovered, by means of sidescan sonar, a large portion of debris field from flight AF447.

    In March 2017 the institution effected an open-access policy to make its research publicly accessible online.

    The Institution has maintained a long and controversial business collaboration with the treasure hunter company Odyssey Marine. Likewise, WHOI has participated in the location of the San José galleon in Colombia for the commercial exploitation of the shipwreck by the Government of President Santos and a private company.

    In 2019, iDefense reported that China’s hackers had launched cyberattacks on dozens of academic institutions in an attempt to gain information on technology being developed for the United States Navy. Some of the targets included the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. The attacks have been underway since at least April 2017.

  • richardmitnick 12:25 pm on April 22, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Monitoring the Oceans’ Color for Clues to Climate Change", , , MOBY project, , Oceanography   

    From National Institute of Standards and Technology (US) : “Monitoring the Oceans’ Color for Clues to Climate Change” 

    From National Institute of Standards and Technology (US)

    April 22, 2021
    B. Carol Johnson


    Ocean chlorophyll concentrations, MODIS-Aqua full mission July 2002 to January 2021.
    Credit: Ocean Biology Processing Group, National Aeronautics Space Agency (US)/Goddard Space Flight Center(US)

    “It is February 1994 and I am on the research vessel R/V Moana Wave off the coast of Lanai, Hawaii, with the team of the Marine Optical BuoY (MOBY) project. The water is incredibly blue, and I can’t help but be awestruck by the enormous energy, momentum, power and depth of the ocean as I watch the currents and the wind create what appear to be rising and falling pyramids of solid substance, no longer a liquid but a mighty living thing. It is against this backdrop that we work to deploy devices designed to determine the optical properties of the Pacific Ocean. As the instrument at hand, bright yellow and wing-shaped, is lowered over the port side into the water, its yellow wings appear green. This change, and indeed the blue color of the water itself, was indicative of what was in the water, which in the case of the open Pacific, was “not much.” “Much” meaning small particles in the water that scatter or absorb sunlight, changing the overall reflectance of the sunlit layer, and thereby the observed color.

    Phytoplankton. Credit:National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (US) MESA Project.

    One class of these small particles is phytoplankton, a form of algae. They contain chlorophyll and practice photosynthesis as does any other plant, using solar radiation to convert carbon dioxide dissolved in the water into plant sugars, releasing oxygen and respiring a portion of the carbon dioxide. A portion of the carbon dioxide is eventually converted to sediment thanks to the grazing activities of marine life (and death), such as zooplankton, young fish or crustaceans and those that feed upon them.

    are the basis of marine life, produce about half of the oxygen in the Earth’s atmosphere, and currently absorb much of the carbon dioxide we humans produce. Ocean temperature, currents, acidification, surface winds and nutrients can affect phytoplankton populations, life cycles and the amount of carbon dioxide they remove from the atmosphere, and so measuring them is critical to understanding climate change. A reasonable question to ask is “Will the oceans continue to remove significant amounts of human-produced carbon dioxide in the future?

    We need to continually observe the color of the world’s oceans to address these questions, and ocean color satellites have been in continuous operation since the launch of NASA’s SeaWiFS mission in 1997. The idea is simple: Just as you can tell a desert from a forest by the color, so it goes with the oceans. But, while the idea is simple, detecting the color of the oceans through Earth’s atmosphere is not. The main problem is the atmosphere also scatters sunlight, and both sources of scattered light, from the ocean and the atmosphere, are detected by the satellite sensor. Because the portion from the atmosphere dominates, it is not possible, with the current status of preflight calibration and atmospheric modeling, to use ocean color satellites to derive the light scattered out of the oceans with the accuracy we need to determine the chlorophyll concentration and other quantities of interest.

    Divers inspecting MOBY. The buoy extends 12 meters (39.4 feet) underwater and has sensors at depths of 1 m (3.3 ft), 5 m (16.4 ft) and 9 m (29.5 ft). Credit: Moss Landing Marine Laboratories (US)(MLML).

    The solution lies in a procedure called system vicarious calibration (SVC), which was pioneered by Dennis Clark at NOAA and colleagues from ships during the Coastal Zone Color Scanner satellite mission (1978 to 1986). Based on this experience, Dennis implemented the MOBY project with support from NOAA and NASA’s SeaWiFS and MODIS projects; MOBY has produced data from July 1997 to the present. MOBY is an optical system that measures light at different colors (wavelengths). This type of system is called a spectrograph. It is mounted on a tethered wave-rider buoy and measures the light incident on the surface and at three depths, and the backscattered light at four depths. MOBY is located about 20 kilometers from Lanai where the water is representative of the world’s oceans. Data are acquired daily as ocean color satellites fly over the location. The MOBY instrument, in collaboration with NIST, is extremely well characterized and extensively calibrated, and the results are traceable to the International System of Units (SI), the modern metric system. By providing accurate values for the oceanic portion of the light measured by the satellite sensor, MOBY provides a calibrated source for any ocean color sensor that observes this region of the ocean.

    I was on the Wave in 1994 because Dennis had come to NIST a couple of years earlier for help with establishing traceability to the SI, which means ensuring the MOBY results are rigorously connected to the SI measurement system so that researchers around the world have the best possible ocean color reference. He had designed a robust measurement plan, with cross-checks and validation at every turn. Over the years, NIST has supplied radiometric sensors for the MOBY team to track its calibration sources in between the NIST calibrations, and we have deployed additional NIST radiometers and sources on occasion to validate the radiometric scales at the MOBY facility in Honolulu.

    NIST has also played a role in characterizing the MOBY optical system. A good example is a problem Dennis presented early on: Independent, simultaneous measurements at the same wavelength and depth did not agree. Now, this is a problem, but really it is a good thing to find issues. In metrology, in order to assure ourselves we are getting the best (and hopefully correct) answer, it is good practice to measure the same thing with different approaches, in this case the backscattered light at the same wavelength with two different spectrographs. It took a while to figure out, but thanks to some laser characterizations and subsequent discussions, we identified stray light as the issue and developed and implemented an algorithm to correct the problem.

    As you may have gathered, MOBY has been around for quite some time. It is an example of how collaborations really work, leading to a world-class product. We’re currently on our 67th buoy (a buoy has a deployment cycle of three to six months). We rotate two systems, calibrating and refurbishing one while the other is in the water. NOAA fully supports the MOBY project for its visible infrared imaging radiometer suite (VIIRS) calibration. Presently, under the leadership of Kenneth Voss (University of Miami; Dennis retired in 2005 and died in 2014) and execution of Moss Landing Marine Laboratories, and with NOAA support, we are implementing a new system design. The new optical system collects data from all depths simultaneously in order to reduce environmental sources of measurement uncertainty. A new carbon-fiber buoy structure, and new control, communication, and data analysis systems complete the system, which we call “Refresh.”

    The MOBY team, with NASA funding, is developing a portable version termed MarONet. This system is identical to Refresh and enables deployment at a new location with recalibrations in Honolulu at the MOBY facility. The first MarONet will be deployed off Rottnest Island, Australia, in 2022. NIST’s role in MarONet is to supply a stable source and spectroradiometer system to validate any changes with shipment. In 2022, NASA will decide whether to continue the MarONet project as the primary SCV site for the upcoming Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud and ocean Ecosystem

    (PACE) mission.

    I would like to close with a few words about the MOBY team and how this work has been a core part of my career at NIST. Yes, I have been involved with other satellite sensors, performing on-site validation activities at the manufacturer facilities with my NIST colleagues for the NASA Earth Observing System program, NOAA geostationary satellites, ESA’s Sentinel-2 , the Orbiting Carbon Observatory and others.

    I have had the opportunity to participate in validation of ground-based measurements of the Moon’s irradiance. But the field of ocean color has led to long-standing relationships with exceptional scientists, and I am so grateful for this experience.

    See the full article here.


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    NIST Campus, Gaitherberg, MD, USA

    National Institute of Standards and Technology (US)‘s Mission, Vision, Core Competencies, and Core Values


    To promote U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness by advancing measurement science, standards, and technology in ways that enhance economic security and improve our quality of life.

    NIST’s vision

    NIST will be the world’s leader in creating critical measurement solutions and promoting equitable standards. Our efforts stimulate innovation, foster industrial competitiveness, and improve the quality of life.

    NIST’s core competencies

    Measurement science
    Rigorous traceability
    Development and use of standards

    NIST’s core values

    NIST is an organization with strong values, reflected both in our history and our current work. NIST leadership and staff will uphold these values to ensure a high performing environment that is safe and respectful of all.

    Perseverance: We take the long view, planning the future with scientific knowledge and imagination to ensure continued impact and relevance for our stakeholders.
    Integrity: We are ethical, honest, independent, and provide an objective perspective.
    Inclusivity: We work collaboratively to harness the diversity of people and ideas, both inside and outside of NIST, to attain the best solutions to multidisciplinary challenges.
    Excellence: We apply rigor and critical thinking to achieve world-class results and continuous improvement in everything we do.


    The Articles of Confederation, ratified by the colonies in 1781, contained the clause, “The United States in Congress assembled shall also have the sole and exclusive right and power of regulating the alloy and value of coin struck by their own authority, or by that of the respective states—fixing the standards of weights and measures throughout the United States”. Article 1, section 8, of the Constitution of the United States (1789), transferred this power to Congress; “The Congress shall have power…To coin money, regulate the value thereof, and of foreign coin, and fix the standard of weights and measures”.

    In January 1790, President George Washington, in his first annual message to Congress stated that, “Uniformity in the currency, weights, and measures of the United States is an object of great importance, and will, I am persuaded, be duly attended to”, and ordered Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson to prepare a plan for Establishing Uniformity in the Coinage, Weights, and Measures of the United States, afterwards referred to as the Jefferson report. On October 25, 1791, Washington appealed a third time to Congress, “A uniformity of the weights and measures of the country is among the important objects submitted to you by the Constitution and if it can be derived from a standard at once invariable and universal, must be no less honorable to the public council than conducive to the public convenience”, but it was not until 1838, that a uniform set of standards was worked out. In 1821, John Quincy Adams had declared “Weights and measures may be ranked among the necessities of life to every individual of human society”.

    From 1830 until 1901, the role of overseeing weights and measures was carried out by the Office of Standard Weights and Measures, which was part of the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey in the Department of the Treasury.

    Bureau of Standards

    In 1901 in response to a bill proposed by Congressman James H. Southard (R- Ohio) the National Bureau of Standards was founded with the mandate to provide standard weights and measures and to serve as the national physical laboratory for the United States. (Southard had previously sponsored a bill for metric conversion of the United States.)

    President Theodore Roosevelt appointed Samuel W. Stratton as the first director. The budget for the first year of operation was $40,000. The Bureau took custody of the copies of the kilogram and meter bars that were the standards for US measures, and set up a program to provide metrology services for United States scientific and commercial users. A laboratory site was constructed in Washington DC (US) and instruments were acquired from the national physical laboratories of Europe. In addition to weights and measures the Bureau developed instruments for electrical units and for measurement of light. In 1905 a meeting was called that would be the first National Conference on Weights and Measures.

    Initially conceived as purely a metrology agency the Bureau of Standards was directed by Herbert Hoover to set up divisions to develop commercial standards for materials and products. Some of these standards were for products intended for government use; but product standards also affected private-sector consumption. Quality standards were developed for products including some types of clothing; automobile brake systems and headlamps; antifreeze; and electrical safety. During World War I, the Bureau worked on multiple problems related to war production even operating its own facility to produce optical glass when European supplies were cut off. Between the wars Harry Diamond of the Bureau developed a blind approach radio aircraft landing system. During World War II military research and development was carried out including development of radio propagation forecast methods; the proximity fuze and the standardized airframe used originally for Project Pigeon; and shortly afterwards the autonomously radar-guided Bat anti-ship guided bomb and the Kingfisher family of torpedo-carrying missiles.

    In 1948, financed by the United States Air Force the Bureau began design and construction of SEAC: the Standards Eastern Automatic Computer. The computer went into operation in May 1950 using a combination of vacuum tubes and solid-state diode logic. About the same time the Standards Western Automatic Computer, was built at the Los Angeles office of the NBS by Harry Huskey and used for research there. A mobile version- DYSEAC- was built for the Signal Corps in 1954.

    Due to a changing mission, the “National Bureau of Standards” became the “National Institute of Standards and Technology (US)” in 1988.

    Following September 11, 2001, NIST conducted the official investigation into the collapse of the World Trade Center buildings.


    NIST is headquartered in Gaithersburg, Maryland, and operates a facility in Boulder, Colorado, which was dedicated by President Eisenhower in 1954. NIST’s activities are organized into laboratory programs and extramural programs. Effective October 1, 2010, NIST was realigned by reducing the number of NIST laboratory units from ten to six. NIST Laboratories include:

    Communications Technology Laboratory (CTL)
    Engineering Laboratory (EL)
    Information Technology Laboratory (ITL)
    Center for Neutron Research (NCNR)
    Material Measurement Laboratory (MML)
    Physical Measurement Laboratory (PML)

    Extramural programs include:

    Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), a nationwide network of centers to assist small and mid-sized manufacturers to create and retain jobs, improve efficiencies, and minimize waste through process improvements and to increase market penetration with innovation and growth strategies;
    Technology Innovation Program (TIP), a grant program where NIST and industry partners cost share the early-stage development of innovative but high-risk technologies;
    Baldrige Performance Excellence Program, which administers the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, the nation’s highest award for performance and business excellence.

    NIST’s Boulder laboratories are best known for NIST‑F1 which houses an atomic clock. NIST‑F1 serves as the source of the nation’s official time. From its measurement of the natural resonance frequency of cesium—which defines the second—NIST broadcasts time signals via longwave radio station WWVB near Fort Collins in Colorado, and shortwave radio stations WWV and WWVH, located near Fort Collins and Kekaha in Hawai’i, respectively.

    NIST also operates a neutron science user facility: the NIST Center for Neutron Research (NCNR). The NCNR provides scientists access to a variety of neutron scattering instruments which they use in many research fields (materials science; fuel cells; biotechnology etc.).

    The SURF III Synchrotron Ultraviolet Radiation Facility is a source of synchrotron radiation in continuous operation since 1961. SURF III now serves as the US national standard for source-based radiometry throughout the generalized optical spectrum. All NASA-borne extreme-ultraviolet observation instruments have been calibrated at SURF since the 1970s, and SURF is used for measurement and characterization of systems for extreme ultraviolet lithography.

    The Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology (CNST) performs research in nanotechnology, both through internal research efforts and by running a user-accessible cleanroom nanomanufacturing facility. This “NanoFab” is equipped with tools for lithographic patterning and imaging (e.g., electron microscopes and atomic force microscopes).


    NIST has seven standing committees:

    Technical Guidelines Development Committee (TGDC)
    Advisory Committee on Earthquake Hazards Reduction (ACEHR)
    National Construction Safety Team Advisory Committee (NCST Advisory Committee)
    Information Security and Privacy Advisory Board (ISPAB)
    Visiting Committee on Advanced Technology (VCAT)
    Board of Overseers for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award (MBNQA Board of Overseers)
    Manufacturing Extension Partnership National Advisory Board (MEPNAB)

    Measurements and standards

    As part of its mission, NIST supplies industry, academia, government, and other users with over 1,300 Standard Reference Materials (SRMs). These artifacts are certified as having specific characteristics or component content, used as calibration standards for measuring equipment and procedures, quality control benchmarks for industrial processes, and experimental control samples.

    Handbook 44

    NIST publishes the Handbook 44 each year after the annual meeting of the National Conference on Weights and Measures (NCWM). Each edition is developed through cooperation of the Committee on Specifications and Tolerances of the NCWM and the Weights and Measures Division (WMD) of the NIST. The purpose of the book is a partial fulfillment of the statutory responsibility for “cooperation with the states in securing uniformity of weights and measures laws and methods of inspection”.

    NIST has been publishing various forms of what is now the Handbook 44 since 1918 and began publication under the current name in 1949. The 2010 edition conforms to the concept of the primary use of the SI (metric) measurements recommended by the Omnibus Foreign Trade and Competitiveness Act of 1988.

  • richardmitnick 2:48 pm on April 20, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "URI oceanographers reveal links between migrating Gulf Stream and warming ocean waters", , , Oceanography,   

    From University of Rhode Island : “URI oceanographers reveal links between migrating Gulf Stream and warming ocean waters” 

    From University of Rhode Island

    April 20, 2021
    Dawn Bergantino

    An animated map and time series (same color convention) of the 2008 temperature anomaly on the Northwest Atlantic Shelf, highlighting the rapid warming in the most recent decade. Credit: Afonso Gonçalves Neto.

    Northwest Atlantic Shelf is one of the fastest-changing regions in the global ocean, and is currently experiencing marine heat waves, altered fisheries and a surge in sea level rise along the North American east coast. A new paper, published in Communications Earth & Environment by recent URI Graduate School of Oceanography graduate Afonso Gonçalves Neto reveals the causes, potential predictability and historical context for these types of rapid changes.

    “We used satellite data to show that when the Gulf Stream migrates closer to the underwater plateau known as the Grand Banks of Newfoundland, as it did after 2008, it blocks the southwestward transport of the Labrador Current that would otherwise provide cold, fresh, oxygen-rich water to the North American shelf,” said lead author Gonçalves Neto. This mechanism explains why the most recent decade has been the hottest on record at the edge of the Northeast United States and Canada, as the delivery system of cold water to the region got choked off by the presence of the Gulf Stream.

    The URI research team noted the importance of finding that the satellite-observed signature of the Gulf Stream’s position relative to the Grand Banks precedes subsurface shelf warming by over a year. “By monitoring satellite observations for changes near the Grand Banks, we can predict changes coming to the Northeast U.S. shelf with potentially enough lead time to inform fishery management decision-making,” said GSO graduate student and co-author Joe Langan.

    The Grand Banks of Newfoundland is hardly a stranger to attention. It was near this feature that an iceberg sank the R.M.S. Titanic, one impetus for creation of the International Ice Patrol. The Ice Patrol has been collecting oceanographic data in this region for over a century, allowing the URI team to put recent satellite observations in a much longer-term context. Though the 2008 shift at the edge of the Grand Banks created warmer and saltier conditions than ever recorded since 1930, there was a similar shift in the 1970s relative to the decades preceding it. Thus, the circulation change directly observed by satellites might have had a precedent about 50 years ago.

    Jaime Palter, GSO associate professor of oceanography and co-author of the study, marveled at the long record, and what remains unknown. “We still don’t know what caused the abrupt shift of the circulation near the Grand Banks inferred in the 1970s and observed in 2008, or whether this is the new normal for the circulation and the temperatures of the northeast shelf,” said Palter. “There are modeling studies that suggest that a slowdown of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation can cause the types of changes we observed, but the connection remains to be made in the observational record.”

    The Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation or AMOC is a system of currents that delivers warm ocean waters to northern regions, contributing to the warm climate of Scandinavia and influencing a broad array of northern hemisphere weather phenomena. Climate models show the AMOC circulation slowing if greenhouse gas emissions continue unabated, which—if the link is proven—would continue altering the Northeast U.S. and Canadian shelf waters and impacting fisheries in the future.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    The University of Rhode Island is a diverse and dynamic community whose members are connected by a common quest for knowledge.

    As a major research university defined by innovation and big thinking, URI offers its undergraduate, graduate, and professional students distinctive educational opportunities designed to meet the global challenges of today’s world and the rapidly evolving needs of tomorrow. That’s why we’re here.

    The University of Rhode Island, commonly referred to as URI, is the flagship public research as well as the land grant and sea grant university for the state of Rhode Island. Its main campus is located in the village of Kingston in southern Rhode Island. Additionally, smaller campuses include the Feinstein Campus in Providence, the Rhode Island Nursing Education Center in Providence, the Narragansett Bay Campus in Narragansett, and the W. Alton Jones Campus in West Greenwich.

    The university offers bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees, and doctoral degrees in 80 undergraduate and 49 graduate areas of study through eight academic colleges. These colleges include Arts and Sciences, Business Administration, Education and Professional Studies, Engineering, Health Sciences, Environment and Life Sciences, Nursing and Pharmacy. Another college, University College for Academic Success, serves primarily as an advising college for all incoming undergraduates and follows them through their first two years of enrollment at URI.

    The University enrolled about 13,600 undergraduate and 3,000 graduate students in Fall 2015.[2] U.S. News & World Report classifies URI as a tier 1 national university, ranking it tied for 161st in the U.S.

  • richardmitnick 3:24 pm on April 13, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Taking the vital signs of the global ocean with biogeochemical floats", , , , Oceanography   

    From National Science Foundation : “Taking the vital signs of the global ocean with biogeochemical floats” 

    From National Science Foundation

    April 12, 2021

    Europa and Lewisburg Eel are two of the first floats deployed in the western North Atlantic. Credit: Andreas Thurnherr.

    As the researchers and crew aboard the R/V Thomas G. Thompson continue to deploy biogeochemical floats in the western North Atlantic, the arrival of the first profile data marks an exciting step forward for the U.S. National Science Foundation-funded Global Ocean Biogeochemistry Array, or GO-BGC, a global robotic network of profiling floats.

    The first float deployed for the GO-BGC array was adopted by Fauquier County Public Schools in Warrenton, Virginia, through the Adopt-A-Float program. Students named the float Europa after one of Jupiter’s moons, which has an ocean hidden beneath its icy surface.

    For the rest of its robotic life, Europa — and the entire GO-BGC fleet once deployed — will follow a simple but data-rich pattern: drift through the ocean maintaining a depth of about 1,000 meters (3,280 feet) for 10 days; drop down to 2,000 meters depth (1.2 miles) before returning to the surface; gather data on the vertical ascent; and, when at the surface, transmit its findings by satellite. Europa transmitted the first successful profile about 18 hours after launch. Each float will collect data until its battery dies approximately five years from deployment.

    One of the advantages of the floats is their ability to measure the basic biology and chemistry of the ocean. Metrics such as oxygen concentration, pH (ocean acidity), nitrate (an essential nutrient for microscopic algae), sunlight (required for algal growth), chlorophyll (an indicator of algal abundance), and particles in the water (including microscopic algae) will give researchers insights into fundamentals of ocean health — including primary productivity and growth of phytoplankton, and ocean carbon dioxide uptake from the atmosphere.

    “We’re trying to find out what the baseline metabolism of the ocean is,” said Ken Johnson, a marine chemist at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute and principal investigator on the project. “If you go to a hospital, they don’t immediately put you in an MRI machine; first they take your vital signs.”

    The first set of floats is being deployed in the western North Atlantic, a region of particular interest to researchers for its role in regulating heat and exchanging carbon with the atmosphere. Paleoclimate models suggest that global warming has weakened and may continue to weaken the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation that drives the North Atlantic.

    The GO-BGC array is just one of the tools scientists can use to answer whether weakening of the circulation in the North Atlantic — if indeed it is changing — would also impact food webs, ocean respiration and other fundamental processes.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition
    The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency created by Congress in 1950 “to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; to secure the national defense…we are the funding source for approximately 24 percent of all federally supported basic research conducted by America’s colleges and universities. In many fields such as mathematics, computer science and the social sciences, NSF is the major source of federal backing.

    We fulfill our mission chiefly by issuing limited-term grants — currently about 12,000 new awards per year, with an average duration of three years — to fund specific research proposals that have been judged the most promising by a rigorous and objective merit-review system. Most of these awards go to individuals or small groups of investigators. Others provide funding for research centers, instruments and facilities that allow scientists, engineers and students to work at the outermost frontiers of knowledge.

    NSF’s goals — discovery, learning, research infrastructure and stewardship — provide an integrated strategy to advance the frontiers of knowledge, cultivate a world-class, broadly inclusive science and engineering workforce and expand the scientific literacy of all citizens, build the nation’s research capability through investments in advanced instrumentation and facilities, and support excellence in science and engineering research and education through a capable and responsive organization. We like to say that NSF is “where discoveries begin.”

    Many of the discoveries and technological advances have been truly revolutionary. In the past few decades, NSF-funded researchers have won some 236 Nobel Prizes as well as other honors too numerous to list. These pioneers have included the scientists or teams that discovered many of the fundamental particles of matter, analyzed the cosmic microwaves left over from the earliest epoch of the universe, developed carbon-14 dating of ancient artifacts, decoded the genetics of viruses, and created an entirely new state of matter called a Bose-Einstein condensate.

    NSF also funds equipment that is needed by scientists and engineers but is often too expensive for any one group or researcher to afford. Examples of such major research equipment include giant optical and radio telescopes, Antarctic research sites, high-end computer facilities and ultra-high-speed connections, ships for ocean research, sensitive detectors of very subtle physical phenomena and gravitational wave observatories.

    Another essential element in NSF’s mission is support for science and engineering education, from pre-K through graduate school and beyond. The research we fund is thoroughly integrated with education to help ensure that there will always be plenty of skilled people available to work in new and emerging scientific, engineering and technological fields, and plenty of capable teachers to educate the next generation.

    No single factor is more important to the intellectual and economic progress of society, and to the enhanced well-being of its citizens, than the continuous acquisition of new knowledge. NSF is proud to be a major part of that process.

    Specifically, the Foundation’s organic legislation authorizes us to engage in the following activities:

    Initiate and support, through grants and contracts, scientific and engineering research and programs to strengthen scientific and engineering research potential, and education programs at all levels, and appraise the impact of research upon industrial development and the general welfare.
    Award graduate fellowships in the sciences and in engineering.
    Foster the interchange of scientific information among scientists and engineers in the United States and foreign countries.
    Foster and support the development and use of computers and other scientific methods and technologies, primarily for research and education in the sciences.
    Evaluate the status and needs of the various sciences and engineering and take into consideration the results of this evaluation in correlating our research and educational programs with other federal and non-federal programs.
    Provide a central clearinghouse for the collection, interpretation and analysis of data on scientific and technical resources in the United States, and provide a source of information for policy formulation by other federal agencies.
    Determine the total amount of federal money received by universities and appropriate organizations for the conduct of scientific and engineering research, including both basic and applied, and construction of facilities where such research is conducted, but excluding development, and report annually thereon to the President and the Congress.
    Initiate and support specific scientific and engineering activities in connection with matters relating to international cooperation, national security and the effects of scientific and technological applications upon society.
    Initiate and support scientific and engineering research, including applied research, at academic and other nonprofit institutions and, at the direction of the President, support applied research at other organizations.
    Recommend and encourage the pursuit of national policies for the promotion of basic research and education in the sciences and engineering. Strengthen research and education innovation in the sciences and engineering, including independent research by individuals, throughout the United States.
    Support activities designed to increase the participation of women and minorities and others underrepresented in science and technology.

    At present, NSF has a total workforce of about 2,100 at its Alexandria, VA, headquarters, including approximately 1,400 career employees, 200 scientists from research institutions on temporary duty, 450 contract workers and the staff of the NSB office and the Office of the Inspector General.

    NSF is divided into the following seven directorates that support science and engineering research and education: Biological Sciences, Computer and Information Science and Engineering, Engineering, Geosciences, Mathematical and Physical Sciences, Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences, and Education and Human Resources. Each is headed by an assistant director and each is further subdivided into divisions like materials research, ocean sciences and behavioral and cognitive sciences.

    Within NSF’s Office of the Director, the Office of Integrative Activities also supports research and researchers. Other sections of NSF are devoted to financial management, award processing and monitoring, legal affairs, outreach and other functions. The Office of the Inspector General examines the foundation’s work and reports to the NSB and Congress.

    Each year, NSF supports an average of about 200,000 scientists, engineers, educators and students at universities, laboratories and field sites all over the United States and throughout the world, from Alaska to Alabama to Africa to Antarctica. You could say that NSF support goes “to the ends of the earth” to learn more about the planet and its inhabitants, and to produce fundamental discoveries that further the progress of research and lead to products and services that boost the economy and improve general health and well-being.

    As described in our strategic plan, NSF is the only federal agency whose mission includes support for all fields of fundamental science and engineering, except for medical sciences. NSF is tasked with keeping the United States at the leading edge of discovery in a wide range of scientific areas, from astronomy to geology to zoology. So, in addition to funding research in the traditional academic areas, the agency also supports “high risk, high pay off” ideas, novel collaborations and numerous projects that may seem like science fiction today, but which the public will take for granted tomorrow. And in every case, we ensure that research is fully integrated with education so that today’s revolutionary work will also be training tomorrow’s top scientists and engineers.

    Unlike many other federal agencies, NSF does not hire researchers or directly operate our own laboratories or similar facilities. Instead, we support scientists, engineers and educators directly through their own home institutions (typically universities and colleges). Similarly, we fund facilities and equipment such as telescopes, through cooperative agreements with research consortia that have competed successfully for limited-term management contracts.

    NSF’s job is to determine where the frontiers are, identify the leading U.S. pioneers in these fields and provide money and equipment to help them continue. The results can be transformative. For example, years before most people had heard of “nanotechnology,” NSF was supporting scientists and engineers who were learning how to detect, record and manipulate activity at the scale of individual atoms — the nanoscale. Today, scientists are adept at moving atoms around to create devices and materials with properties that are often more useful than those found in nature.

    Dozens of companies are gearing up to produce nanoscale products. NSF is funding the research projects, state-of-the-art facilities and educational opportunities that will teach new skills to the science and engineering students who will make up the nanotechnology workforce of tomorrow.

    At the same time, we are looking for the next frontier.

    NSF’s task of identifying and funding work at the frontiers of science and engineering is not a “top-down” process. NSF operates from the “bottom up,” keeping close track of research around the United States and the world, maintaining constant contact with the research community to identify ever-moving horizons of inquiry, monitoring which areas are most likely to result in spectacular progress and choosing the most promising people to conduct the research.

    NSF funds research and education in most fields of science and engineering. We do this through grants and cooperative agreements to more than 2,000 colleges, universities, K-12 school systems, businesses, informal science organizations and other research organizations throughout the U.S. The Foundation considers proposals submitted by organizations on behalf of individuals or groups for support in most fields of research. Interdisciplinary proposals also are eligible for consideration. Awardees are chosen from those who send us proposals asking for a specific amount of support for a specific project.

    Proposals may be submitted in response to the various funding opportunities that are announced on the NSF website. These funding opportunities fall into three categories — program descriptions, program announcements and program solicitations — and are the mechanisms NSF uses to generate funding requests. At any time, scientists and engineers are also welcome to send in unsolicited proposals for research and education projects, in any existing or emerging field. The Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide (PAPPG) provides guidance on proposal preparation and submission and award management. At present, NSF receives more than 42,000 proposals per year.

    To ensure that proposals are evaluated in a fair, competitive, transparent and in-depth manner, we use a rigorous system of merit review. Nearly every proposal is evaluated by a minimum of three independent reviewers consisting of scientists, engineers and educators who do not work at NSF or for the institution that employs the proposing researchers. NSF selects the reviewers from among the national pool of experts in each field and their evaluations are confidential. On average, approximately 40,000 experts, knowledgeable about the current state of their field, give their time to serve as reviewers each year.

    The reviewer’s job is to decide which projects are of the very highest caliber. NSF’s merit review process, considered by some to be the “gold standard” of scientific review, ensures that many voices are heard and that only the best projects make it to the funding stage. An enormous amount of research, deliberation, thought and discussion goes into award decisions.

    The NSF program officer reviews the proposal and analyzes the input received from the external reviewers. After scientific, technical and programmatic review and consideration of appropriate factors, the program officer makes an “award” or “decline” recommendation to the division director. Final programmatic approval for a proposal is generally completed at NSF’s division level. A principal investigator (PI) whose proposal for NSF support has been declined will receive information and an explanation of the reason(s) for declination, along with copies of the reviews considered in making the decision. If that explanation does not satisfy the PI, he/she may request additional information from the cognizant NSF program officer or division director.

    If the program officer makes an award recommendation and the division director concurs, the recommendation is submitted to NSF’s Division of Grants and Agreements (DGA) for award processing. A DGA officer reviews the recommendation from the program division/office for business, financial and policy implications, and the processing and issuance of a grant or cooperative agreement. DGA generally makes awards to academic institutions within 30 days after the program division/office makes its recommendation.

  • richardmitnick 9:39 am on April 12, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: A group of microbes which feed off chemical reactions triggered by radioactivity have been at an evolutionary standstill for millions of years., , , Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences (US), , , Oceanography, The scientists hypothesize the standstill evolution they discovered is due to the microbe’s powerful protections against mutation., These microbes inhabit water-filled cavities inside rocks in a completely independent ecosystem free from reliance on sunlight or any other organisms.   

    From Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences (US): “Microbe in Evolutionary Stasis for Millions of Years”: 

    From Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences (US)

    April 8, 2021

    Equipment for subsurface sampling of microbes in Death Valley, California. New research led by Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences has revealed that a group of microbes, Candidatus Desulforudis audaxviator, have been at an evolutionary standstill for millions of years. Credit: Duane Moser, Desert Research Institute

    It’s like something out of science fiction. Research led by Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences has revealed that a group of microbes which feed off chemical reactions triggered by radioactivity have been at an evolutionary standstill for millions of years. The discovery could have significant implications for biotechnology applications and scientific understanding of microbial evolution.

    “This discovery shows that we must be careful when making assumptions about the speed of evolution and how we interpret the tree of life,” said Eric Becraft, the lead author on the paper. “It is possible that some organisms go into an evolutionary full-sprint, while others slow to a crawl, challenging the establishment of reliable molecular timelines.”

    Becraft, now an assistant professor of biology at the University of Northern Alabama, completed the research as part of his postdoctoral work at Bigelow Laboratory and recently published it in the Nature publishing group’s ISME Journal.

    The microbe, Candidatus Desulforudis audaxviator, was first discovered in 2008 by a team of scientists, led by Tullis Onstott, a co-author on the new study. Found in a South African gold mine almost two miles beneath the Earth’s surface, the microbes acquire the energy they need from chemical reactions caused by the natural radioactive decay in minerals. They inhabit water-filled cavities inside rocks in a completely independent ecosystem free from reliance on sunlight or any other organisms.

    Because of their unique biology and isolation, the authors of the new study wanted to understand how the microbes evolved. They searched other environmental samples from deep underground and discovered Candidatus Desulforudis audaxviator in Siberia and California, as well as in several additional mines in South Africa. Since each environment was chemically different, these discoveries gave the researchers a unique opportunity to look for differences that have emerged between the populations over their millions of years of evolution.

    “We wanted to use that information to understand how they evolved and what kind of environmental conditions lead to what kind of genetic adaptations,” said Bigelow Laboratory Senior Research Scientist Ramunas Stepanauskas, the corresponding author on the paper and Becraft’s postdoctoral advisor. “We thought of the microbes as though they were inhabitants of isolated islands, like the finches that Darwin studied in the Galapagos.”

    Using advanced tools that allow scientists to read the genetic blueprints of individual cells, the researchers examined the genomes of 126 microbes obtained from three continents. Surprisingly, they all turned out to be almost identical.

    “It was shocking,” Stepanauskas said. “They had the same makeup, and so we started scratching our heads.”

    Scientists found no evidence that the microbes can travel long distances, survive on the surface, or live long in the presence of oxygen. So, once researchers determined that there was no possibility the samples were cross-contaminated during research, plausible explanations dwindled.

    “The best explanation we have at the moment is that these microbes did not change much since their physical locations separated during the breakup of supercontinent Pangaea, about 175 million years ago,” Stepanauskas said. “They appear to be living fossils from those days. That sounds quite crazy and goes against the contemporary understanding of microbial evolution.”

    What this means for the pace of microbial evolution, which often happens at a much more accelerated rate, is surprising. Many well-studied bacteria, such as E. coli, have been found to evolve in only a few years in response to environmental changes, such as exposure to antibiotics.

    Stepanauskas and his colleagues hypothesize the standstill evolution they discovered is due to the microbe’s powerful protections against mutation, which have essentially locked their genetic code. If the researchers are correct, this would be a rare feature with potentially valuable benefits.

    Microbial enzymes that create copies of DNA molecules, called DNA polymerases, are widely used in biotechnology. Enzymes with high fidelity, or the ability to recreate themselves with little differences between the copy and the original, are especially valuable.

    “There’s a high demand for DNA polymerases that don’t make many mistakes,” Stepanauskas said. “Such enzymes may be useful for DNA sequencing, diagnostic tests, and gene therapy.”

    Beyond potential applications, the results of this study could have far-reaching implications and change the way scientists think about microbial genetics and the pace of their evolution.

    “These findings are a powerful reminder that the various microbial branches we observe on the tree of life may differ vastly in the time since their last common ancestor,” Becraft said. “Understanding this is critical to understanding the history of life on Earth.”

    See the full article here.


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences (US), founded in 1974, is an independent, non-profit oceanography research institute. The Laboratory’s research ranges from microbial oceanography to the large-scale biogeochemical processes that drive ocean ecosystems and health of the entire planet.

    The institute’s LEED Platinum laboratory is located on its research and education campus in East Boothbay, Maine. Bigelow Laboratory supports the work of about 100 scientists and staff. The majority of the institute’s funding comes from federal and state grants and contracts, philanthropic support, and licenses and contracts with the private sector.


    The Laboratory was established by Charles and Clarice Yentsch in 1974 as a private, non-profit research institution named for the oceanographer Henry Bryant Bigelow, founding director of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (US). Bigelow’s extensive investigations in the early part of the twentieth century are recognized as the foundation of modern oceanography. His multi-year expeditions in the Gulf of Maine, where he collected water samples and data on phytoplankton, fish populations, and hydrography, established a new paradigm of intensive, ecologically-based oceanographic research in the United States and made this region one of the most thoroughly studied bodies of water, for its size, in the world.

    Since its founding, the Laboratory has attracted federal grants for research projects by winning competitive, peer reviewed awards from all of the principal federal research granting agencies. The Laboratory’s total operating revenue (including philanthropy) has grown to more than $10 million dollars a year. Federal research grants have supported most of the Laboratory’s research operations. Education and outreach programs rely on other sources of support, primarily contributions from individuals and private philanthropic foundations.

    In February 2018, Deborah Bronk became the president and CEO of Bigelow Laboratory. Prior to joining the Laboratory, Bronk was the Moses D. Nunnally Distinguished Professor of Marine Sciences and department chair at Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences. She previously served as division director for the National Science Foundation’s (US) Division of Ocean Science and as president of the Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography.

  • richardmitnick 12:10 am on April 4, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "A Year of R/V Falkor in the Great Barrier Reef & Coral Sea", , Oceanography,   

    From Schmidt Ocean Institute : “A Year of R/V Falkor in the Great Barrier Reef & Coral Sea” 

    From Schmidt Ocean Institute

    Robin Beaman

    “The R/V Falkor has finally left Queensland waters after a full year working within the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea marine parks. With the ship now transiting across northern Australia towards Darwin, capital of the Northern Territory and the launchpad for the next expedition, ‘Australian Mesophotic Coral Examination,’ I can now reflect on the legacy of the Falkor’s time here.

    Little did I know when the ship first arrived in Cairns in early April 2020, at the start of the COVID crisis, this would lead to my involvement in six back-to-back expeditions and the two transits into and out of Queensland— eight voyages in all. Several of these voyages transited the entire length of the Great Barrier Reef margin—a distance stretching over 2500 km long. Other expeditions reached into the furthermost reaches of the remote Coral Sea Marine Park.

    Voyage tracks of the R/V Falkor while based around Queensland over 2020. Credit: Robin Beaman/Google Earth.

    The Falkor has sailed some 70 thousand-line km while in Queensland, or the equivalent of driving across Australia between Sydney and Perth about 18 times (or, if in the USA, driving between Los Angeles and New York nearly 16 times). The ship has been at sea 230 days over the past year. For a while, it was one of the few research vessels anywhere in the world to continue operations at sea when all others had shut down due to the crisis, proving that the science must continue.

    And through those many days at sea, the Falkor has been continuously acquiring multibeam data with their Kongsberg deep-water EM302 or shallow-water EM710 systems—at times concurrently when depths allowed. An incredible 173 thousand square km of new map data were collected, or an area about ¾ the size of the state of Victoria and larger than the area of Florida. The latest data have revealed a cornucopia of seabed features from underwater landslides and giant debris blocks to submarine canyons and drowned reefs by the dozen, ancient shorelines, and vast dune fields.

    So many exciting discoveries were made, but for me, the highlight was the 500 m-tall detached reef found during the ‘Northern depths of the Great Barrier Reef’ expedition. This became a viral media sensation, which spawned a blizzard of interview requests—a good news story against a background of mostly negative stories on the condition of the GBR. We had fully 3D mapped this reef—one of only eight similarly tall detached reefs—and then used ROV SuBastian [below] to climb to the summit while sharing in the joy of discovery with the world through live YouTube and Facebook feeds.

    The newly discovered 500 meter-tall detached reef adds to the seven other tall detached reefs in the northern Great Barrier Reef. Credit: Schmidt Ocean Institute.

    It is hard to put into words the importance of the ROV SuBastian dives in contributing to the overall knowledge of the marine life and geology in the deep GBR and Coral Sea. Before the Falkor, we knew very little about the marine life existing beyond scuba diving or shallow ROV dive limits. With the 42 ROV SuBastian dives conducted—the deepest to over 2000 m—there is a step change in our understanding of deep marine life on the seafloor and in the water column.

    SuBastian became our eyes, ears, and hands to search the darkness for samples of deep-water corals and sponges recovered under permit to be processed by a team of biologists from the Queensland Museum, Museum of Tropical Queensland, and further afield. High-resolution imagery captured footage of rare sharks, giant isopods, strange walking scorpionfish, fierce-looking eels, swimming sea cucumbers, and delicate glass sponges. My favourite, though, was the chambered nautilus that occasionally bobbed into view and was found on nearly every dive in the Coral Sea.

    Nautilus pompilius seen during Dive 355. By the end of the dive, the ROV crew had counted 18 of these cephalopods up to around 500 m depth. Credit: ROV SuBastian / SOI.

    With the ROV, sampling of the softer sediments and rocks reached another level beyond the previous bucket-on-a-string or blind cores taken before the Falkor. On most dives, sediment cores were taken at the start and end of systematic transects across wide depth ranges to characterise and ground truth the seafloor. Exposed limestone rock outcrops were chipped, drilled, or cracked to capture precious samples, much as a geologist would do on land with a geology pick. These ancient rock samples will provide insight into the origins of the Great Barrier Reef and offshore coral atolls.

    However, beyond the science done and raw statistics of this enormous effort, the Falkor’s year in Queensland has brought together a large group of people and built relationships and experiences that I hope will endure for many years. Across the eight voyages, 75 virtual and onboard investigators were involved. Twenty-six graduate and postgraduate students experienced life at sea on a world-class research vessel through a difficult period when such opportunities were rare.

    We shared with Falkor’s crew the occasionally rough seas and strong winds and the calm of a sunburnt and magically still ocean. We shared in the wonder of turquoise shallow coral reefs, some of the largest in the world, gliding close by as we mapped the edges. We shared birthdays, video nights, karaoke, trivia competitions, and card games. We shared great food and barbeques on the upper deck or quiet, reflective moments together over a cold drink. It is hard to believe it’s finally over.

    To Falkor and your magnificent crew—we wish you a very fond farewell.”

    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.

    R/V Falkor [/caption]

    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.

Compose new post
Next post/Next comment
Previous post/Previous comment
Show/Hide comments
Go to top
Go to login
Show/Hide help
shift + esc
%d bloggers like this: