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  • richardmitnick 8:03 am on September 22, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Extreme warming events impact fisheries and economies; understanding processes beneath ocean surface is crucial for assessment and management., Ningaloo Niño, Oceanography,   

    From Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution: “Studies investigate marine heatwaves, shifting ocean currents” 

    From Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

    September 21, 2020

    1
    An aerial view of Cape Range National Park and Ningaloo Reef off Western Australia. A marine heatwave in 2011 led to the first-recorded coral bleaching event at Ningaloo Reef, a World Heritage site, and also caused extensive loss of a nearby kelp forest. Photo by Darkydoors, Shutter Stock Images.

    Extreme warming events impact fisheries and economies; understanding processes beneath ocean surface is crucial for assessment and management.

    North America experienced a series of dangerous heatwaves during the summer of 2020, breaking records from coast to coast. In the ocean, extreme warming conditions are also becoming more frequent and intense. Two new studies from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) investigate marine heatwaves and currents at the edge of the continental shelf, which impact regional ocean circulation and marine life.

    In a paper published September 17 in the Journal of Climate, WHOI oceanographers and collaborators at the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel in Germany use a new model to understand how ocean processes affect marine heatwaves at depth off the west coast of Australia. Known as “Ningaloo Niño,” these extreme warming events have caused mass die-offs of marine organisms, coral bleaching, and potentially permanent ecosystem shifts, all of which impact fisheries and the economies that depend on them.

    “This area is a hotspot for increasing temperature and extreme events, with drastic impacts on regional marine species,” said lead author Svenja Ryan. “It’s important to understand where in the water column temperature and salinity changes are happening so you can determine how the ecosystem will be impacted.”

    For the first time in the Southern Indian Ocean, Ryan and her co-authors, WHOI physical oceanographers Caroline Ummenhofer and Glen Gawarkiewicz, showed that the effects of marine heatwaves extend to 300 meters or more below the surface along the entire west coast of Australia. They found that during La Niña years, the southward-flowing Leeuwin Current becomes stronger and is associated with warm temperature anomalies at greater depths. These conditions were observed during the 2011 marine heatwave that led to the first-recorded coral bleaching at Ningaloo Reef, a World Heritage site, and extensive loss of a nearby kelp forest. During El Niño periods, the temperature and salinity anomalies associated with marine heatwaves are limited to the ocean surface, showing that complex ocean processes play an important role in the depth-extent of extreme events.

    Ryan and her colleagues are using a similar modeling approach to study marine heatwaves in the Northwest Atlantic. “The challenge, wherever you go, is that marine heatwaves have so many drivers,” Ryan said. “Understanding different types of events and their associated depth structure is crucial for regional impact assessment and adaptation strategies, as well as for predicting potential changes in a future climate.”

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    A new global ocean model shows how ocean processes affect marine heatwaves at depth off the west coast of Australia. Here, a case study of a catastrophic “Ningaloo Niño” event demonstrates how a marine heatwave impacted seawater temperatures at depth during the 2011/2012 austral winter.

    While models allow scientists to understand and predict changes to large-scale ocean processes, these models rely on data collected in the field. In a study published Aug. 30, 2020, in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, lead author Jacob Forsyth made use of 25 years of oceanographic data collected by the container ship (CMV) Oleander on its weekly voyages between New Jersey and Bermuda. These measurements provide valuable insight into the Mid-Atlantic Bight Shelfbreak Jet, a cool-water current that flows south along the continental shelf from Labrador to Cape Hatteras.

    Forsyth, a graduate student in the MIT-WHOI Joint Program and his co-authors, Gawarkiewicz and WHOI physical oceanographer Magdalena Andres, noticed a distinct relationship between the current and changing sea temperatures. Not only does the Shelfbreak Jet change seasonally— slowing down considerably from winter to summer— they also found it had slowed by about 10 percent since data collection began in 1992. The slow-down of the jet is consistent with the long-term warming of the continental shelf.

    “The Shelfbreak Jet is associated with the upwelling of nutrients, which affects the productivity of fisheries,” said Gawarkiewicz. “As marine heatwaves become more frequent, we need to understand how that links to the jet.“

    3
    The Mid-Atlantic Bight Shelfbreak Jet, shown here as a thin orange arrow, is a cool-water current that flows south along the continental shelf from Labrador to Cape Hatteras. A WHOI study found that the current has slowed by 10% over the last 25 years, a change consistent with gradual warming of the waters on the continental shelf, and with potential implications for fisheries. Source: NOAA.

    Starting in 2000, researchers began to notice that eddies of warm, salty water breaking off the Gulf Stream— known as “warm core rings”— had nearly doubled in number off the New England Continental Shelf. Not only do these rings cause water temperature and salinity to increase, they push the Shelfbreak Jet towards shore, and sometimes entirely shut down or reverse the direction of its flow. The authors noted that shifting currents and temperatures on the continental shelf have already prompted changes in key New England fisheries: cold-loving lobster are slowly moving offshore, while shortfin squid are more commonly found closer to shore.

    “You could call it a ‘calamari comeback’, where some of these rings are coming onto the continental shelf packed with squid. Others have none,” said Gawarkiewicz. “Jacob’s work is an important step in unraveling this mystery and helping us predict how currents and shelf temperatures will respond to approaching rings.”

    The oceanographic data collected by the CMV Oleander are essential for understanding rapidly shifting dynamics in a complex system, said the co-authors. Previous studies rely on satellite data, which are limited to measurements of the ocean surface over a wide area. “Looking at the surface might not tell the whole story of what’s happening when rings approach the continental shelf, or their effects on upwelling,” said Forsyth. “This paper shows how important it is to have this type of long-term monitoring.”

    This research was funded by the National Science Foundation Division of Ocean Sciences, the Office of Naval Research, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, the WHOI Postdoctoral Scholar program, and the James E. and Barbara V. Moltz Fellowship for Climate-Related Research. Data collection via the CMV Oleander volunteer observing ship is made possible by the continued cooperation of Bermuda Container Line/Neptune Group Ltd.

    See the full article here .

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    Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute

    Vision & Mission

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

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

     
  • richardmitnick 1:34 pm on August 28, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Understand the past to understand the future: Climate science at Princeton", , Because they represent actual pieces of the past instead of fossilized proxies ice cores are considered the “gold standard” for paleoclimate studies., Both on the front end and the back end of building models you need to have very strong involvement of observations., , Geosciences at Princeton, Ice core research is emblematic of Princeton’s approach to climate science across the board over the last half-century., If you want to study the natural world you’re operating at the intersection between physics chemistry biology and geoscience., Oceanography, , , SOCCOM-Southern Ocean Carbon and Climate Observations and Modeling project., The biogeochemistry of the ocean becomes critical to understanding the biogeochemistry of the globe., The combination of theory and observation has been critical., The ice cores in Guyot Hall include many samples in addition to the multi-million-year-old record setter., The international observational program known as TOGA or Tropical Ocean Global Atmosphere.   

    From Princeton University: “Understand the past to understand the future: Climate science at Princeton” 

    Princeton University
    From Princeton University

    Aug. 28, 2020
    Liz Fuller-Wright

    1
    This animation shows the snow and ice melt during a record heat wave in February 2020 on Eagle Island, near the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula. NASA Earth Observatory images by Joshua Stevens, using Landsat data from the U.S. Geological Survey and GEOS-5 data from the Global Modeling and Assimilation Office at NASA GSFC. Credit: Matilda Luk, Office of Communications.

    NASA/Landsat 8

    3
    GEOS-5. NOAA.

    Princeton’s vital research across the spectrum of environmental issues is today and will continue to be pivotal to solving some of humanity’s toughest problems. Our impact is built on a long, deep, broad legacy of personal commitment, intellectual leadership, perseverance and innovation. This article is part of a series to present the sweep of Princeton’s environmental excellence over the past half-century.

    Enter the front doors of Guyot Hall, the 111-year-old building that houses the Department of Geosciences at Princeton. Pass the glass specimen cases and the lobby’s iconic model of planet Earth and head to room M56. There, beyond the rows of heavy-duty snow boots and bulky parkas, stands a walk-in freezer storing some of the rarest artifacts of modern climate science: ancient ice cores harvested from Antarctica. At more than 2 million years old, these are the oldest ice cores ever collected.

    “Over the last 60-plus years, ice cores have produced the best evidence we have that carbon dioxide is linked to the Earth’s climate” said John Higgins, project leader for the group that recovered the ice in 2019 and an associate professor of geosciences.

    “When we had an ice age, atmospheric carbon dioxide was significantly lower than it is today, and every time we didn’t have an ice age, atmospheric carbon dioxide was high — all that is known from ice cores,” he said. “My team is contributing to that puzzle by extending that record further back in time.”

    The ice core research is emblematic of Princeton’s approach to climate science across the board over the last half-century, said Bess Ward, the William J. Sinclair Professor of Geosciences and the Princeton Environmental Institute (PEI) and chair of the geosciences department. “There’s a saying that geoscientists believe firmly, which is, ‘The key to the present is the past, and the key to the future is the present,’” she said. “If we can understand the past, we can understand the future.”

    And for more than 50 years, Princeton researchers have been doing just that. They’ve pushed back the boundaries of climate knowledge across a wide range of lynchpin issues. Princeton climate modelers, for example, developed the world’s first coupled ocean-atmosphere model, using physical laws and present Earth conditions to develop mathematical algorithms that can predict how Earth’s climate will respond to different conditions in the future — and to understand what drove climate changes in the past. Funneling data into the models are Princeton oceanographers and field geologists who have fanned out across the globe to understand what oceans and ecosystems are doing today. And paleoclimatologists have been using fossils, pollen records, ice cores and other tools to study how the global climate has already changed in the planet’s long history.

    Ground-truthing the theory

    The combination of theory and observation has been critical. The importance of “boots on the ground, boats in the water” can’t be overstated, said Gabriel Vecchi, a leading climate modeler as well as a professor of geosciences and PEI. Modern climate modelers such as himself benefit from the direct observations gathered by the geologists and oceanographers working “just down the hall,” he said.

    “We can have great theories that make very nice predictions, but we need to test those predictions, and you only test those predictions with observations,” Vecchi said. “At the same time, the fundamental processes that we put into our models have to be developed from some sort of empirical base. So, both on the front end and the back end of building models, you need to have very strong involvement of observations.”

    One Princeton scholar deeply involved in both theory and observation is Samuel G.H. “George” Philander, best known for his work on tropical oceans. His discovery of the recurring La Niña weather pattern and his seminal work on the related El Niño phenomenon dramatically improved scientists’ understanding of those enormous climate fluctuations. That knowledge, in turn, helps governmental and economic planners prepare for their effects.

    Philander, now the Knox Taylor Professor of Geosciences, Emeritus, also helped organize a decade-long (1985-1994) international observational program known as TOGA, or Tropical Ocean Global Atmosphere. TOGA was designed to test the emerging theory of what is called “the coupled ocean-atmosphere system” in the tropics and paved the way for future ocean observation systems. It also led to improved simulations in global climate models.

    “George was fundamental in developing our basic understanding of the El Niño phenomenon, which is the largest year-to-year fluctuation in the climate system,” said Vecchi. For hundreds of years, El Niño had been known as an ocean phenomenon that warmed the seas off the coast of Peru and shifted rainfall and other climate patterns. Philander helped shift scientists’ understanding of it from a purely oceanic event to one that was dependent on the coupled ocean-atmosphere system — the planet’s interconnected and interdependent water and air.

    “That was a fundamental shift in the way that we looked at these fluids,” said Vecchi. “We realized that the ocean and atmosphere had to be understood together.”

    Also critical to that understanding was Syukuro “Suki” Manabe, one of the founders of modern climate modeling, who created the first coupled ocean-atmosphere computer model in 1969 with his colleague Kirk Bryan, an oceanographer. Both Manabe and Bryan were lecturers with the rank of professor at Princeton while also holding positions at the Geophysical and Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL) on Princeton’s Forrestal Campus. “An improved version of that coupled model has become indispensable not only for predicting the climate change of the industrial present but also for exploring the climate of the geological past,” Manabe said.

    By changing the conditions (i.e., distribution of continent, concentration of carbon dioxide) modelers can recreate past eras as they predict the future, Manabe explained. Testing climate models against paleoclimates — ancient climates — is one of the key ways that climate modelers test their algorithms.

    Frozen in time

    The ice cores in Guyot Hall include many samples in addition to the multi-million-year-old record setter. The long, narrow cylinders of glacial ice, painstakingly gathered over the past half-century, are speckled with tiny bubbles of air that are trapped in the ice like dragonflies in amber. How do these trapped air bubbles form? As snow falls, it creates air pockets, and as that snow compacts into ice, those pockets become time capsules holding ancient air, whatever gases were present in the atmosphere, and even microscopic particles of pollen or volcanic ash — all clues to the past climate.

    “For somebody who’s trying to reconstruct what the environment was like in the past, you can’t ask for anything better than a sample of ancient air, or a sample of ancient water,” said Higgins, who keeps breaking his own records for the oldest ice samples ever found. “In addition to the trapped air, you also have the ice itself, which provides its own record of climate at the time.”

    Because they represent actual pieces of the past, instead of fossilized proxies, ice cores are considered the “gold standard” for paleoclimate studies, Higgins said. Climate scientists have built a record of the planet’s temperatures and carbon dioxide levels by measuring the gases and isotopes in these ancient samples. The continuous record goes back about 800,000 years before the present, and the older samples that Higgins has found provide snapshots of even earlier eras.

    Princeton has long been a leader in ice core research; Higgins came to the University to work with one of the founders of the field, Michael Bender, now an emeritus professor of geosciences. Bender is responsible for many of the innovations necessary to work with ancient ice, including a revolutionary approach to calculating the ice’s age by using the argon isotopes in the air bubbles.

    “In truth, Michael has played a central role in the development of nearly all of the current activities on ice core gases and almost singlehandedly trained the field’s most prominent researchers,” said his colleagues when Bender transferred to emeritus status in 2014. “We can say unequivocally that he has been at the forefront of this pioneering field,” Higgins agreed.

    In past decades, Bender was one of the scientists responsible for pushing the record back to 400,000 years, which included several ice age cycles. As Higgins and his team continued Bender’s work, they first extracted a 1-million-year old core in 2015 and then the 2+ million-year-old core in 2019.

    The team is returning next season to look for even older samples. The goal is to find frozen bubbles of ancient atmosphere from a time period more than 2.7 million years ago that was 1-2 degrees warmer than today — a period often cited by climate scientists as a likely analogue for Earth’s climate in the 21st century. “Ice of this vintage would provide researchers with the first direct evidence for atmospheric greenhouse gases at that time and an unprecedented glimpse of many important aspects of Earth’s climate system,” Higgins explained.

    “Reconstructing Earth’s climate in the past, studying climate change in the future — these are two complementary ways of getting at the same question,” Higgins said.

    The ocean’s role in climate

    Ice core bubbles can show carbon dioxide, methane and other greenhouse gases increasing during warm periods and dropping during ice ages, but they can’t say why it happened. Figuring that out involves examining the carbon cycle from a variety of angles.

    In Higgins’ view, “Understanding the carbon cycle involves all of our different gifts.” He cited the work of oceanographers Bess Ward and Daniel Sigman. Ward takes crews of students and other researchers to key locations around the world to investigate the global ocean’s nitrogen and carbon cycling. Sigman’s research group also makes new kinds of measurements in fossils from ocean sediment cores. The results reveal how past changes in ocean conditions have altered the storage of carbon dioxide in the ocean, changing atmospheric carbon dioxide levels and thus global climate.

    “Danny Sigman’s research has been at the forefront of understanding ancient oceans,” said Ward. “And by that, I mean, the circulation and the biological and chemical conditions of the oceans in the past. …Understanding the oceans of the past is the only way we can think to understand the oceans of the future. So if we understand how ocean circulation, for example, responded to changes in global temperature or distribution of temperature or distribution of ice, then we can have a good shot at forecasting what will happen when the ice caps melt.”

    To study the world’s oceans, past and present, Ward and Sigman rely on sophisticated shipboard instrumentation and retrieval tools that drop deep below the ocean surface, far below levels that can be reached by scuba divers.

    “The deep ocean is the ocean,” stressed Sigman, the Dusenbury Professor of Geological and Geophysical Sciences. Globally, the oceans have an average depth of about 3,657 meters (12,000 feet), while the “surface ocean” is generally defined as the top 100 meters (330 feet).

    “The surface ocean is the thin skin,” he said. “It is the interface with the atmosphere and the habitat for most ocean life. It’s critical — but the biggest part of the ocean’s volume is the deep ocean. So the question becomes, how rapidly can heat from global warming and carbon dioxide from fossil fuel burning make their way into the deep ocean?”

    Surveying the seas

    Ocean cruises led by Ward and colleagues are necessarily limited in space and time, but Princeton researchers have also been leaders in the evolving field of remote data gathering.

    The flotilla of observational floats in the TOGA program that George Philander helped organize, paved the way for the Southern Ocean Carbon and Climate Observations and Modeling project (SOCCOM), a multi-institutional program housed at Princeton and funded by the National Science Foundation. It uses more than 150 floating data collectors to determine how the Southern Ocean — the ocean encircling Antarctica — influences the world’s climate. The project is directed by Jorge Sarmiento, a biogeochemist and the George J. Magee Professor of Geoscience and Geological Engineering, Emeritus.

    In the 1980s, Sarmiento and GFDL scientist J.R. “Robbie” Toggweiler were one of three groups to simultaneously discover the importance of the Southern Ocean in controlling the atmosphere’s carbon dioxide levels. Since that work, a lack of data has hampered understanding of this critical but remote region. The SOCCOM project is a “game-changer,” said Sigman, acquiring data even through the harshest of winter conditions. Sarmiento’s discoveries about the Southern Ocean have inspired Higgins and Sigman, who have looked to the Southern Ocean in the effort to explain past changes in atmospheric carbon dioxide and climate.

    Princeton’s deep strength in ocean studies is no accident, said Ward. “Climate, as a subset of environmental research, is a motivating factor for all of the research that we do,” she said. “The reason we’re not already at 4 degrees Celsius of global warming — or more — is because a substantial portion of the carbon dioxide that humans have emitted is now in the ocean. And so the biogeochemistry of the ocean becomes critical to understanding the biogeochemistry of the globe.”

    For decades, Sarmiento was one of the only biogeochemists in the world — “I was kind of an orphan,” he joked — until more and more scientists came to see how interconnected the natural sciences are.

    “If you want to study the natural world, you’re operating at the intersection between physics, chemistry, biology and geoscience,” said Sigman. “That’s what’s behind the snarl of a name: biogeochemistry. What attracted me to this work in the first place was that I didn’t want to leave any of these disciplines behind — and I haven’t had to.”

    See the full article here .

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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    About Princeton: Overview

    Princeton University is a vibrant community of scholarship and learning that stands in the nation’s service and in the service of all nations. Chartered in 1746, Princeton is the fourth-oldest college in the United States. Princeton is an independent, coeducational, nondenominational institution that provides undergraduate and graduate instruction in the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences and engineering.

    As a world-renowned research university, Princeton seeks to achieve the highest levels of distinction in the discovery and transmission of knowledge and understanding. At the same time, Princeton is distinctive among research universities in its commitment to undergraduate teaching.

    Today, more than 1,100 faculty members instruct approximately 5,200 undergraduate students and 2,600 graduate students. The University’s generous financial aid program ensures that talented students from all economic backgrounds can afford a Princeton education.

    Princeton Shield

     
  • richardmitnick 7:32 am on August 21, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Into the unknown-Seamounts Canyons & Reefs of the Coral Sea", , , , Oceanography,   

    From Schmidt Ocean Institute: “Into the unknown-Seamounts, Canyons & Reefs of the Coral Sea” 

    From Schmidt Ocean Institute

    8.20.20

    My name is David Henderson and I am part of a team of engineers from the Australian Centre for Field Robotics, at the University of Sydney. Our job is to operate and maintain our Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs) on board Falkor [below].

    1
    This is Sirius, the largest AUV we operate. She is a twin hull, 260kg veteran of many campaigns, with over 15 years of service in the field. There is not much of her that has not been upgraded, redesigned, broken, repaired, or replaced. She is a workhorse that has the battle scars to prove it – and she has earned a few more this trip!

    Sirius’s job is to survey the ocean floor. Specifically, to provide georeferenced stereo images of benthic habitats. We set a mission path in an area of interest, do our pre-dive checks, crane her into the water, and start the mission. Happily hovering 2m above the sea floor, Sirius snaps 180 pictures every minute; so far this trip, we have collected nearly 100,000 high-resolution images of the Coral Sea’s incredible seascapes!

    These images are used by marine ecologists to characterize benthic habitats, monitor change, and make new discoveries. Our data is compiled, processed, and made publicly available via the Australian Ocean Data Network, for use by marine ecologists worldwide.

    2
    So all this sounds fun and interesting, right? Well, sometimes things go wrong. Dropping half-a-million dollars worth of electronics into seawater is inherently risky. When something breaks, there is no quick trip to the shops for parts – we are hundreds of kilometers off shore. And it is our job to fix anything and everything that comes up.

    Our most eventful day so far was at Cairns Seamount. It is a 1200m underwater mountain with a flat top that is 60m deep, 300m wide, sheer sides, and has never been scientifically imaged before. Ocean currents form upwellings, as well as fast, unpredictable flow patterns that are difficult to estimate. We planned our Sirius mission in detail, knowing the significance of this site and how valuable the data could be. With Falkor in position, we launched our venerable AUV.

    The dive down was perfect. Sirius found the shelf, locked on, and started her path along the top of the seamount. All was well until Sirius reached the edge of the seamount and tried to turn back up current: we saw her stop, sit on the ocean floor, and abort the mission. Sirius should have floated back to the surface, but the current held her in place. Luckily, our damsel in distress had a knight in shining armor close by!

    SuBastian [below] is a 3200kg Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV). With an exceptional crew behind it, the ROV was launched into the water and dove to find Sirius, perched precariously on the edge of a sheer cliff. SuBastian embraced Sirius with it strong (yet gentle) titanium manipulators and bought her to the surface. A most wonderful robotic romance which saved a very awkward call to the boss!

    We found the issue and fixed it. Long hours repairing Sirius on a deadline is an intense part of job.

    For me, the best part of being on field trips is the community. You will not find a more passionate group of people anywhere. Friendships form, stories are shared, commiserations are offered, families onshore are missed. Everyone is working together towards a common goal. Falkor’s crew is incredible – the ROV and deck crew; Captain and officers; Purser and stewardesses; chefs, engineers and marine technicians – have all helped so much. It is a huge privilege to work alongside this multinational mix of professional, friendly people. Thank you to SOI and the science team for having us on this incredible journey into the unknown.

    See the full article here .

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

    Schmidt Ocean Institute RV Falkor

    Schmidt Ocean Institute ROV Subastian

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

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

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

     
  • richardmitnick 3:46 pm on August 20, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Specialized Camera System Gives Unprecedented View of Ocean Life", From Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Imaging FlowCytobot, , Oceanography   

    From Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution: Women in STEM-“Specialized Camera System Gives Unprecedented View of Ocean Life” Heidi Sosik 

    From Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

    August 20, 2020
    Edited by Véronique LaCapra

    1
    WHOI scientist Heidi Sosik is a biologist, oceanographer, and inventor who has dedicated her more than 30-year research career to studying the wonders of microscopic life in the ocean. She co-invented the Imaging FlowCytobot, an automated underwater microscope, and is the lead scientist for WHOI’s Ocean Twilight Zone project.

    4
    Imaging FlowCytobot – McLane Research Laboratories, Inc.

    Plankton are critical to ocean ecosystems and our planet. These mostly microscopic organisms—plant-like phytoplankton and tiny animals known as zooplankton—form the base of most ocean food webs.

    2
    3

    Two Shadowgraph images collected by WHOI Biologist Heidi Sosik.

    Phytoplankton also play a key role in producing oxygen and removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, helping to regulate Earth’s climate.

    In spite of their importance, plankton communities in the ocean are poorly understood—in part because the ocean is vast, and plankton communities vary widely by location and over time. In the past, the only way scientists could study the distribution of plankton was by towing a net from a ship. Using this method, it is impossible to know the depth at which a particular animal was collected or to reliably generalize the results from sampling in one location to a broader geographic region. In addition, many species of plankton are gelatinous and fragile, making it difficult or impossible to collect them using a net without damaging them.

    Today, new technologies are giving scientists an unparalleled look at ocean life. WHOI biologist Heidi Sosik leads the Northeast U.S. Shelf Long-Term Ecological Research (NES-LTER) project, which aims to understand and predict how plankton food webs are changing, and how those changes may impact fish and other marine life. The NES-LTER stretches more than 100 miles from Martha’s Vineyard to the edge of the continental shelf, and from the surface down hundreds of feet into the ocean twilight zone. Such a vast area would be impossible to sample comprehensively with conventional net tows, so Sosik is using a specialized underwater camera system to image plankton in situ, under the water.

    The In-situ Ichthyoplankton Imaging System (ISIIS) is towed behind a ship on a small Stingray “sled.” The system’s shadowgraph optics can capture incredibly detailed images of zooplankton, jellies, and small fish, at the rate of 14 frames per second, while other sensors on the Stingray simultaneously measure depth, oxygen, salinity, temperature, and other water characteristics.

    The images are spectacular, and scientifically, the results have been unprecedented. Using ISIIS, Sosik and her team have been able to collect millions of images from a swath of water spanning the entire continental shelf, producing one of the most comprehensive plankton datasets ever collected. Sosik is now working to apply artificial intelligence and machine learning to analyze this massive treasure trove of biological and environmental data. The findings are certain to revolutionize our understanding of plankton community dynamics, with implications for ocean food webs, fisheries, and global climate.

    See the full article here .

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute

    Vision & Mission

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

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

     
  • richardmitnick 10:32 am on August 19, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Stanford researchers develop new way to study ocean life", , , , Oceanography,   

    From Stanford University: “Stanford researchers develop new way to study ocean life” 

    Stanford University Name
    From Stanford University

    August 17, 2020

    Manu Prakash
    Bioengineering
    (617) 820-4811
    manup@stanford.edu

    Deepak Krishnamurthy
    Mechanical Engineering
    (650) 308-6533
    deepak90@stanford.edu

    Rob Jordan
    Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment
    (650) 721-1881
    rjordan@stanford.edu

    By Rob Jordan

    Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment

    Like spirits passing between worlds, billions of invisible beings rise to meet the starlight, then descend into darkness at sunrise. Microscopic plankton’s daily journey between the ocean’s depths and surface holds the key to understanding crucial planetary processes, but has remained largely a mystery until now. A new Stanford-developed rotating microscope, outlined in a study published Aug. 17 in Nature Methods, offers for the first time a way to track and measure these enigmatic microorganisms’ behaviors and molecular processes as they undertake on their daily vertical migrations.

    “This is a completely new way of studying life in the ocean,” said study first author Deepak Krishnamurthy, a mechanical engineering PhD student at Stanford.

    The innovation could provide a new window into the secret life of ocean organisms and ecosystems, said study senior author Manu Prakash, associate professor of bioengineering at Stanford. “It opens scientific possibilities we had only dreamed of until now.”


    Marine microorganisms often travel extreme vertical distances, but studying such behaviors has been limited by a lack of available technology. Now, a team of Stanford researchers has created the “gravity machine,” a microscope that tracks organisms in a rotating fluid-filled wheel, simulating an infinite vertical distance.

    Oceanic mysteries

    On Earth, half of all the conversion of carbon to organic compounds occurs in the ocean, with plankton doing most of that work. The tiny creatures’ outsized role in this process, known as carbon fixation, and other important planetary cycles has been hard to study in the ocean’s vertically stratified landscape which involves vast depth and time scales.

    2
    Stanford researchers Manu Prakash and Deepak Krishnamurthy use a rotating microscope that they developed to observe for the first time a single-cell diatom, a type of plankton, as it changes its density to move through water. (Image credit: Hongquan Li.)

    Conventional approaches to sampling plankton are focused on large populations of the microorganisms and have typically lacked the resolution to measure behaviors and processes of individual plankton over ecological scales. As a result, we know very little about microscale biological and molecular processes in the ocean, such as how plankton sense and regulate their depth or even how they can remain suspended in the water column despite having no appendages that aid in mobility.

    “I could attach a tag to a whale and see where it goes, but as things get smaller and smaller it becomes extremely difficult to know and understand their native behavior,” Prakash said. “How do we get closer to the native behavior of a microscopic object, and give it the freedom that it deserves because the ocean is so large a space and extremely vertically oriented?”

    To bridge the gap, Prakash and researchers in his lab developed a vertical tracking microscope based on what they call a “hydrodynamic treadmill.” The idea involves a simple yet elegant insight: a circular geometry provides an infinite water column ring that can be used to simulate ocean depths. Organisms injected into this fluid-filled circular chamber move about freely as the device tracks them and rotates to accommodate their motion. A camera feeds full-resolution color images of the plankton and other microscopic marine critters into a computer for closed-loop feedback control. The device can also recreate depth characteristics in the ocean, such as light intensity, creating what the researchers call a “virtual reality environment” for single cells.

    The team has deployed the instrument for field testing at Stanford’s Hopkins Marine Station in Monterey, in Puerto Rico and also on a research vessel off the coast of Hawaii. The innovative microscope has already revealed various microorganisms’ behaviors previously unknown to science. For example, it exposed in minute detail how larvae of marine creatures from the Californian coast, such as the bat star, sea cucumber and Pacific sand dollar employ various methods to move through the sea, ranging from a steady hover to frequent changes in ciliary beat and swimming motion or blinks. This could allow scientists to better understand dispersal properties of these unique organisms in the open ocean. The device has also revealed the vertical swimming behaviors of single-celled organisms such as marine dinoflagellates, which could allow scientists to link these behaviors to ecological phenomena such as algal blooms.

    In Puerto Rico, Krishnamurthy and Prakash were shocked to observe a diatom, a microorganism with no swimming appendages, repeatedly change its own density to drop and rise in the water – a puzzling behavior that still remains a mystery.

    “It’s as if someone told you a stone could float and then sink and then float again,” Krishnamurthy said.

    Bringing the ocean to the lab

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    Stanford researchers Adam Larson, Delphine Mion, Deepak Krishnamurthy, Hongquan Li and Manu Prakash stand next to the rotating microscope they developed to study ocean-bound microorganisms. (Image credit: Laurel Kroo, PrakashLab.)

    Prakash credit the device’s success to the interdisciplinary nature of his lab’s team, which includes electrical, mechanical and optical engineers, as well as computer scientists, physicists, cell biologists, ecologists and biochemists. The team is working to extend the microscope’s capabilities further by virtually mapping all aspects of the physical parameters that an organism experiences as it dives into depths of the ocean, including environmental and chemical cues and hydrostatic pressure.

    “To truly understand biological processes at play in the ocean at smallest length scales, we are excited to both bring a piece of the ocean to the lab, and simultaneously bring a little piece of the lab to the ocean,” said Prakash.

    See the full article here .


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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Stanford University campus. No image credit

    Stanford University

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

    Stanford University Seal

     
  • richardmitnick 11:44 am on August 12, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Beneath the Ocean a World of Mountains", , , , , Oceanography, Seamounts are associated with more than 1300 different species of animals., Seamounts are formed where Earth’s crust and upper mantle is active at the bottom of the deep sea., The small fraction of seamounts that have been studied suggest they are extraordinary places teeming with life swirling with energy., Thousands of extinct volcanoes are rising thousands of meters from the ocean floor., U Plymouth UK   

    From U Plymouth UK via Nautilus: “Beneath the Ocean, a World of Mountains” 

    1

    From U Plymouth UK

    via

    Nautilus

    August 2020
    Catherine Schmitt

    Scientists don’t even know how many seamounts there are—but the few they’ve explored are extraordinary.

    1
    Looking up from the slopes of Egmont Atoll, some 200 feet below the ocean surface. Credit: University of Plymouth.

    There are mountains in the sea.

    From tens of thousands of extinct volcanoes rising thousands of meters from the ocean floor, to hundreds of thousands or even millions of smaller knolls, hills and ridges, seamounts are abundant features of the world’s ocean.

    That these numbers are so unsettled speaks to just how much remains to be learned about seamounts. Yet the small fraction that have been studied suggest they are extraordinary places, teeming with life, swirling with energy.

    Seamounts are formed where Earth’s crust and upper mantle is active at the bottom of the deep sea: at the boundaries of shifting and spreading tectonic plates, near volcanic island chains and archipelagos. Some seamounts have the conical shape of extinct volcanoes, though most have eroded over time, their mountainsides slumped, debris tumbling into the abyss.

    Formed by magma eruptions and lava flows that calmed and cooled into rocky basalt crags, metallic crusts, and volcanic sand, seamounts are hard, vertical structures in an otherwise soft and horizontal deep sea bed. They present a surface where suspension-feeding invertebrates can settle and grow. Sponges and cold-water corals in a kaleidoscope of shapes—bugles, fans, pens, spirals, pillars, domes—are visited and tended by sea stars, sea lilies, sea spiders, urchins, anemones, octopus, spiny lobsters, and fish.

    Seamounts are associated with more than 1,300 different species of animals. Some are unique to seamount habitats. A few, such as the spiny lobster Jasus caveorum of the Foundation Seamounts in the southeastern Pacific Ocean, or Gnathophis codoniphorus, a conger eel found on the Great Meteor seamount in the Northeast Atlantic, live nowhere else but a single seamount. These are creatures most beautiful and bizarre, striped, spotted, fang-toothed and jut-jawed, fringed, finned, tentacled, tendrilled.

    All are fed by the seamount itself, which intercepts currents and tides and enhances the flow of food and nutrients falling from above or welling up from below. The creatures of the seamount change with depth, from a summit that may be in the sunlit zone, swirling with schooling fish, down through layers of scattered light, to the darkness thousands of meters below. Some shrimp, crabs, and tube worms spend their entire lives in the murky mineral plumes of hydrothermal vents.

    A kaleidoscopic array of fish seen from a remotely operated underwater vehicle (ROV) on the summit of the Sandes seamount. Among the fish are longfin bannerfish, bluefin trevally, humpback red snapper, and grouper. Credit: University of Plymouth | Nicola Foster.

    Life attracts life, and seamounts are megafauna magnets. Whales, tuna, billfish, swordfish, turtles, rays, and sharks all spend time at seamounts, sometimes in great numbers.

    Sharks are the focus of David Jacoby, a biologist at the Zoological Society of London and part of a team studying sharks at the Sandes and Schwartz seamounts of the Chagos Archipelago in the British Indian Ocean Territory. Seamounts “can act as beacons,” he said, attracting sharks who dwell in the open ocean but remain at the seamounts “for days on end.” Similarly, a study of reef manta rays in the Chagos Archipelago, led by Samantha Andrzejaczek of Stanford University, found that some rays left their usual waters around the archipelago’s atolls to spend a few days or weeks at Schwartz seamount.

    Sharks are obviously attracted by the abundance of prey, but what, exactly, causes that abundance?

    Jacoby has noticed that sharks tend to congregate at seamount edges, where the steeply sloping sides drop off, but not over the summit. His collaborator Phil Hosegood, a physical oceanographer at the University of Plymouth, found that as underwater currents and tidal flows approach the sloping sides of Schwartz seamount, underwater waves form and break, causing turbulence and more waves that can suspend sediment, increase diffusion of nutrients, and support schools of forage fish.

    “Seamounts really are like marine oases,” said Hosegood. “When we arrive on site, we can usually tell where the seamount is because we get surrounded by large numbers of sharks at the surface.” Underwater video footage shows dazzling arrays of pristine corals teeming with fish, said Hosegood, and “one can’t help but feel enormously privileged to witness the abundance and diversity of marine life that still survives.”

    Researchers steering an ROV spy a scalloped hammerhead shark on a seamount in the Chagos Archipelago. Credit: University of Plymouth | Nicola Foster.

    The British Indian Ocean Territory’s seamounts are protected by their isolation and by the region’s designation as a no-take Marine Protected Area in 2010, making it off-limits to commercial fishing. Illegal fishing still takes place, however, and Jacoby and Hosegood hope their insights into shark movement patterns can guide enforcement.

    “Almost all seamounts around the world would typically once have been host to a similarly rich array of life,” said Hosegood, “but overfishing has largely wiped out the fish stocks that represent a critical component of the food chain, leading to an inevitable collapse in the top predator population that depends on the fish.”

    The loss of fish is not the only impact; in heavily fished areas, seamounts are scarred by fishing trawls, littered with coral rubble and stumps, and strewn with lost gear. Cold-water corals and sponges grow just a few millimeters per year and live for millennia, making them especially vulnerable to such damage. Globally, only one to two percent of seamounts are within protected areas.

    “All seamounts should be protected in perpetuity,” wrote marine biologists Les Watling of the University of Hawaii at Manoa and Peter Auster of the University of Connecticut in 2017. They decried not only the impacts of fishing but those expected from proposed deep-sea mining for rare metals. Watling and Auster called for the United Nations to designate seamounts in the high seas as Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems, protecting them from destructive fishing and mining practices.

    “They are islands of rich megafaunal biodiversity in the deep ocean, they are home to untold numbers of fragile and long-lived species,” wrote Watling and Auster, “and they also may harbor large numbers of smaller species so far undiscovered.”

    Once protected, seamount communities can recover. After several decades without fishing at some of the Emperor Seamounts near Hawai’i, corals are regrowing from stumps, filling in trawl scars, and helping to seed nearby areas that are still fished.

    Concern for seamounts accumulates with each new survey, each cruise to the shark-filled slopes, and each dive into their deep valleys. There are mountains in the sea, and they are magnificent.

    See the full article here.

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

     
  • richardmitnick 7:41 am on July 21, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Winning the war on Great Barrier Reef crown-of-thorns starfish", , , , , Oceanography   

    From CSIROscope: “Winning the war on Great Barrier Reef crown-of-thorns starfish” 

    CSIRO bloc

    From CSIROscope

    21 July 2020
    Amy Edwards

    1
    Crown of thorns starfish on coral at Rib Reef near Townsville. Credit: David Westcott.

    It’s taken a well-coordinated army, but researchers and reef managers are finally toppling the crown.

    The crown-of-thorns starfish that is.

    These hungry critters have been a long-time predator of coral. Their tasty battle ground is the beautiful Great Barrier Reef.

    They feed by extruding their stomach out of their bodies and onto the coral reef. Then they use enzymes to digest the coral polyps.

    Crown-of-thorns starfish (COTS) are a native coral predator. But when populations reach outbreak status (about 15 starfish per hectare), they eat hard corals faster than they can grow. During an outbreak, crown-of-thorns starfish can eat 90 per cent of live coral tissue on a reef. This puts added pressure on the reef on top of threats like bleaching and climate change.

    Scientists don’t know what causes outbreaks of COTS. But they think ocean ‘stressors’ play a part. This includes spikes in ocean nutrients caused by coastal and agricultural run-off into the ocean as well as a loss of predators due to overfishing.

    Now for the good news. An adaptive approach to managing the coral-eating starfish has reduced their numbers at key reefs. So much so they can no longer consume coral faster than it can grow back.

    You and what army?

    2
    A diver collects a starfish for research. Credit: David Westcott.

    The Great Barrier Reef is currently in the midst of its fourth major COTS outbreak since the 1960s.

    This current outbreak has been underway since 2010. Researchers, working with the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, have been testing their new management strategy on more than 160 priority reefs across the Great Barrier Reef. Professional COTS divers (including Indigenous and youth trainees) and control vessel operators have culled more than 700,000 starfish.

    The new process means the team can adapt quickly based on up-to-date information. It also considers research on the starfish’s biology and reef ecology.

    The secret weapon against crown-of-thorns starfish on the Great Barrier Reef

    3
    Crown of thorns starfish surrounded by the white dead coral it has eaten. Credit: David Westcott.

    And what does this army use to slay the crown? Vinegar. Yep, the same trusty condiment found in your kitchen cupboard.

    Divers inject the starfish with either vinegar or bile salt solution and leave them in place on the reef. These techniques kill quickly and effectively with no negative impacts on the marine environment. Within 24 hours there’s basically nothing left of the starfish, who go into an autoimmune self-destructive process.

    Victory for the taking

    The Expanded Crown-of-Thorns Starfish Control Program’s success marks a huge milestone for scientists, managers and on-water control teams. They have shown their approach to culling is effective at reef and regional scales.

    As a result, the Federal Government has awarded contracts worth $28.6 million to help win the war against COTS.

    The government has committed five, fully-crewed boats over the next two years. This will address what remains one of the most significant threats to the reef.

    More information on the crown of thorns starfish great barrier reef research is in the recently published technical report.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) is a radio telescope array located at Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO) in the Australian Mid West. ASKAP consists of 36 identical parabolic antennas, each 12 metres in diameter, working together as a single instrument with a total collecting area of approximately 4,000 square metres.


    So what can we expect these new radio projects to discover? We have no idea, but history tells us that they are almost certain to deliver some major surprises.

    Making these new discoveries may not be so simple. Gone are the days when astronomers could just notice something odd as they browse their tables and graphs.

    Nowadays, astronomers are more likely to be distilling their answers from carefully-posed queries to databases containing petabytes of data. Human brains are just not up to the job of making unexpected discoveries in these circumstances, and instead we will need to develop “learning machines” to help us discover the unexpected.

    With the right tools and careful insight, who knows what we might find.

    CSIRO campus

    CSIRO, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, is Australia’s national science agency and one of the largest and most diverse research agencies in the world.

     
  • richardmitnick 8:22 am on July 15, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Stanford lab develops high-tech tools to study whales in the wild", , , Oceanography,   

    From Stanford University: “Stanford lab develops high-tech tools to study whales in the wild” 

    Stanford University Name
    From Stanford University

    July 15, 2020
    Taylor Kubota

    1
    Researchers aboard a rigid-hull boats deploy a suction-cup tag on a humpback whale near the coast of Moss Landing, California. (Image credit: Taylor Kubota)

    With innovative tools and access to some of the most whale-friendly waters in the world, Stanford researchers aim to demystify the lives, biology and behavior of the largest creatures on Earth.

    Video by Kurt Hickman

    Stanford researchers and their collaborators use various technologies to better understand rorqual whales – a group of whales that includes humpback, minke, fin and blue whales. These awe-inspiring giants are challenging to study and, therefore, we know surprisingly little about them.

    Scanning the airwaves over Monterey Bay with a hand-held antenna, Stanford University researchers listen for blue whales – or, more precisely, they listen for the suction tags they’ve stuck on blue whales. The first beep sounds and the captain whips the boat on course, following the quickening signal to find the surfacing giant. The three-person crew must reach the animal before it disappears under the ocean, hidden from sight, radar and study for another 10 minutes. [Note: This research was conducted prior to the novel coronavirus pandemic, and has been on hold in accordance with current guidance regarding research operations.]

    The crew in this fast-paced chase hails from the lab of Jeremy Goldbogen, assistant professor of biology in the School of Humanities and Sciences at Stanford’s Hopkins Marine Station. In the Monterey Bay and around the world, Goldbogen and his team employ drones, sound-based mapping equipment, and sensor-packed tags to demystify the lives and biology of rorqual whales – large whales that feed by lunging at groups of prey and filtering water through baleen plates. These include humpback, minke, fin and of course blue whales, which at nearly 100-feet long are the largest creatures known to have ever lived.

    “The largest animals of all time can’t be in a laboratory in a building, so we’ve been developing technology that pushes the envelope in terms of understanding how animals operate in the open ocean,” said Goldbogen.

    Even the most basic information the scientists can capture about whales could help improve conservation efforts and inform whale-inspired technologies, such as more maneuverable ships. They are especially interested in uncovering how life operates in animals of such extreme size, which leads them to ask surprisingly simple questions: How much do whales eat? How much energy do they spend on feeding? How big do they really get? How do they move? What’s their heart rate?

    “Whales are even bigger than dinosaurs were and it’s fascinating that they were able to get this big on the same Earth that we’re on,” said Shirel Kahane-Rapport, a graduate student in the Goldbogen lab. “We study them because, at their size, they face all these complex behavioral and environmental interactions that no other animal has ever experienced.”

    Over the years, the lab’s approach has detailed how whales feed, offered an explanation for blue whales’ susceptibility to crashes with cargo ships and revealed never-before-documented swimming strokes in humpbacks.

    2
    3

    Research from every angle

    Out on the water, the research team consists of about 40 people distributed across a small, motley fleet consisting of large research vessels and small, rigid-hulled inflatable boats. The scientists represent many collaborating institutions, including Moss Landing Marine Labs, Cascadia Research Collective, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the University of California, Santa Cruz. Together, these people perform an intricate data-collecting dance, the first step of which is whale watching.

    Sitting atop one of the large ships, spotters direct the small boats to whales for tagging. If all goes well, the small boat steers alongside a surfacing whale and one of the researchers, wielding a 6-meter-long carbon fiber pole, sticks a tag to the animal. The suction-cup attach tag is designed to stay on for 12-24 hours but can often remain attached for several days. This process is easier said than done, though. The ride is fast and choppy and the researcher doing the tagging must scramble atop a small metal pulpit that juts out past the bow in order to reach the whale.

    Blue whales rise and submerge in obvious patterns – typically about 10 minutes underwater and three minutes above – and sometimes give the researchers early notice, thanks to their namesake blue glow. Humpbacks, by contrast, are more challenging, moving faster and less predictably.

    “We are so fortunate to get to do this tagging; to be able to be so close to these majestic animals,” said David Cade, a former graduate student in the Goldbogen lab. “You only get a brief second at it but you remember every one of them, every time you put out a tag.”

    Ideally, while the tag is being attached, another researcher on the small boat simultaneously obtains a biopsy of the same whale by pricking it with a special arrow, shot from a low-powered crossbow. In place of a standard tip, the arrow’s head collects a small plug of blubber. Almost immediately after it makes contact, the arrow falls into the water and the researchers pick it up. If the biopsy isn’t taken at the same time the tag is placed, the researchers can track the whale down again using the tag’s signal – it’s better to have tag and biopsy data from the same whale rather than one of each from two different whales.

    While all this is happening on the small boats, the large boats are conducting projects of their own. They deploy a large drone to record the whales from above, while also activating soundwave-based equipment to map the fish and krill the whales are feeding on below.

    From the tag alone, the researchers have video, audio and 3D traces of how the whales move during diving and feeding, which they can match with the acoustic prey maps. The biopsy provides information about the sex of each whale, how they’re related and their hormone levels. Whereas previous records of whale size depended on strandings and hunting, the drone surveys a sample that better represents the current population.

    “I use data from an old Norwegian whaling gazette, which is cool but only records whales that were killed,” said Kahane-Rapport. “They probably hunted the biggest whales, so that may have changed the sizes in the population. We want to know what size they are now.”

    Altogether, the work of these researchers builds the picture of how individual, living whales grow, move, hunt and sustain themselves down in their watery world.

    “You need a team like the one Jeremy’s assembled to have this kind of access to this incredible ecosystem,” said Matthew Savoca, a postdoctoral scholar in the Goldbogen lab. “You have people measuring all these different aspects and together they’ll make a really complete and incredible story. It’s been a fantastic experience and one that couldn’t be done alone.”

    Arts and crafts

    Over the years, the complexity of the lab’s custom-made tags has grown. In order to try new tags quickly and affordably, the lab takes what Goldbogen calls an “arts and crafts” approach. They almost always rely on off-the-shelf sensors and a simple, 3D-printed shell and they have collaborated closely with a tag manufacturing company in Australia to bring all the parts together. Tags from research past, now broken or obsolete, earn places on shelves in the lab dubbed, “The Whale Tag Graveyard” and the “Whale Tag Hall of Fame.”

    The lab’s latest tag innovation is a heart rate monitor, which detects the electrical signals of the heart via two electrodes embedded in the suction cups. This monitor worked on its very first outing, giving the researchers the first-ever recording of the heart rate of a blue whale as it dove, fed and surfaced.

    One of the small boats is also the testing ground for a modified version of their prey mapping sonar. Usually, this sonar is deployed from the hull of a larger vessel but if they can get this technology to work on smaller boats, they’ll be able to evaluate prey closer to the whales, which could enable more detailed insight into the creatures’ feeding behaviors.

    Amidst all the excitement of inventing new technologies, gathering data out on the water and making fundamental discoveries about whales, the part of this work that Goldbogen treasures most is how it benefits his students.

    “The most rewarding thing for me is seeing the students take on these roles and responsibilities and doing such an incredible job,” said Goldbogen. “Often, the one thing I can do is step aside and let them start to lead and build those responsibilities. To see a smile on the face of a student that’s been working on this project for years is really rewarding.”

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings
    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Stanford University campus. No image credit

    Stanford University

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

    Stanford University Seal

     
  • richardmitnick 10:36 am on July 10, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "A ‘regime shift’ is happening in the Arctic Ocean, , , Increasing ability to soak up carbon dioxide, , Oceanography, Stanford scientists say", , The Arctic is a region that is warming faster than anywhere else on Earth., The growth of phytoplankton in the Arctic Ocean has increased 57 percent over just two decades., The researchers hypothesize that a new influx of nutrients is flowing in from other oceans and sweeping up from the Arctic’s depths., The Stanford team uncovered evidence that continued increases in production may no longer be as limited by scarce nutrients as once suspected., These microscopic algae were once metabolizing more carbon across the Arctic simply because they were gaining more open water over longer growing seasons.   

    From Stanford University: “A ‘regime shift’ is happening in the Arctic Ocean, Stanford scientists say” 

    Stanford University Name
    From Stanford University

    July 9, 2020

    Media Contacts
    Josie Garthwaite
    School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences:
    (650) 497-0947
    josieg@stanford.edu

    Kevin Arrigo
    School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences:
    (650) 723-3599
    arrigo@stanford.edu

    Stanford scientists find the growth of phytoplankton in the Arctic Ocean has increased 57 percent over just two decades, enhancing its ability to soak up carbon dioxide. While once linked to melting sea ice, the increase is now propelled by rising concentrations of tiny algae.

    Scientists at Stanford University have discovered a surprising shift in the Arctic Ocean. Exploding blooms of phytoplankton, the tiny algae at the base of a food web topped by whales and polar bears, have drastically altered the Arctic’s ability to transform atmospheric carbon into living matter. Over the past decade, the surge has replaced sea ice loss as the biggest driver of changes in uptake of carbon dioxide by phytoplankton.

    1
    A phytoplankton bloom in the Barents Sea turned surface waters a milky blue in July 2016. (Image credit: Jeff Schmaltz and Joshua Stevens, LANCE/EOSDIS Rapid Response, NASA)

    The research appears July 10 in Science. Senior author Kevin Arrigo, a professor in Stanford’s School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences (Stanford Earth), said the growing influence of phytoplankton biomass may represent a “significant regime shift” for the Arctic, a region that is warming faster than anywhere else on Earth.

    The study centers on net primary production (NPP), a measure of how quickly plants and algae convert sunlight and carbon dioxide into sugars that other creatures can eat. “The rates are really important in terms of how much food there is for the rest of the ecosystem,” Arrigo said. “It’s also important because this is one of the main ways that CO2 is pulled out of the atmosphere and into the ocean.”

    A thickening soup

    Arrigo and colleagues found that NPP in the Arctic increased 57 percent between 1998 and 2018. That’s an unprecedented jump in productivity for an entire ocean basin. More surprising is the discovery that while NPP increases were initially linked to retreating sea ice, productivity continued to climb even after melting slowed down around 2009. “The increase in NPP over the past decade is due almost exclusively to a recent increase in phytoplankton biomass,” Arrigo said.

    Put another way, these microscopic algae were once metabolizing more carbon across the Arctic simply because they were gaining more open water over longer growing seasons, thanks to climate-driven changes in ice cover. Now, they are growing more concentrated, like a thickening algae soup.

    “In a given volume of water, more phytoplankton were able to grow each year,” said lead study author Kate Lewis, who worked on the research as a PhD student in Stanford’s Department of Earth System Science. “This is the first time this has been reported in the Arctic Ocean.”

    2
    The left image shows the Arctic Ocean with its shelf seas and basin. Green arrows indicate inflow currents; purple arrows indicate outflow currents. The right image shows the rate of change in chlorophyll in the Arctic Ocean between 1998 and 2018, measured in milligrams per cubic meter per year. Gray lines outline subregions. Black pixels indicate no data. (Image credit: Kate Lewis. Data source: NASA)

    New food supplies

    Phytoplankton require light and nutrients to grow. But the availability and intermingling of these ingredients throughout the water column depend on complex factors. As a result, although Arctic researchers have observed phytoplankton blooms going into overdrive in recent decades, they have debated how long the boom might last and how high it may climb.

    By assembling a massive new collection of ocean color measurements for the Arctic Ocean and building new algorithms to estimate phytoplankton concentrations from them, the Stanford team uncovered evidence that continued increases in production may no longer be as limited by scarce nutrients as once suspected. “It’s still early days, but it looks like now there is a shift to greater nutrient supply,” said Arrigo, the Donald and Donald M. Steel Professor in Earth Sciences.

    The researchers hypothesize that a new influx of nutrients is flowing in from other oceans and sweeping up from the Arctic’s depths. “We knew the Arctic had increased production in the last few years, but it seemed possible the system was just recycling the same store of nutrients,” Lewis said. “Our study shows that’s not the case. Phytoplankton are absorbing more carbon year after year as new nutrients come into this ocean. That was unexpected, and it has big ecological impacts.”

    Decoding the Arctic

    The researchers were able to extract these insights from measures of the green plant pigment chlorophyll taken by satellite sensors and research cruises. But because of the unusual interplay of light, color and life in the Arctic, the work required new algorithms. “The Arctic Ocean is the most difficult place in the world to do satellite remote sensing,” Arrigo explained. “Algorithms that work everywhere else in the world – that look at the color of the ocean to judge how much phytoplankton are there – do not work in the Arctic at all.”

    The difficulty stems in part from a huge volume of incoming tea-colored river water, which carries dissolved organic matter that remote sensors mistake for chlorophyll. Additional complexity comes from the unusual ways in which phytoplankton have adapted to the Arctic’s extremely low light. “When you use global satellite remote sensing algorithms in the Arctic Ocean, you end up with serious errors in your estimates,” said Lewis.

    Yet these remote-sensing data are essential for understanding long-term trends across an ocean basin in one of the world’s most extreme environments, where a single direct measurement of NPP may require 24 hours of round-the-clock work by a team of scientists aboard an icebreaker, Lewis said. She painstakingly curated sets of ocean color and NPP measurements, then used the compiled database to build algorithms tuned to the Arctic’s unique conditions. Both the database and the algorithms are now available for public use.

    The work helps to illuminate how climate change will shape the Arctic Ocean’s future productivity, food supply and capacity to absorb carbon. “There’s going to be winners and losers,” Arrigo said. “A more productive Arctic means more food for lots of animals. But many animals that have adapted to live in a polar environment are finding life more difficult as the ice retreats.”

    Phytoplankton growth may also peak out of sync with the rest of the food web because ice is melting earlier in the year. Add to that the likelihood of more shipping traffic as Arctic waters open up, and the fact that the Arctic is simply too small to take much of a bite out of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. “It’s taking in a lot more carbon than it used to take in,” Arrigo said, “but it’s not something we’re going to be able to rely on to help us out of our climate problem.”

    See the full article here .


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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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

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  • richardmitnick 8:12 am on July 7, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "UW EarthLab and The Nippon Foundation launch Ocean Nexus Center", , , Oceanography,   

    From University of Washington: “UW EarthLab and The Nippon Foundation launch Ocean Nexus Center” 

    From University of Washington

    June 30, 2020
    Jackson Holtz

    1
    The University of Washington and The Nippon Foundation today announced the launch of the Nippon Foundation Ocean Nexus Center, an interdisciplinary research group at the UW that studies changes, responses and solutions to societal issues that emerge in relationship with the oceans.Cassiano Psomas/Unsplash

    The University of Washington and The Nippon Foundation today announced the Nippon Foundation Ocean Nexus Center, an interdisciplinary research group at the UW that studies changes, responses and solutions to societal issues that emerge in relationship with the oceans. The Center will bring uncompromised, critical voices to policy and public conversations to enable research and studies equaling $32.5 million spread over 10 years.

    “The sustenance of humanity depends on our mother ocean,” said Yohei Sasakawa, chairman of The Nippon Foundation. “And so today, I am happy to announce this new partnership with the University of Washington to embark on a long-term commitment to ensure our ocean’s health, 10,000 years into the future. As an NGO that brings together diverse stakeholders to address the complex challenges facing our oceans, we felt that partnering with the University of Washington, a world leader in not only the ocean and environment, but in multidisciplinary collaboration and research, was a perfect fit. I am excited that the next generation of thought leaders will be emerging from this center to share their research findings to guide the world toward ocean sustainability.”

    Based on the philosophy of passing on sustainable oceans to future generations, The Nippon Foundation of Tokyo has been working for over three decades with governments, international organizations, nongovernmental organizations and research institutions to foster 1,430 ocean professionals from 150 countries. The Ocean Nexus Center will be housed in UW EarthLab, an institute established in 2015 to connect UW research with community partners to discover equitable solutions to our most complex environmental challenges.

    “Ocean Nexus exists to bridge the gap between decision makers, policy makers and the communities most affected and dependent on the oceans,” said Yoshitaka Ota, the Center’s director and a research assistant professor in UW School of Marine and Environmental Affairs. “This is a chance to do something bold and really push the boundaries of understanding our relationship with oceans, and that’s what I’m excited to do.”

    The Center aims to build the next generation of ocean thought leadership by offering opportunities, networks and training for early-career interdisciplinary scholars. The research is global and seeks to embrace cultural diversity and community sovereignty. Current UW partners include the School of Public Health, the Information School and the Daniel J. Evans School of Public Policy & Governance.

    “Without EarthLab we couldn’t have done this,” Ota said. “This is a very complex operation. We’re taking a quite unorthodox approach to environmental issues. But that’s why this is a perfect fit for EarthLab, because they’re lightning-focused on collaborations that can lead to equitable change.”

    “We know that the world’s oceans are in trouble and that the communities that rely on oceans the most for life and livelihood are more likely to suffer and need to be engaged,” said Ben Packard, EarthLab’s executive director. “We are thrilled to partner with The Nippon Foundation to support the Ocean Nexus Center to build capacity for transdisciplinary research and bring an equity and justice lens to ocean governance.”

    Researchers already know that environmental changes, such as pollution and ocean acidification, can cause health and economic impacts on communities. But scientists and decision-makers still do not have all of the information to implement solutions that take into account those most in need.

    The Center will leverage the natural-science-oriented network created through the Nippon Foundation Nereus Program, an international initiative comprising an interdisciplinary team of 20 institutes. To date, researchers from 13 other universities from around the world, in the U.S., Canada, Europe, Malaysia and more, have already signed on to new interdisciplinary projects with Ocean Nexus. Topics cover a range of issues including ocean acidification adaptation, sustainable development of oceans, equitable allocation of transboundary fisheries, and gender in ocean governance.

    As policy director of the Nereus Program, Ota brings more than a decade of experience exploring ways to take a human-centered approach to resolving ocean issues. Unfortunately, class and power determine who benefits from the ocean and who does not, he said.

    “What’s the gap?” he asked. “With the right evidence and policies, we can bridge that gap equitably and create shared and classless oceans for all.”

    See the full article here .


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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

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    The University of Washington is one of the world’s preeminent public universities. Our impact on individuals, on our region, and on the world is profound — whether we are launching young people into a boundless future or confronting the grand challenges of our time through undaunted research and scholarship. Ranked number 10 in the world in Shanghai Jiao Tong University rankings and educating more than 54,000 students annually, our students and faculty work together to turn ideas into impact and in the process transform lives and our world. For more about our impact on the world, every day.
    So what defines us —the students, faculty and community members at the University of Washington? Above all, it’s our belief in possibility and our unshakable optimism. It’s a connection to others, both near and far. It’s a hunger that pushes us to tackle challenges and pursue progress. It’s the conviction that together we can create a world of good. Join us on the journey.

     
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