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  • richardmitnick 10:13 am on January 8, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Tipping point in Humboldt Current off Peru leads to species shift", Paleo-oceanography, , Researchers reconstruct link between ocean warming and shift to smaller fish species using sediment samples from the Humboldt Current System., The Kiel University [Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel (DE), The sea off the west coast of South America is one of the most vital and productive fishing grounds on earth.   

    From The Kiel University [Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel (DE): “Tipping point in Humboldt Current off Peru leads to species shift” 

    From The Kiel University [Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel] (DE)


    Scientific contacts:
    Dr. Renato Salvatteci
    Kiel University
    Center for Ocean and Society
    0431/880 6598

    Prof. Dr. Ralph Schneider
    Kiel University,
    Institute of Geosciences

    Fishing vessel off the coast of Peru in the Humboldt upwelling system, one of the most productive ecosystems in the world. © Martin Visbeck, GEOMAR [Helmholtz-Zentrum für Ozeanforschung Kiel](DE).

    Researchers reconstruct link between ocean warming and shift to smaller fish species using sediment samples from the Humboldt Current System.

    Fundamental changes in the ocean, such as warming, acidification or oxygen depletion, may have significant consequences for the composition of fish stocks, including the displacement of individual species. Researchers at Kiel University (CAU), together with colleagues from Germany, Canada, the USA, and France, have reconstructed environmental conditions of the warm period 125,000 years ago (Eemian interglacial) using sediment samples from the Humboldt Current System off Peru. They were able to show that, at warmer temperatures, mainly smaller, goby-like fish species became dominant and pushed back important food fish such as the anchovy (Engraulis ringens). The trend is independent of fishing pressure and fisheries management. According to the study, the greater warming of the Humboldt Current System as result of climate change has more far-reaching implications for the ecosystem and the global fishing industry than previously thought. The findings appeared in the journal Science, January 7.

    The sea off the west coast of South America is one of the most vital and productive fishing grounds on earth. Around eight percent of the global catch of marine species comes from the areas off the coasts of Peru, where the near-surface Humboldt Current provides a high nutrient supply and thus sufficient food for commercially exploited fish species such as the anchovy. Ten percent of the total global catch of anchovies alone comes from the region. Much of it is processed into fish meal and oil and used primarily for aquacultures in China and Norway. However, catches of anchovy in the Humboldt upwelling system are currently declining. The causes of species shifts are mainly due to climate change according to the results of the new study.

    Researchers from the Institute of Geosciences at Kiel University, together with colleagues from GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research and international partners, have for the first time investigated the relationships between temperature, oxygen, nutrient supply and the occurrence of individual fish species using paleo-oceanographic data from the Humboldt Current region. The scientists focused on the warm period about 125,000 years ago (Eemian interglacial). During this time, conditions were similar to those predicted by climate projections (e.g., the IPCC report) for the end of the 21st century at the latest: comparable primary production but water temperatures two degrees Celsius higher than today and increased oxygen deficiency in mid-depth water masses.

    First author of the study Renato Salvatteci taking samples on the research vessel Meteor during a cruise off Peru. © Martin Visbeck, GEOMAR.

    For their paleo-oceanographic studies, the researchers at Kiel University primarily analyzed small fish vertebrae that they were able to isolate from the sediment cores. According to the results, smaller, goby-like fish predominated in coastal waters during the ancient warm period, while anchovies made up only a small proportion. Fish with smaller body sizes can adapt better to warmer temperatures. They retain their high activity even in less oxygenated waters thanks to their larger gill surface area relative to their body volume.

    “The conditions of this past warm period that we were able to reconstruct from our samples can definitely be compared to the current development and put in context with future scenarios”, says first author of the study, Dr. Renato Salvatteci, who is currently working at the Center for Ocean and Society of the Kiel Marine Science (KMS) priority research area at Kiel University and in the BMBF-funded Humboldt-Tipping project. “According to this, there is a clear regime shift towards smaller fish that feel more comfortable in the warm, lower-oxygen conditions. We conclude from our results that the effects of human-induced climate change may have a stronger influence on the evolution of stocks in the region than previously thought”, Salvatteci added. Smaller fish are harder to catch and less palatable. According to the report, the impact on the Peru region, local fisheries income and global trade in anchovies could be far-reaching – potentially affecting global food security.

    “Our studies using sediment cores can give us fairly accurate information about the changes and their dynamics in highly productive coastal waters around the world that have occurred in the wake of different climate states and over different time scales”, explains Professor Ralph Schneider, a paleoclimate researcher at the Institute of Geosciences at Kiel University and co-author of the study.

    Sediment cores provide decisive information about past conditions and species composition. © Renato Salvatteci, Kiel University.

    The results indicate that due to increasing warming in the Humboldt Current upwelling area, the ecosystem is heading towards a tipping point beyond which anchovy will begin to retreat and not continue to dominate nearshore fishing grounds. “Despite a flexible, sustainable and adaptive management strategy, anchovy biomass and landings have declined, suggesting that we are closer to the ecological tipping point than suspected”, summarizes lead author Renato Salvatteci.

    The results of the study help to better assess the extent to which a warming ocean can provide sufficient food for the world’s population and what changes should be expected for the development of important fish species such as the anchovy.

    The study was funded by the Collaborative Research Center (SFB) 754 “Climate-Biogeochemical Interactions in the Tropical Ocean”, a collaborative project of Kiel University (CAU) and GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel. Additional support came from the BMBF project Humboldt-Tipping, coordinated at the Center for Ocean and Society, as well as funding from the Emmy-Noether Junior Research Group ICONOX at GEOMAR. First author Renato Salvatteci was further supported by a fellowship from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    The Kiel University [ Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel(DE) was founded back in 1665. It is Schleswig-Holstein’s oldest, largest and best-known university, with over 26,000 students and around 3,000 members of staff. It is also the only fully-fledged university in the state. Seven Nobel prize winners have worked here. The CAU has been successfully taking part in the Excellence Initiative since 2006. The Cluster of Excellence The Future Ocean, which was established in cooperation with the GEOMAR [Helmholtz-Zentrum für Ozeanforschung Kiel](DE) in 2006, is internationally recognized. The second Cluster of Excellence “Inflammation at Interfaces” deals with chronic inflammatory diseases. The Kiel Institute for the World Economy is also affiliated with Kiel University. The university has a great reputation for its focus on public international law. The oldest public international law institution in Germany and Europe – the Walther Schuecking Institute for International Law – is based in Kiel.


    The University of Kiel was founded under the name Christiana Albertina on 5 October 1665 by Christian Albert, Duke of Holstein-Gottorp. The citizens of the city of Kiel were initially quite sceptical about the upcoming influx of students, thinking that these could be “quite a pest with their gluttony, heavy drinking and their questionable character” (German: mit Fressen, Sauffen und allerley leichtfertigem Wesen sehr ärgerlich seyn). But those in the city who envisioned economic advantages of a university in the city won, and Kiel thus became the northernmost university in the German Holy Roman Empire.

    After 1773, when Kiel had come under Danish rule, the university began to thrive, and when Kiel became part of Prussia in the year 1867, the university grew rapidly in size. The university opened one of the first botanical gardens in Germany (now the Alter Botanischer Garten Kiel), and Martin Gropius designed many of the new buildings needed to teach the growing number of students.

    The Christiana Albertina was one of the first German universities to obey the Gleichschaltung in 1933 and agreed to remove many professors and students from the school, for instance Ferdinand Tönnies or Felix Jacoby. During World War II, the University of Kiel suffered heavy damage, therefore it was later rebuilt at a different location with only a few of the older buildings housing the medical school.

    In 2019, it was announced it has banned full-face coverings in classrooms, citing the need for open communication that includes facial expressions and gestures.


    Faculty of Theology
    Faculty of Law
    Faculty of Business, Economics and Social Sciences
    Faculty of Medicine
    Faculty of Arts and Humanities
    Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences
    Faculty of Agricultural Science and Nutrition
    Faculty of Engineering

  • richardmitnick 5:59 pm on March 8, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Oceans were stressed preceding abrupt prehistoric global warming", , Because each fossilized shell is about the size of a single grain of sand UCSC researchers physically collected the tiny specimens by first identifying them under a microscope., Foraminifera: an ocean-dwelling unicellular organism with an external shell made of calcium carbonate., Microscopic fossilized shells are helping geologists reconstruct Earth’s climate during the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), , , Other archives indicate that the atmosphere-ocean system experienced a massive carbon dioxide release immediately before the PETM., Paleo-oceanography, , The researchers concluded that massive volcanic activity injected large amounts of carbon dioxide into the Earth system causing global warming and ocean acidification., The researchers examined the calcium isotope composition of foraminiferal fossils collected from two sites — one in the southeast Atlantic Ocean and one in the Pacific Ocean., This is the first study to examine the calcium isotope composition of foraminifera to reconstruct conditions before and across the PETM., This is the third recent Northwestern study to find that ocean acidification — due to volcanic carbon dioxide emissions — preceded major prehistoric environmental catastrophes., This is the third study led by Jacobson to find that ocean acidification precedes major environmental catastrophes that correlate with large igneous province eruptions., To manipulate these tiny materials you have to pick them up-one by one-with a wet paintbrush tip under a microscope.,   

    From Northwestern University(US): “Oceans were stressed preceding abrupt prehistoric global warming” 

    Northwestern U bloc

    From Northwestern University(US)

    March 08, 2021
    Amanda Morris

    Gabriella Kitch works with samples from an ocean sediment core.

    Microscopic fossilized shells are helping geologists reconstruct Earth’s climate during the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), a period of abrupt global warming and ocean acidification that occurred 56 million years ago. Clues from these ancient shells can help scientists better predict future warming and ocean acidification driven by human-caused carbon dioxide emissions.

    Led by Northwestern University, the researchers analyzed shells from foraminifera, an ocean-dwelling unicellular organism with an external shell made of calcium carbonate. After analyzing the calcium isotope composition of the fossils, the researchers concluded that massive volcanic activity injected large amounts of carbon dioxide into the Earth system causing global warming and ocean acidification.

    They also found that global warming and ocean acidification did not just passively affect foraminifera. The organisms also actively responded by reducing calcification rates when building their shells. As calcification slowed, the foraminifera consumed less alkalinity from seawater, which helped buffer increasing ocean acidity.

    “The formation and dissolution of calcium carbonate help regulate the acidity and alkalinity of seawater,” said Northwestern’s Andrew Jacobson, a senior author of the study. “Our calcium isotope data indicate that reduced foraminiferal calcification worked to dampen ocean acidification before and across the PETM.”

    “This is a pretty new concept in the field,” added Gabriella Kitch, the study’s first author. “Previously, people thought that only the dissolution of carbonates at the sea floor could increase alkalinity of the ocean and buffer the effects of ocean acidification. But we are adding to existing studies that show decreased carbonate production has the same buffering effect.”

    The research was published online March 4 in the journal Geology Calcium isotope composition of Morozovella over the late Paleocene–early Eocene. This is the first study to examine the calcium isotope composition of foraminifera to reconstruct conditions before and across the PETM and the third recent Northwestern study to find that ocean acidification — due to volcanic carbon dioxide emissions — preceded major prehistoric environmental catastrophes, such as mass extinctions, oceanic anoxic events and periods of intense global warming.

    Jacobson is a professor of Earth and planetary sciences at Northwestern’s Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. Kitch is a Ph.D. candidate and National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow in Jacobson’s laboratory. Northwestern Earth science professors Bradley Sageman and Matthew Hurtgen, as well as collaborators from the University of California-Santa Cruz(US)(UCSC) and the University of Kansas(US), coauthored the paper with Jacobson and Kitch.

    Sorting microscopic shells

    To study oceanic conditions during the PETM, the researchers examined the calcium isotope composition of foraminiferal fossils collected from two sites — one in the southeast Atlantic Ocean and one in the Pacific Ocean — by the Ocean Drilling Program.

    Scanning electron microscopy images of foraminifera from different angles. Credit: Northwestern University.

    Scanning electron microscopy images of foraminifera from different angles Credit: Northwestern University.

    Because each fossilized shell is about the size of a single grain of sand UCSC researchers physically collected the tiny specimens by first identifying them under a microscope. After sorting the shells from bulk sediments, the Northwestern team dissolved the samples and analyzed their calcium isotope composition using a thermal ionization mass spectrometer.

    “The work is very challenging,” Jacobson said. “To manipulate these tiny materials you have to pick them up-one by one-with a wet paintbrush tip under a microscope.”

    Stress prior to PETM

    As the shells formed more than 56 million years ago, they responded to oceanic conditions. By examining these shells, the Northwestern team found that calcium isotope ratios increased prior to the onset of the PETM.

    “We are looking at one group of organisms that built their shells in one part of the ocean, recording the seawater chemistry surrounding them,” Kitch said. “We think the calcium isotope data reveal potential stress prior to the well-known boundary.”
    56 million years
    Age of the sediment samples

    Other archives indicate that the atmosphere-ocean system experienced a massive carbon dioxide release immediately before the PETM. When atmospheric carbon dioxide dissolves in seawater, it forms a weak acid that can inhibit calcium carbonate formation. Although it is still undetermined, Earth scientists believe the carbon release most likely came from volcanic activity or cascading effects, such as a release of methane hydrates from the seafloor as a result of ocean warming.

    “My suspicion is that it’s both of these factors or some sort of combination,” Sageman said. “Most big events in Earth’s history represent a confluence of many actors coming together at the same time.”

    Consistent pattern emerges

    This is the third study led by Jacobson to find that ocean acidification precedes major environmental catastrophes that correlate with large igneous province eruptions. Last month, Jacobson’s team published results finding that volcanic activity triggered a biocalcification crisis prior to an ocean anoxic event [Geology Stable Ca and Sr isotopes support volcanically triggered biocalcification crisis during Oceanic Anoxic Event 1a ] that occurred 120 million years ago. Just over a year ago, Jacobson’s team published another study finding ocean acidification preceded the asteroid impact leading to the Cretaceous-Paleogene mass extinction event 66 million years ago [Geology], which included the demise of dinosaurs.

    In all three studies, Jacobson’s team used sophisticated tools in his laboratory to analyze the calcium isotope composition of calcium carbonate fossils and sediment. Jacobson said a clear pattern is emerging. Influxes of carbon dioxide led to global warming and ocean acidification and, ultimately, to massive environmental changes.

    In all three studies, Jacobson’s team used sophisticated tools in his laboratory to analyze the calcium isotope composition of calcium carbonate fossils and sediment. Jacobson said a clear pattern is emerging. Influxes of carbon dioxide led to global warming and ocean acidification and, ultimately, to massive environmental changes.

    “In all of our studies, we consistently see an increase in calcium isotope ratios before the onset of major events or extinction horizons,” Jacobson said. “This seems to point to similar drivers and common responses.”

    “Perhaps the calcium isotope system has a sensitivity to the earliest phases of these events,” Sageman added.

    Predictor for future ocean stress

    Many researchers study the PETM because it provides the best analog for current-day, human-caused global warming. The carbon influx during the PETM is similar to the amount of carbon released during the past two centuries. The timescales, however, differ significantly. Temperatures during the PETM increased by 5 to 8 degrees Celsius over 170,000 years. With human-caused climate change, the same level of warming is projected to occur in less than 200 years, if carbon dioxide emissions remain unabated.

    Frighteningly, terrestrial and ocean stress, including a major decrease in foraminiferal calcification, accompanied the PETM.

    “The PETM is a model for what happens during major large carbon cycle perturbations,” Jacobson said. “A lot of predictions for Earth’s future climate rely on understanding what happened during the PETM.”

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Northwestern South Campus
    South Campus

    Northwestern University(US) is a private research university in Evanston, Illinois. Founded in 1851 to serve the former Northwest Territory, the university is a founding member of the Big Ten Conference.

    On May 31, 1850, nine men gathered to begin planning a university that would serve the Northwest Territory.

    Given that they had little money, no land and limited higher education experience, their vision was ambitious. But through a combination of creative financing, shrewd politicking, religious inspiration and an abundance of hard work, the founders of Northwestern University were able to make that dream a reality.

    In 1853, the founders purchased a 379-acre tract of land on the shore of Lake Michigan 12 miles north of Chicago. They established a campus and developed the land near it, naming the surrounding town Evanston in honor of one of the University’s founders, John Evans. After completing its first building in 1855, Northwestern began classes that fall with two faculty members and 10 students.
    Twenty-one presidents have presided over Northwestern in the years since. The University has grown to include 12 schools and colleges, with additional campuses in Chicago and Doha, Qatar.

    Northwestern is known for its focus on interdisciplinary education, extensive research output, and student traditions. The university provides instruction in over 200 formal academic concentrations, including various dual degree programs. The university is composed of eleven undergraduate, graduate, and professional schools, which include the Kellogg School of Management, the Pritzker School of Law, the Feinberg School of Medicine, the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, the Bienen School of Music, the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science, the Medill School of Journalism, the School of Communication, the School of Professional Studies, the School of Education and Social Policy, and The Graduate School. As of fall 2019, the university had 21,946 enrolled students, including 8,327 undergraduates and 13,619 graduate students.

    Valued at $12.2 billion, Northwestern’s endowment is among the largest university endowments in the United States. Its numerous research programs bring in nearly $900 million in sponsored research each year.

    Northwestern’s main 240-acre (97 ha) campus lies along the shores of Lake Michigan in Evanston, 12 miles north of Downtown Chicago. The university’s law, medical, and professional schools, along with its nationally ranked Northwestern Memorial Hospital, are located on a 25-acre (10 ha) campus in Chicago’s Streeterville neighborhood. The university also maintains a campus in Doha, Qatar and locations in San Francisco, California, Washington, D.C. and Miami, Florida.

    As of October 2020, Northwestern’s faculty and alumni have included 1 Fields Medalist, 22 Nobel Prize laureates, 40 Pulitzer Prize winners, 6 MacArthur Fellows, 17 Rhodes Scholars, 27 Marshall Scholars, 23 National Medal of Science winners, 11 National Humanities Medal recipients, 84 members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 10 living billionaires, 16 Olympic medalists, and 2 U.S. Supreme Court Justices. Northwestern alumni have founded notable companies and organizations such as the Mayo Clinic, The Blackstone Group, Kirkland & Ellis, U.S. Steel, Guggenheim Partners, Accenture, Aon Corporation, AQR Capital, Booz Allen Hamilton, and Melvin Capital.

    The foundation of Northwestern University can be traced to a meeting on May 31, 1850, of nine prominent Chicago businessmen, Methodist leaders, and attorneys who had formed the idea of establishing a university to serve what had been known from 1787 to 1803 as the Northwest Territory. On January 28, 1851, the Illinois General Assembly granted a charter to the Trustees of the North-Western University, making it the first chartered university in Illinois. The school’s nine founders, all of whom were Methodists (three of them ministers), knelt in prayer and worship before launching their first organizational meeting. Although they affiliated the university with the Methodist Episcopal Church, they favored a non-sectarian admissions policy, believing that Northwestern should serve all people in the newly developing territory by bettering the economy in Evanston.

    John Evans, for whom Evanston is named, bought 379 acres (153 ha) of land along Lake Michigan in 1853, and Philo Judson developed plans for what would become the city of Evanston, Illinois. The first building, Old College, opened on November 5, 1855. To raise funds for its construction, Northwestern sold $100 “perpetual scholarships” entitling the purchaser and his heirs to free tuition. Another building, University Hall, was built in 1869 of the same Joliet limestone as the Chicago Water Tower, also built in 1869, one of the few buildings in the heart of Chicago to survive the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. In 1873 the Evanston College for Ladies merged with Northwestern, and Frances Willard, who later gained fame as a suffragette and as one of the founders of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU), became the school’s first dean of women (Willard Residential College, built in 1938, honors her name). Northwestern admitted its first female students in 1869, and the first woman was graduated in 1874.

    Northwestern fielded its first intercollegiate football team in 1882, later becoming a founding member of the Big Ten Conference. In the 1870s and 1880s, Northwestern affiliated itself with already existing schools of law, medicine, and dentistry in Chicago. Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law is the oldest law school in Chicago. As the university’s enrollments grew, these professional schools were integrated with the undergraduate college in Evanston; the result was a modern research university combining professional, graduate, and undergraduate programs, which gave equal weight to teaching and research. By the turn of the century, Northwestern had grown in stature to become the third largest university in the United States after Harvard University(US) and the University of Michigan(US).

    Under Walter Dill Scott’s presidency from 1920 to 1939, Northwestern began construction of an integrated campus in Chicago designed by James Gamble Rogers, noted for his design of the Yale University(US) campus, to house the professional schools. The university also established the Kellogg School of Management and built several prominent buildings on the Evanston campus, including Dyche Stadium, now named Ryan Field, and Deering Library among others. In the 1920s, Northwestern became one of the first six universities in the United States to establish a Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC). In 1939, Northwestern hosted the first-ever NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Championship game in the original Patten Gymnasium, which was later demolished and relocated farther north, along with the Dearborn Observatory, to make room for the Technological Institute.

    After the golden years of the 1920s, the Great Depression in the United States (1929–1941) had a severe impact on the university’s finances. Its annual income dropped 25 percent from $4.8 million in 1930-31 to $3.6 million in 1933-34. Investment income shrank, fewer people could pay full tuition, and annual giving from alumni and philanthropists fell from $870,000 in 1932 to a low of $331,000 in 1935. The university responded with two salary cuts of 10 percent each for all employees. It imposed hiring and building freezes and slashed appropriations for maintenance, books, and research. Having had a balanced budget in 1930-31, the university now faced deficits of roughly $100,000 for the next four years. Enrollments fell in most schools, with law and music suffering the biggest declines. However, the movement toward state certification of school teachers prompted Northwestern to start a new graduate program in education, thereby bringing in new students and much needed income. In June 1933, Robert Maynard Hutchins, president of the University of Chicago(US), proposed a merger of the two universities, estimating annual savings of $1.7 million. The two presidents were enthusiastic, and the faculty liked the idea; many Northwestern alumni, however, opposed it, fearing the loss of their Alma Mater and its many traditions that distinguished Northwestern from Chicago. The medical school, for example, was oriented toward training practitioners, and alumni feared it would lose its mission if it were merged into the more research-oriented University of Chicago Medical School. The merger plan was ultimately dropped. In 1935, the Deering family rescued the university budget with an unrestricted gift of $6 million, bringing the budget up to $5.4 million in 1938-39. This allowed many of the previous spending cuts to be restored, including half of the salary reductions.

    Like other American research universities, Northwestern was transformed by World War II (1939–1945). Regular enrollment fell dramatically, but the school opened high-intensity, short-term programs that trained over 50,000 military personnel, including future president John F. Kennedy. Northwestern’s existing NROTC program proved to be a boon to the university as it trained over 36,000 sailors over the course of the war, leading Northwestern to be called the “Annapolis of the Midwest.” Franklyn B. Snyder led the university from 1939 to 1949, and after the war, surging enrollments under the G.I. Bill drove dramatic expansion of both campuses. In 1948, prominent anthropologist Melville J. Herskovits founded the Program of African Studies at Northwestern, the first center of its kind at an American academic institution. J. Roscoe Miller’s tenure as president from 1949 to 1970 saw an expansion of the Evanston campus, with the construction of the Lakefill on Lake Michigan, growth of the faculty and new academic programs, and polarizing Vietnam-era student protests. In 1978, the first and second Unabomber attacks occurred at Northwestern University. Relations between Evanston and Northwestern became strained throughout much of the post-war era because of episodes of disruptive student activism, disputes over municipal zoning, building codes, and law enforcement, as well as restrictions on the sale of alcohol near campus until 1972. Northwestern’s exemption from state and municipal property-tax obligations under its original charter has historically been a source of town-and-gown tension.

    Although government support for universities declined in the 1970s and 1980s, President Arnold R. Weber was able to stabilize university finances, leading to a revitalization of its campuses. As admissions to colleges and universities grew increasingly competitive in the 1990s and 2000s, President Henry S. Bienen’s tenure saw a notable increase in the number and quality of undergraduate applicants, continued expansion of the facilities and faculty, and renewed athletic competitiveness. In 1999, Northwestern student journalists uncovered information exonerating Illinois death-row inmate Anthony Porter two days before his scheduled execution. The Innocence Project has since exonerated 10 more men. On January 11, 2003, in a speech at Northwestern School of Law’s Lincoln Hall, then Governor of Illinois George Ryan announced that he would commute the sentences of more than 150 death-row inmates.

    In the 2010s, a 5-year capital campaign resulted in a new music center, a replacement building for the business school, and a $270 million athletic complex. In 2014, President Barack Obama delivered a seminal economics speech at the Evanston campus.

    Organization and administration


    Northwestern is privately owned and governed by an appointed Board of Trustees, which is composed of 70 members and, as of 2011, has been chaired by William A. Osborn ’69. The board delegates its power to an elected president who serves as the chief executive officer of the university. Northwestern has had sixteen presidents in its history (excluding interim presidents). The current president, economist Morton O. Schapiro, succeeded Henry Bienen whose 14-year tenure ended on August 31, 2009. The president maintains a staff of vice presidents, directors, and other assistants for administrative, financial, faculty, and student matters. Kathleen Haggerty assumed the role of interim provost for the university in April 2020.

    Students are formally involved in the university’s administration through the Associated Student Government, elected representatives of the undergraduate students, and the Graduate Student Association, which represents the university’s graduate students.

    The admission requirements, degree requirements, courses of study, and disciplinary and degree recommendations for each of Northwestern’s 12 schools are determined by the voting members of that school’s faculty (assistant professor and above).

    Undergraduate and graduate schools

    Evanston Campus:

    Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences (1851)
    School of Communication (1878)
    Bienen School of Music (1895)
    McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science (1909)
    Medill School of Journalism (1921)
    School of Education and Social Policy (1926)
    School of Professional Studies (1933)

    Graduate and professional

    Evanston Campus

    Kellogg School of Management (1908)
    The Graduate School

    Chicago Campus

    Feinberg School of Medicine (1859)
    Kellogg School of Management (1908)
    Pritzker School of Law (1859)
    School of Professional Studies (1933)

    Northwestern University had a dental school from 1891 to May 31, 2001, when it closed.


    In 1996, Princess Diana made a trip to Evanston to raise money for the university hospital’s Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center at the invitation of then President Bienen. Her visit raised a total of $1.5 million for cancer research.

    In 2003, Northwestern finished a five-year capital campaign that raised $1.55 billion, exceeding its fundraising goal by $550 million.

    In 2014, Northwestern launched the “We Will” campaign with a fundraising goal of $3.75 billion. As of December 31, 2019, the university has received $4.78 billion from 164,026 donors.


    In January 2009, the Green Power Partnership (sponsored by the EPA) listed Northwestern as one of the top 10 universities in the country in purchasing energy from renewable sources. The university matches 74 million kilowatt hours (kWh) of its annual energy use with Green-e Certified Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs). This green power commitment represents 30 percent of the university’s total annual electricity use and places Northwestern in the EPA’s Green Power Leadership Club. The Initiative for Sustainability and Energy at Northwestern (ISEN), supporting research, teaching and outreach in these themes, was launched in 2008.

    Northwestern requires that all new buildings be LEED-certified. Silverman Hall on the Evanston campus was awarded Gold LEED Certification in 2010; Wieboldt Hall on the Chicago campus was awarded Gold LEED Certification in 2007, and the Ford Motor Company Engineering Design Center on the Evanston campus was awarded Silver LEED Certification in 2006. New construction and renovation projects will be designed to provide at least a 20% improvement over energy code requirements where feasible. At the beginning of the 2008–09 academic year, the university also released the Evanston Campus Framework Plan, which outlines plans for future development of the university’s Evanston campus. The plan not only emphasizes sustainable building construction, but also focuses on reducing the energy costs of transportation by optimizing pedestrian and bicycle access. Northwestern has had a comprehensive recycling program in place since 1990. The university recycles over 1,500 tons of waste, or 30% of all waste produced on campus, each year. All landscape waste at the university is composted.


    Education and rankings

    Northwestern is a large, residential research university, and is frequently ranked among the top universities in the United States. The university is a leading institution in the fields of materials engineering, chemistry, business, economics, education, journalism, and communications. It is also prominent in law and medicine. Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and the respective national professional organizations for chemistry, psychology, business, education, journalism, music, engineering, law, and medicine, the university offers 124 undergraduate programs and 145 graduate and professional programs. Northwestern conferred 2,190 bachelor’s degrees, 3,272 master’s degrees, 565 doctoral degrees, and 444 professional degrees in 2012–2013. Since 1951, Northwestern has awarded 520 honorary degrees. Northwestern also has chapters of academic honor societies such as Phi Beta Kappa (Alpha of Illinois), Eta Kappa Nu, Tau Beta Pi, Eta Sigma Phi (Beta Chapter), Lambda Pi Eta, and Alpha Sigma Lambda (Alpha Chapter).

    The four-year, full-time undergraduate program comprises the majority of enrollments at the university. Although there is no university-wide core curriculum, a foundation in the liberal arts and sciences is required for all majors; individual degree requirements are set by the faculty of each school. The university heavily emphasizes interdisciplinary learning, with 72% of undergrads combining two or more areas of study. Northwestern’s full-time undergraduate and graduate programs operate on an approximately 10-week academic quarter system with the academic year beginning in late September and ending in early June. Undergraduates typically take four courses each quarter and twelve courses in an academic year and are required to complete at least twelve quarters on campus to graduate. Northwestern offers honors, accelerated, and joint degree programs in medicine, science, mathematics, engineering, and journalism. The comprehensive doctoral graduate program has high coexistence with undergraduate programs.

    Despite being a mid-sized university, Northwestern maintains a relatively low student to faculty ratio of 6:1.


    Northwestern was elected to the Association of American Universities in 1917 and is classified as an R1 university, denoting “very high” research activity. Northwestern’s schools of management, engineering, and communication are among the most academically productive in the nation. The university received $887.3 million in research funding in 2019 and houses over 90 school-based and 40 university-wide research institutes and centers. Northwestern also supports nearly 1,500 research laboratories across two campuses, predominately in the medical and biological sciences.

    Northwestern is home to the Center for Interdisciplinary Exploration and Research in Astrophysics, Northwestern Institute for Complex Systems, Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center, Materials Research Center, Center for Quantum Devices, Institute for Policy Research, International Institute for Nanotechnology, Center for Catalysis and Surface Science, Buffet Center for International and Comparative Studies, the Initiative for Sustainability and Energy at Northwestern, and the Argonne/Northwestern Solar Energy Research Center among other centers for interdisciplinary research.

    Student body

    Northwestern enrolled 8,186 full-time undergraduate, 9,904 full-time graduate, and 3,856 part-time students in the 2019–2020 academic year. The freshman retention rate for that year was 98%. 86% of students graduated after four years and 92% graduated after five years. These numbers can largely be attributed to the university’s various specialized degree programs, such as those that allow students to earn master’s degrees with a one or two year extension of their undergraduate program.

    The undergraduate population is drawn from all 50 states and over 75 foreign countries. 20% of students in the Class of 2024 were Pell Grant recipients and 12.56% were first-generation college students. Northwestern also enrolls the 9th-most National Merit Scholars of any university in the nation.

    In Fall 2014, 40.6% of undergraduate students were enrolled in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, 21.3% in the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science, 14.3% in the School of Communication, 11.7% in the Medill School of Journalism, 5.7% in the Bienen School of Music, and 6.4% in the School of Education and Social Policy. The five most commonly awarded undergraduate degrees are economics, journalism, communication studies, psychology, and political science. The Kellogg School of Management’s MBA, the School of Law’s JD, and the Feinberg School of Medicine’s MD are the three largest professional degree programs by enrollment. With 2,446 students enrolled in science, engineering, and health fields, the largest graduate programs by enrollment include chemistry, integrated biology, material sciences, electrical and computer engineering, neuroscience, and economics.


    Northwestern is a charter member of the Big Ten Conference. It is the conference’s only private university and possesses the smallest undergraduate enrollment (the next-smallest member, the University of Iowa, is roughly three times as large, with almost 22,000 undergraduates).

    Northwestern fields 19 intercollegiate athletic teams (8 men’s and 11 women’s) in addition to numerous club sports. 12 of Northwestern’s varsity programs have had NCAA or bowl postseason appearances. Northwestern is one of five private AAU members to compete in NCAA Power Five conferences (the other four being Duke, Stanford, USC, and Vanderbilt) and maintains a 98% NCAA Graduation Success Rate, the highest among Football Bowl Subdivision schools.

    In 2018, the school opened the Walter Athletics Center, a $270 million state of the art lakefront facility for its athletics teams.

    Nickname and mascot

    Before 1924, Northwestern teams were known as “The Purple” and unofficially as “The Fighting Methodists.” The name Wildcats was bestowed upon the university in 1924 by Wallace Abbey, a writer for the Chicago Daily Tribune, who wrote that even in a loss to the University of Chicago, “Football players had not come down from Evanston; wildcats would be a name better suited to “[Coach Glenn] Thistletwaite’s boys.” The name was so popular that university board members made “Wildcats” the official nickname just months later. In 1972, the student body voted to change the official nickname to “Purple Haze,” but the new name never stuck.

    The mascot of Northwestern Athletics is “Willie the Wildcat”. Prior to Willie, the team mascot had been a live, caged bear cub from the Lincoln Park Zoo named Furpaw, who was brought to the playing field on game days to greet the fans. After a losing season however, the team decided that Furpaw was to blame for its misfortune and decided to select a new mascot. “Willie the Wildcat” made his debut in 1933, first as a logo and then in three dimensions in 1947, when members of the Alpha Delta fraternity dressed as wildcats during a Homecoming Parade.


    Northwestern’s official motto, “Quaecumque sunt vera,” was adopted by the university in 1890. The Latin phrase translates to “Whatsoever things are true” and comes from the Epistle of Paul to the Philippians (Philippians 4:8), in which St. Paul admonishes the Christians in the Greek city of Philippi. In addition to this motto, the university crest features a Greek phrase taken from the Gospel of John inscribed on the pages of an open book, ήρης χάριτος και αληθείας or “the word full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).
    Alma Mater is the Northwestern Hymn. The original Latin version of the hymn was written in 1907 by Peter Christian Lutkin, the first dean of the School of Music from 1883 to 1931. In 1953, then Director-of-Bands John Paynter recruited an undergraduate music student, Thomas Tyra (’54), to write an English version of the song, which today is performed by the Marching Band during halftime at Wildcat football games and by the orchestra during ceremonies and other special occasions.
    Purple became Northwestern’s official color in 1892, replacing black and gold after a university committee concluded that too many other universities had used these colors. Today, Northwestern’s official color is purple, although white is something of an official color as well, being mentioned in both the university’s earliest song, Alma Mater (1907) (“Hail to purple, hail to white”) and in many university guidelines.
    The Rock, a 6-foot high quartzite boulder donated by the Class of 1902, originally served as a water fountain. It was painted over by students in the 1940s as a prank and has since become a popular vehicle of self-expression on campus.
    Armadillo Day, commonly known as Dillo Day, is the largest student-run music festival in the country. The festival is hosted every Spring on Northwestern’s Lakefront.
    Primal Scream is held every quarter at 9 p.m. on the Sunday before finals week. Students lean out of windows or gather in courtyards and scream to help relieve stress.
    In the past, students would throw marshmallows during football games, but this tradition has since been discontinued.


    One of Northwestern’s most notable student charity events is Dance Marathon, the most established and largest student-run philanthropy in the nation. The annual 30-hour event is among the most widely-attended events on campus. It has raised over $1 million for charity ever year since 2011 and has donated a total of $13 million to children’s charities since its conception.

    The Northwestern Community Development Corps (NCDC) is a student-run organization that connects hundreds of student volunteers to community development projects in Evanston and Chicago throughout the year. The group also holds a number of annual community events, including Project Pumpkin, a Halloween celebration that provides over 800 local children with carnival events and a safe venue to trick-or-treat each year.

    Many Northwestern students participate in the Freshman Urban Program, an initiative for students interested in community service to work on addressing social issues facing the city of Chicago, and the university’s Global Engagement Studies Institute (GESI) programs, including group service-learning expeditions in Asia, Africa, or Latin America in conjunction with the Foundation for Sustainable Development.

    Several internationally recognized non-profit organizations were established at Northwestern, including the World Health Imaging, Informatics and Telemedicine Alliance, a spin-off from an engineering student’s honors thesis.


    Established in 1881, The Daily Northwestern is the university’s main student newspaper and is published on weekdays during the academic year. It is directed entirely by undergraduate students and owned by the Students Publishing Company. Although it serves the Northwestern community, the Daily has no business ties to the university and is supported wholly by advertisers.
    North by Northwestern is an online undergraduate magazine established in September 2006 by students at the Medill School of Journalism. Published on weekdays, it consists of updates on news stories and special events throughout the year. It also publishes a quarterly print magazine.
    Syllabus is the university’s undergraduate yearbook. It is distributed in late May and features a culmination of the year’s events at Northwestern. First published in 1885, the yearbook is published by Students Publishing Company and edited by Northwestern students.
    Northwestern Flipside is an undergraduate satirical magazine. Founded in 2009, it publishes a weekly issue both in print and online.
    Helicon is the university’s undergraduate literary magazine. Established in 1979, it is published twice a year: a web issue is released in the winter and a print issue with a web complement is released in the spring.
    The Protest is Northwestern’s quarterly social justice magazine.
    The Northwestern division of Student Multicultural Affairs supports a number of publications for particular cultural groups including Ahora, a magazine about Hispanic and Latino/a culture and campus life; Al Bayan, published by the Northwestern Muslim-cultural Student Association; BlackBoard Magazine, a magazine centered around African-American student life; and NUAsian, a magazine and blog on Asian and Asian-American culture and issues.
    The Northwestern University Law Review is a scholarly legal publication and student organization at Northwestern University School of Law. Its primary purpose is to publish a journal of broad legal scholarship. The Law Review publishes six issues each year. Student editors make the editorial and organizational decisions and select articles submitted by professors, judges, and practitioners, as well as student pieces. The Law Review also publishes scholarly pieces weekly on the Colloquy.
    The Northwestern Journal of Technology and Intellectual Property is a law review published by an independent student organization at Northwestern University School of Law.
    The Northwestern Interdisciplinary Law Review is a scholarly legal publication published annually by an editorial board of Northwestern undergraduates. Its mission is to publish interdisciplinary legal research, drawing from fields such as history, literature, economics, philosophy, and art. Founded in 2008, the journal features articles by professors, law students, practitioners, and undergraduates. It is funded by the Buffett Center for International and Comparative Studies and the Office of the Provost.


    Established in January 2011, Sherman Ave is a humor website that often publishes content on Northwestern student life. Most of its staff writers are current Northwestern undergraduates writing under various pseudonyms. The website is popular among students for its interviews of prominent campus figures, Freshman Guide, and live-tweeting coverage of football games. In Fall 2012, the website promoted a satiric campaign to end the Vanderbilt University football team’s custom of clubbing baby seals.
    Politics & Policy is dedicated to the analysis of current events and public policy. Established in 2010 by students at the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, School of Communication, and Medill School of Journalism, the publication reaches students on more than 250 college campuses around the world. Run entirely by undergraduates, it is published several times a week and features material ranging from short summaries of events to extended research pieces. The publication is financed in part by the Buffett Center.
    Northwestern Business Review is a campus source for business news. Founded in 2005, it has an online presence as well as a quarterly print schedule.
    TriQuarterly Online (formerly TriQuarterly) is a literary magazine published twice a year featuring poetry, fiction, nonfiction, drama, literary essays, reviews, blog posts, and art.
    The Queer Reader is Northwestern’s first radical feminist and LGBTQ+ publication.

    Radio, film, and television

    WNUR (89.3 FM) is a 7,200-watt radio station that broadcasts to the city of Chicago and its northern suburbs. WNUR’s programming consists of music (jazz, classical, and rock), literature, politics, current events, varsity sports (football, men’s and women’s basketball, baseball, softball, and women’s lacrosse), and breaking news on weekdays.
    Studio 22 is a student-run production company that produces roughly ten films each year. The organization financed the first film Zach Braff directed, and many of its films have featured students who would later go into professional acting, including Zach Gilford of Friday Night Lights.
    Applause for a Cause is currently the only student-run production company in the nation to create feature-length films for charity. It was founded in 2010 and has raised over $5,000 to date for various local and national organizations across the United States.
    Northwestern News Network is a student television news and sports network, serving the Northwestern and Evanston communities. Its studios and newsroom are located on the fourth floor of the McCormick Tribune Center on Northwestern’s Evanston campus. NNN is funded by the Medill School of Journalism.

  • richardmitnick 9:04 am on July 2, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "The Australian story told beneath the sea", Aboriginal artefacts, , , , , , , , Paleo-oceanography, , , , told beneath the sea"   

    From COSMOS: “The Australian story, told beneath the sea” 

    Cosmos Magazine bloc

    From COSMOS

    2 July 2020
    Natalie Parletta

    Archaeological sites could fill vast historical gaps.

    The survey area in the Dampier Archipelago, Western Australia. Credit: Flinders University.

    Submerged archaeological sites discovered off Australia’s northwest coast offer a new window into the migrations, lives and cultures of Aboriginal people thousands of years ago, when the continental shelf was dry.

    This was a time when around 20 million square kilometres of land was exposed, before the last glacial loosened its grip on the planet and melted ice drowned coastal areas – and large swaths of human history – under the sea.

    In Australia alone, two million square kilometres were flooded, hemming back a third of the continent.

    “You’re talking about a huge, expansive cultural landscape inhabited by Aboriginal people all over the country… which is just a blank, empty map,” says Jonathan Benjamin from Flinders University, lead author of a paper published in the journal PLoS ONE.

    “So if you’re looking for the whole picture on Australia’s ancient past, you’ve got to look under water, there’s just no question.”

    Yet the country’s appreciation for underwater archaeology is only just emerging, after taking off in Europe over the last two decades with a growing number of sites revealed in the Mediterranean, the Baltic and the North Sea.

    This is a first for Australia – and the discovery was a leap of faith.

    “It was a high-risk project,” says Benjamin. “There was no guarantee that we would make a discovery of this nature, and we did.”

    His team, which included colleagues from Flinders, the University of Western Australia and James Cook University, set out to show that ancient Aboriginal sites could be preserved on the seabed, venturing into unexplored territory with divers, boats, aircrafts and remote underwater sensing technologies.

    Aboriginal artefacts discovered off the Pilbara coast in Western Australia represent Australia’s oldest known underwater archaeology. Credit: Flinders University.

    The Deep History of Sea Country project, in partnership with the Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation, revealed two submerged settings in Murujuga Sea Country off the Pilbara coast around the Dampier Archipelago.

    One site, at Flying Foam Passage, was estimated to be at least 8500 years old and bore evidence of human activity associated with a freshwater spring 14 metres deep.

    The other was at Cape Bruguieres, with more than 260 lithic artefacts discovered up to 2.4 metres below sea level, dated to at least 7000 years old using radiocarbon and sea-level change analysis along with predictive modelling.

    The artefacts included various food processing, cutting, grinding and muller tools, such as a combined hammer stone and grindstone, which would have been used to grind seeds.

    “So you start to see the kinds of activities and the ideas that people had in mind,” says Benjamin. “They weren’t just randomly bashing rocks together; they were creating a tool that was for a purpose, whether it be a scalloped edge scraper or a long knife or a core tool that could be used like an axe.”

    One big surprise was the difference between the types of archaeological remains under water and those found on land, which clearly differentiates earlier and later cultures.

    The sites might have belonged to the same people who created the world-renowned Murujuga rock art, a heritage listing currently up for reconsideration.

    It’s hard to tie the two together with scientific evidence, says Benjamin. “But you’d have to imagine that the people who were there who left their stone tools on a dry land that is now submerged were also making rock art in the area because it goes back tens of thousands of years.”

    These things matter to people today, even if they’re 40,000 years old, he adds.

    “It matters in the way we protect sites, it matters in the way we create National Parks, it matters in the way we protect against destruction and development. So the marine environment, why would it be treated any differently?”

    “That should make some waves, if you pardon the pun, but it should change the landscape and the way that heritage practice and development-led archaeology is done in Australia.”

    The preserved remains have vast potential. The sites could offer insights into how Aboriginal people dealt with climate change during the last glacial. Present-day people might have a relationship with the sites from their ancestral heritage. And it could shift the timing of Aboriginal settlement back even further.

    “Much of what we currently understand about Australia’s deep past is based on sites which are further inland,” says Flinders’ Chelsea Wiseman, a co-author.

    “This study indicates the potential for Indigenous archaeology to preserve underwater, and that in some cases the artefacts may remain undisturbed for millennia.”

    Benjamin says it’s an exciting step for Australia “as we integrate maritime and Indigenous archaeology and draw connections between land and sea,” which he hopes will continue “long after you and I are gone”.

    “These new discoveries are a first step toward exploring the last real frontier of Australian archaeology.”

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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  • richardmitnick 5:44 pm on March 4, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "A sea of ancient ice", , Computer model simulations were used to estimate ice thickness during the Last Ice Age—21000 years ago when ice sheets blanketed much of North America and Europe., , Paleo-oceanography, Sea ice was irrefutably thicker during the 19th and early 20th centuries than it is today., The models reported an average sea ice thickness of 30 meters but along the coast of Northern Canada the simulated thickness grew to 50 meters—roughly the height of the Leaning Tower of Pisa.   

    From Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution: “A sea of ancient ice” 

    From Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

    March 4, 2020
    Evan Lubofsky

    Scientists dust off historical accounts to tackle a long-standing Arctic mystery.

    WHOI scientist Alan Condron and his colleagues rely on historical drawings like this one published in 1876 to gain a better sense for how thick Arctic sea ice was in the early 19th century.

    When Harper’s Weekly magazine reported the spotting of a seven-mile-long chunk of thick sea ice off St. Johns, Newfoundland, Canada in 1884, the story referred to the prairie-sized floe as a “monster ice island” and forewarned ship captains travelling in the area: “Woe to the mail steamer that shall crash against its sides or upon its hidden base.”

    This was at the tail-end of the Little Ice Age, when vast areas of the Arctic Ocean were covered by seemingly-impenetrable slabs of ice, and icebergs would stray as far south as Bermuda.

    Sea ice was irrefutably thicker during the 19th and early 20th centuries than it is today—warming in the Arctic has caused much of its ancient ice to vanish—but according to WHOI climate scientist Alan Condron, the actual thickness of the legacy ice has been a long-standing mystery in climate science circles.

    “While we have been able to determine the amount of sea ice extent since 1979 with satellite data, we’ve only had continuous satellite observations of ice thickness since the early part of this century,” says Condron. “Before that, we only have a few sporadic observations from U.S. Navy submarines taken during the Cold War in the late 1950’s. Prior to that, there is nothing.”

    To bridge the gap, Condron used computer model simulations to estimate ice thickness during the Last Ice Age—21,000 years ago when ice sheets blanketed much of North America and Europe. The models reported an average sea ice thickness of 30 meters, but along the coast of Northern Canada, the simulated thickness grew to 50 meters—roughly the height of the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

    These estimates gave Condron a baseline sense for how chunky Arctic ice may have been, but there was a problem. The values generated by Condron’s models far exceeded those reported by other models simulating ice conditions during the same period.

    “Other climate models were reporting average Arctic sea ice thicknesses of only seven to eight meters, and the thickest ice we could find in all of these models was just 16 meters thick,” says Condron. “It was rather baffling that these models were growing ice that was only slightly thicker than the ice we commonly see today, particularly since we know conditions in the Arctic were much colder during the Last Ice Age than they are now.”

    The discrepancy between Condron’s model and other sea ice models became an issue for Condron as he prepared his manuscript on an abrupt climate change study for publication. “At an early stage, one reviewer felt that the ice thicknesses we were reporting suggested there was something seriously wrong with our model,” he says.

    He explains that in the sea ice modeling community, modelers often impose a limit on how thick they let ice grow in their simulations in order to ‘correct’ for errors in the model. “So, if you impose a cap of five meters, for example, you’ll get ice thicknesses that match up with similar thickness values we see in the Arctic today,” says Condron.

    With his research paper in a holding pattern, he began thinking about other ways to ground-truth his model results, which led to an epiphany.

    “Nineteenth century Arctic explorers often described sea ice conditions in their dairies with descriptions and sketches,” he says. “So my thought was to inspect some of those historical accounts to see if they seemed consistent with our estimates.”

    WHOI climate scientist Alan Condron examines an iceberg drifting south in the Labrador Sea. (Photo by Andrew Daly, © Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

    As Condron, along with his co-authors Anthony Joyce and Raymond Bradley, began leafing through the dairies, they quickly noticed descriptive passages supporting their side of the story. One account, penned by Vice-Admiral Sir George Nares, the leader of the 1875 British Arctic Expedition, described “floes… of gigantic thickness with a most uneven surface and covered with deep snow.”

    A corresponding drawing—that was published in 1876 in the British weekly newspaper “The Graphic”— shows a glimpse of the polar sea as traversed by two members of Nares’ party during their spring sledding expedition to reach the North Pole. Captain Nares was so struck by the unusual thickness of the sea ice his team encountered in the western Arctic, he coined the term “palaeocrystic” ice to describe it.

    Bradley, a climate scientist and professor at the University of Massachusetts, notes that other 19th and early 20th century explorers had documented exceptionally thick, extensive islands of ice embedded in the Arctic pack.

    “The ice had rounded, hummocky surfaces that rose as much as ten meters above sea level and stood out from the smaller floes of fractured sea-ice which the explorers generally had to deal with,” says Bradley.

    Condron notes that based on some of the drawings alone, it became clear that sea ice was not only much thicker than it is today, but also very similar to what he was seeing in his model. He re-submitted his manuscript with an explanation of how it has become common practice in model simulations to artificially ‘cap’ sea ice thickness to avoid values that seem unrealistic.

    A few weeks later, the paper was accepted.

    The diary records helped Condron get his paper through, but he feels they served a more important purpose by putting modern-day sea ice loss in a broader historical perspective.

    “While Arctic sea ice conditions have changed significantly in recent decades, the changes are even more dramatic when viewed in the context of the conditions that Nares and others encountered when they went looking for the North Pole,” says Condron. “Basically, we’ve gone from a situation where ice was 50 meters thick along parts of the Canadian Coast, with large pieces of this ice adrift in the Beaufort Sea, to the present-day situation, where we rarely see ice that exceeds five meters. And it’s all happened in a relatively short period of time.”

    Funding for this research was provided through the National Science Foundation’s Arctic System Science Program.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute

    Vision & Mission

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

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

  • richardmitnick 10:02 am on January 7, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC), , Australia and Antarctica, , Did a hotspot break up your relationship?, , Lithosphere (the Earth’s crust and upper mantle), , Paleo-oceanography, , , Seamounts (underwater volcanic mountains)., Smoke in the water,   

    From CSIROscope: “Did a hotspot break up your relationship?” 

    CSIRO bloc

    From CSIROscope

    7 January 2019
    Sophie Schmidt

    Women make up 85% of scientists on this voyage of RV Investigator, which is being led by the University of Tasmania.

    RV Investigator Australia

    We’re back out on the waves on board RV Investigator serving up live science plucked fresh from the high seas – and what a voyage it’s been! Since departing Hobart just after Christmas, we’ve been busy sailing for science – not in pursuit of freaky abyssal fish, nor whale watching or shipwrecks – this time we’ve set out for the love of rocks.

    Yep, you read it correctly. The Chief Scientist, Dr Jo Whittaker from the University of Tasmania is leading a team of geologists on a two-week voyage to undertake research into one of those huge, soul-searching kind of break ups. Think less Ariana and Pete (hello, millennials, are you reading CSIROscope?) and more Australia and Antarctica.

    We’re hoping that we might get the closure we need by investigating an area hundreds of kilometres off the coast of Tasmania brimming with seamounts (underwater volcanic mountains).

    All of this drama went down like, 35 million years ago, so we should really be over it by now, but according to Jo, it’s vital that we understand what happened in Antarctica’s past in order to predict its future.

    Jill, CSIRO summer scholar student (right) has been busy mapping seamounts as part of our Geophysical Survey and Mapping (GSM) team.

    Smoke in the water

    Seamounts are caused by mantle plumes – basically, the homewreckers of the lithosphere (the Earth’s crust and upper mantle). Mantle plumes are an up-welling of extra-hot molten rock (magma) from the mantle below and they can seriously mess stuff up. They can cause the Earth’s crust to weaken and rise up through the sea floor, creating big structures such as seamounts and large underwater plateaus, like the Kerguelen Plateau in the Southern Ocean.

    While a mantle plume more or less stays put over time, tectonic plates can continue to drift over it, resulting in seamounts sprouting up in chains across the seafloor. A mantle plume can also cause the Earth’s surface to be uplifted.

    Jo thinks that if we can determine the age and the order in which the seamounts we are studying sprouted as a result of the Balleny mantle plume, we’ll get a better understanding of the role this plume played in this epic break-up.

    “Antarctica underwent a dramatic change 34 million years ago going from Tasmanian rainforests to a glaciated state,” says Jo.

    “Around the same time, it’s thought that the Tasman Gateway, separating Antarctica from Tasmania, opened up.”

    “This research is all about determining whether the mantle plume played a role in opening the Gateway.”

    Voyage Chief Scientist Jo Whittaker inspects the contents of the latest geological treasure haul.

    Rockin’ n rollin’

    Faced with the prospect of a dry ship on New Years’ Eve and oscillating bouts of sea sickness – compounded by my baseline understanding of geology (which has marginally improved), it’s been a seamount-shaped learning curve catching up on the science above and below decks.

    RV Investigator operates 24 hours a day (eye-masks issued on board say “good science doesn’t sleep but good scientists do”) and being on board this world-class research vessel feels like living inside a big, heaving, cooperative sea creature, fuelled by the enthusiasm and smarts of the crew, scientists and support staff on board.

    (In case you can’t tell) Tom, PhD student from University of Tasmania is excited to find some fresh basalt, because it will clue us in to the age of one of the seamounts.

    Much to one geologist’s delight, we occasionally dig up sediment. Popping this under the microscope can reveal a catalogue of million-year-old microfossils including the remnants of coral and plankton which can be dated.

    Everyone is connected on board by some advanced and not so advanced technology. It’s not unusual to wake up to a message from a scientist at 2am posting a photo from another ‘gorgeous dredge’ or to find napkins passionately scribbled with geological diagrams lying around the ship’s galley.

    RV Investigator has advanced multibeam systems that can map to full ocean depth.

    Navigating the unknown is, of course, made much easier with detailed maps and our geospatial mapping team has been constantly collecting seafloor data in rotating 12-hour shifts. The maps are used to decide which part of the seamount we’d like to sample. The ship’s winch is then used to lower a dredge down to thousands of metres below the ocean surface to sample along the top of the seamount.

    Enough about us, though – let’s jump into a quick recap of why we’re here.

    Australia and Antarctica – a lava story
    When things were good, they were really good

    We don’t know how long Tasmania and Antarctica shacked up together before separating around 100 million years ago but their relationship goes back at least 500 million years (New Zealand came along for the ride too #itscomplicated).

    But their issues only became bigger and bigger

    At some point, maybe around 80 million years ago, tension rose to the surface. The Balleny mantle plume, a hotspot, appeared on the scene and fired up seamount after seamount in progressive chains. After being so close for so long, Antarctica and Tasmania started to drift apart.

    They decided their problems were just too big to solve

    At first, Tasmania started to back off slowly, at a rate of a few millimetres or so per year.

    Then, around 35 million years ago, rapid uplift of the crust saw Tasmania start zipping north at around 7 centimetres per year. It was time for Tasmania to move on, and leave the hotspot and Antarctica behind.

    Antarctica turned pretty frosty post-split

    Around 34 million years ago Antarctica became increasingly cold – icy, if you will – and the happy memories of the flora and fauna it once shared with Tasmania became a thing of the past. Perhaps Tasmania still carried a flame as it moved north – after all, its rocks, landforms, soils and vegetation are all by-products from a long-term relationship with Antarctica.

    As continental drift accelerated, the sea floor widened enough to form a gateway (opening) for colder waters to start circulating around Antarctica. We call this the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC), which thermally isolates Antarctica and helps keeps it cold.

    It’s possible that the uplift of the seafloor could have led to the opening of the Tasman Gateway – and the related onset of the ACC. Determining how and when the seamounts formed in this region will help us better understand the evolution of the ACC.

    Emily is an Australian teacher on board under our Educator on Board Program. When she’s not assisting scientists with preparing samples, she’s coming up with new geological slants for the school curriculum.

    Get your rocks off (the dredge and into the lab)

    Even though things have cooled off, we still have some lingering questions to be answered. Did continental drift alone cause the Tasman Gateway to open, leading to Antarctica’s progressively cold state? How drastically did the Balleny mantle plume affect the seafloor over time?

    Out here, Jo’s looking for those answers in the rock samples, which she describes as ‘geological time capsules’– they’ll be dated and analysed back at the lab.

    “All of the data we’re collecting will be used to train better models used to predict what will happen to Antarctica’s future coastline and the melting of its ice sheets.”

    “We’ll understand how the Tasman gateway opened – and whether or not the mantle plume played a major role in the glaciation of Antarctica.”

    Scientists are seeking to join the dots to better understand this chain of seamounts that stretches across the Tasman Sea.

    See the full article here .


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    SKA/ASKAP radio telescope at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO) in Mid West region of Western Australia

    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 3:02 pm on December 14, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , In the Ediacaran period complex organisms including soft-bodied animals up to a meter long sprang to life in deep ocean waters, Paleo-oceanography,   

    From Stanford University: “Stanford researchers unearth why deep oceans gave life to the first big, complex organisms” 

    Stanford University Name
    From Stanford University

    December 12, 2018
    Josie Garthwaite
    (650) 497-0947

    In the beginning, life was small.

    For billions of years, all life on Earth was microscopic, consisting mostly of single cells. Then suddenly, about 570 million years ago, complex organisms including animals with soft, sponge-like bodies up to a meter long sprang to life. And for 15 million years, life at this size and complexity existed only in deep water.

    More than 570 million years ago, in the Ediacaran period, complex organisms including soft-bodied animals up to a meter long sprang to life in deep ocean waters. (Image credit: Peter Trusler)

    Scientists have long questioned why these organisms appeared when and where they did: in the deep ocean, where light and food are scarce, in a time when oxygen in Earth’s atmosphere was in particularly short supply. A new study from Stanford University, published Dec. 12 in the peer-reviewed Proceedings of the Royal Society B, suggests that the more stable temperatures of the ocean’s depths allowed the burgeoning life forms to make the best use of limited oxygen supplies.

    All of this matters in part because understanding the origins of these marine creatures from the Ediacaran period is about uncovering missing links in the evolution of life, and even our own species. “You can’t have intelligent life without complex life,” explained Tom Boag, lead author on the paper and a doctoral candidate in geological sciences at Stanford’s School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences (Stanford Earth).

    The new research comes as part of a small but growing effort to apply knowledge of animal physiology to understand the fossil record in the context of a changing environment. The information could shed light on the kinds of organisms that will be able to survive in different environments in the future.

    “Bringing in this data from physiology, treating the organisms as living, breathing things and trying to explain how they can make it through a day or a reproductive cycle is not a way that most paleontologists and geochemists have generally approached these questions,” said Erik Sperling, senior author on the paper and an assistant professor of geological sciences.

    Goldilocks and temperature change

    Previously, scientists had theorized that animals have an optimum temperature at which they can thrive with the least amount of oxygen. According to the theory, oxygen requirements are higher at temperatures either colder or warmer than a happy medium. To test that theory in an animal reminiscent of those flourishing in the Ediacaran ocean depths, Boag measured the oxygen needs of sea anemones, whose gelatinous bodies and ability to breathe through the skin closely mimic the biology of fossils collected from the Ediacaran oceans.

    “We assumed that their ability to tolerate low oxygen would get worse as the temperatures increased. That had been observed in more complex animals like fish and lobsters and crabs,” Boag said. The scientists weren’t sure whether colder temperatures would also strain the animals’ tolerance. But indeed, the anemones needed more oxygen when temperatures in an experimental tank veered outside their comfort zone.

    Together, these factors made Boag and his colleagues suspect that, like the anemones, Ediacaran life would also require stable temperatures to make the most efficient use of the ocean’s limited oxygen supplies.

    Refuge at depth

    It would have been harder for Ediacaran animals to use the little oxygen present in cold, deep ocean waters than in warmer shallows because the gas diffuses into tissues more slowly in colder seawater. Animals in the cold have to expend a larger portion of their energy just to move oxygenated seawater through their bodies.

    Shallow waters offered sunlight and food supplies, but the deeper waters where large, complex organisms first evolved provided a refuge from wild swings in temperature. (Image credit: Shutterstock)

    But what it lacked in useable oxygen, the deep Ediacaran ocean made up for with stability. In the shallows, the passing of the sun and seasons can deliver wild swings in temperature – as much as 10 degrees Celsius in the modern ocean, compared to seasonal variations of less than 1 degree Celsius at depths below one kilometer (.62 mile). “Temperatures change much more rapidly on a daily and annual basis in shallow water,” Sperling explained.

    In a world with low oxygen levels, animals unable to regulate their own body temperature couldn’t have withstood an environment that so regularly swung outside their Goldilocks temperature.

    The Stanford team, in collaboration with colleagues at Yale University, propose that the need for a haven from such change may have determined where larger animals could evolve. “The only place where temperatures were consistent was in the deep ocean,” Sperling said. In a world of limited oxygen, the newly evolving life needed to be as efficient as possible and that was only possible in the relatively stable depths. “That’s why animals appeared there,” he said.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Stanford University campus. No image credit

    Stanford University

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

    Stanford University Seal

  • richardmitnick 10:02 am on August 23, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Paleo-oceanography, , Seafloor cores suggest sticky thick glaciers caused mysterious shift in ice age rhythms   

    From Science Magazine: “Seafloor cores suggest sticky, thick glaciers caused mysterious shift in ice age rhythms” 

    From Science Magazine

    Aug. 22, 2018
    Paul Voosen

    The Russell Glacier in Greenland. After ancient glaciers scoured away soil and reached bedrock, they may have grown thicker—triggering a global cooling that shifted the ice age cycles. Jason Edwards/National Geographic/Getty Images.

    About 1 million years ago, one of Earth’s most important metronomes mysteriously shifted: Ice ages went from occurring every 40,000 years to every 100,000 years. At the same time, the “conveyor belt” of warming currents in the North Atlantic Ocean slowed sharply. Last week, scientists here at the Goldschmidt Conference presented a clue to these twin mysteries: evidence that glaciers in the Northern Hemisphere suddenly began to stick to their beds. Growing thicker, they might have triggered a cooling that disrupted the conveyor belt and allowed the 100,000-year cycle that we see today to take root.

    “The system basically crashed,” says Steve Goldstein, an ocean geochemist at Columbia University who led the study. Other scientists welcome the new clues to the transition. “This is really exciting new evidence,” says Henrieka Detlef, a paleoclimatologist at Cardiff University in the United Kingdom. But she and others aren’t sold yet on the long causal chain that Goldstein’s team posits.

    Scientists have long known that tiny changes in Earth’s orbit around the sun, called Milankovitch cycles, drive the planet in and out of ice ages. But nothing changed in those orbital patterns 1 million years ago. Recently, Goldstein and his colleagues found signs of a possible contributor to the ice age transition: a near-collapse of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC). The AMOC shepherds shallow warm water to the North Atlantic, where it cools and sinks before returning south along the sea floor to the Southern Ocean to meet Pacific Ocean waters.

    Goldstein’s group deduces the overall strength of the AMOC from geochemical markers in ocean sediment cores. The researchers take advantage of a ratio between two isotopes of neodymium that varies with the age of their source rocks: ancient crust runs negative, whereas younger rocks are more positive. As it happens, the North Atlantic is surrounded by ancient crust, whereas the Pacific, thanks to its volcanic Ring of Fire, tilts younger. The neodymium-carrying grit ends up incorporated into the shells of single-celled foraminifera or fish teeth, both of which accumulate over time on the sea floor. Changes in the isotope ratio record the wax and wane of intruding North Atlantic or Pacific waters.

    Earlier this decade, the Columbia group tested its approach on two archived sediment cores from the South Atlantic. About 950,000 years ago, they saw the isotopic signals shoot up, reflecting an incursion of Pacific waters, with little evidence of returning North Atlantic waters—suggesting a stark “AMOC crisis.” The slowdown could have sharply cooled the North Atlantic region—and might have lengthened the ice age rhythm.

    Now, the team has analyzed five other ocean cores that also show signs of a weak AMOC. Two of the cores, from the North Atlantic, suggest a possible trigger for the AMOC crisis. In the millennia leading up to it, the neodymium signal sharply trended negative before abating—a sign that an influx of older and older grit from the North Atlantic region had suddenly stopped.

    The only plausible explanation, they say, is a long-standing hypothesis advanced by Peter Clark, a glaciologist at Oregon State University in Corvallis, and several others: that the northern ice sheets had finally ground their way to bedrock. Before Earth’s current ice age cycles began 3 million years ago, a long warm period had allowed a thick soil layer to build up on northern landmasses. At first, the soil acted as a grease that caused early ice sheets to collapse before they could thicken much. But repeated glaciations gradually scoured this grit away, and meltwater swept it into the ocean. As the glaciers dug deeper into older rock, the neodymium signal in ocean sediment became more negative. Eventually, the glaciers reached bedrock and began to stick to their base, allowing them to grow thicker—leading to a more profound and persistent cooling that somehow caused the AMOC to crash and the glacial cycle to lengthen. “We think we’re seeing the trigger,” says Maayan Yehudai, the Columbia graduate student who presented the work. (Scientists believe pronounced global warming—like the warming underway now—could also disrupt the AMOC.)

    The neodymium evidence supports this geological story, Clark says. “It’s a pretty clear signal that you should see.” Detlef notes, however, that there is no conclusive evidence that northern ice sheets were increasing in thickness prior to the AMOC slowdown. But she accepts that something important happened in the North Atlantic leading up to the AMOC crisis.

    One hypothesis that does seem ruled out, however, is the notion that the growth of Antarctic ice sheets 900,000 years ago played a pivotal role in the tempo change. “Everything that’s happening in the North Atlantic is happening before [that],” Yehudai says.

    The AMOC and the glaciers may not have been the only factors in the transition, however. Some scientists have suggested that a small drawdown of carbon dioxide (CO2), perhaps driven by a dust-fertilized plankton bloom in the Southern Ocean, would have been enough to shift the ice age rhythm. Yair Rosenthal, a paleo-oceanographer at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, thinks a CO2 drop, thickening ice sheets, and a weak AMOC could have all played a role. “I’m not a fan of single triggers of anything.”

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

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