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Abrupt Climate Change

Rivers flow on the ice sheets of Greenland, one of the fastest changing areas of the world due to climate change. (Photo by Sara Das, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

Earth's climate has changed many times and in many different ways over geologic history. These changes have most often played out over many thousands of years.

Today, however, human activity—primarily in the form of increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere—is putting slow, inexorable pressure on the planetary system that governs Earth's climate. This is raising concerns that the climate could respond in abrupt and unexpected ways, shifting temperature or precipitation patterns in ways that may make it difficult for human society to adapt.

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From Oceanus Magazine

National Academy scientists say the ocean must play a role in CO2 removal to stave off climate change

A committee from the National Academy of Science reviews ocean-based methods to remove carbon dioxide in order to meet the Paris Climate Agreement goals

An enduring legacy of impact in ocean and climate research

The new Francis E. Fowler IV Center for Ocean and Climate—a flagship program of WHOI’s president—is designed to unlock the institution’s full potential as the world’s premier independent ocean research…

Getting to the Bottom of the Greenland Ice Sheet

Greenland—the world’s largest island—is also home to one of the world’s largest ice sheets (after Antarctica). If Greenland’s two-mile-thick ice sheet melts completely, it would ultimately raise global sea level by 23 feet, drowning significant portions of coastal regions under water. It would also add large quantities of fresh water to the ocean, with the…

Ocean Circulation and a Clam Far From Home

In my first year of graduate school, I was stumped by a big question on my final exam in biological oceanography. Maybe I had missed the relevant lecture or an assigned reading, but I could not answer the question: How can the same species of clams, snails, and other marine invertebrates be found along the…