2009 News Releases

December 17, 2009

Two WHOI Scientists Named Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science

John Farrington and David Gallo of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) have been named fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Election as a fellow is an honor bestowed upon AAAS members by their peers.

WHOI-Operated ROV Jason Images the Discovery of the Deepest Explosive Eruption on the Sea Floor
December 17, 2009

WHOI-Operated ROV Jason Images the Discovery of the Deepest Explosive Eruption on the Sea Floor

Oceanographers using the remotely operated vehicle (ROV) Jason discovered and recorded the first video and still images of a deep-sea volcano actively erupting molten lava on the seafloor.

December 11, 2009

Woods Hole Consortium Delegates Participating in U.N. Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen this Week

Directors and scientists from the Woods Hole Consortium are in Copenhagen, Denmark, this week to speak on climate change impacts on ocean, air, land, and polar-ice ecosystems—whose fates are inextricably linked—at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP15).

December 1, 2009

In CO2-rich Environment, Some Ocean Dwellers Increase Shell Production

In a striking finding that raises new questions about carbon dioxide’s (CO2) impact on marine life, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) scientists report that some shell-building creatures—such as crabs, shrimp and lobsters—unexpectedly build more shell when exposed to ocean acidification caused by elevated levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2).

November 24, 2009

CO2 Emissions Continue Significant Climb

The annual rate of increase in carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels has more than tripled in this decade, compared to the 1990s, reports an international consortium of scientists, who paint a bleak picture of the Earth’s future unless “CO2 emissions [are] drastically reduced.”

November 19, 2009

New Tsunami Education Web Site Developed by Oceanographers

Scientists and Web developers at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) have created a new educational Web site with crucial tips on how to prepare for and survive a tsunami. Tagged as “an interactive guide that could save your life,” the site also features the latest tsunami-related science research and compelling tsunami survivor videos and interviews.

November 19, 2009

WHOI?s Bruce A. Warren Is Awarded Sverdrup Gold Medal

Bruce A. Warren—one of the world’s pre-eminent researchers of deep ocean currents and scientist emeritus at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI)—is the 2010 winner of the prestigious Sverdrup Gold Medal, awarded by the American Meteorological Society (AMS).

November 12, 2009

SEA to conduct expedition dedicated to measuring plastic marine debris in the North Atlantic Ocean

Sea Education Association (SEA) is preparing to conduct the first-ever research expedition dedicated solely to examining the accumulation of plastic marine debris in the North Atlantic Ocean. The expedition is funded by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Marine Debris Program, and is in collaboration with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and Woods Hole Sea Grant.

November 5, 2009

Newly Discovered Fat Molecule: An Undersea Killer with an Upside

A chemical culprit responsible for the rapid, mysterious death of phytoplankton in the North Atlantic Ocean has been found by collaborating scientists at Rutgers University and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI).  This same chemical may hold unexpected promise in cancer research.

September 28, 2009

Mystery Solved: Marine Microbe Is Source of Rare Nutrient

A study newly published in Nature Geoscience has solved a ten-year-old mystery about the source of an essential nutrient in the ocean.

September 24, 2009

Climate Change Meets Ocean Life in New Northeast Research Institute

Federal and academic marine scientists in the Northeast have combined resources in a new effort to understand how the large marine ecosystem off the northeastern U.S. functions. Don Anderson, senior scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, will direct the newly formed, NOAA-funded Cooperative Institute for the North Atlantic Region.

September 21, 2009

WHOI Will Host Public Forum on Sea Level Rise

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates that sea level may rise as much as two feet over the next 100 years.  However, we lack a full understanding of polar ice cap behavior, and there is concern that the potential for future sea level rise may be significantly underestimated.  On Friday, September 25, 2009, from 2 – 5 p.m., in Redfield Auditorium, Water Street, Woods Hole, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) is hosting a free public colloquium entitled “Where Land & Sea Meet: Managing Shoreline Change Over the Next 100 Years.”

September 2, 2009

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Will Lead Coastal and Global Observatories Effort

A Cooperative Agreement signed by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Consortium for Ocean Leadership (OL) gives Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and its partners approval to begin construction on ocean observing infrastructure at coastal sites offshore of southern New England, Oregon, and Washington, and at high latitude open-ocean sites in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Southern Oceans. The observatories will be built and installed over the next five years.

multicore sample
August 27, 2009

New Temperature Reconstruction from Indo-Pacific Warm Pool

A new 2,000-year-long reconstruction of sea surface temperatures (SST) from the Indo-Pacific warm pool (IPWP) suggests that temperatures in the region may have been as warm during the Medieval Warm Period as they are today.

Christoper Winslow
July 7, 2009

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Appoints New Chief Financial Officer

The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) announced today that it has appointed Christopher J. (Chris) Winslow to the position of chief financial officer (CFO) and VP for Finance and Administration. Winslow will assume his duties at WHOI on August 24, 2009.

June 17, 2009

Rising acidity levels could trigger shellfish revenue declines, job losses

Changes in ocean chemistry — a consequence of increased carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from human industrial activity — could cause U.S. shellfish revenues to drop significantly in the next 50 years, according to a new study by researchers at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI).

June 2, 2009

Hybrid Remotely Operated Vehicle Nereus Reaches Deepest Part of the Ocean

A new type of deep-sea robotic vehicle called Nereus has successfully reached the deepest part of the world’s ocean, reports a team of U.S. engineers and scientists aboard the research vessel Kilo Moana. The dive to 10,902 meters (6.8 miles) occurred on May 31, 2009, at the Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench in the western Pacific Ocean.

Eric Montie in the lab
May 18, 2009

Skip This Cocktail Party: Contaminants in Marine Mammals' Brains

The most extensive study of pollutants in marine mammals’ brains reveals that these animals are exposed to a hazardous cocktail of pesticides such as DDTs and PCBs, as well as emerging contaminants such as brominated flame retardants.

polar bear swimming
May 18, 2009

Polar Bear-Climate Connection Supported by New Study

Forecasts of polar bear populations and their likely responses to climate change have been strengthened by a new study that refutes criticisms of the scientific basis for listing the polar bear under the Endangered Species Act.   

May 13, 2009

Natural Petroleum Seeps Release Equivalent of 8-80 Exxon Valdez Oil Spills

A new study by researchers at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) is the first to quantify the amount of oil residue in seafloor sediments that result from natural petroleum seeps off Santa Barbara, California.

a rack of RAFOS floats
May 13, 2009

Study Finds Surprising New Pathway for North Atlantic Circulation

Research led by oceanographers at WHOI and Duke University have teased out a new piece of the North Atlantic circulation puzzle, finding that much of the southward flow of cold water from the Labrador Sea moves along a previously unknown path in the interior of the North Atlantic -- a finding that may impact the work of global warming forecasters.

rescuers work to free an entangled humpback whale
May 6, 2009

WHOI Team Aids Center for Coastal Studies in Whale Disentanglement

On Monday, May 4, a team of researchers from WHOI was working in the Great South Channel 40 miles east-southeast of Chatham, Mass., when they sighted a humpback whale severely entangled in fishing gear.  They alerted a rescue team from the Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies (PCCS) and kept watch over the humpback for three hours until the PCCS team could steam to the area to free the whale.

April 22, 2009

Researchers Report Potential for "Moderately Large" Red Tide Outbreak in the Gulf of Maine Region for 2009

The potential for an outbreak of the phenomenon commonly called “red tide” is expected to be “moderately large” this spring and summer, according to researchers with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and North Carolina State University.

john toole
April 21, 2009

John Toole Elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences

John Toole of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) has been elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, one of the nation’s most esteemed honorary societies and a center for independent policy research.

April 2, 2009

Three Woods Hole Scientific Institutions Forge Alliance to Address Societal Issues

Three leading research centers based in Woods Hole, Mass., announce the creation of the Woods Hole Consortium, a new alliance that will bring their combined scientific power to bear on some of the major issues facing society today and spawn scientific growth and job opportunity on the South Coast of Massachusetts. The consortium comprises the Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL), Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), and Woods Hole Research Center (WHRC), and focuses on the interlocking issues of climate change and ecosystems health and human well-being.

three ships at the WHOI dock
April 1, 2009

WHOI Announces Completion of Comprehensive Campaign

The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) has successfully completed its “Depth of Leadership” campaign, the Institution’s Board of Trustees recently announced, with $194.6 million raised over the past nine years. This total represents the largest amount the Institution has ever raised in a campaign.

March 31, 2009

Polar Discovery Online Expedition Brings Arctic Experience to Virtual Explorers

Beginning April 4, students, teachers, museum visitors, and virtual explorers can join a multi-institutional team of researchers led by Carin Ashjian of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) on a 38-day expedition in the Arctic’s Bering Sea.

vent chimney
March 26, 2009

Deep Sea Floor Mining Is Subject of International Colloquium at WHOI

Scientists, policymakers, environmentalists, and industry representatives will gather next week at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) to discuss the issue of mining precious metals from the seafloor. A public colloquium, which will feature keynote addresses from leading voices on the subject and a panel discussion, will be held on Thursday, April 2, from 2 to 5 p.m. in WHOI’s Redfield Auditorium, Woods Hole, MA. The event, the 5th Elisabeth and Henry Morss Jr. Colloquium, is free and open to the public and will also be broadcast in real time on the Web.

clownfish in anemone
March 25, 2009

You Don't Call, You Don't Write: Connectivity in Marine Fish Populations

Children of baby boomers aren’t the only ones who have taken to setting up home far from where their parents live. A new study published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences documents how larval dispersal connects marine fish populations in a network of marine protected areas – information that is critical for fisheries managers.

Steve Elgar and Britt Raubenheimer refueling during a Navy-sponsored project to map the seafloor.
March 24, 2009

Elgar Named National Security Science and Engineering Faculty Fellow

Steve Elgar, a senior scientist in the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) Applied Ocean Physics and Engineering department, was recently named a 2009 National Security Science and Engineering Faculty Fellow (NSSEFF) by the Department of Defense (DoD).

RV Gould at Palmer Station
March 12, 2009

Warming Climate Impacts Base of Food Web in Western Antarctic Peninsula

A paper published this week in Science shows for the first time that the warming climate is changing the numbers and composition of phytoplankton—the base of the food web—along the western shelf of the Antarctic Peninsula.

March 11, 2009

Right whale sedation enables disentanglement effort

On Friday, March 6, 2009, for the first time ever, a North Atlantic right whale that had been severely entangled in fishing gear, was administered a sedation mixture that made it possible for rescuers to remove 90 percent of the entanglement.

March 10, 2009

Airborne pollutants can be toxic to marine algae

A newly published paper by ocean scientists shows that airborne particles off the continents can have deadly effect on some marine phytoplankton. The findings have implications for atmospheric carbon dioxide levels and climate.

student cultures mussels
March 4, 2009

WHOI and RTDC Announce Technology Transfer Partnership

The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and the Regional Technology Development Corp. (RTDC) of Cape Cod announced jointly today the signing of a technology transfer and entrepreneurial services agreement designed to accelerate the transfer of WHOI technology innovations to the marketplace.

February 9, 2009

Carbon Acts Like Rustoleum Around Hydrothermal Vents

The cycling of iron throughout the oceans has been an area of intense research for the last two decades. Oceanographers have spent a lot of time studying what has been affectionately labeled the Geritol effect ever since discovering that the lack of iron is a reason why phytoplankton grow lackadaisically in some of the most nutrient-rich surface waters. Just like humans, sometimes the ocean needs a dose of iron to function more effectively.

lab glassware
February 2, 2009

Phytoplankton Cell Membranes Challenge Fundamentals of Biochemistry

Get ready to send the biology textbooks back to the printer. In a new paper published in Nature, Benjamin Van Mooy, a geochemist with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and his colleagues report that microscopic plants growing in the Sargasso Sea have come up with a completely unexpected way of building their cells.

southern ocean
January 29, 2009

Ocean Islands Fuel Productivity and Carbon Sequestration Through Natural Iron Fertilization

An experiment to study the effects of naturally deposited iron in the Southern Ocean has filled in a key piece of the puzzle surrounding iron’s role in locking atmospheric carbon dioxide in the ocean. The research, conducted by an international team led by Raymond Pollard of the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton, and included Matthew Charette, a marine chemist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, found that natural iron fertilization enhanced the export of carbon to the deep ocean.

emperor penguin closeup
January 26, 2009

Emperor Penguins March toward Extinction?

Popularized by the 2005 movie “March of the Penguins,” emperor penguins could be headed toward extinction in at least part of their range before the end of the century, according to a paper by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) researchers published January 26, 2009, in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.

Black Sea Present Day Levels
January 22, 2009

Danube Delta Holds Answers to Noah's Flood Debate

Did a catastrophic flood of biblical proportions drown the shores of the Black Sea 9,500 years ago, wiping out early Neolithic settlements around its perimeter? A geologist with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and two Romanian colleagues report in the January issue of Quaternary Science Reviews that, if the flood occurred at all, it was much smaller than previously proposed by other researchers.

Fungia coral showing yellow band disease
January 20, 2009

Bacterial Pathogens and Rising Temperatures Threaten Coral Health

Coral reefs around the world are in serious trouble from pollution, over-fishing, climate change and more. The last thing they need is an infection. But that’s exactly what yellow band disease (YBD) is—a bacterial infection that sickens coral colonies. Researchers at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and colleagues have found that YBD seems to be getting worse with global warming and announced that they’ve identified the bacteria responsible for the disease.

darlene ketten examines turtle at CT scanner
January 14, 2009

Media Advisory: Turtle Skulls Prove to be Shock-Resistant

Scientists and engineers from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and the U.S. Navy have discovered that sea turtles’ skulls and shells not only protect them from predators but also from extraordinarily powerful underwater shockwaves. The research, originally intended to help the Navy avoid harming turtles, could also point the way to designing improved body armor and helmets for soldiers on land.

January 13, 2009

Study links swings in North Atlantic Oscillation variability to climate warming

Using a 218-year-long temperature record from a Bermuda brain coral, researchers at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) have created the first marine-based reconstruction showing the long-term behavior of one of the most important drivers of climate fluctuations in the North Atlantic.

January 12, 2009

WHOI Physical Oceanographer Joe Pedlosky to Present Haurwitz Lecture at American Meteorological Society Meeting

Joseph Pedlosky, a physical oceanographer with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, has been awarded the Bernhard Haurwitz Memorial Lectureship at the American Metrological Society’s 89th Annual Meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, on January 14, 2009.

January 5, 2009

Surprising Return of North Atlantic Circulation Pump

One of the “pumps” contributing to the ocean’s global circulation suddenly switched on again last winter for the first time this decade, scientists reported Tuesday (Dec. 23) in Nature Geoscience. The finding surprised scientists, who had been wondering if global warming was  inhibiting the pump—which, in turn, would cause other far-reaching climate changes.