2012 News Releases

December 27, 2012

WHOI Research Projects Awarded $5.2 M to Support Marine Microbial Research

There are more microbes in a bucket of seawater than there are people on Earth. Despite their abundance, humans are only just beginning to fathom the complex role marine microbes play in the ocean ecosystem.

gray seal
December 18, 2012

Study Looks at Gray Seal Impact on Beach Water Quality

An analysis by WHOI biologist Rebecca Gast examines water quality data to determine whether a growing population of gray seals along Cape Cod beaches can be blamed for beach closures.  

profile pic of Mak Saito
December 3, 2012

WHOI Scientist Receives Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation Marine Microbiology Initiative Investigator Award

WHOI biogeochemist Mak Saito has been selected for a Marine Microbiology Initiative (MMI) investigator award by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. Saito is one of 16 scientists who will receive funds from a total of up to $35 million to pursue pioneering research in the field of marine microbial ecology.

Ketten performing necropsy
November 29, 2012

WHOI Biologist Ketten Named AAAS 2012 Fellow

WHOI biologist Darlene Ketten has been named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) for her contributions to the understanding of the biophysics of hearing in mammals and for development of ultra-high resolution imaging for diagnosis of hearing impairments. Darlene is among 702 members awarded this honor in 2012 by AAAS because of their scientifically or socially distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications.

Nereus test from MV Alucia
November 14, 2012

WHOI Engineers Develop and Test New Underwater High-Speed Wireless Communication System

Engineers from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) have developed a new wireless underwater communication system to control remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) in real time. This new method may eliminate the need for long tether cables, offering a new degree of freedom in underwater robotics.

November 1, 2012

New Research Consortium Brings Scientists, Fishermen, and Managers Together to Address Seal Issues in the Northeast

People come from miles away to see the seals off the shores of Cape Cod and surrounding regions, but the animals are creating some challenges for local fishermen. Recent increases in local seal abundance have led to concerns about fisheries interactions. The urgency of documenting, understanding, and mitigating these interactions has become more apparent.

Japan fish data
October 25, 2012

Fishing for Answers off Fukushima

Japan fisheries data provides insight into the fate and impacts of radionuclides from Fukushima 18 months after the worst accidental release of radiation to the ocean in history.

October 23, 2012

Genetic Patterns of Deep-Sea Coral Provide Insights into Evolution of Marine Life

The ability of deep-sea corals to harbor a broad array of marine life, including commercially important fish species, make these habitat-forming organisms of immediate interest to conservationists, managers, and scientists. Understanding and protecting corals requires knowledge of the historical processes that have shaped their biodiversity and biogeography.

sea surface temperature maps
October 11, 2012

Scientists Uncover Diversion of Gulf Stream Path in Late 2011

The Gulf Stream moved well north of its normal path in late October and early November 2011, causing warmer-than-usual ocean temperatures along the New England continental shelf, according to physical oceanographers at WHOI.

September 25, 2012

Researchers Highlight Growing Problem of Ocean Acidification

An international group of scientists, including researchers from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, are working to improve communication about the growing problem of ocean acidification to help the public better understand the pressing global issue.

Neil Armstrong in space capsule
September 25, 2012

Newest Navy Research Vessel Is Named Neil Armstrong

Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus announced the nation’s newest research vessel will be named the R/V Neil Armstrong, after the renowned astronaut and the first man to set foot on the moon. The ship will be operated by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI).

exterior of new lab
September 20, 2012

Dedication Ceremony Held for New Laboratory

WHOI President and Director Susan Avery and Director of Research Larry Madin were joined by National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Deputy Director Willie May at a dedication ceremony Sept. 20 for the new Laboratory for Ocean Sensors and Observing Systems.  WHOI received an $8.1 million grant from NIST to fund construction of the new scientific research facility.

screen shot from Seafloor Explorer site
September 13, 2012

New Website Invites Public to Help Identify Seafloor Life and Habitats

A new partnership between oceanographers studying seafloor habitats, Web programmers and social scientists has resulted in a unique, interactive website called “Seafloor Explorer,” which asks members of the public to help identify objects they see in images of the seafloor. Seafloor Explorer (www.seafloorexplorer.org) launches September 13.

September 5, 2012

NASA/WHOI Voyage Set to Explore Link Between Sea Saltiness and Climate

A NASA-sponsored expedition is set to sail to the North Atlantic's saltiest spot to get a detailed, 3-D picture of how salt content fluctuates in the ocean's upper layers and how these variations are related to shifts in rainfall patterns around the planet.

map of Black Sea
September 4, 2012

Human Impact Felt on Black Sea Long Before Industrial Era

WHOI geologist Liviu Giosan and an international team of collaborators including environmental engineers, modelers, paleogeographers, and paleobiologists have pieced together a unique history of the Danube River delta and watershed that ultimately provides evidence for a transformative impact of humans on the Black Sea over hundreds, if not thousands of years.

September 3, 2012

Tracking Fish Through a Coral Reef Seascape

Ocean scientists have long known that juvenile coral reef fishes use coastal seagrass and mangrove habitats as nurseries, later moving as adults onto coral reefs. But the fishes’ movements, and the connections between different tropical habitats, are much more complex than previously realized, according to a study published September 3 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The findings have important implications for management and protection of coral reefs and other marine environments.

August 29, 2012

WHOI Hosts Public Talk - Titanic in 3D: An Archaeological Exploration

On Saturday, Sept. 8, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution will host a public event entitled “Titanic in 3D: An Archaeological Exploration.” The free presentations will be held at 11 a.m., 1:30 p.m., & 3:30 p.m. in Redfield Auditorium, 45 Water St., Woods Hole. Reservations can be made online at www.whoi.edu/events/titanic.

August 20, 2012

Construction Begins on Newest Ocean Research Ship

Senior officials from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) joined the U.S. Office of Naval Research (ONR) at a ceremony Aug. 17 to mark the beginning of construction on the high-tech, ocean research ship AGOR 27, which will be operated by WHOI.

headshot of Scott Doney
August 15, 2012

WHOI Scientist Contributes to Nature Study on Ocean Health

WHOI Senior Scientist Scott Doney is one of several contributors to a new comprehensive index designed to assess the benefits to people of healthy oceans worldwide. The Index – being called the Ocean Health Index – is the first broad, quantitative assessment of the critical relationships between the ocean and people, framed in terms of the many benefits humans derive from the ocean.

August 2, 2012

WHOI to Host Public Event on Ocean Acidification

The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) will host a public forum on ocean acidification and its effects on ocean life.  Ocean acidification is a global problem that results from the increase of carbon dioxide (CO2) released into the atmosphere primarily from burning fossil fuels. Excess CO2 in the air dissolves in seawater and is converted to corrosive carbonic acid that puts the lives of many marine organisms at risk.

headshot of Jeffrey Fernandez
July 23, 2012

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Names New CFO

The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) has appointed Jeffrey Fernandez to the position of Chief Financial Officer and Vice President of Finance.  Fernandez assumes his post July 23.

illustration of how optical modem works
July 19, 2012

WHOI Scientists and Engineers Partner with World-Renowned Companies to Market Revolutionary New Instruments

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution researchers have partnered with two companies to build and market undersea technology developed at WHOI: the Imaging FlowCytobot, an automated underwater microscope, and BlueComm, an underwater communications system that uses light to provide wireless transmission of data, including video imagery, in real or near-real time.

July 19, 2012

WHOI Announces 2012 Ocean Science Journalism Fellows

Ten writers and multimedia science journalists from the U.S., Canada, and Poland have been selected to participate in the competitive Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) Ocean Science Journalism Fellowship program. The program takes place September 9-14, 2012, in Woods Hole, Mass., on Cape Cod.

Satellite image of North Atlantic
July 5, 2012

Scientists Discover New Trigger for Immense North Atlantic Ocean Spring Plankton Bloom

Scientists from the WHOI, University of Washington, and University of Maine are combining models with data from a flotilla of high-tech robots to shed new light on life-sustaining phytoplankton, including when their spring bloom begins and the role that small-scale eddies play in promoting their growth.   

sphere in test facility
June 27, 2012

Pressure Testing of New Alvin Personnel Sphere Successful

The human-occupied submersible Alvin reached a major milestone in its upgrade project on June 22 when its new titanium personnel sphere was successfully pressure tested, reports the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, the vehicle’s operator.

June 20, 2012

Melting Sea Ice Threatens Emperor Penguins, Study Finds

At nearly four feet tall, the Emperor penguin is Antarctica’s largest sea bird—and thanks to films like “March of the Penguins” and “Happy Feet,” it’s also one of the continent’s most iconic. If global temperatures continue to rise, however, the Emperor penguins in Terre Adélie, in East Antarctica may eventually disappear, according to a new study by led by researchers from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI). The study was published in the June 20th edition of the journal Global Change Biology.

June 7, 2012

Scientists Discover Huge Phytoplankton Bloom in Ice Covered Waters

A team of researchers, including scientists from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), discovered a massive bloom of phytoplankton beneath ice-covered Arctic waters. Until now, sea ice was thought to block sunlight and limit the growth of microscopic marine plants living under the ice.

May 31, 2012

A 'B-12 Shot' for Marine Algae?

Studying algal cultures and seawater samples from the Southern Ocean off Antarctica, a team of researchers from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and the J. Craig Venter Institute have revealed a key cog in the biochemical machinery that allows marine algae at the base of the oceanic food chain to thrive. They have discovered a previously unknown protein in algae that grabs an essential but scarce nutrient out of seawater, vitamin B12.

May 28, 2012

Climate Change Led to Collapse of Ancient Indus Civilization, Study Finds

A new study combining the latest archaeological evidence with state-of-the-art geoscience technologies provides evidence that climate change was a key ingredient in the collapse of the great Indus or Harappan Civilization almost 4000 years ago. The study, led by WHOI geologist Liviu Giosan, also resolves a long-standing debate over the source and fate of the Sarasvati, the sacred river of Hindu mythology.

May 25, 2012

Dr. Karen Lloyd Receives WHOI's Holger W. Jannasch Visiting Scholar Award

The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) has chosen Karen Lloyd, an assistant professor in the Department of Microbiology at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, as the recipient of the Holger W. Jannasch Visiting Scholar Award.  

May 21, 2012

New Study by WHOI Scientists Provides Baseline Measurements of Carbon in Arctic Ocean

Scientists from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) have conducted a new study to measure levels of carbon at various depths in the Arctic Ocean. The study, recently published in the journal Biogeosciences, provides data that will help researchers better understand the Arctic Ocean’s carbon cycle—the pathway through which carbon enters and is used by the marine ecosystem. It will also offer an important point of reference for determining how those levels of carbon change over time, and how the ecosystem responds to rising global temperatures.

May 7, 2012

WHOI to Host Public Forum on Climate Change and Global Water Supplies

The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) will host a public forum on the impacts of climate change on water availability worldwide. “Drought or Deluge: The Ocean and Earth's Changing Water Cycle,” will be held on May 17 at 7 p.m. in Redfield Auditorium, featuring experts on extreme weather, changing rainfall patterns, and the impact of changing water supplies on the developing world.

April 29, 2012

Pacific Islands May Become Refuge for Corals in a Warming Climate, Study Finds

Scientists have predicted that ocean temperatures will rise in the equatorial Pacific by the end of the century, wreaking havoc on coral reef ecosystems. But a new study by WHOI scientists shows that climate change could cause ocean currents to operate in a surprising way and mitigate the warming near a handful of islands right on the equator. As a result these Pacific islands may become isolated refuges for corals and fish.

maya yamato in the necropsy facility
April 20, 2012

Study Amplifies Understanding of Hearing in Baleen Whales

For decades, scientists have known that dolphins and other toothed whales have specialized fats associated with their jaws, which efficiently convey sound waves from the ocean to their ears. But until now, the hearing systems of their toothless grazing cousins, baleen whales, remained a mystery, largely because specimens to study are hard to get.  Now, a new study by scientists at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution has shown that some baleen whales also have fats leading to their ears.

algae cysts
April 4, 2012

Researchers Report Potential for a "Moderate" New England "Red Tide" in 2012

New England is expected to experience a “moderate” regional “red tide” this spring and summer, report NOAA-funded scientists working in the Gulf of Maine to study the toxic algae that causes the bloom. The algae in the water pose no direct threat to human beings, however the toxins they produce can accumulate in filter-feeding organisms such as mussels and clams — which can cause paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) in humans who consume them.

krill closeup
April 2, 2012

Sampling the Pacific for Signs of Fukushima

International team led by WHOI's Ken Buesseler released its initial findings on April 2 from a 2011 cruise to measure the concentration, distribution, and biological impacts of radiation from a damaged Japanese nuclear power plant.

March 29, 2012

WHOI Team Uses Advanced Imaging Data to Bring a New View of Titanic to the World

Newly released images of the Titanic wreck site provide the first unrestricted view of the world's most notable maritime heritage site. The image mosaics are among more than 200 optical mosaics created by WHOI's Advanced Imaging and Visualization Laboratory. These new images add to the already unprecedented collection of images published in the April 2012 issue of National Geographic Magazine.

March 26, 2012

WHOI Researchers, Collaborators Receive $1.4 Million to Study Life in Ocean's Greatest Depths

Scientists from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), University of Hawaii, Whitman College and international colleagues will conduct the first systematic study of life in the deepest marine habitat on Earth—ocean trenches.

alvin on the seafloor
March 26, 2012

WHOI Scientists Contribute to Study on Impact to Coral Communities from Deepwater Horizon Spill

Six scientists from WHOI have contributed to a new report finding "compelling evidence" that the Deepwater Horizon oil spill has impacted deep-sea coral communities in the Gulf of Mexico. The study utilized all the National Deep Submergence Facility vehicles to investigate the corals, and employed an advanced technique pioneered at WHOI for use in oil spill research.

Sebastien Bertrand
March 16, 2012

Study of Patagonian Glacier's Rise and Fall Adds to Understanding of Global Climate Change

Increased global temperatures are frequently viewed as the cause of glacial melt, but a new study of Patagonia’s Gualas Glacier highlights the role of precipitation in the glacier’s fluctuation. The study, conducted by WHOI postdoctoral fellow Sébastien Bertrand and his colleagues, compares past temperature and rainfall data with sediment records of glacier fluctuations and the historical observations of early Spanish explorers.

cyclone on the Bay of Bengal
March 15, 2012

Study Links Major Shifts in Indian Civilizations to Past Changes in Monsoon

A fundamental shift in the Indian monsoon has occurred over the last few millennia, from a steady humid monsoon that favored lush vegetation to extended periods of drought, reports a new study led by researchers at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. The study has implications for our understanding of the monsoon’s response to climate change.

February 16, 2012

Special Fukushima Session at 2012 Ocean Sciences Meeting

In a special session on Tuesday, Feb. 21, during the 2012 Ocean Sciences Meeting in Salt Lake City, researchers will present early results from several field and modeling studies examining the fate of more than a dozen radioactive isotopes in the air, water, and organisms impacted by the Fukushima releases. This is the largest international gathering to date of experts in this area. The session will feature 15 talks, including two by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) scientists.

February 6, 2012

WHOI Scientists Awarded Distinctions from The Oceanography Society and American Geophysical Union

Jim Yoder, Vice President for Academic Programs and Dean at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), has been named a 2012 fellow of The Oceanography Society (TOS). WHOI Senior Scientist Raymond Schmitt has been elected a 2012 fellow of the American Geophysical Union (AGU).

map showing Cascadia fault
February 2, 2012

WHOI Receives $1Million from Keck Foundation for First Real-Time Seafloor Earthquake Observatory at Cascadia Fault

A $1 million grant to WHOI from the W. M. Keck Foundation will fund the first seafloor geodesy observatory above the expected rupture zone of the Pacific Northwest’s Cascadia fault – an offshore, subduction zone fault capable of producing a magnitude 9 earthquake and generating a large tsunami.

January 27, 2012

Two WHOI Scientists Named 2012 Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Senior Scientists Lloyd Keigwin and Robert Weller have been elected 2012 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.

January 23, 2012

WHOI's John Waterbury receives NAS Gilbert Morgan Smith Medal

The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) has awarded John Waterbury, scientist emeritus in the Biology Department at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), the 2012 Gilbert Morgan Smith Medal.

January 19, 2012

Louis St. Laurent Receives Nicholas P. Fofonoff Award From AMS

Louis St. Laurent of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) was selected by the American Meteorological Society (AMS) to receive the prestigious Nicholas P. Fofonoff Award. There will be a formal presentation at the Annual Awards Banquet on January 25, 2012, at the AMS annual meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana.

carmichael on the beach
January 19, 2012

Mysterious Flotsam in Gulf of Mexico Came from Deepwater Horizon Rig, Study Finds

Using state-of-the-art chemical forensics and a bit of old-fashioned detective work, a research team led by scientists at WHOI confirmed that mysterious material  found floating in the Gulf of Mexico came from the Deepwater Horizon rig. They further determined that tracking debris from damaged rigs can help forecast coastal impacts and guide response efforts in future spills.

black plume of smoke
January 9, 2012

Four WHOI Scientists Contribute to Comprehensive Picture of the Fate of Oil from Deepwater Horizon Spill

A new study provides a composite picture of the environmental distribution of oil and gas from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico. It amasses a vast collection of available atmospheric, surface and subsurface chemical data to assemble a "mass balance" of how much oil and gas was released, where it went and the chemical makeup of the compounds that remained in the air, on the surface, and in the deep water.