2012 Talks

All talks are held on Tuesdays at 2:30 at the WHOI Ocean Science Exhibit Center Auditorium, 15 School Street, Woods Hole. (unless otherwise noted)
» Download pdf version of the July 2012 Science Made Public Talks
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July 10 - Following the Gulf Stream

Glen Gawarkiewicz, Sr. Scientist, Physical Oceanography Department

Resembling a river in the ocean, the Gulf Stream transports warm water northward from the Gulf of Mexico before it turns east across the Atlantic. In the fall of 2011 local fishermen noticed unusually warm water and strong currents at the edge of the continental shelf south of New England. Learn what WHOI scientists found when they investigated this unusual shift in the Gulf Stream and hear more about its implications for ocean circulation in that region and some possible effects on marine life.

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July 17 - Forecasting New England "Red Tides"

Dennis McGillicuddy, Sr. Scientist, Applied Ocean Physics & Engineering Department

Each year, coastal waters of the Gulf of Maine are prone to blooms of the harmful algae, Alexandrium fundyense. The algae 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. To insure the shellfish we consume is safe, harvesting areas are carefully monitored by state agencies. Learn more about the work scientists have done to develop a forecasting system to help the shellfish industry and environmental managers better plan for the annual bloom.

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July 24 - New Bedford Harbor: History, Pollution, and Adaptation

Larissa Williams, Postdoctoral Fellow, Biology Department

Massachusetts’ New Bedford Harbor has been polluted since the mid 1800s when human waste from a growing population was disposed of into the estuary. In the early 1900s, the city of New Bedford recruited electrical component manufacturers to the city, who in turn polluted the Acushnet River estuary and adjoining harbor with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). While most of the marine life in New Bedford Harbor died as a result of chronic exposure to PCBs, an estuarine minnow, Fundulus heteroclitus, has persisted and is now adapted to living in the contaminated site. Learn how researchers are using genetic techniques to better understand this minnow’s resistance to PCBs.

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July 31 - A WHOI Mooring: It's Not Your Father's Boat Mooring

Rick Trask, Research Specialist, Physical Oceanography Department

Oceanographers frequently want to make measurements from a single location in the ocean for a year or more. But it is prohibitively expensive for a ship to remain in remote locations making measurements for such a long time. Instead they use mooring structures, often miles long and designed to withstand the wind, waves and corrosive ocean environment, that sit on the ocean floor unattended. Learn how WHOI engineers and technicians design and build these platforms and assemble them at sea for deployment. Get the inside story of how the tiniest of details can make the difference between success and failure.

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August 7 - Right Whale Conservation

Nadine Lysiak, Biology Department

The majority of the approximately 450 North Atlantic right whales that remain disappear from human observation from late fall to early spring. Learn how researchers are using new techniques to determine the location of currently unknown right whale habitats and how recent research has improved conservation efforts of these endangered animals.

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August 14 - Finding New Zealand's Pink and White Terraces

Amy Kukulya, Applied Ocean Physics & Engineering Department

Often called the "Eighth Wonder of the World," New Zealand's Pink and White Terraces were beautiful natural formations created by a large geothermal system. The Terraces were buried in sediment and covered over by Lake Rotomahana after the devastating and deadly eruption of Mt. Tarawera in 1886. Learn how researchers, using autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) to map the bottom of the lake, found the lower portions of the Pink Terraces on the lake floor.

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August 21 - Consequences for the Ocean of the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant Accident

Ken Buesseler, Marine Chemistry & Geochemistry Department

Please note: this event will take place in Redfield Auditorium
The March 2011 triple disaster earthquake, tsunami, and subsequent radiation releases at Japan's Fukushima Dai-ichi were unprecedented events for the ocean and for society. The earthquake was the fourth largest ever recorded; the tsunami resulted in over 20,000 dead or missing and destroyed entire towns; and the radiation releases created the largest accidental release of man-made radionuclides to the oceans in history—a release that continues to this day. Learn about these events, research findings and how researchers are assessing the potential impacts on public health and safety.

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August 28 - Equatorial Islands and Climate Change

Kris Karnauskas, Geology & Geophysics Department

At the equator, nature's rules have some fascinating loopholes. From the Gilbert Islands all the way to the Galapagos Archipelago, find out how island ecosystems in these remote Pacific locations are not only subject to the impacts of climate change in unique ways, but may actually have played an important role in shaping the Earth's climate system over the course of millions of years.