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Oceanus Articles


Alpha, Bravo, Charlie…

Alpha, Bravo, Charlie...

The ocean weather station idea originated in the early days of radio communications and trans-oceanic aviation. As early as 1921, the Director of the French Meteorological Service proposed establishing a stationary weather observing ship in the North Atlantic to benefit merchant shipping and the anticipated inauguration of trans-Atlantic air service. Up to then, temporary stations had been set up for special purposes such as the US Navy NC-4 trans-Atlantic flight in 1919 and the ill-fated Amelia Earhart Pacific flight in 1937.

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A Century of North Atlantic Data Indicates Interdecadal Change

A Century of North Atlantic Data Indicates Interdecadal Change

For hundreds of years mariners have recorded the weather over the world ocean. Some 100 million marine weather reports have accumulated worldwide since 1854, when an international system for the collection of meteorogical data over the oceans was established. These reports include measurements of sea surface temperature, air temperature, wind, cloudiness, and barometric pressure. In the 1980s, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) compiled these weather observations into a single, easily accessible digital archive called the Comprehensive Ocean-Atmosphere Data Set. This important data set forms the basis for our empirical knowledge of the surface climate and its variability over the world’s oceans: One example of a variable system is the phenomenon known as El Nino in the tropical Pacific. A major challenge in climate research is to use these data to document and understand the role of the oceans in long-term—decadal and centennial—climate change.

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Oceans & Climate

Oceans & Climate

The past decade has brought rapid scientific progress in understanding the role of the ocean in climate and climate change. The ocean is involved in the climate system primarily because it stores heat, water, and carbon dioxide, moves them around on the earth, and exchanges these and other elements with the atmosphere.

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Sedimentary Record Yields Several Centuries of Data

Sedimentary Record Yields Several Centuries of Data

Natural climate changes like the Little Ice Age and the Medieval Warm Period are of interest for a few reasons. First, they occur on decade to century time scales, a gray zone in the spectrum of climate change. Accurate instrumental data do not extend back far enough to document the beginning of these events, and historical data are often of questionable accuracy and are not widespread geographically.

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Transient Tracers Track Ocean Cimate Signals

Transient Tracers Track Ocean Cimate Signals

Transient tracers provide us with a unique opportunity to visualize the effects of the changing climate on the ocean. They trace the pathways climate anomalies follow as they enter and move through the ocean and give us valuable information about rates of movement and amounts of dilution. This knowledge is important for developing ocean-climate models to predict long term climate changes.

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The Bermuda Station S—A Long-Running Oceanographic Show

The Bermuda Station S—A Long-Running Oceanographic Show

A time series of hydrographic measurements was initiated at Bermuda in 1954 and continues to the present. It began under the banner of the International Geophysical Year (1957-1958) with the scientific support of Henry Stommel of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and William Sutcliffe, director of the Bermuda Biological Station (BBS). The scientists and personnel of the originating institutions have been the most active participants over the years, but the data have been widely used by the international oceanographic community. While other long time series of measurements in the North Atlantic began in association with weather ships, only the Bermuda measurements have a strong oceanographic focus.

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