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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.
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.
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.
Hydrocarbonsmolecules critical to lifeare routinely generated by the simple interaction of seawater with the rocks under the Lost City hydrothermal vent field in the Atlantic Ocean. The production of such building blocks of life makes Lost City-like vents strong contenders as places where life might have originated on Earth, according to research led by the University of Washington and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.
The release of sulfur and nitrogen into the atmosphere by power plants and agricultural activities plays a minor role in making the ocean slightly more acidic on a global scale, but the impact is greatly amplified in the shallower waters of the coastal ocean, according to new research by atmospheric and marine chemists.
A research team led by Dennis McGillicuddy of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution has shown that episodic, swirling current systems known as eddies act to pump nutrients up from the deep ocean to fuel such blooms.
A major study has shed new light on the dim layer of the ocean called the “twilight zone”—where mysterious processes affect the ocean’s ability to absorb and store carbon dioxide accumulating in our atmosphere.
Scientists have long known that microorganisms can use one of two different methods to convert carbon dioxide into a form that living things can use for energy. What they didn’t know until recently is that at least one form of bacteria can switch between these two “carbon fixation” pathways or use them both at the same timea fundamental discovery for scientists who believe such bacteria played a role in the evolution of life on Earth.
New pathway for pollution may change views of how much mercury is lingering in coastal waters.
Transparent jellyfish-like creatures may be more important to the fate of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide in the ocean than previously thought.
Cadmium, commonly considered a toxic metal and often used in combination with nickel in batteries, has been found to have a biological use as a nutrient in the ocean, the first known biological use of cadmium in any life form.
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) scientists and their international colleagues will be at sea off Hawaii in June trying to learn more about the ocean’s ability to store atmospheric carbon dioxide.
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