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A new study may have cracked the longstanding “marine methane paradox,” finding that the answer may lie in the complex ways that bacteria break down substances excreted into seawater by living organisms.
As temperatures rise, some of the carbon dioxide stored in Arctic permafrost meets an unexpected fate—burial at sea. As many as 2.2 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year are swept along by a single river system into Arctic Ocean sediment, according to a new study.
Scientists from WHOI calculated the first direct estimate of how much and in what form organic carbon is exported to the ocean by rivers.
Scientists have discovered a surprising new short-circuit to the biological pump. Sinking particles of stressed and dying phytoplankton release chemicals that can have a jolting, steroid-like effect on marine bacteria feeding on the particles.
Just as crocus and daffodil blossoms signal renewal and the start of a warmer season on land, a similar "greening" event—a massive phytoplankton bloom—unfolds each spring in the Atlantic Ocean from Bermuda to the Arctic. But, what happens to all that organic material produced in the surface 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.
Global warming could destabilize the pool of carbon in the Ganges-Brahmaputra basin and similar places on Earth, potentially increasing the rate of CO2 release into the atmosphere.
The Earth is constantly manufacturing new crust, spewing molten magma up along undersea ridges at the boundaries of tectonic plates. The process is critical to the planet’s metabolism, including the cycle of underwater life and the delicate balance of carbon in the ocean and atmosphere. Now, scientists at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) have observed ocean crust forming in an entirely unexpected way—one that may influence those cycles of life and carbon and, in turn, affect the much-discussed future of the world’s climate.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
Transparent jellyfish-like creatures may be more important to the fate of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide in the ocean than previously thought.
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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