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News Releases


Marine Archaeologists Excavate Greek Antikythera Shipwreck

Archaeologists excavating the famous ancient Greek shipwreck that yielded the Antikythera mechanism have recovered more than 50 items including a bronze armrest (possibly part of a throne), remains of a bone flute, fine glassware, luxury ceramics, a pawn from an ancient board game, and several elements of the ship itself.  

 

“This shipwreck is far from exhausted,” reports project co-Director Dr. Brendan Foley, a marine archaeologist with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI). “Every single dive on it delivers fabulous finds, and reveals how the ‘1 percent’ lived in the time of Caesar.”

 

The shipwreck dates to circa 65 B.C., and was discovered by Greek sponge fishermen in 1900 off the southwestern Aegean island of Antikythera. They salvaged 36 marble statues of mythological heroes and gods; a life-sized bronze statue of an athlete; pieces of several more bronze sculptures; scores of luxury items; and skeletal remains of crew and passengers. The wreck also relinquished fragments of the world’s first computer: the Antikythera Mechanism, a geared mechanical device that encoded the movements of the planets and stars and predicted eclipses.

 

The 2015 expedition is part of a long-term research program at the site, which began in 2014. It was the first scientific excavation of the wreck, and launched the first comprehensive study of all of its artifacts. During the new multi-year program the team expects to recover artifacts and ancient artwork still buried in the seafloor, and recreate the history of the ship’s exquisite cargo and its final voyage.

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Associated Industries of Massachusetts Honors WHOI

Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM) will honor the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) for contributions to the Massachusetts economy at an event Monday in Foxboro marking AIM’s centennial.

AIM will present its 100th anniversary Next Century award to WHOI, the world’s largest, private non-profit oceanographic research institution and a global leader in the study and exploration of the ocean. The award recognizes companies and institutions that have made unique contributions to the Massachusetts economy and the well-being of the people who live here.

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Climate Change Will Irreversibly Force Key Ocean Bacteria into Overdrive

A new study from University of Southern California and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) shows that changing conditions due to climate change could send Tricho into overdrive with no way to stop – reproducing faster and generating lots more nitrogen. Without the ability to slow down, however, Tricho has the potential to gobble up all its available resources, which could trigger die-offs of the microorganism and the higher organisms that depend on it.

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WHOI, NEAQ Embark on Expedition to the Phoenix Islands

A research team led by the New England Aquarium (NEAQ) and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) are heading out on a 6,000-mile expedition to one of the most remote places on Earth—the Phoenix Islands in the central Pacific Ocean. Throughout the month of September and in the midst of a strengthening Pacific El Nino, researchers will investigate the combined effects of climate change and human activity on the these vast coral reef ecosystems and the diversity of life they sustain. 

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Examining the Fate of Fukushima Contaminants

An international research team reports results of a three-year study of sediment samples collected offshore from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in a new paper published August 18, 2015, in the American Chemical Society’s journal, Environmental Science and Technology. The research aids in understanding what happens to Fukushima contaminants after they are buried on the seafloor off coastal Japan.

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New AUV Plankton Sampling System Deployed

Traditionally, pumps and nets are used for sampling plankton, which require sampling at predetermined stations or towing nets behind a ship, followed by visually sorting collected organisms into taxonomic groups. Samples generally combine organisms collected throughout horizontal or vertical tracks, making it impossible to detect small gradations or species-specific patterns in larval distribution. 

The sampling system combines three cutting edge technologies—an adapted Suspended Particulate Rosette (SUPR) multi-sampler, a REMUS autonomous underwater vehicle equipped with sensors, and identification of organisms by DNA barcode analysis. They’ve dubbed the new system “SUPR-REMUS.”

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Heat Release from Stagnant Deep Sea Helped End Last Ice Age

The build-up and subsequent release of warm, stagnant water from the deep Arctic Ocean and Nordic Seas played a role in ending the last Ice Age within the Arctic region, according to new research led by an international team of scientists.

The study, published today in Science, examines how the circulation of the combined Arctic Ocean and Nordic Seas – called the Arctic Mediterranean – changed since the end of the last Ice Age (~20,000-30,000 years ago). The results highlight the important impact that changes in ocean circulation can have on climate.

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Ultrasounds for Coral Reefs?

In a study, published Aug. 6, 2015 in Marine Ecology Progress Series, scientists at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) used low-cost autonomous underwater recorders over four months to collect “soundscapes” of reefs in in the U.S. Virgin Islands. They showed how the collective sound recordings of reef inhabitants painted vivid pictures of the reefs’ abundance and diversity.

 

In a second study, published the same day in Marine Pollution Bulletin, the researchers recorded boat noise—showing how it could mask vital sounds that organisms make to reproduce, feed, and find new homes. They also demonstrated how underwater recorders could help marine managers keep an ear on potentially disruptive human activity in far-off locations.

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River Buries Permafrost Carbon at Sea

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 led by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) researchers and published today in Nature. This process locks away the greenhouse gas and helps stabilize the earth’s CO2 levels over time, and it may help scientists better predict how natural carbon cycles will interplay with the surge of CO2 emissions due to human activities.

“The erosion of permafrost carbon is very significant,” says WHOI Associate Scientist Valier Galy, a co-author of the study. “Over thousands of years, this process is sequestering CO2 away from the atmosphere in a way that amounts to fairly large carbon stocks. If we can understand how this process works, we can predict how it will respond as the climate changes.”

Permafrost—the permanently frozen ground found in the Arctic and Antarctic and in some alpine regions—is known to hold billions of tons of organic material, including vast stores of CO2. Amid concerns about rising Arctic temperatures and their impact on permafrost, many researchers have directed their efforts to studying the permafrost carbon cycle—the processes through which the carbon circulates between the atmosphere, the soil and surface (the biosphere), and the sea. Yet how this cycle works and how it responds to the warming, changing climate remains poorly understood.

Galy and his colleagues from Durham University, the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris, the NERC Radiocarbon Facility, Stockholm University, and the Universite Paris-Sud set out to characterize the carbon cycle in one particular piece of the Arctic landscape—northern Canada’s Mackenzie River, the largest river flowing into the Arctic Ocean from North America and that ocean’s greatest source of sediment. The researchers hypothesized that the Mackenzie’s muddy water might erode thawing permafrost along its path and wash that biosphere-derived material and the CO2 within it into the ocean, preventing the release of that CO2 into the atmosphere.

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Shifting Winds, Ocean Currents Doubled Endangered Galapagos Penguin Population

New research suggests shifts in wind currents over the past three decades, possibly due to climate change and natural variability, have nudged the Equatorial Undercurrent north. The changing current expanded the nutrient-rich, cold water farther north along the coasts of the two islands, likely bolstering algae and fish numbers in the cold pool. This allowed the penguin population to double over the past 30 years, swelling to more than 1,000 birds by 2014, according to the new study.

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Whale Research Takes Flight

A research team has successfully demonstrated a new non-invasive tool to obtain hard-to-get health measurements of large endangered whales in the wild: Using a small remote-controlled hexacopter, scientists for the first time collected both breath samples from the whales’ spouts combined with aerial photos of their body condition.

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John W. Farrington Named 2015 American Geophysical Union Fellow

John Farrington 2015

John W. Farrington of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) has been elected a fellow of the American Geophysical Union (AGU).Farrington, Dean emeritus and an emeritus member in the Marine Chemistry and Geochemistry Department, is among 60 new fellows who will be honored for “exceptional scientific contributions and attained acknowledged eminence in the fields of Earth and space sciences.” 

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Carbon Dioxide Pools Discovered in Aegean Sea

The waters off Greece’s Santorini are the site of newly discovered opalescent pools forming at 250 meters depth. The interconnected series of meandering, iridescent white pools contain high concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) and may hold answers to questions related to deepsea carbon storage as well as provide a means of monitoring the volcano for future eruptions.

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Air Travel and Climate: A Potential New Feedback?

Global air travel contributes around 3.5 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions behind/driving anthropogenic climate change, according to the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).  But what impact does a warming planet have on air travel and how might that, in turn, affect the rate of warming itself?

A new study by researchers at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and University of Wisconsin Madison found a connection between climate and airline flight times, suggesting a feedback loop could exist between the carbon emissions of airplanes and our changing climate.  The study was published in this week’s Nature Climate Change.

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WHOI Announces 2015 Ocean Science Journalism Fellows

Seven writers and multimedia science journalists from the U.S. have been selected to participate in the competitive Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) Ocean Science Journalism Fellowship program. The program takes place September 13-18, 2015, in Woods Hole, Mass., on Cape Cod.

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Where Iron and Water Mix

A new study by researchers from University of Washington (UW), Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), and the University of Southern California, demonstrates that chemical-laden plumes erupted from vents at one section of Mid Ocean Ridge in the SE Pacific can be traced all the way across the Pacific for more than 4000 kilometers.  Further, the study shows how the iron transported by this process is ultimately brought to the surface oceans of Antarctica where it is serves as a key life-sustaining micro-nutrient supporting up to 30 percent of all the organic carbon uptake in that ocean. 

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Deep-Sea Images Give New View of Arctic Ocean Methane Seeps

Working with colleagues from the Centre for Arctic Gas Hydrate, Environment and Climate (CAGE) in Norway, Dan Fornari from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution’s (WHOI) Geology & Geophysics Department collected nearly 30,000 high definition images at known methane release sites in the Arctic Ocean north of Norway.  The detailed images will provide new insights into the most remote areas of natural methane releases in the world.

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WHOI Earns 4-Star Rating from Charity Navigator

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution’s sound fiscal management practices and commitment to accountabilityand transparency haveearned it a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator, America’s largest independent charity evaluator. This is the 13th time that WHOI has earned this top distinction in the last 14 years.  

 

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WHOI Names Mark Abbott President and Director

The Board of Trustees of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) announces that Dr. Mark Abbott has accepted the position of president and director of the institution. Abbott becomes the tenth director in WHOI’s 85-year history. Abbott will assume the office October 1, 2015, succeeding Susan Avery, who served from 2008 to 2015.

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Camera’s Eye Sees Large Numbers of Young Scallops Off Delaware Bay

NOAA researchers and colleagues from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) have reported what appears to be a banner year for young sea scallops off the Delmarva Peninsula in mid-Atlantic waters of the U.S. NOAA’s HabCamV4, a towed imaging and sensor platform, has photographed miles of sea bottom packed with as many as 350 sea scallops in less than 1 square meter (less than three square feet). Other colorful images captured by the HabCam showed swimming scallops, sea stars and crabs—both scallop predators—and many species of fish, squid and sponges.

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