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News Releases


How Much Excess Fresh Water Was Added to the North Atlantic in Recent Decades?

Large regions of the North Atlantic Ocean have been growing fresher since the late 1960s as melting glaciers and increased precipitation, both associated with greenhouse warming, have enhanced continental runoff into the Arctic and sub-Arctic seas.  Over the same time period, salinity records show that large pulses of extra sea ice and fresh water from…

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Scientists Map Ocean Floor Near Palmer Station in Antarctica

Using inflatable boats, a portable depth sounder with GPS, and a REMUS autonomous underwater vehicle, a team of scientists and engineers has created the first detailed, comprehensive chart of the ocean floor around Palmer Station in Antarctica, revealing previously unknown submerged rocks. The new chart, the first in 50 years, was made by a research…

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What is That in the Water?

As summer vacations approach, beachgoers might want to bring along a guide to what they and their children will see on the beach and in the water. WHOI scientists and educators have created Beachcomber’s Companion for adventures at the beach. It is an easy-to-use guide to common Atlantic coast marine invertebrates containing a set of…

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Hurricanes and the Coastal Zone

With hurricane season arriving June 1, along with predictions of an above normal number of major storms in the Atlantic and Gulf States, understanding how the ocean and atmospheric interact and what role changing climate has on the formation of hurricanes is critical. The 2004 hurricane season resulted in many deaths and tremendous destruction in…

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Blooms of a Different Sort

Commonly called “red tides,” harmful algal blooms, or HABs, are an abundance or “bloom” of single-celled marine algae called phytoplankton that grow and multiply under the right conditions. Among the thousands of phytoplankton species, most are harmless and only a few dozen are known to be toxic. Coastal waters around the world have experienced an…

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G. Unger Vetlesen Foundation Honored by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution recently honored The G. Unger Vetlesen Foundation of New York with the prestigious Cecil H. Green Award.  The award, named for Texas Instruments’ founder and philanthropist Cecil H. Green, is presented to those who have made outstanding contributions to oceanographic research at the Institution. “The Vetlesen Foundation has been engaged in…

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WHOI Scientists Monitor Largest Red Tide Outbreak in 12 Years in Massachusetts Bay

With shellfish beds from Maine to the Cape Cod coast closed from the largest outbreak of red tide in 12 years in Massachusetts Bay, scientists from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) are studying the algae that causes these “red tides” and providing information to coastal managers using new molecular techniques and oceanographic models. After…

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New Underwater Volcano Found Near Samoa

An international  team of scientists, led by researchers at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of Oregon and University of Sydney, has discovered an active underwater volcano near the Samoan Island chain about 2,400 miles southwest of Hawaii. During a research cruise to study the Samoan hot spot, scientists uncovered a…

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Scientists Find Unusual Use of Metals in the Ocean

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. Scientists have discovered cadmium within an enzyme from a marine diatom, an algae or plankton…

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WHOI Scientist Elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) Senior Scientist Stanley Hart of the Geology and Geophysics Department was recently elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, one of the oldest learned societies in the nation. Dr. Hart is among the 196 Fellows and 17 Foreign Honorary Members elected to the 225th Class, which…

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Diving to the Rosebud Vents – Galápagos Rift

In 2002, researchers diving in the submersible Alvin returned to the Galápagos Rift, a mid-ocean ridge about 250 miles from the Galápagos Islands in the eastern Pacific Ocean where hydrothermal vents and exotic organisms were first found in 1977. They discovered that seafloor lava had paved over a hydrothermal vent site called Rose Garden, named…

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Tiny Computer Tag Provides Insight to Reclusive Beaked Whales

A miniature computer weighing less than 5 ounces attached to the backs of beaked whales with suction cups is providing new clues to the behavior and sounds made by the deep-diving reclusive species. Little is known about these mid-sized toothed whales except that they have been involved in a number of mass strandings in recent…

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Exploring the Seas from Top to Bottom

WHOI research vessels are exploring the oceans this spring from Bermuda to the Bay of Fundy in the North Atlantic and from Mexico to the Galápagos Islands in the eastern Pacific, conducting studies related to climate change, harmful algal blooms, exotic marine life on the sea floor and the formation of the earth’s crust. Research…

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Salty Staircase in the Atlantic Provides Clues to Ocean Mixing

Layers of salty ocean water mix with layers of fresher water, creating a salty staircase or layering driven by small-scale convection known as salt fingers.  Although scientists have known about salt fingers since 1960, when they were discovered at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, they have not understood their role in ocean mixing and the…

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Sea Squirt Invasion: Scientists Gather at WHOI for First International Conference

Scientists, natural resource managers and students from four continents will gather at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) April 21 and 22 to discuss a growing global problem: the sea squirt. The mysterious filter feeding organism, a didemnid also known as an ascidian or tunicate because its body is covered by a tough “tunic”, first…

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New Coral Dating Technique Helps Resolve Changes in Sea Level Rise in the Past

Corals from Papua New Guinea and Barbados indicate that changes in sea level, one of the key indexes for global climate change, may have been more frequent in the past than previously thought, according to a report in today’s issue of Science. Researchers from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and Columbia University developed a…

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WHOI Establishes Award to Recognize Contributions of Navy Admiral, Oceanographer

A former Oceanographer of the Navy and Rear Admiral who headed Marine Operations at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) for 14 years has been honored by the Institution with the establishment of the Rear Admiral Richard F. Pittenger, USN (Ret) Fellowship. The Pittenger Fellowship was established by the Institution to honor his contributions to…

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Changes in Earth’s Tilt Control When Glacial Cycles End

Scientists have long debated what causes glacial/interglacial cycles, which have occurred most recently at intervals of about 100,000 years. A new study reported in the March 24 issue of Nature finds that these glacial cycles are paced by variations in the tilt of Earth’s axis, and that glaciations end when Earth’s tilt is large. With…

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Deep-Sea Tremors May Provide Early Warning System for Larger Earthquakes

Predicting when large earthquakes might occur may be a step closer to reality, thanks to a new study of undersea earthquakes in the eastern Pacific Ocean. The study, reported in today??A’s Nature, is the first to suggest that small seismic shocks or foreshocks preceding a major earthquake can be used in some cases to predict…

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Underwater Robot Launched from Bermuda to Cross Gulf Stream

A small autonomous underwater vehicle, or AUV, named Spray was launched yesterday about 12 miles southeast of Bermuda. The two-meter-(6-foot)-long orange glider with a four-foot wingspan will slowly make its way northwest, crossing the Gulf Stream and reaching the continental shelf on the other side before turning around and heading back to Bermuda, where it…

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Barnacles and Mangroves

In a lush stand of mangroves on the Pacific coast of Panama, a Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) biologist is looking for encrusting barnacles and oysters, common on the roots of mangroves in one stand but nearly absent in a nearby mangrove area. The scientist is investigating reasons for this difference by comparing biological, chemical,…

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Scanning the Seafloor

WHOI researchers and colleagues from other laboratories will be able to look at mud from the seafloor in a new way, thanks to a high-tech scanner capable of making rapid, non-destructive, ultra-high-resolution analyses of sediment cores from the seafloor around the world. The new instrument, one of only two in the world and the only…

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Assessing Algerian Earthquake Risk

Scientists from WHOI and USGS Menlo Park will be assessing future earthquake risk in Algeria and training Algerian researchers under a new two-year project funded by the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The researchers plan to obtain a better assessment of earthquake risk in the…

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