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Climate & Ocean


A rapidly changing Arctic

Healy, Polarstern

A new study by researchers at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and their international colleagues found that freshwater runoff from rivers and continental shelf sediments are bringing significant quantities of carbon and trace elements into parts of the Arctic Ocean via the Transpolar Drift—a major surface current that moves water from Siberia across the North Pole to the North Atlantic Ocean.

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The ocean’s ‘biological pump’ captures more carbon than expected

Buesseler sediment trap

Scientists have long known that the ocean plays an essential role in capturing carbon from the atmosphere, but a new study from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) shows that the efficiency of the ocean’s “biological carbon pump” has been drastically underestimated, with implications for future climate assessments.

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The Ocean is Earth’s Oxygen Bank

Oxygen is like money for Earth, and the ocean acts like a bank. Deposits are made in three ocean layers: At the surface through exchange with air, in the water, when phytoplankton produce O2 from sunlight and CO2, and on the seafloor where plants and corals live. Withdrawals occur when organisms consume oxygen. Oxygen is tightly connected to life in the ocean, and can tell us a lot about an ecosystem’s health & productivity. This is why we need an ocean oxygen budget. A simple idea, but has been difficult until now.

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Shrimp May Make Ocean Louder in Warming Climate

The Weather Channel

Small snapping shrimp make big noises and scientists from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution say the tiny crustaceans could make the ocean louder as it warms. Here’s why.

Oceans of Change

Walking on polar ice

Oceans of Change WHOI scientists learn how the ocean shapes—and is shaped by—global climate By Madeline Drexler (Photo by Simon…

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Oases in Sea Ice Are Essential to Life in Antarctica

This video explains the key physical, biological and ecological processes in oases on the Antarctic icy coast — polynyas. Researchers at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and the University of Delaware are trying to unveil crucial connections among the physical and biological components in the polynyas and to understand how the Antarctic ecosystem responds to changes in the large-scale environment.

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For now, river deltas gain land worldwide

Delta areas worldwide have gained land in the past 30 years, despite river damming. However, recent land gains are unlikely to last throughout the 21st century due to expected, accelerated sea-level rise.

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2019 Year in Review

Enjoy this montage of video captured throughout 2019 documenting how WHOI researchers explore the ocean planet to tackle the most pressing questions about our water world and find solutions to benefit society.

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March of the Penguins

Emperor penguins are some of the most striking and charismatic animals on Earth, but a new study from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) has found that a warming climate may render them extinct by the end of this century. The study, which was part of an international collaboration between scientists, published Nov. 7, 2019, in the journal Global Change Biology.

The fate of the penguins is largely tied to the fate of sea ice, which the animals use as a home base for breeding, feeding and molting, she notes. Emperor penguins tend to build their colonies on ice with extremely specific conditions—it must be locked into the shoreline of the Antarctic continent, but close enough to open seawater to give the birds access to food for themselves and their young. As climate warms, however, that sea ice will gradually disappear, robbing the birds of their habitat, food sources, and ability to raise their chicks.

Jenouvrier and her team conducted the study by combining two existing computer models. The first, a global climate model created by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), offered projections of where and when sea ice would form under different climate scenarios. The second, a model of the penguin population itself, calculated how colonies might react to changes in that ice habitat.

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