Carin Ashjian, a biological oceanographer at WHOI who studies the impact of climate on ecology, was also on the ship then and remembers that “there were a lot of mixed feelings” when news of the pandemic hit them in March. She described how they were both worried about the safety of people back home, while feeling relief that they were protected from the virus by their geographic isolation.
The research vessel Polarstern returned to its home port in Germany Monday after spending a year locked in thick sea ice, floating in the Arctic Ocean and gathering data. Among those onboard was Carin Ashjian, a senior scientist and biology department chairwoman at WHOI.
After a year spent drifting across the top of the world, frozen in sea ice, a German research ship returned home on Monday, ending the largest Arctic science expedition in history, one aimed at better understanding a region that is rapidly changing as the world warms.
An epic mission ended as the German icebreaker Polarstern returned home Oct. 12, 2020, after being frozen near the top of the world for nearly a year to study all aspects of the Arctic system.Read More
Penguins may not know anything about math, but their formations align with sophisticated physics and geometry concepts. The research validates an earlier study in which a team of researchers with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution used robotic, high-resolution cameras at a remote Antarctic research station to monitor the penguins’ behavior and measure the movements of individuals within the colony.
It turns out that penguins execute their huddles with a high degree of mathematical efficiency, as Blanchette and his team discovered. More recently, Daniel Zitterbart, a physicist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts, helped develop and install high-resolution cameras to observe undisturbed huddling behavior.
WHOI biologist Carin Ashjian is aboard the icebreaker Polarstern in the Arctic as part of the year-long MOSAiC research expedition. She should be almost home by now. Instead, her stay has been extended by COVID19.Read More
A polar bear sighting off the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Healy during the 2015 Arctic GEOTRACES expedition. The Arctic has experienced the highest degree of warming on the planet, causing sea ice to thin and recede. The region’s iconic polar bears rely on sea ice to hunt, travel and mate.Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
Researchers from WHOI, NOAA Fisheries Southwest Science Center, SR3 Sealife, and the Vancouver Aquarium analyzed whale blow samples collected via drone to identify a core group of bacteria in the respiratory tract of healthy whales.Read More
A team gathers skin samples from healthy humpback whales in waters off the Western Antarctic Peninsula. Researchers obtain samples by releasing a biopsy-collecting dart, which bounces off the whales’ skin and into the water. The team then retrieves the floating dart and brings it back to a lab for analysis.Read More
If current warming trends continue, emperor penguins will be marching toward an 86 per cent population decline by the end of the century, at which point, “it is very unlikely for them to bounce back,” says study author Stephanie Jenouvrier, a seabird ecologist from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.
The paper, published Jan. 17, 2019, in the journal Marine Ecology Progress Series, also highlights the unique connection between juvenile diving behaviors and a layer of the ocean, known as the thermocline, where warmer surface waters meet cooler deep waters below and where their prey likely gather in groups.Read More
features the work of Dan Zitterbart
Just like with humans, the skin on marine mammals serves as an important line of defense against pathogens in their environment. A new study sheds light on the skin microbiome – a group of microorganisms that live on skin – in healthy humpback whales, which could aid in future efforts to monitor their health.Read More