Research Highlights

Oceanus Magazine

How Do Corals Build Their Skeletons?

How Do Corals Build Their Skeletons?

November 12, 2018

Corals are under a lot stress these days—from pollution, overfishing, sea level rise, warmer seawater temperatures, and the increasing acidity of the oceans. Among these stressors, the impact of ocean acidification is often the most insidious and difficult to detect....

Searching for ‘Super Reefs’

Searching for ‘Super Reefs’

October 15, 2018

A newborn coral—shaped like a very tiny grain of rice—drifts through the open ocean. It gets one chance to choose a home where it might survive. After settling down, it never moves again. If it finds the right place, the...

The Discovery of Hydrothermal Vents

The Discovery of Hydrothermal Vents

June 11, 2018

“Wait a minute. What is that?” It was February 1977, and Robert Ballard, a marine geologist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), sat aboard the research vessel Knorr 400 miles off the South American coast, staring at photos before him....

How Is the Seafloor Made?

How Is the Seafloor Made?

March 21, 2018

Board a ship in Los Angeles and head southwest until you lose sight of land. Then keep going, and going, and going, until you reach the middle of nowhere in the Pacific Ocean. There’s nothing to see there but water...

Unearthing Long-Gone Hurricanes

Unearthing Long-Gone Hurricanes

March 16, 2018

 On Aug. 30, 2017, as the morning sun rose over the dusty savanna of West Africa, few were aware that the rustling breeze announced the birth of a terrifying but still unknown event. Who amongst us would recognize the gentle...

A Double Whammy for Corals

A Double Whammy for Corals

January 22, 2018

Scientists know that gradually rising ocean temperatures can push corals past a threshold and cause them to bleach. But combine this chronic stress with an acute short-term weather shift, and the amplified impacts can be sudden and devastating. That’s what...

Taking Earth’s Inner Temperature

Taking Earth’s Inner Temperature

January 22, 2018

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution wasn’t an obvious fit for Emily Sarafian. “I always felt a little out of place here, because I don’t study the ocean, really,” said Sarafian, a recent graduate student of the MIT-WHOI Joint Program. At WHOI,...

Will Oxygen in the Ocean Continue to Decline?

Will Oxygen in the Ocean Continue to Decline?

January 22, 2018

The living, breathing ocean may be slowly starting to suffocate. The ocean has lost more than two percent of its oxygen over the past-half century, and oxygen-depleted “dead zones” continue to expand throughout the global ocean. This deoxygenation poses a...

Pop Goes the Seafloor Rock

Pop Goes the Seafloor Rock

June 20, 2017
The Hot Spot Below Yellowstone Park

The Hot Spot Below Yellowstone Park

June 12, 2017

The spark that ignited the fiery volcanic heart of Yellowstone National Park began more than 30 million years ago. Two of Earth’s colossal continental plates, centered over what is now the American West, began drifting apart. They stretched Earth’s crust...

News Releases

Origin of Massive Methane Reservoir Identified

August 20, 2019

New research from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) published Aug. 19, 2019,  in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science provides evidence of the formation and abundance of abiotic methane—methane formed by chemical reactions that don’t involve organic matter—on...

NASA Makes Dual Investment in Ocean Worlds Research at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

June 21, 2019

Agency funds five-year effort to understand the potential for life in outer solar system and establishes a new Network for Ocean Worlds The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) will invest in a major new research program headquartered at the...

The mixing of organic-rich and sediment-rich waters of the Rio Negro and Solimoes River in the amazon basin.

Organic Carbon Hides in Sediments, Keeping Oxygen in Atmosphere

June 12, 2019

A new study from researchers at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and Harvard University may help settle a long-standing question—how small amounts of organic carbon become locked away in rock and sediments, preventing it from decomposing. Knowing exactly how...

Human-Engineered Changes on Mississippi River Increased Extreme Floods

Human-Engineered Changes on Mississippi River Increased Extreme Floods

April 4, 2018

A new study has revealed for the first time the last 500-year flood history of the Mississippi River. It shows a dramatic rise in the size and frequency of extreme floods in the past century—mostly due to projects to straighten,...

Scientists Pinpoint How Ocean Acidification Weakens Coral Skeletons

Scientists Pinpoint How Ocean Acidification Weakens Coral Skeletons

January 29, 2018

The rising acidity of the oceans threatens coral reefs by making it harder for corals to build their skeletons. A new study identifies the details of how ocean acidification affects coral skeletons, allowing scientists to predict more precisely where corals...

A Close-up Look at a Rare Underwater Eruption

A Close-up Look at a Rare Underwater Eruption

January 10, 2018

On July 18, 2012, passengers on an airline flight over the Southwest Pacific Ocean glimpsed something unusual—a raft of floating rock known as pumice that indicated an underwater volcanic eruption had occurred on the seafloor northeast of New Zealand. The...

Volcanic Arcs Form by Deep Melting of Rock Mixtures

Volcanic Arcs Form by Deep Melting of Rock Mixtures

April 7, 2017

Beneath the ocean, massive tectonic plates converge and grind against one another, which drives one below the other. This powerful collision, called subduction, is responsible for forming volcanic arcs that are home to some of Earth’s most dramatic geological events,...

Corals Die as Global Warming Collides with Local Weather in the South China Sea

Corals Die as Global Warming Collides with Local Weather in the South China Sea

March 23, 2017

In the South China Sea, a 2°C rise in the sea surface temperature in June 2015 was amplified to produce a 6°C rise on Dongsha Atoll, a shallow coral reef ecosystem, killing approximately 40 percent of the resident coral community...

Taking Earth’s Inner Temperature

Taking Earth’s Inner Temperature

March 2, 2017

The temperature of Earth’s interior affects everything from the movement of tectonic plates to the formation of the planet. A new study led by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) suggests the mantle—the mostly solid, rocky part of Earth’s interior that...

Henry Dick

WHOI Geologist Henry Dick Named AAAS 2016 Fellow

November 23, 2016

Henry Dick of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) has been named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Election as an AAAS Fellow is an honor bestowed upon association members by their peers. A...