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Research Highlights

News & Insights

Wave Glider provides gateway to remote exploration

November 10, 2020

WHOI geochemist Chris German pairs an autonomous surface vehicle (ASV) called a Wave Glider with other vehicles to expand research here and on other Ocean Worlds

Mining ancient dust from the ocean’s loneliest spot

September 24, 2020

Researchers investigate dust from the ocean’s farthest point from land to reconstruct the climactic history of the Southern Hemisphere, and understand how micronutrients have influenced biological productivity in this oceanic desert.

Working from Home: Mallory Ringham

July 2, 2020

WHOI-MIT joint program student outfits her basement to do vital work on a marine carbon sensor

oil spill

A dangerous leak of diesel fuel in the Arctic

June 18, 2020
plastics by the numbers

The many lifetimes of plastics

June 15, 2020

Infographics strive to give us a sense of how long plastic goods will last in the environment. But is this information reliable? The findings of a new study from WHOI may surprise you.

toxins story

Are natural toxins in fish harmful?

May 28, 2020

Marine life has been naturally producing toxic chemicals well before chemical companies were manufacturing PCBs. But are these naturally-produced compounds as harmful as man-made environmental pollutants, and do those pose a human health threat?

Working from Home: Matt Long

May 7, 2020

A marine chemist spends his time at home tinkering on a high-tech buoy in the basement, proving that being homebound doesn’t mean you can’t think big.

Our Radioactive Ocean: Ken Buesseler

April 30, 2020

Ken Buesseler joins the hosts of Future Hindsight Podcast to talk about the safety of the Pacific Ocean, the natural occurrence of radioactivity in our environment, and a citizen scientist project for oceanic testing.

Why Sunlight Matters for Marine Oil Spills

April 30, 2020

A decade of research since the Deepwater Horizon disaster has revealed how sunlight—its importance long understated in oil spill science—substantially alters petroleum floating at the sea surface.

per

Finding medical answers in the ocean

March 19, 2020

The test being used to diagnose the novel coronavirus—and other pandemics like AIDS and SARS—was developed with the help of an enzyme isolated from a microbe found in marine hydrothermal vents as well as freshwater hot springs.

News Releases

New observation network will provide unprecedented, long-term view of life in the ocean twilight zone

February 8, 2021

The ocean twilight zone, a dimly lit region roughly 200–1000 meters (650–3200 feet) below the surface, contains the largest amount of fish biomass on Earth—yet it remains largely unexplored by scientists. A new observation network under development by the Woods...

New study takes comprehensive look at marine pollution

December 3, 2020

Paper finds ocean pollution is a complex mix of chemicals and materials, primarily land-based in origin, with far-reaching consequences for environmental and human health, but there are options available for world leaders   For centuries, the ocean has been viewed...

First Detailed Oil Sample Analysis Completed from Mauritius Oil Spill

October 29, 2020

When the Japanese bulk carrier MV Wakashio struck a coral reef off the coast of Mauritius on July 25, 2020, and began leaking fuel oil two weeks later, local residents and the international community sprang into action to protect the pristine habitats...

New multi-institutional grant will support a fleet of robotic floats

October 29, 2020

On October 29, 2020, the National Science Foundation approved a $53 million grant to a consortium of the country’s top ocean-research institutions to build a global network of chemical and biological sensors that will monitor ocean health. Scientists at the...

Porites coral

Ocean acidification causing coral ‘osteoporosis’ on iconic reefs

August 27, 2020

Scientists have long suspected that ocean acidification is affecting corals’ ability to build their skeletons, but it has been challenging to isolate its effect from that of simultaneous warming ocean temperatures, which also influence coral growth. New research from the...

New paper addresses the mix of contaminants in Fukushima wastewater

August 6, 2020

Nearly 10 years after the Tohoku-oki earthquake and tsunami devastated Japan’s Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant and triggered an unprecedented release radioactivity into the ocean, radiation levels have fallen to safe levels in all but the waters closest to the...

Benjamin Van Mooy

WHOI receives $2.7M from Simons Foundation to study nutrients, microbes that fuel ocean food web

July 23, 2020

The Simons Foundation has awarded Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) scientists Dan Repeta and Benjamin Van Mooy two grants totaling $2.7 million to study key processes that help fuel the health of our ocean and planet. Repeta’s research will focus...

WHOI Scientists Make Woods Hole Film Festival Appearance

July 17, 2020

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) scientists appear in two shorts and a feature film at this year’s Woods Hole Film Festival (WHFF). In addition, scientists will also participate in Q&A sessions connected to three of the festival’s feature-length, ocean-themed entries....

What did scientists learn from Deepwater Horizon?

April 20, 2020

Paper reviews major findings, technological advances that could help in next deep-sea spill.  Ten years ago, a powerful explosion destroyed an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, killing 11 workers and injuring 17 others. Over a span of 87...

New geochemical tool reveals origin of Earth’s nitrogen

April 15, 2020

Volcanic gas emissions in Northern Iceland. The research team collected gas samples here that were analyzed as part of this study. (Photo by Peter Barry, © Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution) Novel analysis method may also be useful for monitoring volcanic...

Oceanus Magazine

Did Dispersants Help Responders Breathe Easier?

Did Dispersants Help Responders Breathe Easier?

August 28, 2017

In the heat of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster, U.S. government and industry responders had to make a crucial decision. They were facing an enormous oil spill, gushing uncontrollably from a wellhead at the seafloor—at a depth where no oil...

Pop Goes the Seafloor Rock

Pop Goes the Seafloor Rock

June 20, 2017
Back to Bikini

Back to Bikini

June 5, 2017

Ken Buesseler climbed the highest peak on Enewetak Atoll and peered out over the expanse of paradise below. Offshore lay an azure lagoon inked with a dark-blue circle at its center. But this hole wasn’t natural. It was created by...

Radioactivity Under the Beach?

Radioactivity Under the Beach?

February 1, 2017

Scientists have found a previously unsuspected place where radioactive material from the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant disaster has accumulated—in sands and brackish groundwater beneath beaches up to 60 miles away. The sands took up and retained radioactive cesium originating...

Scientists and Navy Join Forces

Scientists and Navy Join Forces

January 18, 2017

An intriguing email landed in Chris Reddy’s inbox last February. It was the electronic equivalent of a cold call from a Lt. Cmdr. Jason Ziebold of the U.S. Navy, soliciting Reddy’s help. Reddy, a marine chemist at Woods Hole Oceanographic...

What Happened to Deepwater Horizon Oil?

What Happened to Deepwater Horizon Oil?

December 23, 2016

Six years after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, we are continually asked two questions. What happened to the 160 million gallons of oil that gushed for 87 days into the Gulf of Mexico in 2010? Was discharging 1.67 million gallons...

New Device Reveals What Ocean Microbes Do

New Device Reveals What Ocean Microbes Do

December 13, 2016

Whether you’re a plant, animal, or even a microbe, you generally can’t conduct the business of living without exchanging oxygen. So just as you can figure out what’s going on in a financial system by following the money, scientists can...

Coral Coring

Coral Coring

June 1, 2016

Off a small island in the Chagos archipelago in the Indian Ocean, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) biogeochemists Konrad Hughen and Colleen Hansel use a special underwater drill to take a core sample from a boulder coral (Porites lobata) during...

As Bay Warms, Harmful Algae Bloom

As Bay Warms, Harmful Algae Bloom

June 1, 2016

Warming coastal waters off southern Massachusetts are worsening the effects of pollution from septic systems, wastewater treatment plants, and fertilizer runoff—­and causing a rise in harmful algal blooms. Researchers at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and the Marine Biological Laboratory...

A Faster Way to Better Reactions

A Faster Way to Better Reactions

May 13, 2016

When we tell people that we are chemists, they occasionally crinkle their noses in a subtle but unmistakable expression of pain. Often this is followed by a retelling of the time they almost caused a fire or explosion when attempting...