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Special Reports

Harmful algal blooms: understanding the threat and the actions being taken to address it

Although phytoplankton play a critical role in sustaining life, some species of single-celled algae can be harmful when they occur in large numbers. When conditions are right, these species rapidly reproduce until they create huge masses of algal cells, known as Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs). Some can become so large and dense that they can be seen from space. But even low concentrations of cells can be very dangerous. This report examines the threats that HABs impose on humans, marine organisms, and aquatic ecosystems, and explores some of the actions being taken by scientists and others to mitigate their impacts.

Understanding Sea Level Rise

Since the turn of the 20th century, seas have risen six to eight inches globally. New technologies, along with a better understanding of how the oceans, ice sheets, and other components of climate interact, have helped scientists identify the factors that contribute to sea level rise. This report discusses three factors that contribute to sea level rise: postglacial rebound, changes to the Atlantic Ocean circulation, and Antarctic Ice Sheet melting.

Saving the North Atlantic Right Whale

The North Atlantic right whale is one of the most endangered whales in the world. At the time of this publication, approximately 360 individuals remain. This report examines the top three threats facing the North Atlantic right whale and explores actions being taken by the scientific community and concerned organizations to ensure the long-term survival of this critically endangered species.

Value Beyond View in the Twilight Zone: A report on the value of ecosystem services from the ocean’s mesopelagic

The twilight zone is a fundamental part of the ocean ecosystem, playing an important role in carbon sequestration and marine food webs, as well as the natural functions of many processes throughout the ocean. Ecosystems provided by the ocean twilight zone are highly beneficial to humans, but they largely occur out of sight. We need to think carefully about what we stand to gain or lose from future actions that could affect the twilight zone ecosystem services. Greater knowledge is essential if we are going to move toward the goal of sustainable use of resources in the ocean and twilight zone.