New features of marine heatwave ‘the Blob’

The North Pacific Blob, a marine heatwave that began in late 2013 and continued through 2015, was the largest and longest-lasting marine heatwave on record. A new study using data collected by elephant seals reveals that in addition to the well documented surface warming, deeper warm-water anomalies associated with the Blob were much more extensive than previously reported.

The new findings were reported by a team of biologists and ocean scientists at UC Santa Cruz in a paper published July 4 in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans.

“The elephant seals collect data in different locations than existing oceanographic platforms,” explained senior author Christopher Edwards, a professor of ocean sciences at UC Santa Cruz. “This is an underutilized dataset that can inform us about important oceanographic processes, as well as helping biologists understand the ecology of northern elephant seals.”

For decades, UCSC elephant seal researchers led by coauthor Daniel Costa, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology and director of the UCSC Institute of Marine Sciences

— source University of California – Santa Cruz | Jul 28, 2022

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Lesser known ozone layer’s outsized role in planet warming

Ozone is a gas composed of three oxygen atoms. Many studies have described ozone in the stratosphere, and its role in shielding people from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet radiation. Closer to ground level, in the troposphere, ozone is harmful to humans.

New research led by UC Riverside scientists reveals this lower level ozone is adding a great deal of heat to the Southern Ocean — more than scientists previously understood.

This finding has now been published in the journal Nature Climate Change.

Oceans remove a majority of the carbon and heat that enter the atmosphere when humans burn fossil fuels. The Southern Ocean, also called the Antarctic Ocean, collects a third of all excess carbon in the world’s atmosphere, and an estimated 75% of the excess heat collected by the world’s oceans.

Historically, about a third of the ocean’s warming is attributable to ozone. For this third, about 40% is from the stratosphere, and the rest is troposphere.

Volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, from products like pesticides, tobacco smoke and automobiles are gases that form the building blocks of tropospheric ozone. The same is true

— source University of California – Riverside | Apr 22, 2022

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The ramifications of ocean acidification for coralline algae

Scientists have long suspected that coralline algae are particularly sensitive to changes in ocean chemistry. Now, researchers have found that most species of coralline algae studied are negatively affected by ocean acidification.

In a new study published in Global Change Biology, an international team, including researchers from the University of Tsukuba, revealed that lower seawater pH is associated with decreases in the abundance, calcification rates, and recruitment of coralline algae. As levels of carbon dioxide increase in the atmosphere, larger amounts are absorbed by the oceans. The resulting changes in ocean chemistry spell trouble for calcifying species like corals and coralline algae.

Coralline algae are critical species in shallow marine ecosystems globally. By creating calcium carbonate skeletons, these algae act as “cement” for reef systems and provide new substrate for corals and other organisms to settle on. With ocean acidification, less carbonate is available to build these skeletons.

The effects of ocean acidification on different species of coralline algae have been studied for a number of years but the overall outlook for these species is unclear. The team reviewed all available studies on coralline algae and ocean acidification and used a variety of methods to tease out overall patterns.

— source University of Tsukuba | Nov 4, 2021

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Renewable Wind Energy Can Help Save the Planet and the Ocean’s Marine Life

Winds rarely break into the news except when they disrupt daily life. But many sports—including all boating, most hunting, archery, surfing, casting—keep us mindful of wind. Here in San Francisco, two of the most thrilling sports depend on ocean wind. From the cliffs of Fort Funston, hang gliders use the coming wind to rise as they launch over the Pacific. Homeward bound after fishing the Pacific, our party boat is usually intercepted near the Golden Gate Bridge by a kiteboard, whose rider has one arm steering his kite, flying high above and buffeted there by that potent incoming wind, while the other arm works a line steering his board. He rides our turbulent wake, zigzagging madly because his wind-driven speed is faster than our boat’s.

For thousands of years, those ocean winds drove human history. Think about sails. Beginning sometime between 3000 and 1500 BCE, the sailing ships of the Austronesian people used the wind to explore and settle most of the islands of the south Pacific. By 1200 BCE, the sailing ships of Phoenicia and other maritime civilizations used the wind to turn the Mediterranean into a marketplace. Wind powered the ships that “discovered” and looted the “New World ” from the 15th century through most of the 19th century. All the people stolen from Africa were driven by wind into slavery. Massed formations of wind-powered European warships fought to divide the world. Sails kept the sun from ever setting on the

— source emagazine.com | H. Bruce Franklin | Dec 4, 2021

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Humans Have Broken a Fundamental Law of the Ocean

On November 19, 1969, the CSS Hudson slipped through the frigid waters of Halifax Harbour in Nova Scotia and out into the open ocean. The research vessel was embarking on what many of the marine scientists on board thought of as the last great, uncharted oceanic voyage: The first complete circumnavigation of the Americas. The ship was bound for Rio de Janeiro, where it would pick up more scientists before passing through Cape Horn—the southernmost point in the Americas—and then head north through the Pacific to traverse the ice-packed Northern Passage back to Halifax Harbour.

Along the way, the Hudson would make frequent stops so its scientists could collect samples and take measurements. One of those scientists, Ray Sheldon, had boarded the Hudson in Valparaíso, Chile. A marine ecologist at Canada’s Bedford Institute of Oceanography, Sheldon was fascinated by the microscopic plankton that seemed to be everywhere in the ocean: How far and wide did these tiny organisms spread? To find out, Sheldon and his colleagues hauled buckets of seawater up to the Hudson’s laboratory and used a plankton-counting machine to total up the size and number of creatures they found.

Life in the ocean, they discovered, followed a simple mathematical rule: The abundance of an organism is closely linked to its body size. To put it another way, the smaller the

— source motherjones.com | Matt Reynolds | Dec 2, 2021

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Marine Oxygen Levels are the Next Great Casualty of Climate Change

Last summer, more than 100 miles of Florida’s coastal waters became an oxygen-depleted dead zone, littered with fish that could be seen even into Tampa Bay. On the other side of the country, Dungeness crabs were washing onto Oregon’s shoreline, unable to escape from water that has, in dramatic episodes, become seasonally depleted of oxygen over the past two decades.

While much of the conversation around our climate crisis focuses on the emission of greenhouse gases and their effect on warming, precipitation, sea level rise and ocean acidification, little is said about the effect of climate change on oxygen levels, particularly in oceans and lakes. Water without adequate oxygen cannot support life, and for the three billion people who depend on coastal fisheries for income, declining ocean oxygen levels are catastrophic.

As ocean and atmospheric scientists focused on climate, we believe that oceanic oxygen levels are the next big casualty of global warming. To stop this, we need to build on the momentum of the recent COP26 summit and expand our attention to the perilous state of oceanic oxygen levels—the life support system of our planet. We need to accelerate ocean-

— source scientificamerican.com | Julie Pullen | Nov 23, 2021

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High levels of toxic pollutants in stranded dolphins and whales

A study led by researchers at Florida Atlantic University’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute examined toxins in tissue concentrations and pathology data from 83 stranded dolphins and whales along the southeastern coast of the United States from 2012 to 2018. Researchers examined 11 different animal species to test for 17 different substances in animals found on the shores in North Carolina and Florida.

This is the first study to date to publish a report examining concentrations in blubber tissues of stranded cetaceans of atrazine, an herbicide, DEP, (a phthalate ester found in plastics), NPE or nonylphenol ethoxylate commonly used in food packing, and triclosan, an antibacterial and antifungal agent present in some consumer products, including toothpaste, soaps, detergents and toys.

They also analyzed liver samples for five non-essential elements (arsenic, cadmium, lead, mercury, thallium), six essential elements (cobalt, copper, manganese, iron, selenium, zinc) and one toxicant mixture class (Aroclor, a highly toxic industrial compound).

— source Florida Atlantic University | Aug 6, 2020

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