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  • News

    Desalination pours more toxic brine into the ocean than previously thought

    Technology meant to help solve the world’s growing water shortage is producing a salty environmental dilemma.

    Desalination facilities, which extract drinkable water from the ocean, discharge around 142 billion liters of extremely salty water called brine back into the environment every day, a study finds. That waste product of the desalination process can kill marine life and...

    01/14/2019 - 10:17 Technology, Sustainability, Oceans
  • News in Brief

    Floating seabirds provide a novel way to trace ocean currents

    Seabirds are like feathered buoys. Gently rafting on the ocean’s surface, these birds go with the flow, making them excellent proxies for tracking changes in a current’s speed and direction.

    Oceanographers traditionally use radar, floating buoys or autonomous underwater vehicles to measure ocean current velocities, which can affect the climate, ecosystems and the movement of important...

    01/10/2019 - 09:00 Oceans, Ecology
  • Rethink

    Nearly 200 Great Barrier Reef coral species also live in the deep sea

    Nearly 200 species of Great Barrier Reef corals have found a second home in the deep ocean. That’s six times as many species as previously thought to be living in the dark, cold waters off northeastern Australia, researchers report December 12 in Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

    Perhaps more important than the number of species cataloged at those depths is the fact that every...

    12/11/2018 - 19:05 Animals, Oceans, Climate
  • News

    Volcanic eruptions that depleted ocean oxygen may have set off the Great Dying

    A massive series of volcanic eruptions in Earth’s distant past left ocean creatures gasping for breath. Greenhouse gases emitted by the volcanoes dramatically lowered oxygen levels in the oceans, a deadly scenario that may have been the main culprit in the Great Dying, researchers report.

    Earth scientist Justin Penn of the University of Washington in Seattle and colleagues mapped out...

    12/06/2018 - 14:00 Oceans, Climate, Earth, Paleontology
  • News

    Warm tropical Atlantic waters juiced the 2017 hurricane season

    Very warm waters in the tropical Atlantic Ocean were the primary cause behind the region’s many strong hurricanes last year, including powerhouse storms Harvey and Maria, a new study finds. And that pattern of ocean warming is likely to become more common in the future, fueling more strong hurricanes, the researchers say.  

    Climate scientist Hiroyuki Murakami, now at the at the...

    09/28/2018 - 11:40 Climate, Oceans
  • News

    A massive net is being deployed to pick up plastic in the Pacific

    The days of the great Pacific garbage patch may be numbered.

    A highly anticipated project to scoop up plastic from the massive pool of ocean debris is poised to launch its first phase from Alameda, Calif., on September 8. The creators of the project, called the Ocean Cleanup, say their system can remove 90 percent of the plastic in the patch by 2040.

    First proposed in a 2012 TED...

    09/07/2018 - 17:36 Oceans, Pollution
  • Wild Things

    A gentoo penguin’s dinner knows how to fight back

    In a fight between a pipsqueak and a giant, the giant should always win, right?

    Well, a battle between an underwater David and Goliath has revealed that sometimes the little guy can come out on top. He just needs the right armaments. The David in this case is the lobster krill. And instead of a slingshot, it’s armed with sharp pincers that can sometimes fight off a Goliath: the gentoo...

    09/04/2018 - 14:12 Animals, Ecology, Oceans
  • News in Brief

    Chances of an Atlantic hurricane season busier than 2005’s are slim — for now

    In 2005, a total of 28 named tropical cyclones churned across the Atlantic Ocean. That set a record that is likely to stand for a while: There is only a 3.2 percent chance of more Atlantic storms forming in any one year, at least under current climate conditions, scientists report August 22 in Science Advances.

    There were so many Atlantic storms in 2005 that the U.S. National Hurricane...

    08/22/2018 - 13:59 Climate, Oceans
  • News

    Beaked whales may frequent a seabed spot marked for mining

    Whales may have made their mark on the seafloor in a part of the Pacific Ocean designated for future deep-sea mining.

    Thousands of grooves found carved into the seabed could be the first evidence that large marine mammals visit this little-explored region, researchers report August 22 in Royal Society Open Science. If deep-diving whales are indeed using the region for foraging or other...

    08/21/2018 - 19:05 Oceans, Earth
  • News

    Viruses may help phytoplankton make clouds — by tearing the algae apart

    When tiny sea algae get sick, they may sneeze the seeds of clouds.

    Phytoplankton (Emiliania huxleyi) infected with a virus shed the small calcium carbonate plates that make up their shells much more quickly than healthy phytoplankton. Kicked up by thrashing waves into sea spray, those calcium bits may ultimately become part of the complex dance of cloud formation, researchers report...

    08/15/2018 - 11:12 Oceans, Climate