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(Bio) (Earth) Marine Life: Fish with Chips
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adedios
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 06, 2006 8:52 am    Post subject: (Bio) (Earth) Marine Life: Fish with Chips Reply with quote






Source: Census of Marine Life
Date: 2006-01-05
URL: http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....085230.htm

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Ocean Survey Reveals Tiny Carnivorous Sponges, Eerie Dead Zone, And More

Revelations by high-tech tracking devices about the coastal migrations of endangered fish and of large animals in the open Pacific Ocean top the highlights from the growing ranks of researchers conducting the global Census of Marine Life at its 2005 mid-point.

A Census project tagging thousands of endangered salmon to chart their individual travels, with profound implications for protection of threatened stocks, will expand its arrays of underwater monitors from British Columbia north along the continental shelf to Alaska and south to California. The system could spread worldwide to monitor traffic and tribulations of the many species that migrate along the shallow coastal highways.

Meanwhile, Census scientists increased by more than 50% from 2004 the number of reporting devices on the large animals that typically venture from the shallow shelves into the deep Pacific Ocean. Some 1,800 open ocean animals of 21 species, including sharks, turtles, seals. sea lions, and seabirds carried Census tags during 2005. Some of the tags, resembling cellfones, call information into scientists via satellite each time the animal surfaces. A website (www.toppcensus.org) allows the public to follow some of these creatures in near real-time.

Tags show tuna are the marine jet set. A tagged bluefin tuna recorded its stunning trans-Pacific migration – three crossings in 600 days, a distance of 40,000 km, greater than Earth’s circumference.

1st Census of Marine Life at Mid-Point

Drawing comparisons to the Domesday Book that comprehensively surveyed England in 1066, the Census has enrolled leading global experts in a 10-year scientific partnership, unprecedented in scale, to assess and explain the diversity, distribution and abundance of life in all oceans, a baseline against which future change may be measured.

They are assembling in one place for the first time most of what we know about marine life, and marking what is unknown and may yet be unknowable. They are reconstructing the history of ocean life since fishing became important, censusing the present state, and using the past and present to forecast future marine lifes. They are satisfying basic human curiosity about what lives beneath the waves as well as generating insights useful for better managing and preserving ocean resources.

Starting the 10-year project in 2000 with about 250 collaborators, an almost seven-fold increase has taken place in five years. Some 1,700 experts from 73 nations are today working to produce the 1st Census by 2010. In November 2005, some 150 leaders of all components of the Census met in Frankfurt to review progress and harmonize their efforts to cover all habitats and species by 2010.

The Census reached maturation in project breadth in 2005 with 17 initiatives, four of them new this year. Expeditions to previously unexplored regions rose from 8 in 2004 to 14 in 2005, with many more planned through 2010. The years 2006-8 will see the most intense field work; the results will be analysed and integrated in 2009-10.

The research spans species from microbes to whales, from near-shore to mid-ocean, from the world’s deepest mud in the abyssal plains to the foamy and sparkling surface, from hot seafloor vents to the ice oceans at both poles. Areas of exploration include the submerged edges of continents, seamounts dotting the ocean’s floor, and coral reefs.

Using new approaches and technologies, including supersensitive visual and acoustic devices, Census researchers can sample life in all ocean realms and identify specimens quickly through genetic science and digital image libraries.

“Immense scale challenges the Census,” says Dr. Victor A. Gallardo of Chile, Vice-Chair of the Census Scientific Steering Committee. “The deep-sea floor is an area of 300 million square kilometers, of which the area sampled to date is equal to a few football fields. The number of seamounts” (underwater mountains rising at least 1,000 meters from the ocean floor, often extinct volcanoes that failed to grow tall enough to become islands) “is estimated at between 30,000 and 100,000, of which a few hundred have been biologically sampled, less than 50 of them sampled well. Representative sampling on a global scale is the key for an effective census.”

Discoveries and highlights, 2005: Fish with Chips

Marine animals carrying computer chips that report their locations show that fish and many other species use well-defined ocean zones.

The POST (Pacific Ocean Shelf Tracking) project has revealed the Pacific migration routes of young wild salmon from US and Canadian rivers. Because many salmon die in the ocean, knowing their usual travels along marine highways has far-reaching implications worldwide for authorities who determine when fisheries should be open or closed to conserve endangered stocks.

The salmon are implanted with almond-sized electronic tags scanned by devices on the ocean floor when they pass over, like an electronic tag on a car passing through a highway tollbooth (see animation at http://www.postcoml.org/videos/how_it_works.htm ). The data reveal the movement and survival of each tagged fish as it migrates within the system and the distribution of all the tagged fish.

The current array stretches more than 1,550 km, from Washington State, through British Columbia to north of the Alaskan panhandle. By 2010, the CoML team aims to cover the entire western North America coast, with a goal to replicate the network on continental shelves worldwide. Continental shelves average about 80 km (50 mi) wide, and the edge of the shelf occurs at an average depth of about 200 m (660 ft), where it falls steeply into the deep sea. Salmon and many other marine animals travel extensively along shelves.

The number of fish tagged almost tripled in 2005 – some 2,700 salmon from 19 US and Canadian stocks in 16 river systems, up from 1,050 fish tagged from 14 stocks in 8 river systems in 2004. The array performed nearly flawlessly, revealing substantial differences in the paths, speed, distribution and survival of species and stocks within species, both wild and from hatcheries.

Among other benefits, the work will provide clues how fish behaviour would change should ocean waters warm.

Says POST lead scientist, David Welch: “New developments in the technology mean that we will be able to monitor individual fish with tags that will last 10-20 years. For salmon, this means we will also be able to monitor the return migration of adults, providing information that could help better protect endangered stocks.”

Science Suggests Smart Fishing

"The dream of abundant and sustainable stocks of commercial fish is now one step closer, thanks to this Census of Marine Life program. The new data reveal for the first time those zones of the ocean where we have the highest leverage for conservation and thus smarter fishing," said D. James Baker, President of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia and former long-time chief of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, responsible for management of marine fisheries.

Why did the Fish Cross the Ocean?

The TOPP (Tagging of Pacific Pelagics) project, meanwhile, found many salmon sharks (Lamna ditropsis) from Alaska share with humans an attraction to warmer winter destinations and frequently migrate to destinations like Hawaii. Growing to more than 300 kilograms (660 pounds), the salmon sharks can attain speeds of more than 50 kilometers (30 miles) per hour. The project's shark team also recorded an unprecedented 305-day track of a white shark that completed a full migratory cycle from coastal waters to off-shore and back again.

TOPP's state-of-the-art tags have also allowed marine turtle researchers to determine how much energy a leatherback sea turtle burns at sea. Says TOPP researcher Bryan Wallace: "Imagine that the turtles are cars. These measurements allow us to know their ratings for miles per gallon on the road, not just idling in traffic. And with the help of habitat data the turtles are collecting, TOPP research may just help make traveling a bit safer for this highly endangered species.”

Discoveries and highlights, 2005: Diversity

Carnivorous Sponges and other New Species in Southern Oceans: Unexpected biodiversity greeted scientists on two expeditions to the abyssal plains and basins of the South Atlantic and Southern Oceans. Although those seas are low in biomass, they are rich in variety, and scientists say 50% to 90% of specimens collected from the two expeditions are new to science. The southern deep abyss may hold reservoirs of genetic diversity and evolutionary novelties. Among the most intriguing creatures were tiny carnivorous sponges, about 5 mm (0.2 inches) in diameter, which engulf other organisms with their "mouths" (sponges typically feed by filtering small particles from the water) Three of four carnivorous sponge species found in the Southern Ocean abyss had never been seen before. Sponges with calcium skeletons living much deeper than expected also created surprise. Also found: minute unicellular animals (called “xenophyophore”) using sediment grains to construct delicate shells that resemble soccer balls.

Novelties Still in North Atlantic: Exploring the northern Mid-Atlantic Ridge, beneath the most-traveled ocean surface on Earth, researchers documented several new and rare species, including strange varieties of deep-sea fish, two possibly new species of squid and, at the ocean floor, at least four new species of sea cucumbers. They also found almost one-quarter of demersal (deep swimming) fish species identified were new to the study area, reflecting how much there is yet to learn about the distribution and abundance of species known already.

DNA Identifiers for 800 Fish: DNA barcodes, a standardized segment of the genome, can rapidly and accurately identify species. The Census now has a library of barcodes for almost 800 fish species, and another 1,000 species will be added by mid-2006. Researcher Bronwyn Innes (Tasmania, Australia) barcoded eight tuna species and used the barcodes to identify tuna carcasses on longliners in the Indian Ocean. Some misidentifications were revealed, including instances of endangered Southern Bluefin being misidentified as yellowfin or bigeye tuna.

Microbe Database: Marine microbes are the tiniest of ocean species but constitute 90% of the ocean’s biomass and cycle 98% of the carbon and nitrogen. To census microbes, CoML in 2005 launched an array of online resources that allows researchers to exploit molecular, environmental, geospatial, and taxonomic information, “MicrOBIS”. MicrOBIS allows researchers to cross-check the identity of collected microbes against known species.
Discoveries and highlights, 2005: Distribution
Unexpected Presences in Arctic: Census explorers in the Arctic Ocean’s frigid Canada Basin discovered many creatures never seen there before, including several species of squid and the area’s first known octopus.

First Atlantic Hydrothermal Vent South of Equator: An international team of researchers, towing remotely operated vehicles to explore the southern Mid-Atlantic Ridge, found the first known hydrothermal vents south of the equator in the Atlantic. They sampled animals adapted to life in these extreme vent environments, where water super-heated to 350° C in Earth’s crust flows from “black smokers” on the deep ocean floor. Comparison of the specimens collected with those found on hydrothermal vents previously discovered north of the Equator provides clues to the mysterious deep currents that may disperse them.

Whales Follow Undersea Ridges: Tagging of baleen whales show they use the mid-ocean ridge as a feeding area and north-south migration route in the North Atlantic.

Expansion of Near-shore Coverage: In a cooperative effort to catalog biodiversity in the near-shore environment, scientists and volunteers are now working at 80 official Census sites around the world, encompassing more than three-quarters of the world’s coastlines.
Discoveries and highlights, 2005: Abundance
Dead Zone around Tsunami Epicenter: On the first scientific expedition to the epicenter of the December 2004 tsunami, deadliest in recorded history, Census biologists found little or no effect on deep-sea fauna except at one site off Sumatra roughly 4000 m (2.5 miles) deep, where five months after the disaster there was no evidence of large animals during an 11 hour dive. The absence of biological life at the site was “unprecedented in 25 years of deep-sea sampling.”

scientists coordinating data from surface ships from small airplanes documented in 2005 major fluctuations in the abundance of feeding whales, pelagic fish, and plankton in the Gulf of Maine.

Reconstruction of North Sea Marine Life back to Middle Ages: Creatively mining historical data from such sources as salt tax records, Census researchers have revealed drastic declines in populations of whales, seals, birds, large fish, and oysters during the past 500 years in the Wadden Sea, part of the North Sea bordering Denmark, Germany, and the Netherlands. The area once teeming with large animals would be unrecognizable to the early civilizations that lived there, characterized today by quiet mud flats. Ocean historians also documented that recent conservation efforts such as hunting bans and habitat protection have benefited seals as well as some birds.

Global Demography of Tuna and Billfish since 1950: Using records of fish hooked on longlines in open oceans, researchers found the abundance and species diversity of large pelagic fish declined rapidly over the past 50 years. Global concentrations of such key predators such as tuna, marlin, and swordfish decreased dramatically worldwide. The research also uncovered four regions where high diversity persists – off the east coasts of the US, Australia, and Sri Lanka; south of Hawaii; and in the South-Eastern Pacific.

Discoveries and highlights, 2005: Synthesis

North Pacific Pilot Inventory: To test the feasibility of the global Census, a team of CoML experts in the North Pacific Science Organization (a.k.a. PICES) prepared the pilot Census “Marine Life in the North Pacific: The Known, Unknown, and Unknowable.” The report surveys bacterio-plankton, phytoplankton, zooplankton, unexploited fishes and invertebrates, commercially important fishes and invertebrates, seabirds, marine mammals, and turtles. While everything cannot be known in detail because of the vastness of the system and rapid fluctuations of some populations, the North Pacific report encouragingly points the way toward the 2010 Census.
OBIS Inventory Grows

Perhaps the foremost legacy of the inaugural Census will be the geographical information system it is creating for all data about marine life where the species of the specimen and the place it was observed are reliably recorded.

A $9.5 million meta-database, the Ocean Biogeographical Information System (OBIS), now links 60 databases containing 8.4 million taxonomic records (species, date, latitude, longitude, and depth found), an increase of 62% from 5.2 million records last year.

OBIS today contains more than 40,000 of an estimated 230,000 marine species described in science literature so far (which may only represent only one-tenth of all marine species in existence).

Of the 40,000 species of all types inventoried, 78 are marine fish newly added in the first 11 months of 2005, an average of 6.5 species added monthly. The total number of marine fish species in the database is now 15,717.


###
OBIS (www.iobis.org) is intended to become the world’s primary source of species distribution data – essential to knowing if a species is rare or common, where an alien invasive species originated, and if certain ocean areas are species hotspots that merit special protection. Ten regional nodes were established in 2005 to make it easier for users around the world both to deposit and access data.

Best represented species: some 80% of known fish and other marine vertebrates, as well as anemones and corals, are now included in the OBIS catalogue of life.

Census of Marine Life sponsors:

Support for the Census of Marine Life comes from government agencies concerned with science, environment, and fisheries in a growing list of nations as well as from private foundations and companies. The Census is associated or affiliated with several intergovernmental international organizations including the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of the UN, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN, the UN Environment Programme and its World Conservation Monitoring Centre, the Global Biodiversity Information Facility, the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas, and the North Pacific Marine Science Organization. It is also affiliated with international nongovernmental organizations including the Scientific Committee on Oceanic Research and the International Association of Biological Oceanography of the International Council for Science. The Census is led by an independently constituted international Scientific Steering Committee whose members serve in their individual capacities and a growing set of national and regional implementation committees.

*************************************************************

The original release with images:

http://www.coml.org/medres/hig......14.05.pdf

Why study the oceans?

http://www.esr.org/outreach/polar/why/why.html

What are the oceans?

http://www.enchantedlearning.com/subjects/ocean/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ocean
http://mbgnet.mobot.org/salt/oceans/data.htm
http://www.marinebio.com/Oceans/

The Pacific Ocean
http://www.cia.gov/cia/publica.....os/zn.html

The Atlantic Ocean
http://www.cia.gov/cia/publica.....os/zh.html

The Indian Ocean
http://www.cia.gov/cia/publica.....os/xo.html

The Arctic Ocean
http://www.cia.gov/cia/publica.....os/xq.html

The Southern Ocean
http://www.cia.gov/cia/publica.....os/oo.html

71% of the earth's surface is covered with oceans

http://www.mos.org/oceans/planet/index.html

The oceans, divided into different zones (depth)

http://www.mos.org/oceans/life/index.html

The Ocean Floor

http://pao.cnmoc.navy.mil/Educ...../floor.htm
http://pubs.usgs.gov/publicati.....oring.html

Oceans are in motion; Tides, Waves, Currents

http://www.mos.org/oceans/motion/index.html
http://oceanworld.tamu.edu/stu.....index.html
http://oceanworld.tamu.edu/stu.....index.html
http://seawifs.gsfc.nasa.gov/O.....nts_1.html
http://www.windows.ucar.edu/to.....rents.html
http://pao.cnmoc.navy.mil/Educ.....vetide.htm
http://pao.cnmoc.navy.mil/Educ.....urrent.htm

Why is the ocean salty?

http://www.palomar.edu/oceanog....._ocean.htm

Why is the ocean blue?

http://pao.cnmoc.navy.mil/Educ.....r/blue.htm

Oceans in the temperate zone

http://mbgnet.mobot.org/salt/oceans/

Oceans in the tropical zone

http://mbgnet.mobot.org/salt/c.....alley.html

Oceans near the poles

http://school.discovery.com/le.....rozenseas/

Oceans and Weather

http://oceanworld.tamu.edu/stu.....index.html

El Niño

http://oceanworld.tamu.edu/stu.....index.html
http://www.cotf.edu/ete/module.....phere.html

Sounds in the Sea

http://pao.cnmoc.navy.mil/Educ.....sounds.htm

Light in deep waters

http://pao.cnmoc.navy.mil/Educ.....olumin.htm

Our Trash and the Ocean

http://seawifs.gsfc.nasa.gov/O.....ebris.html

Oceans in Peril (A virtual visit to the Smithsonian)

http://seawifs.gsfc.nasa.gov/O.....peril.html

Ocean Exploration

http://seasky.org/sea5.html

Oceans and Satellites

http://oceanworld.tamu.edu/stu.....index.html

Fishes in the Ocean

http://oceanworld.tamu.edu/stu.....index.html

Coral Reefs:

http://oceanworld.tamu.edu/stu.....index.html

Creatures that live in the ocean depths:

http://seasky.org/monsters/sea7a.html
http://www.pbs.org/oceanrealm/.....index.html

Reef Life; Sponges Corals & Anemones Sea
Worms Echinoderms Crustaceans Mollusks Reef Fishes
Unusual Fishes Sharks & Rays Sea Reptiles Marine Mammals


http://seasky.org/reeflife/sea2.html
http://projects.edtech.sandi.n.....ation.html

Biggest, Smallest, Fastest, Deepest:
Marine Animal Records


http://oceanlink.island.net/records.html

Image Gallery of Sea Life

http://seasky.org/seagallery/seagallery.html

Images and Videos of the Ocean

http://www.ocean.com/look/

Special Creatures

Whales
http://www.whalesfilm.com/whales.htm
http://www.seaworld.org/infobooks/Baleen/home.html
http://earthtrust.org/wlcurric/whales.html
http://www.seaworld.org/infobo...../home.html
http://www.geocities.com/RainF.....whale.html
http://www.geocities.com/RainF.....whale.html
http://www.abc.net.au/oceans/whale/default.htm

Jewels of the Sea; Kelps, Seagrass, Sponge, Sea Mountains
http://www.abc.net.au/oceans/jewel/default.htm
http://seaweed.ucg.ie/
http://mbgnet.mobot.org/salt/oceans/forest.htm

Seals
http://www.abc.net.au/oceans/seals/default.htm

Dolphins
http://teacher.scholastic.com/dolphin/about.htm

Sharks
http://www.nationalgeographic......harks.html
http://www.postmodern.com/~fi/...../ellis.htm
http://www.his.com/~graeme/sharks.html

Forams
http://oceanworld.tamu.edu/stu.....index.html

GAMES

http://www.pbs.org/oceanrealm/quiz/index.html
http://seasky.org/sea_games.html


Last edited by adedios on Fri Jun 08, 2007 9:50 am; edited 4 times in total
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 22, 2006 4:42 pm    Post subject: Oceans Are 70-Percent Shark Free Reply with quote

Source: Census of Marine Life

Posted: February 22, 2006

Oceans Are 70-Percent Shark Free

Marine scientists have discovered that the deepest oceans of the world would appear to be shark free.

In a paper published today, an international team of researchers, led by the University of Aberdeen, reveal that sharks have failed to colonise at depths greater than 3,000 metres.

Sharks occur throughout the world's oceans and it had been hoped that as man explores deeper into the abyss and beyond throughout the largest environment on the planet - new species would be discovered.

However, 20 years of exploration, combined with analysis of records over the past 150 years, has convinced the team of scientists that the world's oceans are 70% shark-free. Their findings are published in Proceedings of The Royal Society, Biological Series.

The average depth of the oceans is 4,000m and bony fishes - relatives of cod - thrive down to around 9,000m depth. Scientists do not know why sharks are absent from the deep but suggest one possible reason could be due to lack of food.

They warn their finding has environmental implications.

Professor Monty Priede, Director of Oceanlab at the University of Aberdeen, said: "Sharks are apparently confined to around 30% of the world's oceans, and all populations are therefore within reach of human fisheries, near the surface and at the edges of deep water, around islands, seamounts and the continents.

"Sharks are already threatened worldwide by the intensity of fishing activity but our finding suggests they may be more vulnerable to over-exploitation than was previously thought."

The scientists based their conclusions on a wide range of data which includes information gathered during a major month long expedition along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge between Iceland and the Azores in 2004.

More than 100 scientists from over 16 countries were involved in the MAR-ECO project which is part of the 10-year Census of Marine Life programme which is exploring the abundance, distribution and diversity of life in the world's oceans.

The team also used findings built up over the last two decades when the University of Aberdeen's Oceanlab started developing landers - remotely operated vehicles - which have been used in deep waters all over the world. Expeditions usinglanders visited the deepest abyssal plain on the planet - North of Hawaii; the South Atlantic off the Falkland Islands; the North West African slopes off Angola, the North East Atlantic Ocean, West of Ireland, and five research cruises in the North East Atlantic.

The scientists say that the deepest confirmed report of a shark is at 3,700m. They believe it is very unlikely that major new populations will be discovered in abyssal regions.

Professor Priede added: "As far as we can see there is no hidden reserve of sharks in the deep sea. All we see, is all there is, it's highly unlikely we are going to find anymore."



###
The Absence of Sharks From Abyssal Regions of the World's Oceans can be seen at www.journals.royalsoc.ac.uk. (doi: rspb.2005.3461).The scientists who collaborated on the paper are from Oceanlab, University of Aberdeen; Leibniz-Institut für Meereswissenschafen, Germany; Marine Biology Research Division, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, USA; Institute of Marine Research, Norway; British Antarctic Survey, Natural Environment Research Council, Cambridge; Møre Research, Norway and FRS Marine Laboratory, Aberdeen.

The oceanic abyss -- which is where the ocean is deeper than 3,000 metres - is characterised by absence of solar light, high pressures and remoteness from surface food supply. Deep water sharks have oil-rich livers which keep them buoyant, and a high energy demand, which researchers believe cannot be sustained in the extreme conditions of the abyss where there is a lack of food.
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 23, 2006 7:21 am    Post subject: Antarctica's hula hoop of water Reply with quote

American Association for the Advancement of Science
20 April 2006
http://www.eurekalert.org/feat.....041406.php

Antarctica's hula hoop of water

Hula hoops are big, light-weight, circular toys made to swing around your waist -- if you move your hips just right. There is a "hula hoop" made of water circling Antarctica right now. While Antarctica has no hips, it does have an arm -- and this arm is part of the story of how the invisible hula hoop – which is really a huge circular stream of ocean water -- began circling Antarctica.

If you look at the map that goes along with this article, you can see that the arm or "peninsula" of Antarctica appears to be reaching out to South America. Millions of years ago, this arm and South America were connected.

Scientists think that the breakup of the connection between Antarctica and South America was important for kick-starting the ocean current that is now circling Antarctica like a hula hoop.

"So, Antarctica's arm disconnected from South America and started splashing its giant hand around in the water until it got this huge circular ocean current going. Right????"

No, not exactly. The disconnection between Antarctica's arm and South America was involved in forming the circular current of water around Antarctica, but not like that.

The circular ocean current we are talking about is called the Antarctic Circumpolar Current. It's an important current because it helps keep Antarctica cold by deflecting warm streams of water that come up from the equator.

Before this current could form, water needed to be able to move all the way around Antarctica. For this to happen, a gap had to form between Antarctica's arm and South America. Complex processes inside the earth called "plate tectonics" were responsible for the creation of this gap.

Scientists are not sure when this gap formed. Knowing when the gap formed would be very useful for determining the role that the Antarctic Circumpolar Current played in the growth of glaciers on Antarctica about 34 million years ago as well as other aspects of climate change.

And this is where the new research comes in. The scientists have just shown that, by 41 million years ago, Antarctica's arm and South America had separated enough for water to pass from the Pacific Ocean -- through a gap between Antarctica's arm and South America called Drake Passage – and into the Atlantic Ocean.

To figure out when this gap formed, the scientists studied fossil teeth from fish that were recovered from rocks more than 1,000 feet below the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. By testing the teeth for levels of the element neodymium, the researchers can tell when water from the Pacific Ocean started making its way to the Atlantic Ocean.

With this new information on when water started moving from the Pacific to the Atlantic, scientists can start to determine when Antarctica's hula hoop of water formed. And knowing when it formed is critical for understanding what role it played in the making of the huge sheets of ice found on Antarctica today.

So, even though the trick to getting the human hula hoop to move around your waist is in the hips, when it came to getting Antarctica's hula hoop of water moving around this continent, think arm not hips.


###
This research from Howie Scher from University of Rochester in Rochester, NY and Ellen Martin from the University of Florida in Gainesville, FL appears in the 21 April 2006 issue of the journal Science.
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PostPosted: Sat May 13, 2006 7:39 am    Post subject: Scientists reveal fate of Earth's oceans Reply with quote

University of Manchester
10 May 2006

Scientists reveal fate of Earth's oceans

Scientists at The University of Manchester have uncovered the first evidence of seawater deep inside the Earth shedding new light on the fate of the planet's oceans, according to research published in Nature (May 11, 2006).
For years geologists have debated whether seawater is subducted (absorbed) into the deep Earth or whether there is a 'subduction barrier' blocking its absorption.

For the first time scientists at The University of Manchester have positively identified seawater in volcanic gas samples originating from the Earth's mantle - the region just below the crust and extending all the way down to the core – supporting the theory that seawater is subducted deep into the Earth and enabling them to test this theory further.

Professor Chris Ballentine and Dr Greg Holland of the University's School of Earth and Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences have also revealed that up to 10% of the Earth's oceans have been absorbed deep into the Earth since its formation.

Professor Ballentine said: "We can show that up to 10% of the Earth's oceans have been absorbed into the planet since formation. This accounts for about half of the water in the deep earth, the remainder of which was trapped when the Earth first formed. This work, for the first time, quantifies the 'geological water cycle'."

Trace gases were used to identify seawater in volcanic gas samples. This was done by counting the relative number of atoms of different noble gases (Argon, Krypton and Xenon) in the samples which revealed an atomic 'fingerprint' matching that of seawater.

The study, funded by the Natural Environment Research Council, is also the first to establish the precise composition of the noble gases present in the Earth's mantle. In addition to identifying seawater the noble gases have provided a cornerstone for understanding the very origin of gases and water in our planet.

Dr Holland said: "As we now know how much seawater and associated gases were added to the deep Earth, we can identify what was down there to start with much more precisely. This is absolutely critical for understanding how our planet formed and has changed over time"

Professor Ballentine added: "Our results also explain why ocean volcanoes, like Hawaii and Iceland, which come from the where the mantle meets the core, have a higher water content than ocean volcanoes that originate from shallower regions of the mantle. Previously, geologists have thought that this is because this region of the planet preferentially preserved water and gasses trapped during earth formation and it is only now 'leaking out'. We know however that if seawater subduction is occurring, it will be carried more efficiently into the deepest parts of the earth, and that contrary to these old ideas, the water in the lavas from Hawaii and Iceland are in fact dominated by old seawater that has travelled from the surface, to the center of the earth and back again."


###
For further information:

Simon Hunter, Media Relations Officer, telephone: 0161 2758387/0771 7881569 or email: simon.hunter@manchester.ac.uk

Notes to Editors:

The paper, available on request, is published in scientific journal Nature and entitled: 'Seawater subduction controls the heavy noble gas composition of the mantle'

Picturesare available on request.

Professor Chris Ballentine is Professor of Isotope Geochemistry within the University's School of Earth and Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences, part of the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences.

Dr Greg Holland is a postdoctoral scientist in the Cosmochemistry and Isotope Geochemistry Group within the University's School of Earth and Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences, part of the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences.

NERC is one of the UK's eight Research Councils. It uses a budget of about £350m a year to fund and carry out impartial scientific research in the sciences of the environment. NERC trains the next generation of independent environmental scientists. It is addressing some of the key questions facing mankind, such as global warming, renewable energy and sustainable economic development.
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 02, 2006 9:00 pm    Post subject: Study: Marine Species Collapse by 2048 Reply with quote

Study: Marine Species Collapse by 2048

By Sara Goudarzi
LiveScience Staff Writer
posted: 02 November 2006
02:02 pm ET

If the loss of marine species from over fishing and climate change continues at the current rate, all commercial fish and seafood species could collapse by 2048, scientists reported today.

Analyzing all existing historical, experimental, and fishery data on ocean species and ecosystems, researchers found that in addition to distressing a major food supply for humans, the loss of marine life could disrupt biodiversity on a global scale.

"Whether we looked at tide pools or studies over the entire world's ocean, we saw the same picture emerging," said lead author Boris Worm of Dalhousie University. "In losing species we lose the productivity and stability of entire ecosystems. I was shocked and disturbed by how consistent these trends are—beyond anything we suspected."


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 13, 2006 10:49 am    Post subject: The striking deep current reversal in the tropical Pacific Reply with quote

Institut de Recherche Pour le Développement
13 November 2006

The striking deep current reversal in the tropical Pacific Ocean

The ocean's immense heat storage capacity means that it has a dominant role in the regulation of heat exchange and of the Earth's climate. And it is the ocean's currents that drive thermal exchanges between ocean and atmosphere and contribute to climate balance. This they do in transporting warm- and cold-water masses from the Equator to the poles. The near-surface currents are generated essentially by the winds, whereas the deeper ones (known as thermohaline currents) result from water density variations induced by differences in temperature and salinity between the distinct masses. The prevailing winds in the tropical Pacific, the trade winds, blow from the American continent towards Asia, causing the warm surface waters to drift in a general East-West direction. As they approach the Asian continent, these waters accumulate, then change direction, part of them turning North and feeding the Kuroshio (the equivalent in the Pacific of the Gulf Stream), part going South to join up with the East Australian current, another portion flowing at depth and feeding the Equatorial Undercurrent (EUC), which runs at between 100 and 150 m below the surface. The EUC flows along the Equator, from Papua New Guinea to the Galapagos Islands, counter to the trade winds. That current extends over a width of nearly 300 km and transports a large mass of water eastwards (1), at a maximum velocity of around 2 knots (1 m/s or 3.6 km/h).

Scientists are currently seeking to describe ocean circulation and improve on data acquired, aiming to identify the physical mechanisms that regulate climate variability. The impact of the ENSO (El Niño-Southern Oscillation) event on the climatic situation in the southern Pacific Ocean is still not well known, for instance. In two oceanographic cruises run in October 1999 and April 2000 as part of the IRD's ECOP programme, the Institute's researchers were able to study this region and, in particular, the ENSO. The latter has a determinant effect on the distribution of ocean water masses, ocean/atmosphere exchanges in the tropical southern Pacific and many anomalies of climate that occur on the continents that border the Pacific. Physical determinations of currents and masses of water under transport were made from the surface down to 1 200 m over a large area, 1700 km in length, along the Equator (between the Equator and 10° S latitude, between 165° and 180° E longitude), using a Lowered Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler (L- ADCP) (2) installed aboard R/V Alis, the IRD oceanographic research vessel.

These series of measurements give a well-defined picture of the tropical circulation in this zone, for two specific dates. They show up in particular the horizontal alternation of bands of currents of opposing directions between the Equator and 10° S latitude, from the surface to 1200 m. Essentially, however, they reveal a surprising variability of intermediate equatorial currents (the equatorial intermediate current (EIC) and the lower equatorial intermediate current (LEIC)), which plunge at the Equator under the Equatorial Undercurrent and flow in the same direction, between about 300 and 1200 m (see Figure). Between October 1999 and April 2000, these equatorial intermediate currents changed direction, between 2° S latitude and the Equator, over the 1 700 km of the zone investigated. This reversal is already known, but its amplitude in this case is striking. The resulting variation in water mass transport is considerable, around 100 Sv (50 Sv towards the West in October 1999 and 50 Sv towards the East in April 2000). The question is, what causes this change-about? One hypothesis put forward involves the passage of an oceanic instability wave, but no disturbance of the EUC was detected during the research cruises and the reversal remains unexplained. Further current measurement campaigns in the future should shed light on this event and bring clues for unravelling the dynamics of these currents. At present, such a change in ocean water mass transport must be taken into account in studies on the mass balance that exists in the equatorial Pacific Ocean. Mathematical models of ocean circulation are needed so that the variations in water transport can be reproduced, and thereby facilitate assessment of their impact on the climate variability, whether a seasonal, inter-annual or decennial temporal scales.

###
Marie Guillaume-Signoret – IRD
Translation : Nicholas Flay

(1) The average transport of this current is estimated at 30 Sv (1 Sverdrup, unit of volume transport = 1 000 000 m3/s, a value commensurable with the average discharge of the world's major rivers). For comparison, the average transport at the mouth of the Amazon, the most voluminous in the world, is about 0.3 Sv.

(2) Knowledge of ocean current circulation made great advances from the 1980s with the general use of current meters applying the Doppler effect (Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler, ADCP) which, fitted under the hull of the research vessels, make continuous measurements of currents (from ocean surface to an average 700 m depth). Since the 1990s investigation of deep ocean circulation has been using a new generation of ADCP, the L-ADCP (Lowered Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler), which are fixed on CTD (conductivity-temperature-depth) probes then lowered to a fixed point at depth. The principle of the Doppler effect (which is also employed in road and aviation radars) is founded on the instrument's emission of an acoustic signal. This signal is reflected by particles (zooplankton) transported by the ocean currents. These particles are in movement and therefore alter the frequency of the reflected sound wave. The difference in frequency between the emitted wave and the reflected wave is a function of the relative velocity between the instrument and the particles, and therefore of the current velocity.
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 27, 2006 8:40 am    Post subject: Talking Fish: Wide Variety of Sounds Discovered Reply with quote

Talking Fish: Wide Variety of Sounds Discovered

By Charles Q. Choi
Special to LiveScience
posted: 27 December 2006
08:22 am ET

Increasingly scientists are discovering unusual mechanisms by which fish make and hear secret whispers, grunts and thumps to attract mates and ward off the enemy.

In just one bizarre instance, seahorses create clicks by tossing their heads. They snap the rear edge of their skulls against their star-shaped bony crests.

This and other discoveries made in recent years come as the focus on the sounds that fish make is growing beyond "really loud sounds that last a long time," fish behaviorist Timothy Tricas at the University of Hawaii at Manoa told LiveScience. "Seahorse clicks are brief, only about five to 20 milliseconds," he said.

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http://www.livescience.com/ani.....ounds.html
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 24, 2007 9:49 am    Post subject: How fishes conquered the ocean Reply with quote

Public Library of Science
23 January 2007

How fishes conquered the ocean

Sequence analyses of duplicated yolk genes of bony fishes yield new insights for their successful radiation in the oceans during the early Paleogene period
Scientists at the University of Bergen, Norway have deduced how bony fishes conquered the oceans by duplicating their yolk-producing genes and filling their eggs with the water of life – the degradation of yolk proteins from one of the duplicated genes causes the eggs to fill with vital water and float. This is the major solution realized by extant marine teleosts that showed an unprecedented radiation during the late Cretaceous and early Paleogene Periods. The work is a unique hypothesis that integrates the cellular and molecular physiology of teleost reproduction with their evolutionary and environmental history.

"The oceans have not always been filled with fishes as nowadays" says researcher Dr. Roderick Nigel Finn at the Department of Biology, University of Bergen, Norway. "To the contrary", Dr Finn says, "the fossil record shows that the ancestors of the bony fishes (teleosts) inhabited fresh water environments for at least 150 million years before they entered the oceans".

"Apparently, it was not until the Eocene epoch (about 55 million years ago) that an unparalleled and rapid burst of thousands of new marine teleost species took place as evidenced by their sudden appearance in the fossil records of marine sediments. The basis for this successful radiation is unexplained and has intrigued biologists for many years", says Dr. Finn and adds, "Our paper in PLoS ONE relates to the molecular solutions evolved among the teleost ancestors and provides a compelling hypothesis of when, how and why the teleosts succeeded in the oceanic environment. It is common knowledge that water is essential for life," continues Dr. Finn, "so it seems a surprising paradox that fishes that live in water should have a problem acquiring it. Yet it was this paradox that provided the trail of clues for us to follow".

"The physiological problems of reverting from a fresh water environment to the saline seawater is demanding for the water balance of fishes", says professor Hans Jørgen Fyhn, a colleague of Dr. Finn, and adds, "This is especially so for their newly spawned eggs since they lack the adult organs and mechanisms responsible for coping with these problems. For years we studied various aspects of the physiological adaptations of the fish egg to the marine environment. It is most satisfying that Dr. Finn has been able to tie the threads together in molecular and evolutionary terms with their impressive, comparative sequence alignment study of the involved yolk genes and proteins as published in PLoS ONE".

In the paper the authors (RN Finn & BA Kristoffersen) have used Bayesian analysis to examine the evolution of vertebrate yolk protein (vitellogenin) genes in relation to the "Three round hypothesis" of whole genome duplication among vertebrates, and the functional end points of the vitellogenin fractional degradation during the final stages of oogenesis, a period that prepares the egg for spawning and fertilization. They show that teleost vitellogenins have undergone a post-R3 lineage-specific gene duplication to form paralogous clusters that correlate to the pelagic and benthic character of the eggs. The alteration in the function (neo-functionalization) of one of the duplicated genes (paralogues) allowed its yolk protein products to be broken down to free amino acids and thus drive hydration of the maturing eggs. The timing of these events matches the appearance of the vast numbers of marine acanthomorph teleosts in the fossil record. The authors propose that the neo-functionalization of duplicated vitellogenin genes was a key event in the evolution and success of the acanthomorph teleosts in the oceanic environment.

"This study is an exciting part of our research focus in Developmental Biology of Fishes, and the work published in PLoS ONE is clearly a high point of these efforts" says professor Jarl Giske, head of the Department of Biology at the University of Bergen."It is stimulating to both students and staff at the department when our researchers are able to contribute to solving great evolutionary problems."

###
********************************************************************

Disclaimer The following press release refers to an upcoming article in PLoS ONE. It has been contributed by the article authors and/or their institutions. The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of the staff or the editors of PLoS ONE.

********************************************************************

The study was funded in part by the Research Council of Norway.

Citation: Finn RA, Kristoffersen BA (2007) Vertebrate Vitellogenin Gene Duplication in Relation to the "3R Hypothesis": Correlation to the Pelagic Egg and the Oceanic Radiation of Teleosts. PLoS ONE 2(1): e169. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0000169

PLEASE ADD THE LINK TO THE PUBLISHED ARTICLE IN ONLINE VERSIONS OF YOUR REPORT: http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0000169

PRESS ONLY PREVIEW OF THE ARTICLE: http://www.plos.org/press/pone-02-01-finn.pdf
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 19, 2007 9:43 am    Post subject: Caution: Don't Eat Fish as Old as Your Grandmother Reply with quote

Caution: Don't Eat Fish as Old as Your Grandmother

By Sara Goudarzi
LiveScience Staff Writer
posted: 18 February 2007
08:00 pm ET

SAN FRANCISCO—Over-fishing facilitated by new technologies is threatening the long-term survival of deep-sea fish populations, a panel of experts said here today.

Many of the fish living in the depths of the ocean take 30 or 40 years to reach maturity and breed, so when too many of them are taken out, there is no way to replenish their population quickly, said Selina Heppell, a fisheries biologist from Oregon State University and panelist at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

"The harvest of deep-sea fishes is a lot like the harvest of old-growth timber," Heppell said, "except we don't ‘replant' the fish. We have to depend on the fish to replenish themselves. And the habitat that used to provide them protection—the deep ocean—is now accessible to fishing because of new technologies."

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http://www.livescience.com/env.....rning.html
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 28, 2007 8:22 am    Post subject: Despite Warnings, Ocean Circulation Not Slowing Down Reply with quote

Despite Warnings, Ocean Circulation Not Slowing Down

By Andrea Thompson
LiveScience Staff Writer
posted: 27 February 2007
12:44 pm ET

Scientific evidence and Hollywood's "The Day After Tomorrow" have fueled fears that global warming could disrupt the Atlantic Ocean’s main circulation system and drastically alter global weather patterns, but there is no firm evidence that shows this is actually happening, says a prominent oceanographer.

The main ocean circulation system, called the global conveyor belt, helps redistribute heat around the planet. Warm surface water flows poleward from the tropics and cools, becoming denser and eventually sinking when it reaches the North Atlantic. The cooled water then returns along the bottom of the ocean to the tropics.

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http://www.livescience.com/env....._circ.html
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 09, 2007 8:18 am    Post subject: Smithsonian scientists discover new marine species in easter Reply with quote

Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute
8 March 2007

Smithsonian scientists discover new marine species in eastern Pacific

Smithsonian scientists have discovered a biodiversity bounty in the Eastern Pacific—approximately 50 percent of the organisms found in some groups are new to science. The research team spent 11 days in the Eastern Pacific, a unique, understudied region off the coast of Panama.

Coordinated by Rachel Collin of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, a team of Smithsonian scientists and international collaborators with expertise in snails, crabs, shrimp, worms, jellies and sea cucumbers participated in an intensive effort to discover organisms from this ecosystem.

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http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_.....030807.php
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 30, 2007 7:01 am    Post subject: Alarming Decline of Sharks Causing Other Species to Vanish Reply with quote

Alarming Decline of Sharks Causing Other Species to Vanish

By Andrea Thompson
LiveScience Staff Writer
posted: 29 March 2007
02:00 pm ET

The precipitous decline in large predator sharks in the Atlantic Ocean in the past decade has made ecologists worry about a trickle-down effect on the ocean ecosystem.

A new study supports the case. With the large predators gone, their prey—smaller sharks and rays—are free to feast on lower organisms like scallops and clams, depleting valuable commercial stocks.

“Large sharks have been functionally eliminated from the East Coast of the U.S., meaning that they can no longer perform their ecosystem role as top predators,” said study team member Julia Baum of Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

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http://www.livescience.com/ani.....cline.html
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 05, 2007 7:34 am    Post subject: Seas Could Rise Dramatically in Rapid Ice Melt Reply with quote

Seas Could Rise Dramatically in Rapid Ice Melt

By Kristin Elise Phillips
Scienceline
posted: 04 April 2007
09:01 am ET


Something is missing from the estimates of future sea level rise in the recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change: the potentially catastrophic impact of a rapid melt of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets.
The IPCC asserts that melting by dynamic processes is too poorly understood to be included in scientific simulations, but many scientists disagree and believe that the report underestimates the threat that global warming will pose to coastal cities over the next century. Dynamic melting begins at the base of an ice sheet, where it meets the ground. As ice turns to water, the whole sheet can move as if part of a stream.

Sea level could rise rapidly if dynamic melting pushes ice from land to ocean.

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http://www.livescience.com/env.....W_ice.html
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 19, 2007 8:53 am    Post subject: New deep-sea hydrothermal vents, life form discovered Reply with quote

National Science Foundation
19 April 2007

New deep-sea hydrothermal vents, life form discovered

Unusual jellyfish look like serpent-haired Medusa
A new "black smoker"--an undersea mineral chimney emitting hot springs of iron-darkened water--has been discovered at 8,500-foot depths by an expedition funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to explore the Pacific Ocean floor off Costa Rica.

Scientists from Duke University, the Universities of New Hampshire and South Carolina, and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts have named their discovery the Medusa Hydrothermal Vent Field.

The researchers chose that name to highlight the presence there of a unique pink form of the jellyfish order stauromedusae. The jellyfish resemble "the serpent-haired Medusa of Greek myth," said expedition leader Emily Klein, a geologist at Duke University.

The bell-shaped jellyfish sighted near the vents may be of a new species "because no one has seen this color before," said Karen Von Damm, a geologist at the University of New Hampshire.

According to Von Damm, stauromedusae are usually found away from high-temperature hydrothermal vents, where the fluids are a little bit cooler, not close to the vents as these are.

Aboard the Research Vessel (R/V) Atlantis, the researchers are studying ocean floor geology of the East Pacific Rise, one of the mid-ocean ridge systems where new crust is made as the earth spreads apart to release molten lava.

"Each new vent site has the potential to reveal new discoveries in interactions between hot rocks beneath the seafloor, the fluids that interact with those rocks and the oceans above, as well as a rich biosphere that depends on vent processes," said Adam Schultz, program director in NSF's Division of Ocean Sciences, which funded the expedition through its Ridge 2000 program. "This discovery has implications for understanding the origin of Earth's crust, its evolution over time and how living organisms adapt to extreme environmental conditions."

Jason II, a remotely-controlled robotic vehicle the scientists are using to probe the vent field, logged water temperatures of 330 degrees Celsius (626 degrees Fahrenheit) at the mouth of one of the vents. Jason II subsequently found a second vent about 100 yards away.

Von Damm said that heat-tolerant tubeworms found living on Medusa's chimneys, a type known as alvinellids, are commonplace in the equatorial Pacific and thrive on high-iron fluids. Jason also has retrieved two other types of tubeworms--tevnia and riftia--from the vent area.

In addition, the camera-studded robot, which can collect biological specimens with the aid of the mechanical arms it uses to remove rock samples, has gathered samples of mussels from the vent area.

According to Von Damm, wherever there are mid-ocean ridges, scientists frequently find geothermal vents warmed by heat energy from underlying volcanic conduits.

"Each new vent sparks fresh excitement, because each one is different. Every vent has a different chemistry, and that helps us understand the processes going on in the ocean crust. Each one gives us a different piece of the puzzle," Von Damm said.

More than 500 new species have been found at vents since they were first discovered in 1977.

"After looking at relatively barren lava flows for several days on this expedition," said geologist Scott White of the University of South Carolina, "we all knew it would be special when we found creatures living at this new vent field."


###
NSF-PR 07-041

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering, with an annual budget of $5.58 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 1,700 universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives about 40,000 competitive requests for funding, and makes nearly 10,000 new funding awards. The NSF also awards over $400 million in professional and service contracts yearly.

Receive official NSF news electronically through the e-mail delivery and notification system, MyNSF (formerly the Custom News Service). To subscribe, visit http://www.nsf.gov/mynsf/ and fill in the information under "new users".

Useful NSF Web Sites:
NSF Home Page: http://www.nsf.gov
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 27, 2007 8:37 am    Post subject: Ocean's 'Twilight Zone' Traps Greenhouse Gas Reply with quote

Ocean's 'Twilight Zone' Traps Greenhouse Gas

By LiveScience Staff

posted: 26 April 2007
02:07 pm ET


On its way to being stored in the darkest depths of the ocean, carbon may be consumed and recycled by marine organisms as it enters … the twilight zone.

However, this is no science fiction realm. It's a term used by scientists to describe a strange, but real intermediate depth in the seas where carbon can be trapped, thereby preventing it from sinking deeper where it can do no harm to Earth's climate.

“The twilight zone is a critical link between the surface and the deep ocean,” said Ken Buesseler of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute in Massachusetts, co-author of the new marine twilight zone study. “We’re interested in what happens in the twilight zone, what sinks into it and what actually sinks out of it.”

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http://www.livescience.com/env.....arbon.html
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PostPosted: Mon May 07, 2007 10:18 am    Post subject: Melting of the Greenland ice cap may have consequences for c Reply with quote

Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona
7 May 2007

Melting of the Greenland ice cap may have consequences for climatic change

2 studies have come to this conclusion based on an analysis of the role the process of melting played during the last glaciation
According to two international-research studies on the last ice age, studies with the participation of Dr Rainer Zahn, research professor in the ICREA at the UAB Institute of Environmental Science and Technology (ICTA), before the great ice sheets of the Arctic Ocean began to melt, early sporadic episodes of melting of the old ice sheet which covered the British Isles had already begun to affect the circulation of the ocean currents, which played a key role in the climatic stability of the planet. Based on this observation, scientists consider that the acceleration of the melting of the Greenland ice cap could play an important role in the future stability of ocean circulation and, hence, in the development of climate change.

The magnitude of possible climate change in the future will depend to a large degree on the response of ocean circulation to global warming, as the ocean currents distribute an immense quantity of heat around our planet and, besides, determine levels of humidity and energy. Any variation in ocean circulation may lead to substantial and abrupt climate changes (that is to say over less than 30 years) on a global scale.

Deep ocean sediments offer a record of ocean circulation in the past. By studying these sediments, we can see that abrupt changes in ocean circulation and the subsequent climate change are not a new phenomenon, but have happened on several occasions in the past. When the great ice sheets covering North America and Scandinavia melted at the end of the last ice age, the subsequent flow of fresh water into the North Atlantic caused the greatest natural disturbance in ocean circulation in the last 20,000 years. This episode provides an excellent model to examine the relation between ocean disturbance and climate instability.

According to a revision article published in Science, ocean circulation during the last ice age was very different to present day circulation. The formation of deep water currents in the North Atlantic was much weaker and the flow of warm water from the Gulf Stream decreased. This led to a cooling of the northern hemisphere and contributed to the formation of the great ice caps which covered North America, Scandinavia and Europe.

In a similar study, the marine sediments of the North Atlantic were observed in order to document the sequence of events that led to that disturbance. The melting caused a significant decrease in the Gulf Stream, which transports warm water from the Gulf of Mexico to the North. This submerged the region of the North Atlantic into a period of glacial cold which lasted at least 1,200 years.

Nevertheless, the slowing down of the ocean circulation in the North Atlantic began about 700 to 1,200 years before this great melting of the ice caps and the subsequent flow of fresh water into the ocean took place. The very first stage of this change coincided with brief and isolated periods of melting of the small British Ice Sheet (BIS). The authors of the study have come to this conclusion from an observation of the fine layers of sediment (formed by grains of quartz) coming from successive waves of icebergs which, when they melted dumped their load of sediments onto the sea bed. These icebergs came from the edges of the ice which surround and stabilised the BIS.

These results show that the disturbances caused by melting may in turn cause substantial changes in ocean circulation without the need for a catastrophic dumping of fresh water. This seems to indicate that an acceleration in the melting of the Greenland ice cap, could, in fact, play a key role in the future stability of ocean circulation and climate change in the whole North Atlantic region.

###
Knutz, P.C., Zahn, R. and Hall, I.R., 2007. Centennial-scale variability of the British Ice Sheet: Implications for climate forcing and Atlantic meridional overturning circulation during the last deglaciation. Paleoceanography (American Geophysical Union), Volume 22, doi:10.1029/2006PA001298.

Lynch-Stieglitz, J., J. F. Adkins, W. B. Curry, T. Dokken, I. R. Hall, J. C. Herguera, J.-M. Hirschi, E. V. Ivanova, C. Kissel, O. Marchal, T. M. Marchitto, I. N. McCave, J. F. McManus, S. Mulitza, U. Ninnemann, F. Peeters, E.-F. Yu, R. Zahn, 2007. Atlantic meridional overturning circulation during the last glacial maximum. SCIENCE, 316, 66-69, 2007.
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PostPosted: Sun May 13, 2007 7:32 am    Post subject: Study Sheds Light on Earth’s CO2 Cycles, Possible Impacts of Reply with quote

Study Sheds Light on Earth’s CO2 Cycles, Possible Impacts of Climate Change
Kent State University
11 May 2007

A research team, including Kent State Professor of Geology Dr. Joseph Ortiz, tracing the origin of the large carbon dioxide increase in Earth’s atmosphere at the end of the last ice age has detected two ancient “burps” that originated from the deepest parts of the southern ocean around Antarctica.

The new study showed carbon that had built up in the ocean over millennia was released in two big pulses at about 18,000 years ago and 13,000 years ago, says Dr. Thomas Marchitto of the University of Colorado at Boulder, who jointly led the study with colleague Dr. Scott Lehman. While scientists had long known as much as 600 billion metric tons of carbon were released into the atmosphere after the last ice age, the new study is the first to clearly track CO2 from the deep ocean to upper ocean and atmosphere and should help scientists better understand natural CO2 cycles and possible impacts of human-caused climate change.

“This is some of the clearest evidence yet that the enormous carbon release into the atmosphere during the last deglaciation was triggered by abrupt changes in deep ocean circulation,” Marchitto says.

A paper on the subject appears in the May 11 online edition of Science. Co-authors on the study include Ortiz, Jacqueline Flueckiger of the University of Colorado at Boulder, and Alexander van Geen of the Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University. The study was funded by the National Science Foundation.

While much of the CO2 released by the ocean after the end of the last ice age about 18,000 years ago was taken up by the re-growth of forests in areas previously covered by ice sheets, enough remained in the atmosphere to pump up CO2 concentrations significantly, the authors said. Today, CO2 levels are higher than at any time in at least the past 650,000 years because of increased fossil fuel burning. “The timing of the major CO2 release after the last ice age corresponds closely with deep sea circulation changes caused by ice melting in the North Atlantic at that time,” Lehman says. “So our study really underscores ongoing concerns about the ocean’s capacity to take up fossil fuel CO2 in the future, since continued warming will almost certainly impact the mode and speed of ocean circulation.”

The team analyzed sediment cores hauled from the Pacific Ocean seafloor at a depth of about 2,300 feet off the coast of Baja California using an isotopic “tracer” known as carbon 14 to track the escape of carbon from the deep sea through the upper ocean and into the atmosphere during the last 40,000 years. Extracted from the shells of tiny marine organisms known as foraminifera, which contain chemical signatures of seawater dating back tens of thousands of years, carbon 14 is the isotope most commonly used to radiocarbon date organic material like wood, bone and shell.

They found the carbon 14 “age” of the upper ocean water was basically constant over the past 40,000 years, except during the interval following the most recent ice age, when atmospheric CO2 increased dramatically. The study shows the carbon added to the upper ocean and atmosphere at the end of the last ice age was “very old,” suggesting it had been stored in the deep ocean and isolated from the atmosphere for thousands of years, Marchitto says.

“Because carbon 14 works both as a ‘tracer’ and a ‘clock,’ we were able to show that the uptake and release of CO2 by the ocean in the past was intimately linked to how and how fast the ocean circulated,” says Marchitto.

“We were able to use carbon 14 as a ‘tracer’ of water mass age in this case because the record of marine production at this location in the equatorial North Pacific has been previously shown to change in lock-step with a northern hemisphere temperature proxy extracted from ice in Greenland. That allowed us to transfer the age estimates from the Greenland ice to our sediment core from Baja California” Ortiz says.

Humans have pumped an estimated 300 billion tons of carbon into the atmosphere since the Industrial Revolution, and the oceans have taken up about half of it, Lehman says.

“If the oceans were not such a large storage ‘sink’ for carbon, atmospheric CO2 increases in recent decades would be considerably higher,” Lehman says. “Since the uptake of CO2 on Earth’s land surface is being offset almost entirely by the cutting and burning of forests, any decrease in the uptake of fossil fuel CO2 by the world’s oceans could pose some very serious problems,” he says.

“This study provides strong indicators of just how intimately coupled the connection between the ocean and atmosphere can be,” Ortiz says. “The findings should give us pause to consider the impact that fossil fuel release will have on ocean circulation and future climate change.”

“When the ocean circulation system changes, it alters how carbon-rich deep water rises to the surface to release its carbon to the atmosphere,” says the University of Colorado at Boulder’s Dr. James White, a climate scientist who was not involved in the study. “This is important not only for understanding why glacial times came and went in the past, but it is crucial information we need to understand how the oceans will respond to future climate change.”

Studies in the past several years have shown sharp declines in Arctic sea ice in recent decades and a loss in ice mass from Greenland, which some believe could combine to alter North Atlantic circulation and disrupt ocean circulation patterns worldwide.
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PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2007 12:37 pm    Post subject: Deep-Sea Alien Abode Discovered Reply with quote

Deep-Sea Alien Abode Discovered
By Jeanna Bryner, LiveScience Staff Writer

posted: 16 May 2007 01:41 pm ET

Carnivorous sponges, blind creepy-crawlies adorned with hairy antennae and ribbed worms are just some of the new characters recently found to inhabit the dark abysses of the Southern Ocean, an alien abode once thought devoid of such life.

Recent expeditions have uncloaked this polar region, finding nearly 600 organisms never described before and challenging some assumptions that deep-sea biodiversity is depressed. The findings also suggest that all of Earth's marine life originated in Antarctic waters.

Scientists had assumed that the deep sea of the South Pole would follow similar trends in biodiversity documented for the Arctic. "There are less species in the Arctic than around the equator," said one of the study scientists, Brigitte Ebbe, a taxonomist at the German Center for Marine Biodiversity Research. "People assumed that it would be the same if you went from the equator south, but it didn't prove to be true at all."

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http://www.livescience.com/ani.....abode.html
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PostPosted: Mon May 21, 2007 8:21 pm    Post subject: Life on the Down Low Reply with quote

Life on the Down Low
J.L. Pegg

May 23, 2007

There are few places that scientists haven't explored. In their searches for exotic life on Earth, researchers have ventured into even the driest deserts and the steamiest jungles.
But conditions in the deep ocean are so extreme that very little is known about life at the bottom of the sea. The deep sea is one of Earth's last frontiers.

Now, a team of scientists from eight countries has completed the first survey of life in the deep waters off Antarctica.

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http://www.sciencenewsforkids....../Note2.asp
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PostPosted: Wed May 23, 2007 7:47 am    Post subject: Mystery of the Sargasso Sea Solved Reply with quote

Mystery of the Sargasso Sea Solved
By LiveScience Staff

posted: 22 May 2007 02:50 pm ET

Swirling ocean currents carry the nutrients that fuel mysterious blooms of microscopic plants that have been found in otherwise barren regions in the middle of Earth's oceans, scientists found.

For years, scientists were puzzled by the vast blooms of phytoplankton that erupted in the middle of the Sargasso Sea, for instance, a mid-ocean region that is warmer, saltier, bluer and clearer than most other parts of the North Atlantic. Because of these conditions, it was thought that the region was the desert of the ocean, with few signs of life.

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http://www.livescience.com/str.....o_sea.html
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 08, 2007 9:48 am    Post subject: Salty oceans provide early warning for climate change Reply with quote

European Science Foundation
8 June 2007

Salty oceans provide early warning for climate change

Monitoring the saltiness of the ocean water could provide an early indicator of climate change. Significant increases or decreases in salt in key areas could forewarn of climate change in 10 to 20 years time. Presenting their findings at a recent European Science Foundation (ESF) conference, scientists predicted that the waters of the southern hemisphere oceans around South Africa and New Zealand are the places to watch.

Palaeoclimate data shows that the ocean’s currents (like the Gulf Stream and its North Atlantic deep water partner) are capable of shifting gears very suddenly, but until now it wasn’t clear how this occurred. Using a combination of modern observations, numerical models and palaeoclimate data scientists are increasingly realising that salt is the key.

Their results reveal that a build up of salty water can stimulate deep water circulation, while a diluting of the waters is linked to sluggish flow. “Salt plays a far more important role that we first thought,” says Professor Rainer Zahn, a palaeoclimatologist at the Autonomous University of Barcelona in Spain.

Salt increases the density of water. Once a pocket of water becomes salty enough it sinks, drawing in additional water from surrounding areas, and initiates an ocean circulation loop called thermohaline overturning.

The scientists discovered that a build up of salt in the waters off the coast of South Africa could help to speed up ocean circulation in the North Atlantic, despite the two areas being thousands of kilometres apart. “A salt surge is enough to kick start circulation,” says Zahn. Meanwhile, a decrease in saltiness in South African waters could be linked to a slowing down of the North Atlantic circulation.

Models and data both indicate that these changes in ocean circulation occur over very short time-scales, usually in less than a decade or two. Ocean water can’t possibly travel this fast (it takes nearly a century for a parcel of water to move from the South Atlantic to the North Atlantic). Instead the scientists think that energy is transferred through the ocean along a deep pressure wave. “The surge of salt generates a pressure gradient in the ocean that sends energy to the north without water actually being transported,” explains Zahn.

Regardless of whether ocean circulation speeds up or slows down it causes significant climate change, altering the hydrological cycle and affecting atmospheric circulation patterns too.

Currently there is no large-scale salt monitoring system in place in the southern hemisphere oceans. Zahn thinks that regular measurements taken in the waters around South Africa and New Zealand could be useful. “It could act as an early warning system for climate changes 10-20 years down the road,” he says.

###
The work was presented at the Ocean Controls in Abrupt Climate Change conference, held at the University of Innsbruck Conference Centre in Obergurgl, Ötz Valley, Austria on 19-24 May 2007. The conference, which was attended by an international consortium of over 70 marine scientists and climate experts, was one of the series of research conferences organised by the ESF Research Conferences Scheme.

The ESF is an association of 75 member organisations devoted to scientific research in 30 European countries. Since its inception in 1974, it has co-ordinated a wide range of pan-European scientific initiatives.
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 28, 2007 8:12 am    Post subject: How Whales Attack Squid: Mystery Deepens Reply with quote

How Whales Attack Squid: Mystery Deepens
By Ker Than, LiveScience Staff Writer

posted: 28 June 2007 01:17 am ET

Squid have excellent eyesight, a keen sense of smell, and the ability to squirt jets of dark ink that mask their escape. But these skills provide little protection against toothed whales, like the sperm whale, which hunt them ruthlessly and easily.

“The numbers of squid that are eaten by sperm whales far exceed those harvested by men for food on a worldwide basis,” said squid-expert Roger Hanlon of the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts.

How the whales manage to subdue such able prey has been a mystery. One hypothesis, proposed more than 20 years ago, speculated the whales used powerful ultrasound shrieks to knock their squid prey senseless before scooping them up. Like bats and dolphins, some whales use ultrasonic clicks to find prey and navigate.

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http://www.livescience.com/ani.....squid.html
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 29, 2007 3:23 pm    Post subject: Gulf 'Dead Zone' is 3rd Largest Reply with quote

Gulf 'Dead Zone' is 3rd Largest
By Janet McConnaughey, Associated Press

posted: 29 July 2007 10:30 am ET

NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- The oxygen-poor "dead zone'' off the Louisiana and Texas coasts isn't quite as big as predicted this year, but it is still the third-largest ever mapped, a scientist said Saturday.

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http://www.livescience.com/env....._zone.html
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 15, 2007 10:20 am    Post subject: Ocean ‘supergyre’ link to climate regulator Reply with quote

Ocean ‘supergyre’ link to climate regulator
CSIRO
15 August 2007

Australian scientists have identified the missing deep ocean pathway – or ‘supergyre’ – linking the three Southern Hemisphere ocean basins in research that will help them explain more accurately how the ocean governs global climate.

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http://www.csiro.au/news/OceanSupergyre.html
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 24, 2007 9:50 am    Post subject: Colorful Carpet of Cool Sea Creatures Discovered 2 Miles Dee Reply with quote

Colorful Carpet of Cool Sea Creatures Discovered 2 Miles Deep
By Jeanna Bryner, LiveScience Staff Writer

posted: 24 August 2007 08:42 am ET

A submerged mountain ridge beneath the North Atlantic Ocean has revealed a new crustacean species and oodles of other life forms, ranging from polka-dotted glass squid resembling beach balls to grim viperfish with teeth like ice-picks.

The finds were made by a team of 31 scientists during a five-week expedition to explore life along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge using remotely operated vehicles equipped with digital cameras and other technologies.

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http://www.livescience.com/ani.....imals.html
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