Climate paradox deciphered from the Miocene era

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A supposed climate paradox from the Miocene era has been deciphered by means of complex model simulations. When the Antarctic ice sheet grew to its present-day size around 14 million years ago, it did not get colder everywhere on the Earth, but there were regions that became warmer. This appears to be a physical contradiction, and this research aims to address that....

Controversy over nitrogen’s ocean ‘exit strategies’ resolved

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A decades-long debate over the dominant way that nitrogen is removed from the ocean may now be settled. Researchers found that both of the nitrogen 'exit strategies,' denitrification and anammox, are at work in the oceans. The debate centers on how nitrogen -- one of the most important food sources for ocean life and a controller of atmospheric carbon dioxide -- becomes converted to a form that can exit the ocean and return to the atmosphere where it is reused in the global nitrogen cycle....

Devil in disguise: Small coral-eating worm may mean big trouble for reefs

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A coral-eating flatworm has been identified as a potential threat for coral reefs. It is barely possible to see the parasitic worm Amakusaplana acroporae when it sits on its favorite hosts, the staghorn coral Acropora, thanks to its excellent camouflage. However, the researchers found that the small flatworm could cause significant damage to coral reefs....

Oyster Aquaculture Could Improve Potomac River

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Oyster aquaculture in the Potomac River estuary could result in significant improvements to water quality, according to a new NOAA and U.S. Geological Survey study published in the journal Aquatic Geochemistry. All of the nitrogen currently polluting the Potomac River estuary could be removed if 40 percent of its river bed were used for shellfish cultivation, according to the joint study. The researchers determined that a combination of aquaculture and restored oyster reefs may provide even larger overall ecosystem benefits. Oysters, creatures that feed by filtering, can clean an enormous volume of water of algae which can cause poor water quality.

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Sunken logs create new worlds for seafloor animals

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When it comes to food, most of the deep sea is a desert. In this food-poor environment, even bits of dead wood, waterlogged enough to sink, can support thriving communities of specialized animals. A new paper by biologists shows that wood-boring clams serve as "ecosystem engineers," making the organic matter in the wood available to other animals that colonize wood falls in the deep waters of Monterey Canyon....

Study tests theory that life originated at deep sea vents

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One of the greatest mysteries facing humans is how life originated on Earth. Scientists have determined approximately when life began, roughly 3.8 billion years ago, but there is still intense debate about exactly how life began. One possibility -- that simple metabolic reactions emerged near ancient seafloor hot springs, enabling the leap from a non-living to a living world -- has grown in popularity in the last two decades....

Sea otters can get the flu, too: Human H1N1 pandemic virus infected Washington State sea otters

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Northern sea otters living off the coast of Washington state were infected with the same H1N1 flu virus that caused the world-wide pandemic in 2009, according to a new study. The researchers discovered antibodies for the 2009 H1N1 flu virus in blood samples from 70 percent of the sea otters studied. None of the otters were visibly sick, but the presence of antibodies means that the otters were previously exposed to influenza....

Black carbon is ancient by the time it reaches seafloor

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A fraction of the carbon that finds its way into Earth's oceans -- the black soot and charcoal residue of fires -- stays there for thousands for years. A first-of-its-kind analysis shows how some black carbon breaks away and hitches a ride to the ocean floor on passing particles....

More Earthquakes for Chile? Seismic gap has not been closed

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After the strong earthquake that struck Chile on April 2 (CEST), numerous aftershocks, some of them of a considerable magnitude, have struck the region around Iquique. Seismologists doubt that the strong earthquake closed the local seismic gap and decreased the risk of a large earthquake. On the contrary, initial studies of the rupture process and the aftershocks show that only about a third of the vulnerable zone broke....

What’s going on under the ice? Researchers take a peek

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Most people are fed up with winter, but some scientists love it. Ice and snow give them a chance to do something few others can: Study the Great Lakes under a cover of ice. The GLRC's under-ice observatory is collecting data for scientists to analyze....