What are the Roaring Forties?



During the Age of Sail (circa 15th to 19th centuries), these strong prevailing winds propelled ships across the Pacific, often at breakneck speed. Nevertheless, sailing west into heavy seas and strong headwinds could take weeks, especially around Cape Horn at the southern tip of South America, making it one of the most treacherous sailing passages in the world. The Roaring Forties take shape as warm air near the equator rises and moves toward the poles. Warm air moving poleward (on both sides of the equator) is the result of nature trying to reduce the temperature difference between the equator and at the poles created by uneven heating from the sun.

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The Advent of the Modern-Day Shipping Container

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How the arrival of containers and intermodalism revolutionized the shipping industry. As container ships continue to grow in size and ports grow more congested by the year, NOAA plays an increasingly critical role in U.S. marine transportation. NOAA services and products improve the efficiency of ports and harbors, promote safety, and help to ensure the protection of coastal marine resources.

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What is the Pineapple Express?

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Atmospheric rivers are narrow regions in the atmosphere that transport much of the moisture from the tropics to northern latitudes. Atmospheric rivers are part of the Earth's ocean water cycle, and are tied closely to both water supply and flood risks.

A well-known example of a strong atmospheric river is called the "Pineapple Express" because moisture builds up in the tropical Pacific around Hawaii and can wallop the U.S. West Coast with heavy rainfall.

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Are all fish cold-blooded?

This item was filled under Basics, Ecosystems, Facts, Ocean Life


Not all fish are cold-blooded. In 2015, researchers with the NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center revealed the opah, or moonfish, as the first fully warm-blooded fish. Although not as warm as mammals and birds, the opah circulates heated blood throughout its body, giving it a competitive advantage in the cold ocean depths from 150 to 1,300 feet below the surface.

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NOAA designates 29th National Estuarine Research Reserve

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On Jan. 19 , NOAA announced the establishment of the He'eia National Estuarine Research Reserve. Estuarine reserves protect a section of an estuary and provide a living laboratory to explore and understand the important areas where rivers meet the sea. The 1,385-acre He'eia National Estuarine Research Reserve encompasses upland forests and grasslands, wetlands, reefs and seagrass beds, as well as the largest sheltered body of water in the Hawaiian Island chain. It is located within the Kaneohe Bay estuary on the windward side of Oahu and includes significant historic and cultural resources.

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U.S. Marine Biodiversity Observing Network: Building Global Connections

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Marine biodiversity—the variety and variability of life in the ocean—can be an early indicator of change, provided it's noticed. The U.S. Marine Biodiversity Network (MBON) aims to ensure that scientists not only notice changes in biodiversity at locations around the nation, but also have the tools in place to better understand what these changes tell us about ocean health over time. But marine life doesn't know borders. That's why the U.S. network is also expanding international cooperation with other marine biodiversity networks around the world.

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Microplastics Reddit “Ask Us Anything”

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The majority of marine debris found around the world is made of plastic and can range from microbeads smaller than a sesame seed up to an 11-ton mass of abandoned fishing nets. Over time these plastics break down into what is called microplastics (smaller than five millimeters in size). There are lots of concerns about the impacts of microplastics such as how do they interact chemically with the marine environment? Are marine species ingesting them? And are chemicals from the plastics moving up the food chain? This is your chance to chat with two NOAA Marine Debris Program scientists on microplastics and what we can, and are, doing to help during the January 12, 2017 Reddit 'Ask Us Anything'. When: 12 January, 2017, at 1:00 p.m. EDT

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Where do fish go when it freezes outside?

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Have you ever wondered how fish survive in cold winter weather, or where they go when lakes and ponds freeze over? Like many people, fish tend to be less active in the cold. As cold-blooded creatures, their metabolism dips when temperatures take a dive.

The layer of ice that forms on top of a lake, pond, river, or stream provides some insulation that helps the waterbody retain its heat. Because warm water sinks, freshwater fish often gather in groups near the bottom. Some species, like koi and gobies, may burrow into soft sediments and go dormant like frogs and other amphibians, but most fish simply school in the deepest pools and take a "winter rest."

In this resting state, fishes' hearts slow down, their needs for food and oxygen decrease, and they move about very little. If you've ever gone ice fishing, you know that a long line, a slow, colorful lure, and a hearty portion of patience are often required to land this quiet quarry! Popular ice-fishing species include walleye, northern pike, yellow perch, and rainbow trout.

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What is ocean noise?

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Ocean noise refers to sounds made by human activities that can interfere with or obscure the ability of marine animals to hear natural sounds in the ocean. Many marine organisms rely on their ability to hear for their survival. Sound is the most efficient means of communication underwater and is the primary way that many marine species gather and understand information about their environment. Many aquatic animals use sound to find prey, locate mates and offspring, avoid predators, guide their navigation and locate habitat, and listen and communicate with each other.

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Are we cleared to land? How the Wright Brothers influenced NOAA’s mission.

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In a span of 12 seconds on December 17, 1903, two men near the town of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, changed the course of history. This photograph shows the first powered, controlled, sustained flight. Orville Wright at the controls of the machine, lying prone on the lower wing with hips in the cradle which operated the wing-warping mechanism. Wilbur Wright running alongside to balance the machine, has just released his hold on the forward upright of the right wing. Today, we fly using technological advances that the Wright Brothers only could have imagined. Millions of people board airplanes, confident that pilots will guide them safely to their destinations. But safe navigation begins well before the pilot even touches the plane's controls; it begins with the runway. That's where NOAA comes in.

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