NASA’s RapidScat to unveil hidden cycles of sea winds

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Ocean waves, the hot sun, sea breezes -- the right combination makes a great day at the beach. A different combination makes a killer hurricane. The complex interactions of the ocean and the air above it that can create such different outcomes are not yet fully known. Scientists would especially like to understand the role that the daily heat of the sun plays in creating winds. In a few months, NASA will send an ocean wind-monitoring instrument to a berth on the International Space Station. That unique vantage point will give ISS-RapidScat, short for the International Space Station Rapid Scatterometer, the ability to observe daily (also called diurnal) cycles of wind created by solar heat....

Mesophotic coral reef geology the focus of new study

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A new study on biological erosion of mesophotic tropical coral reefs, which are low energy reef environments between 30-150 meters deep, provides new insights into processes that affect the overall structure of these important ecosystems. The purpose of the study was to better understand how bioerosion rates and distribution of bioeroding organisms, such as fish, mollusks and sponges, differ between mesophotic reefs and their shallow-water counterparts and the implications of those variations on the sustainability of the reef structure....

SAR11, oceans’ most abundant organism, has ability to create methane

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The oxygen-rich surface waters of the world's major oceans are supersaturated with methane -- a powerful greenhouse gas that is roughly 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide -- yet little is known about the source of this methane. A new study demonstrates the ability of some strains of the oceans' most abundant organism -- SAR11 -- to generate methane as a byproduct of breaking down a compound for its phosphorus....

Antarctic climate and food web strongly linked

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A long-term study of the links between climate and marine life along the rapidly warming West Antarctic Peninsula reveals how changes in physical factors such as wind speed and sea-ice cover send ripples up the food chain, with impacts on everything from single-celled algae to penguins....

Changing Antarctic winds create new sea level threat

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New research shows projected changes in the winds circling the Antarctic may accelerate global sea level rise significantly more than previously estimated. Changes to Antarctic winds have already been linked to southern Australia's drying climate but now it appears they may also have a profound impact on warming ocean temperatures under the ice shelves along the coastline of West and East Antarctic....

Rethinking the coral reef: How algal and coral cover affect the microscopic life that call the reef home

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Biologists have shown that inhabited coral islands that engage in commercial fishing dramatically alter their nearby reef ecosystems, disturbing the microbes, corals, algae and fish that call the reef home....

Ironing out details of the carbon cycle: Dissolved iron in North Atlantic traced to Sahara desert

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Iron is an essential element in all living creatures, and its availability in seawater can have a profound effect on phytoplankton growth and, consequently, the earth's carbon cycle. Scientists have assessed the various sources of dissolved iron in the north Atlantic Ocean, establishing that a great deal of it, some 70 to 90 percent, originates from dust blowing off the Sahara desert....

Whales as ecosystem engineers: Recovery from overhunting helping to buffer marine ecosystems from destabilizing stresses

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A review of research on whales shows that they have more a powerful influence on the function of oceans, global carbon storage, and the health of commercial fisheries than has been commonly assumed. The continued recovery of great whales from centuries of overhunting may help to buffer marine ecosystems from destabilizing stresses, including climate change, reports a global team of scientists....

New Nautical Chart for Charleston Harbor

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Ships entering the Port of Charleston will have a new and improved nautical chart that covers a larger area to ensure safer navigational approaches into the harbor. Available on the 4th of July, new chart 11525 (Charleston Harbor Entrance and Approach) replaces the old chart 11523 (Charleston Harbor Entrance). It expands chart coverage further east, covering an additional 345 square nautical miles that wasn’t on the old chart.

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Zone tropical coastal oceans: Business-as-usual management policies risks well-being of more than 2 billion people

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Leading international scientists have published a joint call for societies to introduce and enforce use zoning of Earth's coastal ocean waters, mirroring approaches commonly used to manage and protect land resources. The 24 scientists, from Canada, the USA, the UK, China, Australia, New Caledonia, Sweden and Kenya, underline that 20 percent of humanity -- mostly in developing countries -- lives within 100 km of a tropical coast and urge new management measures as population and climate impacts on coastal waters worsen....