Oceanography

Ice ebbs and flows, that is no secret - but lost in claims that ice is as widespread as ever is the reality that it is now thinner, and the difference is so noticeable the Gravity field and steady-state Ocean Circulation Explorer (GOCE) satellite can detect it.

The strength of gravity at Earth’s surface varies subtly from place to place owing to factors such as the planet’s rotation and the position of mountains and ocean trenches. Changes in the mass of large ice sheets can also cause small local variations in gravity.

Arctic sea ice coverage declined to its annual minimum on September 17th and the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) at the University of Colorado, Boulder find that this year's minimum extent is similar to last year's and below the 1981-2010 average of 2.40 million square miles. 

Over the 2014 summer, Arctic sea ice melted back from its maximum extent reached in March to a coverage area of 1.94 million square miles, according to analysis from NASA and NSIDC scientists. 


In a global warming scenario, large areas of sea ice melt in the summer and when sea ice freezes over in the winter it is thinner and more reduced.

But warmer Arctic summers could lead to an acceleration of global warming, because reduced sea ice in the Arctic will remove less CO2 from the atmosphere, Danish scientists report.

"If our results are representative, then sea ice plays a greater role than expected, and we should take this into account in future global CO2 budgets", says Dorte Haubjerg Søgaard, PhD Fellow, Nordic Center for Earth Evolution, University of Southern Denmark and the Greenland Institute of Natural Resources, Nuuk.



Fredrik Jutfelt and a catshark. Photo courtesy of Leon Green

By Charles Q. Choi, Inside Science

It's a myth that all sharks will drown if they stop moving. However, scientists discovered that as the oceans grow more acidic this century, sharks may swim for longer times than before. These new findings suggest that rising atmospheric carbon dioxide levels causing this ocean acidification could significantly disrupt the lives of these predators, which are already in sharp decline globally.

For decades, doctors have developed methods to diagnose how different types of cells and systems in the body are functioning. Now scientists have adapted biomedical techniques to study the vast body of the ocean.

In a Science paper, scientists demonstrate that they can identify and measure proteins in the ocean, revealing how single-celled marine organisms and ocean ecosystems operate.


One of the common misconceptions about climate, brought about by the blight of 'framing' that afflicted science media in the last decade, is that the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, solar radiation and temperature follow each other – the more solar radiation and the more carbon dioxide, the hotter the temperature. 

Climate experts always knew better but let the analogies go in hopes that it would get policy action done regarding too much CO2, but too much simplification has done more harm than good, and now more people than ever assume science is just another extension of politics - in issues ranging from the climate to genetic modification to vaccines and even energy policy.


A new analysis of satellite data from the last 19 years reveals that fresh water from melting glaciers has caused the sea level around the coast of Antarctica to rise by 2 centimeters more than the global average of 6 centimeters.

Researchers at the University of Southampton detected the rapid rise in sea-level by studying satellite scans of a region that spans more than a million square kilometers. 


Some species of marine phytoplankton, such as the prolific bloomer Emiliania huxleyi, can grow without consuming vitamin B1 (thiamine), which contradicts the common view that E. huxleyi and many other eukaryotic microbes depend on scarce supplies of thiamine in the ocean to survive.

All living creatures need thiamine to live, as well as other vitamins. Organisms may produce some of their own vitamins, the way that human cells create vitamin D with help from sunlight, but sometimes they rely on other organisms to produce the vitamins they need and then consume them. For example, oranges and other fruits produce vitamin C, which humans need in their diets.


Thousands of fishing traps are lost each year in U.S. waters. These derelict traps continue "ghost fishing" and catch fish, crabs, and other species such as turtles, which results in losses to habitat, fisheries, and the watermen who depend on the resources - losses that are largely preventable, according to a new NOAA paper in the Marine Pollution Bulletin

The paper looks at the results of seven NOAA-funded studies in different fisheries across the U.S., and compares the severity of the problem, and common management challenges across the regions. It also reports certain findings from the studies for the first time in peer-reviewed literature, such as estimates of derelict trap numbers and how long they remain in the environment. 


Researchers have succeeded in reconstructing the sea ice conditions in the Fram Strait for this critical period at the end of the last glacial and thus in finding a direct connection between changes in sea ice cover and fluctuations in the Gulf Stream.

A nine meter long sediment core served as a window into the past for the geologists. It was drilled on a Fram Strait expedition conducted on the research vessel Maria. S. Merian and has such clearly defined layers that the scientists can read it like a book.