Oceanography

Ancient records tell us that the intrepid Viking seafarers who discovered Iceland, Greenland and eventually North America navigated using landmarks, birds and whales, and little else. There’s little doubt that Viking sailors would also have used the positions of stars at night and the sun during the daytime, and archaeologists have discovered what appears to be a kind of Viking navigational sundial.

Some scientists have been so convinced that iron fertilization will help mitigate carbon increases in the atmosphere that, as in Germany and other countries, they have violated international law with illegal experiments.

Another study has found that fertilizing the oceans with iron to produce more carbon-eating algae will not work as those ecological activists have envisioned. 


Whether dubbed “climate extremes” or “global weirding”, we have been witnessing some surprising and concerning weather events. In Europe, seasons seem to be changing, but not consistently. Since the turn of the millennium, the UK in particular has experienced record-breaking summer heatwaves, extraordinary rainfall in different seasons, and winters extreme in both warmth and cold. Something seems wrong, and we don’t have a complete understanding of what is going on.

Though hyper-exaggerated pictures of garbage patches and models extrapolated from a fishing line study in the 1980s get all of the media attention when it comes to pollution, it causes activist groups to raise money by focusing on the wrong thing. The most efficient way to clean up ocean plastics and avoid harming ecosystems is to stop litter on the coasts.


Climate researchers have published direct observations of the reduction and melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet during the latest 110 years, a step up from flawed numerical estimates used for all previous claims. In a recent paper, the researchers claim they can pinpoint where the ice sheet is particularly sensitive and what controls the loss of glacier ice in Greenland - and they close a gap in IPCC's estimate of global sea level budget. 


Zachariæ Isstrøm, a glacier in northeast Greenland, began a rapid retreat in recent years, a new study reports. The glacier helps to drain 12 percent of the Greenland Ice Sheet and has the potential to raise sea level significantly if it were to melt, according to a study based on 40 years of glacier data including satellite observations.


An international research team has a hypothesis regarding the mystery of why the Mediterranean Sea dried up around 5.6 million years ago. The event, known as the Messinian Salinity Crisis (MSC), saw the Mediterranean become a 1.5 kilometer deep basin for around 270,000 years, and left a kilometers-deep layer of salt due to seawater evaporation.

The cause of the MSC has been the subject of speculation and debate, but now an international team of researchers


For centuries, cod were the backbone of New England's fisheries and a key species in the Gulf of Maine ecosystem.  Cod is a cold-water species, and the Gulf of Maine is at the edge of its geographic range. As the ocean warms, the capacity of the Gulf of Maine to support cod will decline, leading to a smaller population and a smaller fishery, according to hypotheses. 

Today, cod stocks are on the verge of collapse, hovering at 3-4 percent of sustainable levels. Even painful cuts to the fishery have failed to slow this rapid decline, surprising both fishers and fisheries managers. A new report in Science links the cod collapse directly to rapid warming of ocean waters.


For millennia, Greenland's ice sheet reflected sunlight back into space but satellite measurements in recent years suggest the bright surface is darkening, causing solar heat to be absorbed and surface melting to accelerate.

Some studies suggest this "dirty ice" or "dark snow" is caused by fallout from fossil fuel pollution and forest fires; soot or dust.

But a new study says the readings are just degrading satellite sensors and the ice sheet hasn't lost as much reflectivity as previously thought, and that black carbon and dust concentrations haven't increased significantly and are thus not responsible for darkening on the upper ice sheet.


A new study shows that surface water temperature in the Chesapeake Bay is increasing more rapidly than air temperature, signaling a need to look at the impact of warming waters on one of the largest and most productive estuaries in the world. The study was completed by Haiyong Ding and Andrew Elmore of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science's Appalachian Laboratory.

"I was surprised that the pattern of increasing water temperature was so clear," said study co-author Andrew Elmore. "If you take any group of five years, they are generally warmer than the previous five years. A consistent warming trend happening over a really large portion of the Bay."