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Hurricanes on a Global Scale: Scientists at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution have developed a robust statistical method to use Argo sensor data to study hurricane effects on the ocean. Based on this new method, the dominant way the ocean responds to a hurricane may differ depending on the storm’s strength. This study provides a new way to utilize an existing global autonomous sensor network—the Argo array—to study the large-scale impact of hurricanes on the ocean. This tool may be used in the future to understand how extreme tropical storms influence the ocean structure, circulation and global climate. Read more…

Image Credit: Advanced Visualization Laboratory, National Center for Supercomputing Applications
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Ocean vent give clues to undersea biosphere: A novel technique developed at the University of Georgia allows researchers to remotely monitor plume dynamics of hydrothermal vents on the sea floor. Acoustical scintillation analysis (ASA) enables specific studies of vent flow rates. Studies using ASA have shown that the upward velocity of a vent plume depends on the tidally driven ocean currents. Originally developed to quantify discharge from the Gulf of Mexico Deepwater Horizon oil spill, ASA will now help oceanographers study the strange and intriguing biosphere created in and around hydrothermal vents. Here, you see a high temperature hydrothermal vent. Image Credit: WHOI

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The physical characteristics of the ocean we enjoy today are rooted in the development of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) almost 40 million years ago. Researchers have discovered that as this powerful current circled Antarctica, it gradually forced a reorganization of water temperatures and densities, separating the ocean into four distinct layers: surface, intermediate, deep and bottom. Here, you see: (top) fossilized seafloor-dwelling organisms, like those used in this research; (bottom) The Antarctic current circles the continent, with other nearby ocean currents in the Southern Hemisphere.

(Credits: Miriam Katz, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Originally published by Micropress; S. Baum, P. Saundry, C. M. Hogan. In Encyclopedia of Earth)

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Researchers working on the population genetics of zooplankton—small marine animals—during a Bering Sea Ecosystem study discovered that a key copepod is a different but closely related species to the temperate species reported previously. As tiny crustaceans, copepods are an important link in the ecosystem, transferring energy from the plants at the base of the food web to fish. Identifying the exact copepod species that inhabits the Bering Sea will help researchers better understand changes occurring in this highly productive region. Image: Matt Wilson and Jay Clarke

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Once deployed, the environmental sample processor pictured here can remain in an ocean environment for months at a time while performing molecular analysis of water samples and relaying the information by radio to an on-shore laboratory. This approach eliminates time-consuming steps collection, transport and processing of samples. Here, it sits atop a source for methane gas leaks. Credit: MBARI