By Adam HadhazyPosted 08.17.2011 at 10:11 am 21 Comments
In 2006, while flying by Saturn's moon Titan, the radar on NASA's Cassini orbiter discovered seas of liquid ethane and methane on the moon's –300ºF surface, the only bodies of liquid we know of that exist anywhere but on Earth. Some of the oily seas appeared on Cassini's radar to be larger than Lake Superior, but visibility was poor because Titan's atmosphere is thick and hazy. Now NASA is considering sending a probe called the Titan Mare Explorer (TiME) to splash down on one of Titan's seas for a closer look.
First Australian climate scientists had to go into witness protection. Now they're being threatened by pirates. Or their research is, anyway.
Climate scientists are asking the Australian and U.S. navies to help ward off pirates so they can deploy robotic instruments in the western Indian Ocean, reports the Independent.
The seas are rising at a faster rate right now than at any point since at least the era of Julius Caesar, and there is a direct link between this increase and changes in global surface temperatures, according to a new study. Rising sea levels could have major impacts on not just marine ecosystems, but the entire planet, as coastal areas are swamped by encroaching waters.
By Jennie WaltersPosted 06.09.2011 at 2:30 pm 4 Comments
Google Earth broke new ground (new water?) when they took the world of virtual-earth-exploring into the oceans. Of course, the oceans are kind of big. They fill up nearly three-quarters of the earth's surface area, and most of that area hasn't been mapped out. But now you can tour roughly half of the known area without pulling on any SCUBA gear, thanks to Google's new underwater terrain explorer.
Shell is making good on its promise to build the largest object ever to float on water, announcing Friday it would build the Prelude FLNG Project to harvest offshore natural gas fields. The gargantuan ship will suck up the equivalent of 110,000 barrels of oil per day.
Saving the oceans seems like an impossibly daunting task, one most people would have no idea how to even begin. So we asked 12 of the world's foremost ocean experts--scientists, policymakers, and a reality TV star/sea captain--how they'd do it. The answers were varied, from political to high-tech solutions, from big to small, but they were all very clear: this is something we all must do, and it's something we all can do.
Fertilizer and sewage runoff cause the worst marine pollution, but we can reverse their effects
By Rowan JacobsenPosted 05.06.2011 at 10:03 am 15 Comments
Marine pollution takes many forms, from the millions of gallons of oil that run off our highways each year to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a massive gyre of floating plastic trash. But the most devastating pollutants are the nitrogen and phosphorus found in our fertilizer and sewage. When too much of either washes downstream, coastal waters become choked with heavily fertilized algae, which then dies and decomposes, consuming the oxygen in the water and asphyxiating animal life. This process, called eutrophication, has created at least 405 “dead zones” worldwide.
Fifty years ago, if you pulled a mooring rope from the waters off Cape Cod, it would have emerged covered with mussels, barnacles and algae. Today the lines would be coated with slimy invertebrates called tunicates, one of some 4,000 known invasive aquatic species worldwide. Spread by global trade, invasive species as diverse as tunicates in the Northeast, lionfish in the Southeast, and mangrove trees in Hawaii are competing with native species for resources, attacking indigenous organisms, and restructuring habitats.
Atmospheric warming is causing saltier oceans and nastier storms
By Abe StreepPosted 05.04.2011 at 10:09 am 4 Comments
As the atmosphere warms, the water cycle—the process by which seawater evaporates, rains down, and then evaporates again—will intensify. Everywhere, the ocean surface will become, on average, saltier. The extra evaporated water vapor will rain down disproportionately in areas such as the tropics and Scandinavia, bringing stronger storms and more frequent floods. Meanwhile, the areas just north and south of the tropics, which already tend to be saltier than other regions, will become saltier and warmer.
A mysteriously healthy patch of coral reefs in the Red Sea and Persian Gulf might provide scientists with ways to protect the rest of the reefs
By Paul KvintaPosted 05.03.2011 at 10:27 am 3 Comments
In the past 20 years, nearly a third of the world's coral has been destroyed. Around 90 percent of the reefs off the coasts of Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Kenya, the Maldives and the Seychelles are at risk. If ocean temperatures rise by another 7ºF in the next three decades, as is predicted, 95 percent of the Great Barrier Reef will disappear. The primary cause of the die-off is coral bleaching. As temperatures rise, marine bacteria flourish and attack the algae that live symbiotically within every individual coral polyp.