Marine Science

As ice melts, life abounds in Antarctic

Publication: NBC News   Date: July 11, 2013   View Article

The collapse of a giant ice shelf in Antarctica has proven a bounty for the sea creatures eking out an existence in the once-dark waters, according to new research that highlights just how quickly some marine life can adapt to a warming world.

The Larsen A ice shelf broke up and collapsed in 1995, exposing the permanently dark seafloor to the fruits of sunlight, which fuels the growth of plankton and sea-ice algae at the surface. The plankton and algae drift to the seafloor when they die.

“This unprecedented source of food appears to be triggering important changes in the seabed biota,” Claudio Richter, a marine scientist with the Alfred Wegner Institute in Germany, told NBC News in an email.

How do oysters spell climate change relief? A-N-T-A-C-I-D

Publication: NBC News   Date: June 12, 2013   View Article

Oyster hatcheries are dropping the equivalent of Tums and other antacids into water to make it easier for naked mollusk larvae to build their shells. The remedy is working, for now, to keep hatcheries in business and oyster bars well stocked with the slimy delicacies, a hatchery scientist said.

Heartburn for the shellfish industry comes from ocean waters turning ever more corrosive as they absorb a fraction of the carbon dioxide humans are pumping into the atmosphere. The acidification, in turn, makes it harder for oyster larvae to build their shells.

The hatcheries’ antacid, sodium carbonate, makes the water less acidic and “raises the amount of carbonate in the water, which is what the shellfish are using,” Benoit Eudeline, the chief hatchery scientist at Taylor Shellfish Company in Quilcene, Wash., told NBC News.

Warming seas changing what fish are for dinner, study says

Publication: NBC News   Date: May 15, 2013   View Article

Warming oceans are pushing fish toward the poles in search of cooler waters, according to a study that raises new concerns that climate change is robbing the tropics of a primary source of income and nutrition.

Meanwhile, in higher latitudes, data show that trawlers are hauling more warm-water fish out of the ocean – a phenomenon that will change what shows up on menus at locavore restaurants from Cape Town to Tokyo.

“There’ll be changes in the kinds of fish that are available to people who would like to follow that kind of (eating local) strategy,” Michael Fogarty, a fisheries biologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center, told NBC News.

Where did global warming go? The deep ocean, experts say

Publication: NBC News   Date: April 11, 2013   View Article

The deep oceans have recently been soaking up much of the excess heat trapped under the ever-thickening blanket of greenhouse gases that humans pump into the atmosphere, according to a recent study.

The finding may help explain why the pace of global warming at the surface has slowed in recent years compared to the 1990s, a phenomenon that has left members of the climate science community scratching their heads.

“The warming at the surface hasn’t stopped, but it has been less than most of the climate models have been predicting,” David Pierce, a climate researcher with the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, explained to NBC News. “So the question is: Where is that extra heat going?”

Study: Microbes to protect coasts as oceans acidify

Publication: NBC News   Date: February 7, 2013   View Article

Ancient single-celled organisms called foraminifera may protect coastlines from stormy weather in the coming era of warmer and more acidic oceans, according to a new study.

That’s because the microscopic shelled creatures, called forams for short, each produce about .4 pounds of calcium carbonate per square foot of ocean floor. Calcium carbonate is the limestone material that forms the bedrock of coral reefs and comprises about 4 percent of the Earth’s crust.

Mystery ‘oil sheen’ grows near site of BP Gulf disaster, says researcher

Publication: NBC News   Date: January 31, 2013   View Article

A persistent, mysterious “oil sheen” in the Gulf of Mexico near the site of BP’s Deepwater Horizon disaster grew to more than seven-miles long and one-mile wide during a recent stretch of calm seas, based on aerial observations made by a former NASA physicist turned environmental activist.

“We had maybe three or four days (of calm weather) and that’s all it took for the stuff to build up considerably,” Bonny Schumaker, the physicist who now runs the non-profit On Winds of Care, which makes regular flights over regions of the Gulf affected by the 2010 oil spill.

Flushing Nemo? Pet fish pose ocean threat

Publication: NBC News   Date: January 10, 2013   View Article

Exotic and colorful aquarium fish, such as those made famous by the Disney film “Finding Nemo,” are escaping to the open ocean in real life and disrupting marine ecosystems, according to a new report on the spread of invasive species.

More than 11 million non-native aquarium fish and plants — from tropical fish to seaweed and snails, representing 102 species — are imported annually through the California ports of Los Angeles and San Francisco, the report found.

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach