What's New Archive
Monitoring baseline ocean noise is critically important to understand both natural and anthropogenic changes in the marine ambient sound environment. As of this week, a network of 11 ocean noise reference stations has been established in U.S. waters to measure changes and trends in natural and man-made ocean noise. Natural sounds ranging from whale calls and volcanoes to anthropogenic sounds from shipping and oil/gas exploration are recorded by the moored, underwater hydrophones developed by PMEL engineers and scientists and deployed in collaboration with NMFS-OST, all the Fisheries Science Centers, NOS Marine Sanctuaries, and the National Park Service. The establishment of a long-term record provides fundamental data needed to understand how increased noise in the ocean may affect marine life and ocean health.
New NOAA research in Global Biogeochemical Cycles maps the distribution of aragonite saturation state in both surface and subsurface waters of the global ocean and provides further evidence that ocean acidification is happening on a global scale. The study identifies the Arctic and Antarctic oceans, and the upwelling ocean waters off the west coasts of North America, South America and Africa as regions that are especially vulnerable to ocean acidification. The most vulnerable areas of the global ocean are being hit with a double whammy of sorts. In these areas, deep ocean waters that are naturally rich in carbon dioxide are upwelling and mixing with surface waters that are absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, which comes primarily from human-caused fossil fuel emissions.
Read the NOAA press release, the article in Global Biogeochemical Cycles, and visit the NOAA PMEL Carbon Program and the NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information webpages.
A new theme issue of the Royal Society Philosophical Transactions A called ‘Tsunamis: bridging science, engineering and society’ looks at the lessons learned from tsunamis over the last ten years. The issue describes state of the art methodologies, standards for warnings, summarizes recent advances in basic understanding and identifies cross-disciplinary challenges.
PMEL scientists served as editors for the issue, authored several articles in the issue, and contributed the cover graphic, which depicts the forecast of the 2011 Japan tsunami made by the PMEL tsunami research team while the tsunami was still propagating across the Pacific. The goal of this issue is to bring the science, engineering and societal needs together to help build coastal resilience and reduce losses of life and property.
Read more about the NOAA Center for Tsunami Research.
A paper just published in Nature Geoscience shows a newly recognized role for hydrothermal vents in the global carbon cycle. This new research, by PMEL/JISAO researcher David Butterfield and colleagues, shows that hydrothermal vents may act as a recycling and decomposition system for dissolved organic carbon (DOC), an important constituent of the global carbon pool. The scientists found that high temperatures, like those found at hydrothermal vents, can effectively remove DOC not broken down by other processes, like microbial or sedimentary degradation. The implication for the global carbon cycle is that hydrothermal vents act as the ocean’s ‘pressure cooker’, breaking down and removing unreactive and old carbon that would otherwise persist indefinitely.
Al Hermann and Wei Cheng, PMEL/JISAO researchers with EcoFOCI are part of a new NOAA-funded study to project large-scale environmental changes in the US Arctic through the process of dynamical downscaling. This process uses the most recent set of global climate models (CMIP5) to simulate regional events in the Bering Sea. Paired with upper trophic level and management models, the project will provide a variety of projections of the Bering Sea ecosystem with varying fishing and climate scenarios.
The CLIMate project seeks to understand how large-scale changes in the atmosphere and oceans will manifest themselves in the Bering Sea, how such environmental changes will affect commercially important fish and other species, and how management strategies could be beneficially modified in the face of anticipated changes in mean conditions, variability, and the likelihood of extreme events.
Research and commentary articles just published online in Nature Climate Change by NOAA/PMEL Senior Scientist Michael McPhaden and collaborators highlights the need for continued study into El Niño causes and effects.
McPhaden’s commentary explores possible reasons why the much anticipated El Niño of 2014 failed to materialize, while an unforeseen strong El Niño is developing now. In the same issue, a review paper by McPhaden and colleagues explores the connection between global warming and El Niño/La Niña events. Model results indicate that extreme El Niño and La Niña events will increase in number and intensity as the climate continues to warm.
NOAA/PMEL Scientist Dr. Simone Alin and UW/JISAO Scientist Nick Bond took part in media event on July 30 highlighting the unusual conditions found in the Puget Sound in 2015. The Sound has been abnormally warm, fueled by the warm water Blob off the Pacific coast, warm weather and lower than usual river inflow. Scientists note that the timing of warmer waters and lower pH conditions have come earlier this year.
Dr. Alin pointed out “It is tempting to compare conditions this year to our projected future climate in the second half of this century. However, this just represents the temperature part of future climate impact on the oceans. We would also expect a sizeable increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and oceans between 2050 and 2100 compared to now, which would worsen ecosystem conditions considerably relative to what we are seeing with the temperature increase alone.”
Read the press release.
Dr. Sarah Purkey’s doctoral dissertation, “The Abyssal Ocean’s Contributions to the Global Energy and Sea Level Budgets Between the 1990s and 2000s”, was recently chosen to receive the 2015 University of Washington Graduate School’s Distinguished Dissertation Award in the Physical Sciences & Engineering category. Dr. Purkey started her oceanographic career in 2007 as a UW/JISAO research scientist/engineer working at PMEL. She was resident at PMEL for her graduate research, advised by PMEL Oceanographer Dr. Gregory C. Johnson in his capacity as an Affiliate Professor with the School of Oceanography, University of Washington. Dr. Purkey is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.
The winners of the $2 Million Wendy Schmidt Ocean Health XPRIZE were announced yesterday at an awards ceremony held in New York. Winning first place in both the affordability and accuracy categories, Sunburst Sensors received $1.5 Million in prizes for two different sensor designs. ANB Sensors placed second in affordability, while Team DuraFET won second place in the accuracy category; each team took home $250,000.
During the ceremony, a Foreign Affairs panel addressing technology and policy supporting ocean health was held. The panel, which featured NOAA Chief Scientist Rick Spinrad, Stewart Patrick (Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations), Ghislaine Maxell (Founder, The TerraMar Project), and Sherri Goodman (CEO, Ocean Leadership), was attended by PMEL scientists that served as part of the Validation Team for the Ocean Health XPRIZE competition.
The State of the Climate in 2014 report, published in July 2015 as a Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society supplement, highlights records in sea level, ocean heat content, and sea surface temperature, also documenting ocean climate variability including the borderline El Niño, the warm-water “Blob” in the Northeast Pacific, and a transition to the warm phase of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation. The cover features a PMEL Argo float, deployed in September 2007 and still active in July 2015. PMEL scientist Gregory Johnson co-edited the Global Oceans chapter of the report, composing haiku to summarize 2014 ocean variations:
Not quite El Niño, | North Oceans’ fluxes, warmth shift, | dance with weird weather.
and longer-term changes:
Seas warm, ice caps melt, | waters rise, sour, rains shift salt, | unceasing, worldwide.
Several PMEL, JISAO, and JIMAR scientists are section authors.