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Ocean Research

2017:  JAN | FEB | MARCH | APRIL | MAY | JUNE | JULY | AUG | SEPT | OCT | NOV
2016:  JAN | FEB | MARCH | APRIL | MAY | JUNE | JULY | AUG | SEPT | OCT | NOV | DEC


November 2017 Issue

Ship Exhaust Can Lead
To Stronger Storms

Thunderstorms directly above two of the world’s busiest shipping lanes are significantly more powerful than storms in areas of the ocean where ships don’t travel, according to new research. A new study mapping lightning around the globe finds lightning strokes occur nearly twice as often directly above heavily trafficked shipping lanes in the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea than they do in areas of the ocean adjacent to shipping lanes that have similar climates.

The difference in lightning activity can’t be explained by changes in the weather. Aerosol particles emitted in ship exhaust are changing how storm clouds form over the ocean.

The new study is the first to show ship exhaust can alter thunderstorm intensity. The researchers conclude that particles from ship exhaust make cloud droplets smaller, lifting them higher in the atmosphere. This creates more ice particles and leads to more lightning.

The results provide some of the first evidence that humans are changing cloud formation on a nearly continual basis, rather than after a specific incident like a wildfire. Cloud formation can affect rainfall patterns and alter climate by changing how much sunlight clouds reflect to space.


EXPORTS to Study
Ocean Carbon Process

To learn more about the ocean’s carbon cycle, a team of investigators led by UC Santa Barbara oceanographer David Siegel is set to implement a new NASA project: the EXport Processes in the Ocean from RemoTe Sensing (EXPORTS) Science Plan. EXPORTS will help scientists develop a comprehensive understanding of how the oceans process carbon and mitigate CO2 accumulation in the atmosphere.

Large scientific teams will undertake two field expeditions, the first set for summer 2018 in the northeast Pacific Ocean. A dozen proposals have been funded to examine the biological ocean pathways that impact the carbon cycle. Scientists hope to improve predictive abilities relating to the size distribution of sinking carbon and the roles that microscopic marine organisms such as phytoplankton and zooplankton play in their dynamics.

Phytoplankton get their energy from CO2 through photosynthesis, forming biomass that eventually makes up aggregates that sink toward the ocean floor. This process of transferring CO2 to the deep ocean where it can be sequestered for hundreds to thousands of years is called the biological pump.


French Oceanographic Lab
Relies on Biochem Sensors

For more than 15 years, Argo floats have been taking CTD profiles, which are sent to land via satellite for a database. Inspired by the Argo network, the team of the Oceanographic Laboratory of Villefranche-sur-Mer (LOV) wanted to add biogeochemical sensors on floats, according to nke Instrumentation. In addition to the conventional sensors of pressure, temperature and salinity, a series of optical sensors has been installed on a new generation of floats. There are also two nutrients sensors and a sensor for measuring dissolved oxygen.

The LOV is currently working on an intelligent system for ice detection. In the future, they would like to deploy floats in the Arctic, which would need to be able to avoid icebergs.


Winner of AZFP Early-Career Award Announced
Dr. Susannah Buchan has won ASL’s 2017 AZFP early-career scientist award. Buchan will receive a free multifrequency AZFP for a three-month deployment to conduct research on the spatial distribution of prey and baleen whale species off Isla Chañaral in northern Chile.

This area, within the Humboldt Current System (HCS), is one of the most productive marine environments on the planet and sustains the highest fishery catches in the world. Due to the unique biological characteristics of this area, the Isla Chañaral Marine Reserve (ICMR) was developed to protect a small part of the marine ecosystem of the coastal islands of the HCS.

Buchan has proposed a spatial boat-based survey consisting of continuous profiling transects. These transects will give insights into the distribution of various zooplankton and small pelagic fish species and will be coupled with boat-based baleen whale observations.


Grant Funds Marine-
Derived Biomed Research

The Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute (HBOI) Foundation supported the project “Applying New Technologies to Transform Marine Natural Products Discovery” by the Marine Biomedical and Biotechnology Research Program at FAU Harbor Branch with a grant of $320,000.

This program has been involved in the search for potential new medicines from marine organisms for nearly 20 years. This repository contains more than 30,000 frozen macro-organism specimens and 16,500 microbial isolates.

This project focused on using unique assets of HBOI (the macro and micro-organism collections) and the new high-content imaging (HCI) system to revolutionize visualization and testing for active materials. Funds were requested to implement the HCI system for cancer drug discovery, antibiotic discovery and sustainable supply of marine-derived compounds.



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