An increase in plastic debris floating in a zone between Hawaii and California is changing the environment of at least one marine critter, scientists recently reported. Over the past four decades, the amount of broken-down plastic has grown significantly in a region dubbed the "Great Pacific Garbage Patch." Most of the plastic pieces are the size of a fingernail.
Different versions of microengines have been developed, including devices that could transport medications through the bloodstream. But until now no one has ever shown that these devices—which are about 10 times smaller than the width of a human hair—could help clean up oil spills. Scientists are reporting successful testing of the first self-propelled “microsubmarines” designed to pick up droplets of oil and transport them.
Seeking out statistical techniques that had not previously been applied to finding the current rate of sea level rise and the rates of ice sheet melting, scientists in Canada have developed a new method to distinguish sea-level fingerprints. The technique relies on the fact that the historical pattern for each ice sheet is unique and is preserved.
Seismologists say last week's powerful earthquake off western Indonesia increased pressure on the source of the devastating 2004 tsunami: a fault that could unleash another monster wave sometime in the next few decades.
Researchers at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science are investigating whether sound waves can be used to determine the size of oil droplets in the subsea—knowledge that could help guide the use of chemical dispersants during the cleanup of future spills.
Research led by scientists at the American Museum of Natural History shows that ammonites—an extinct type of shelled mollusk that's closely related to modern-day nautiluses and squids—made homes in the unique environments surrounding methane seeps in the seaway that once covered America's Great Plains. These findings show that mobile shelled mollusk stayed put if conditions were right.
To the world's military leaders, the debate over climate change is long over. They are preparing for a new kind of Cold War in the Arctic, anticipating that rising temperatures there will open up a treasure trove of resources, long-dreamed-of sea lanes and a slew of potential conflicts.
A panel of experts in Japan recently said that any tsunami unleashed by a magnitude-9.0 earthquake in the Nankai trough, which runs east of Japan's main island of Honshu to the southern island of Kyushu, could top 34 m (112 ft) at its highest. This is a significant elevation of risk from an earlier forecast in 2003 that put the potential maximum height of such a tsunami at less than 20 m.
Using sonar, an expedition spearheaded by Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos has discovered what he claimed were discarded engines from the 1969 Apollo 11 mission lurking 14,000 feet deep. In an online announcement Wednesday, Bezos said he is drawing up plans to recover the sunken engines, jettisoned from the mighty Saturn V rocket just minutes after launch.
From an extensive study that grew out of an initial research cruise to the Gulf of Mexico in October 2010, scientists have published the first evidence of the impact of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on deep-sea corals. The team used underwater vehicles and 2D gas chromatography to determine precisely the source of the petroleum hydrocarbons they found.
The Deepsea Challenger successfully reached the bottom of the Marianas Trench recently, a place only two others had ever gone. On board the vessel, filmmaker James Cameron spent more than three hours at the bottom, longer than the 20 minutes Don Walsh and Jacques Piccard spent in the only other visit 52 years ago.
Earth's lost frontier is about to be explored firsthand after more than half a century. In the next several days, James Cameron, the director of "Titanic," ''Avatar" and "The Abyss," plans to dive to the deepest part of the ocean, so deep that the pressure is the equivalent of three SUVs sitting on your toe.
On the one-year anniversary of the devastating Japanese tsunami, engineers from the University of Southern California’s Viterbi School of Engineering Tsunami Research Center are working with the State of California to better understand the damaging currents caused by tsunamis. They hope to better understand the effects generated by tsunamis within California ports and harbors.
Decades ago, marine scientists made the startling discovery of hydrothermal vents, where hot water surges from the seafloor and life thrives without sunlight. Then they found equally unique, sunless habitats in cold areas where methane rises from seeps on the ocean bottom. Could vents and seeps co-exist in the deep, happily living side-by-side? No one thought so until now.
According to researchers with Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, there are few parallels in the geologic record for today's rapid ocean changes. In a review of hundreds of paleoceanographic studies, the researchers found evidence for only one period in the last 300 million years when the oceans changed as fast as today: the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum.
Using the most robust and longest duration satellite dataset of Arctic sea ice available, researchers at NASA have built one of the most complete pictures of how the Arctic’s supply is changing over time. The study reveals the rate of disappearance of the old and thickest sea ice, which typical survives the cyclical summer melt season.
Researchers who broke through the world’s thickest ice cap to access a the long-hidden Lake Vostok will have to wait until December (Antarctic summer) to determine whether their frozen sample contains ice. If it does—and like already exists in challenging situations on Earth—it will offer hope that life exists beyond our world.
After more than two decades of drilling in Antarctica, a team of scientists have finished boring 3.8 km to the surface of Lake Vostok, a body of water that has remained in isolation at the bottom of the Antarctic ice cap for more than 20 million years.
Data from Scripps Institution of Oceanography, NOAA, and the University of California, San Diego has been used by Google experts this week to sharpen the resolution of seafloor maps in the popular Google Earth application. The original version of the program, according to a Scripps geophysicist, had high resolution but was full of thousands of blunders from old data.
A team of 19 researchers have reported the results of the broadest worldwide study of ocean acidification to date. They were able to illustrate how parts of the world's oceans currently have different pH levels because of the absorption of atmospheric carbon dioxide, and how they might respond to climate changes in the future.
An international scientific team has found that rising human carbon dioxide emissions may be affecting the brains and central nervous system of sea fishes. This unusual conclusion was brought about by the first evidence obtained that high carbon dioxide levels in sea water disrupts a key brain receptor in fish, caused detrimental changes in behavior.
The bottom of a glacier is not the most hospitable place on Earth, but at least two types of bacteria happily live there, according to researchers. The bacteria— Chryseobacterium and Paenisporosarcina —showed signs of respiration in ice made in the laboratory simulates the temperatures and nutrient content found at the bottom of Arctic and Antarctic glaciers.
One researcher said it was a one-in-ten-million chance, but a satellite altimeter was in the right at the right time to detect, for the first time ever, a long-theorized merging tsunami. The waves effectively doubled the destruction in Japan.
A paper published this week shows that the evolution of marine life over the past 500 million years has been driven by both ocean chemistry and sea-level changes. A method called information transfer, which identifies causal relationships, was used to gain insight on the interconnectedness of biodiversity and environmental proxy records.
At one the most remote and inaccessible coastal locations in Antarctica, researchers trying to determine the shape of the cavity beneath the Pine Island Glacier, which has begun flowing faster. They hope to find the pattern of warmer ocean currents that possibly causing the change in flow rate.