OCB Science Highlights

OCB Science Highlights

If you would like to have your recent publications featured on the OCB website and eNewsletter please contact ocb_news@whoi.edu. View our guidelines for writing a OCB Science Highlight.

ENSO diversity and its implications for US West Coast marine ecosystems

February 16, 2017

The El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is the dominant mode of tropical Pacific climate variability at interannual timescales, with profound influences on seasonal weather and ecosystems worldwide. In particular, the physical and biological conditions along the US West Coast, an area that supports one of the most productive marine ecosystems in the world, are strongly influenced […]

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Impact of ENSO on biogeochemistry and lower trophic level response in the California Current System

February 16, 2017

El Niño events are one of the “most spectacular instances of interannual variability in the ocean” with “profound consequences for climate and the ocean ecosystem” (Cane 1986). Perturbations in the atmosphere directly influence the ocean with long-term effects on environmental variability in the tropical Pacific Ocean as the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) shifts between El […]

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Modeling to aid management of marine top predators in a changing climate

February 16, 2017

Marine top predators can include species that occupy a high trophic level (e.g., predatory sharks), have few predators (e.g., marine turtles), or can exert top-down control on food webs due to their large energetic demands (e.g., whales). While many species in the open ocean are widely distributed (e.g., Read et al. 2013; Reygondeau et al. […]

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Seasonal forecasts of ocean conditions in the California Current Large Marine Ecosystem

February 16, 2017

The California Current Large Marine Ecosystem (CCLME) is a productive coastal ecosystem extending from Baja California, Mexico, to British Columbia, Canada. High primary productivity is sustained by inputs of cooler, nutrient-rich waters during seasonal wind-driven upwelling in spring and summer. This high productivity fuels higher trophic levels, including highly valued commercial ($3.5B yr-1) and recreational […]

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A New Explanation for the Marine Methane Paradox

February 2, 2017

A large fraction of the ocean-to-atmosphere flux of methane occurs in well-oxygenated, open ocean oligotrophic gyres, a phenomenon seemingly at odds with well-known pathways of archaeal methane production under strictly anaerobic conditions. Nearly a decade ago, David Karl and colleagues at the University of Hawaii proposed that water column methane could arise from bacterial metabolism […]

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Subtropical Gyre Productivity Sustained by Lateral Nutrient Transport

December 20, 2016

Vertical processes are thought to dominate nutrient resupply across the ocean, however estimated vertical fluxes are insufficient to sustain observed net productivity in the thermally stratified subtropical gyres. A recent study by Letscher et al. (2016) published in Nature Geoscience used a global biogeochemical ocean model to quantify the importance of lateral transport and biological […]

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Nutrient Distributions Reveal the Fate of Sinking Particles

November 21, 2016

The ocean’s “biological pump” regulates the atmosphere-ocean partitioning of carbon dioxide (CO2), and has likely contributed to significant climatic changes over Earth’s history (1, 2). It comprises two processes, separated vertically in the water column: (i) production of organic carbon and export from the surface euphotic zone (0-100m), mostly as sinking particles; and (ii) microbial remineralization of organic carbon to CO2 in deeper waters, where it […]

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Marine mixotrophs exploit multiple resource pools to balance supply and demand

November 20, 2016

“So, in the sea, there are certain objects concerning which one would be at a loss to determine whether they be animal or vegetable.”  Aristotle, The History of Animals Our understanding of marine ecosystems is strongly influenced by the terrestrial macroscopic world we see around us. For example, the distinction between phytoplankton and zooplankton reflects […]

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A chalkier ocean? Multi-decadal increases in North Atlantic coccolithophore populations

November 19, 2016

Coccolithophores and the carbon cycle Increasing atmospheric CO2 concentrations are resulting in both warmer sea surface temperatures due to the greenhouse effect and increasingly carbon-rich surface waters. The ocean has absorbed roughly one third of anthropogenic carbon emissions (1), causing a shift in carbon chemistry equilibrium to more acidic conditions with lower calcium carbonate saturation states […]

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What controls the distribution of dissolved organic carbon in the surface ocean?

November 11, 2016

Around 662 billion tons of organic carbon are dissolved in the ocean, making the pool one of Earth’s major, exchangeable carbon reservoirs. Dissolved organic carbon (DOC) has many ecological functions. It can form complexes with metals (1); absorb UV and visible light, acting as a “sunscreen” for marine microorganisms and controlling primary production in the […]

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