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.

Investigating variability and change in subpolar Southern Ocean pCO2 via time-series and float data

November 6, 2018

The Southern Ocean dominates the mean global ocean sink for anthropogenic carbon, but its sparse sampling relative to other basins limits our capacity to quantify carbon uptake and accompanying seasonal to interannual variability, which is critical to predicting future ocean carbon uptake and storage. Since 2002, underway pCO2 measurements collected as part of the Drake […]

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Dramatic Increase in Chlorophyll-a Concentrations in Response to Spring Asian Dust Events in the Western North Pacific

October 23, 2018

According to Martin’s iron hypothesis, input of aeolian dust into the ocean environment temporarily relieves iron limitation that suppresses primary productivity. Asian dust events that originate in the Taklimakan and Gobi Deserts occur primarily in the spring and represent the second largest global source of dust to the oceans. The western North Pacific, where productivity […]

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Shipboard LiDAR: A powerful tool for measuring the distribution and composition of particles in the ocean

October 23, 2018

Despite major advances in ocean observing capabilities, characterizing the vertical distribution of materials in the ocean with high spatial resolution remains challenging. Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR), a technique that relies on measurement of the “time-of-flight” of a backscattered laser pulse to determine the range to a scattering object, could potentially fill this critical gap […]

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When marine-terminating glaciers ‘pump’ the ocean

October 10, 2018

How will increasing meltwater from Greenland affect the biogeochemistry of the ocean? Release of meltwater into the ocean has physical and biogeochemical effects on the local water column. With respect to nutrient availability, meltwater supplies the bioessential nutrients iron and silicic acid but is deficient in nitrate and phosphate. However, despite very low meltwater nitrate […]

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Primary productivity à la mode

October 10, 2018

The presence of large-scale Ekman downwelling is the textbook explanation for low nutrient concentrations, and hence low productivity, in subtropical gyres. However, recent research has suggested that mesoscale eddies oppose and substantially reduce this downwelling, a process known as eddy cancellation (Doddridge et al, 2016). Eddy cancellation represents a substantial alteration to the widely accepted […]

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Improved method to identify and reduce uncertainties in marine carbon cycle predictions

September 26, 2018

Improved method to identify and reduce uncertainties in marine carbon cycle predictions How well do contemporary Earth System Models (ESMs) represent the dynamics of the modern day ocean? Often we question the fidelity of biological and chemical processes represented in these ESMs. The fact is representations of biogeochemical processes in models are plagued with some […]

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Physics shed new light on microbial filter-feeding

September 26, 2018

Microbial filter-feeders actively filter water for bacteria-sized prey, but hydrodynamic theory predicts that their filtration rate should be one order of magnitude lower than what they realize.   What is missing in our knowledge and modeling of these key components of aquatic food webs? In a recent study published in PNAS, Nielsen et al. (2017) used […]

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When it comes to carbon export, the mesoscale matters

September 11, 2018

Most Earth System models (ESMs) that are used to study global climate and the carbon cycle do not resolve the most energetic scales in the ocean, the mesoscale (10-100 km), encompassing eddies, coastal jets, and other dynamic features strongly affecting nutrient delivery, productivity, and carbon export. This prompts the question: What are we missing in […]

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Elusive protists transport large quantities of silica into the ocean interior

September 7, 2018

Phaeodaria are single-celled eukaryotes (a.k.a. protists) belonging to the supergroup Rhizaria. Like diatoms, phaeodarians build up skeletons made of opaline silica, but unlike their emblematic relatives, phaeodarians have been largely ignored in the marine silica cycle. In a recent study published in Global Biogeochemical Cycles (also see related Research Spotlight in AGU Eos), authors used […]

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Ocean’s heat cycle shows that atmospheric carbon may be headed elsewhere

August 16, 2018

Studies over the past 25 years have supported the existence of a large net land biosphere CO2 sink of 0.5–2 PgC yr-1. Significant uncertainties remain, however, regarding the long-term partitioning between northern, tropical, and southern land sinks, in part connected to the uncertain ocean carbon sink. These uncertainties limit our capacity to predict earth system response to […]

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