Category Archives: Oceanography

Oceans Out of Breath

Scripps climate scientist Yassir Eddebbar takes you on an exploration of the ocean’s interior to reveal a fascinating phenomenon – oxygen minimum zones (OMZs).

Oxygen minimum zones (OMZs) are regions of the global ocean that present low dissolved oxygen concentrations. Although they represent only a small fraction of the global ocean volume, they are considered to be an important sink for fixed nitrogen, contributing 30-50% of the oceanic nitrogen removal. They are important sources of the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide (CO2) and nitrous oxide (N2O), the latter also involved in the destruction of stratospheric ozone.

Focusing on his work in the tropical Pacific, Eddebbar explains what causes OMZs, how they are likely to change in response to climate change, and their potential to impact marine ecosystems and fisheries as climate warms.

Watch Oceans Out of Breath: Oxygen Minimum Zones in a Warming Climate.

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Our Impact on the Earth

“Mother Nature is not happy right now and she’s trying to tell us, in many ways,” says Kimberly Prather, Professor of Climate, Atmospheric Science, and Physical Oceanography at UC San Diego.

New weather patterns and events are causing concern but how do we know these changes are caused by human activity? Climate scientists are looking at trends over time to determine our impact on the planet.

Prather discusses recent CAICE studies aimed at advancing our understanding of how the oceans influence human and planetary health including novel experiments being conducted in a unique ocean-atmosphere simulator.

Watch — How Do We Know Humans are Impacting the Health of Our Planet? – Exploring Ethics

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The Future of our Oceans

Ours is a water planet. Technology is shaping our uses, both as foe and ally. It has made humans the dominant predator and provides us food, gives us half the oxygen we breathe and created many maritime jobs. But technology has also raised CO2 levels, caused acidic oceans, threatened ocean biodiversity and created grand climate challenges.

Marine biologists like Doug McCauley at UC Santa Barbara are also using technology to promote ocean health and provide a balance. In this talk, McCauley describes examples of technology used to help the oceans and marine biodiversity. He shows systems that track whale activity and communicate it to ships so they know where to slow down to avoid collisions. He describes technology to monitor marine protected areas, image recognition techniques to study the endangered giant sea bass and electronic tags to follow sharks.

McCauley began his career as a fisherman in the Port of Los Angeles. Eventually he migrated to marine science and UC Santa Barbara. McCauley has degrees in political science and biology from the UC Berkeley. His PhD research was done at Stanford University where he studied the ecology of sharks, giant parrotfish, and coral reef ecosystems. McCauley’s science is motivated by the belief that we must better understand how complex ocean ecosystems work if we want to better protect them from threats like overfishing, climate change, and pollution.

Watch — Technology: Friend or Foe for the Future of our Oceans

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From Sea to Pharmacy

The vastness of the ocean is only surpassed by the biodiversity within it; from familiar and unfamiliar mega-fauna, to every microbe and virus inhabiting every corner of the seas – from the deep freeze of the Antarctic to the scorching plumes of volcanic seafloor vents.

Paul Jensen describes how he and other researchers are tapping into the biodiversity of the world’s oceans as a relatively new resource for natural product drug discovery. Jensen is at the Center for Marine Biotechnology and Biomedicine at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego.

Watch — Marine Natural Products: From Sea to Pharmacy

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Understanding the Arctic Climate System

The Arctic is changing rapidly in response to global climate and economic activity and yet much of it remains unexplored with modern scientific techniques.

Jeff Bowman is a biological oceanographer who studies marine microbial communities. In this presentation at the Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography he describes his group’s work in the Arctic as they seek to understand the ecological implications of changing sea ice conditions.

They are also preparing to participate in the Multidisciplinary drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate (MOSAiC) Expedition, an unprecedented multi-national effort to study the high Arctic across a complete seasonal cycle.

Watch — Modern Oceanography and the Changing Arctic Ocean.

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