Stanford researchers develop new way to study ocean life

Like spirits passing between worlds, billions of invisible beings rise to meet the starlight, then descend into darkness at sunrise. Microscopic plankton’s daily journey between the ocean’s depths and surface holds the key to understanding crucial planetary processes, but has remained largely a mystery until now. A new Stanford-developed rotating microscope, outlined in a study published Aug. 17 in Nature Methods, offers for the first time a way to track and measure these enigmatic microorganisms’ behaviors and molecular processes as they undertake on their daily vertical migrations. (WATCH VIDEO: https://bit.ly/2Y1yJlP)

“This is a completely new way of studying life in the ocean,” said study first author Deepak Krishnamurthy, a mechanical engineering PhD student at Stanford.

The innovation could provide a new window into the secret life of ocean organisms and ecosystems, said study senior author Manu Prakash, associate professor of bioengineering at Stanford. “It opens

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Study of Ocean Salinity Reveals Amped-Up Global Water Cycle

Climate change has boosted the amount of evaporation across Earth’s surface, leading to more frequent extreme weather events from megadroughts to monster hurricanes.

Salinity-contrast time series from 1960 to 2017. (Background photo by Xilin Wang.)

(CN) — There is something in the water on planet Earth.

A study published Wednesday reveals climate change has amplified the water cycle, which explains the more frequent extreme weather patterns in recent years.

The water cycle is the continuous movement of water on Earth. It’s the naturally occurring pattern of rain, runoff, evaporation and repeat, but that cycle is being thrown for a loop as Earth heats up according to the study published in the Journal of Climate.

Saltwater and freshwater have been evaporating at higher rates in the last 50 years while rainfall has increased, according to the study authors.

“The new data demonstrate that the existing salinity pattern has amplified. In

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Clouds in the ocean: Microsoft touts viability of underwater data centres

Project Natick, Vessel retrieval Stromness, Orkney. Microsoft - Tuesday 7th to Wednesday 15th of July 2020

Image: Microsoft

In 2014, Microsoft was convinced a sealed container on the ocean floor could provide ways to improve the overall reliability of data centres so, in 2015, it tested its first underwater data centre. 

After working on its design and proving its viability, the company in 2018 deployed a pod full of servers off the coast of Scotland’s Orkney Islands.

The Northern Isles underwater data centre was manufactured by Naval Group and its subsidiary Naval Energies. Orkney Island-based Green Marine was also involved, supporting Naval Group and Microsoft on the deployment, maintenance, monitoring, and retrieval of the data centre, which was operated by Microsoft.

The data centre was deployed at the European Marine Energy Centre, which is a test site for tidal turbines and wave energy converters.

After a few years of testing, the company has stood by its call that underwater data centres are feasible, as well as

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Can Ocean Forests Help Solve The Climate Crisis?

By Emma Bryce

Sixty years ago, Tasmania’s coastline was cushioned by a velvety forest of kelp so dense it would ensnare local fishers as they headed out in their boats. “We speak especially to the older generation of fishers, and they say, ‘When I was your age, this bay was so thick with kelp, we actually had to cut a channel though it,'” says Cayne Layton, a postdoctoral research fellow at the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies at the University of Tasmania.

“Now, those bays, which are probably at the scale of 10 or 20 football fields, are completely empty of kelp. There’s not a single plant left.”

Since the 1960s, Tasmania’s once expansive kelp forests have declined by 90% or more. The primary culprit is climate change: These giant algae need to be bathed in cool, nutrient-rich currents in order to thrive, yet regional warming in recent decades

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The dwarf planet Ceres might be home to an underground ocean of water

Ceres, the largest asteroid in the solar system, seems to have liquid water seeping onto its surface, according to a new paper in Nature Astronomy. Data from NASA’s Dawn orbiter, the study suggests, show signs that it may be harboring an ocean deep underground. 

The background: Ceres, a dwarf planet located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, was studied intensely by the Dawn orbiter from March 2015 to November 2018. In its final weeks, the orbiter came as close as 22 miles from Ceres’s surface and collected a tremendous amount of data about the dwarf planet’s chemical composition. Dawn found many sodium chloride deposits on the surface, which scientists thought likely came from liquid that had seeped up onto the surface and evaporated, leaving behind a salty crust.

What’s new: But there still remained a question of exactly how that liquid got there. In a new analysis of

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The Ocean Farmers Trying to Save the World With Seaweed


Amy McConnell, a Canadian Kelp Resources Ltd. lab technician, holds up a piece of giant kelp in the Trevor Channel on Vancouver Island, on Aug. 19, 2020. Credit – Melissa Renwick for TIME

In a cove in Bamfield, a coastal community in British Columbia, Canada, Louis Druehl steers his boat, The Kelp Express, a mile along the mountainous coastline. For 51 years, this boat has taken Druehl to the fortuitously named Kelp Bay where beneath the water’s surface ropes of seaweed that Druehl has been carefully harvesting for decades dangle in the cold Pacific water.

Referred to by some as the “seaweed guru”—by others, as the “kelp grandfather”—Druehl, 84, was the first commercial seaweed operator in North America when he began growing kelp, a brown seaweed, in 1982. Seaweed is his life: he has studied it, farmed it, cooked it, and written an award winning, bestselling book about it.

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ESG investors slow to make waves in the $2.5tn ocean economy | Reuters Events

While investor interest in ‘blue finance’ for the conservation and sustainable use of oceans is growing, challenges including the opacity of ownership of companies in the seafood sector means it is still a drop in the ocean, writes Mike Scott

The ocean economy is estimated to be worth $2.5tn a year, meaning that if it were a country it would be the world’s seventh-largest by GDP. At the same time, the oceans cover 70% of the Earth’s surface, play host to a huge amount of biodiversity, provide us with food, energy, recreation and transport, as well as playing a vital role in regulating the water and carbon cycles.

Yet for such a dominant feature of the natural world and the global economy, it is curiously under-funded and much of the existing investment comes from philanthropic or impact investors.

Of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals, SDG14 on the conservation and

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Droegemeier and Neumayr: Why Trump’s making ocean exploration a top priority

In January 1960, two fearless oceanographers eased themselves into a small steel sphere attached beneath a 50-foot submersible vessel and began an untethered descent to the bottom of the Pacific Ocean.

Almost five hours later, six-and-a-half miles down, under crushing pressure and surrounded by a pitch-black void, explorer Jacques Piccard and then U.S. Navy Lieutenant Don Walsh became the first people to reach the lowest known place on Earth, the Challenger Deep. For twenty minutes, the lights of their small craft, the Trieste, illuminated for humankind a place on our planet that had been dark for 150 million years.

Today, sixty years later, the United States is poised to lead a second era of bold innovation that will similarly reshape and expand human knowledge of the ocean, a priority for President Trump and

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Dwarf planet Ceres is an ocean world

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Scientists considered Pluto to be a planet when it was discovered, but it later became the first dwarf planet. It’s not the closest one to Earth, though. Ceres is a dwarf planet and the largest object in the Great Asteroid Belt, and it has a new distinction today: ocean world. The latest data from NASA’s Dawn mission proves the almost-planet has a vast repository of salty water hiding below its surface. That makes it a possible home for life in the solar system. 

NASA’s ion engine-powered Dawn spacecraft visited Ceres in 2018, getting as close as 22 miles (35 kilometers) from the surface. Images from Dawn’s approach stirred interest when they showed several bright spots in the 57-mile (92 kilometers) Occator Crater. The entire planetoid is only 590 miles (950 km) in diameter, so this crater is quite prominent. 

Researchers working on the Dawn mission used geomorphology and topographical data

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Surface clean-up technology won’t solve ocean plastic problem


IMAGE: Plastic bag in the ocean
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Credit: Making Oceans Plastic Free

Clean-up devices that collect waste from the ocean surface won’t solve the plastic pollution problem, a new study shows.

Researchers compared estimates of current and future plastic waste with the ability of floating clean-up devices to collect it – and found the impact of such devices was “very modest”.
However, river barriers could be more effective and – though they have no impact on plastic already in the oceans – they could reduce pollution “significantly” if used in tandem with surface clean-up technology.

The study – by the University of Exeter, the Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research, the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research, Jacobs University and Making Oceans Plastic Free – focusses on floating plastic, as sunk waste is difficult or impossible to remove depending on size and location.

The authors estimate that

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