Curious Clouds in the Transantarctic Mountains
Posted in Beauty

On December 29, 2020, the Operational Land Imager (OLI) on Landsat 8 acquired these images of soft-edged clouds hovering over the Eisenhower Range of Antarctica’s Transantarctic Mountains. The clouds have the hallmarks of lenticular clouds that can form along the crests of mountain waves. In the United States, lenticular clouds are particularly common around the Rocky Mountains. This natural-color image has been enhanced with infrared light to separate the white clouds from the white snow and ice below. Still, a few people have witnessed lenticular clouds in Antarctica firsthand.

2020 Tied for Warmest Year on Record
Posted in Nature

Earth’s global average surface temperature in 2020 tied with 2016 for the warmest year on record, according to an analysis by NASA. The bar chart below shows this year in the context of the past 140 years in the modern temperature record. Tracking global temperature trends provides a critical indicator of the impact of human activities—specifically, greenhouse gas emissions—on our planet. Scientists from Europe’s Copernicus program also have 2020 tying 2016 as the warmest year on record, while the UK Met Office ranked 2020 as the second-warmest. NASA’s full 2020 surface temperature data set and the complete methodology used to make the temperature calculations are available online.

2020 Year in Review
Posted in Nature

Robert Ballard, Ocean ExplorerRobert D. Ballard is Founder and President of the Ocean Exploration Trust; Director of the Center for Ocean Exploration and Professor of Oceanography at the University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography. He is an Explorer-At-Large at the National Geographic Society, Commissioner for the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy, and a Research Scholar at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. He served in the U.S. Navy for more than 30 years and continues to work with the Office of Naval Research. He has also discovered hydrothermal vents and “black smokers” in the Galapagos Rift and East Pacific Rise in 1977 and 1979. His honors include 22 Honorary Doctorates, National Geographic’s highest award, the Hubbard Medal, and a National Endowment for the Humanities Medal.

Brunt Breaking Up with Antarctica this Year?
Posted in Nature

Two years after the Brunt Ice Shelf seemed poised to produce a berg twice the size of New York City, the ice is still hanging on. The Operational Land Imager (OLI) on Landsat 8 acquired this image of the Brunt Ice Shelf on January 12, 2021. These areas are stretched thin, and can be melted from above or below, making them more prone to forming rifts and eventually breaking away. The Brunt Ice Shelf appears to be in a period of instability, with cracks spreading across its surface. The detailed view shows the new rift growing away from an area known as the McDonald Ice Rumples.

Drones, Scat, and the Joys of Marine Mammal Fieldwork in Alaska
Posted in Best of

Robert Ballard, Ocean ExplorerRobert D. Ballard is Founder and President of the Ocean Exploration Trust; Director of the Center for Ocean Exploration and Professor of Oceanography at the University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography. He is an Explorer-At-Large at the National Geographic Society, Commissioner for the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy, and a Research Scholar at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. He served in the U.S. Navy for more than 30 years and continues to work with the Office of Naval Research. He has also discovered hydrothermal vents and “black smokers” in the Galapagos Rift and East Pacific Rise in 1977 and 1979. His honors include 22 Honorary Doctorates, National Geographic’s highest award, the Hubbard Medal, and a National Endowment for the Humanities Medal.

10 Essential Questions to Ask Before Selecting a New eCRM System
Posted in Incredible

This post is provided courtesy of Engaging Networks Accredited Partner, Zuri GroupSo, you’re ready to transition to a new nonprofit eCRM system. An electronic customer relationship management (eCRM) system transition requires thoughtful consideration of your team’s immediate needs and future goals. Before deciding which eCRM to implement, it’s essential to determine how exactly your current system both benefits and hinders those goals. Improving your team’s use of the current system is nearly always the faster and much less expensive route. Can you identify business objectives that the current system simply isn’t capable of meeting?

Can icebergs be towed to water-starved cities?
Posted in Best of

He’s been studying the possibility of towing an iceberg from Antarctica to Cape Town, South Africa, which recently experienced a water crisis. “Large icebergs could be used to alleviate drought and supply a city with water,” Condron says. It’s pure and fresh.”The big towResearchers have floated the idea of long-distance iceberg towing for decades. He says that with today’s sophisticated computer modeling technologies, he can accurately simulate a long-distance iceberg tow to Cape Town. Researchers have proposed mooring such bergs about 18 miles off of Cape Town in order to harvest water from them.

What's In That Water? 'Geochemical Santa Claus' Offers New Data To Climate Modelers
Posted in Best of

That new data should help researchers make better models of Earth’s past and future climate. This is a number that so many modelers have wanted,” says lead study author Kimberley Mayfield, with a laugh. The additional data should lead to better models of Earth’s past climate, says Matthew Charette, a senior scientist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and co-author on the paper. He says improving models of the past should help us better understand the current changes in Earth’s climate. “We want to improve climate models for reasons that I believe are obvious at this point,” says Mayfield.

Meet the Alvin 6500 Team: Lane Abrams
Posted in Beauty

In 1991, Abrams was working as an electrical engineer at Bell Labs in New Jersey, when he saw a help wanted ad in the Boston Globe for the Alvin Group at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Abrams’ group reconfigured the electrical systems during the last overhaul, anticipating that the group was set to extend its range from 4,500 to 6,500 meters. This is the second interview in a multi-part series with members of the Alvin Group. Oceanus: What do you do for the Alvin Group? We’ve purposely built Alvin so that the electrical system is a small part of what is required to keep people safe.

The Oldest Crewed Deep Sea Submarine Just Got a Big Makeover
Posted in Incredible

In early March, a gleaming white submarine called Alvin surfaced off the Atlantic coast of North Carolina after spending the afternoon thousands of feet below the surface. For Bruce Strickrott, Alvin’s chief pilot and the leader of the expedition, these sorts of missions to the bottom of the world are a regular part of life. By the time Alvin’s makeover is wrapped up in late 2021, the storied submarine will rank among the most capable human-rated deep sea submersibles in the world. Courtesy of Woods Hole Oceanographic InstitutionTo upgrade Alvin, engineers had to tear the sub down to its metal skeleton at the National Deep Submergence Facility, a federally funded research space hosted at Woods Hole. The vessel is made almost entirely from custom components designed to withstand the uniquely hostile environment in the deep ocean, and the regular teardowns ensure that everything is in good shape.

Potent Atmospheric Rivers Douse the Pacific Northwest
Posted in Nature

The culprit was a phenomenon known as an atmospheric river. Atmospheric rivers are long, narrow bands of moisture that move like a river in the sky, carrying water vapor from the equator toward the poles. The animation above shows the signature of atmospheric rivers, including a particularly potent event that doused parts of Washington, Oregon, and Northern California. By the end of the animation (January 18), an atmospheric river system appeared to connect British Columbia and southeastern Alaska to Hawaii. Research has shown that more than 80 percent of western U.S. flood damage over a 40-year period was due to atmospheric rivers.

On the high seas
Posted in Best of

There is a big difference between living on the coast and actually going out to sea, says WHOI Trustee Sam Coleman. Being at sea was a world away from talking about ocean science at meetings, according to WHOI corporation member Eric Anderson. “I came away with a visceral appreciation for the WHOI mission and so incredibly impressed by the Armstrong team,” he says. “You’re on a ship that is pitching in 12-foot seas and you have this couple-thousand-pound vehicle you’re trying to get into the water and back out again. “All of us observing were caught up in the drama because there was no guaranteed happy ending,” he says.

A Remote Lake with a Rich History
Posted in Nature

Surrounded by arid and barren land in east Africa, Lake Turkana is the largest permanent desert lake in the world. The image above shows Lake Turkana (formerly Lake Rudolf) on December 10, 2020, as observed by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite. Like many desert lakes, Lake Turkana is a salty, closed basin. Many intact fossils have been found on Lake Turkana’s eastern shore around Koobi Fora Ridge. Today, the area around Lake Turkana is sparsely populated by people due to its isolated location and inadequate fresh water.

Gold Mining in Russia’s Central Aldan Ore District
Posted in Beauty

But in places such as the Central Aldan ore district in the Russian Far East—where concentrations of the precious metal have been discovered—mining operations are large enough to be seen from space. Central Aldan is one of Russia’s largest gold ore districts, with the mineral occurring in numerous deposits, or “lodes,” in the fractured rock. The Kuranakh gold deposit was discovered in 1947, and a moderate amount of gold was extracted by 1955. In areas where a lode has been eroded, pieces of gold can become concentrated by rivers and streams into placer deposits. From April to December in the 2019 mining season, three dredges extracted 18,600 ounces of gold from the Bolshoy Kuranakh placer deposit.

Sands and Mats at Padre Island
Posted in Eye Candy

An astronaut on the International Space Station (ISS) shot this photograph of a portion of Padre Island, a long barrier island along the southern Texas coast. For this reason, the beach appears wider and extends farther seaward on South Padre Island. Stretching north from the channel, Padre Island National Seashore protects nearly 80 miles (130 kilometers) of beaches for nature and recreation. North and South Padre Islands are well known for attracting tourists and beachgoers, but they have also intrigued scientists. Extensive microbial mats—multi-layered sheets of microorganisms such as bacteria—take advantage of this natural protection and thrive in the protected tidal flats along the backshore of Padre Island.

Smart cameras keep lookout for endangered whales
Posted in Beauty

With numbers hovering around 360 individuals, the North Atlantic right whale is critically endangered. Authorities in the U.S. and Canada use spotter planes to search for North Atlantic right whales so they can issue warnings to nearby ships. But planes can’t be used at night or in bad weather, nor can observers detect whales swimming in deep water. The cameras are linked to artificial intelligence that Zitterbart's team has trained on examples of waves, birds, vessels and whales. Unlike human observation from planes and boats, these cameras don’t require ambient light, so they can spot whales around the clock.

A Short Journey to the Center of the Earth
Posted in Incredible

But at Gros Morne National Park, people can step on fragments of the mantle without having to dig an inch. On October 3, 2017, the Operational Land Imager (OLI) on Landsat 8 acquired natural-color imagery of Gros Morne National Park. Those mountains have since eroded and left behind the gneiss and granite peaks of the Long Range. The park contains some of the tallest peaks of the Long Range mountains, including Big Level and Gros Morne Mountain (French for “great somber”). Gros Morne National Park also features some recent geologic history at the Western Brook Pond.

Greater data access gives Northeast fishermen an edge against a warming ocean
Posted in Best of

One of those obstacles occurred last month, when warm water from the Gulf Stream seeped into fishing and lobstering grounds around Block Island. Together, the two have been engaged in a long-term data collection effort to track changes occurring over the continental shelf waters. DANIEL: Normally, Ellertson hears about these warm core rings from Glen. We give fishermen access to the data always, so they have ownership of the data. DANIEL: Gawarkiewicz says this bodes well for adaptation in New England’s fisheries, at a time when warming seas will likely mean more frequent warm core rings, something he says is already evident in historical data.

A Watery Day for Lake Lefroy
Posted in Incredible

For much of the year, an efflorescent salt crust makes Lake Lefroy stand out as a bright, white spot in satellite images. But after heavy rains, the ephemeral lake in Western Australia takes on a different look. Large volumes of water do not persist for long in Lake Lefroy because the region’s hot, dry climate encourages evaporation. While water pooled in early February in a pattern that resembles a tropical fish, it’s unlikely the pattern will last. Lake Lefroy is frequently reshaped by changes in the prevailing winds that transport water back and forth between different parts of the playa.

WHOI establishes new fund to accelerate microplastics innovation
Posted in Eye Candy

Early microplastics research by WHOI scientists was mostly funded through small grants that allowed them to explore very limited facets of the issue. In 2017 and 2018, WHOI awarded Catalyst Funds—an incubator program funded by private donations—to form the Marine Microplastics Initiative. With the backing of a handful of family foundations, WHOI is launching a Marine Microplastics Innovation Accelerator to help drive innovation and support projects that will have the most impact. “Currently, there are many more questions than answers about the fate and impacts of microplastics in the ocean,” he says. “The growing support from private foundations is critical in enabling the interdisciplinary, cutting-edge research that is needed to understand and solve this global problem.”

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