Category: Ocean Chemistry and Ecosystems

How the Ocean’s Tiniest Creatures Respond to Changes in the Marine Environment, Revealed by Machine Learning Analysis of ‘Omics Data

Although too tiny to be seen by the naked eye, microscopic organisms have a big impact on our planet – supporting fisheries, degrading pollutants, and helping regulate the earth’s climate. A new study published in Nature Communications employed cutting edge research techniques (collectively referred to as ‘omics) to reveal how the ocean’s tiniest creatures respond to changes in the marine environment. This work addressed a number of objectives in the NOAA ‘Omics Strategic Plan, which calls for the characterization of food webs that sustain fisheries and vulnerable species.

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Exploring Environmental DNA

Have you ever wondered what animals might be present in a particular habitat or traveled through a certain area of the ocean? Scientists are able to use environmental DNA or “eDNA” sampling to help answer those questions. NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory (AOML) has recently released a new educational video series, “Exploring Environmental DNA” on their website and Youtube channel.

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The Spirit of International Cooperation Drives Oceanographic Discovery Aboard Tara

At 20:00 at 64°S in the austral summer month of February, the sun was still high in the sky. It cast a delicate light over the sea surface dotted with icebergs, which ranged from small misshapen chunks to massive angular structures with marbled cliffsides. In January and February 2022, I took part in an Antarctic voyage aboard the French schooner Tara. My participation was part of a partnership between NOAA and AtlantECO, a European-led consortium to characterize, quantify, and model Atlantic Ocean ecosystems.

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Building Endurance to Beat the Heat: New Study Preps Corals for Warming Waters

In a recent study published in the journal Coral Reefs, scientists at NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory (AOML) found that staghorn coral (Acropora cervicornis) fragments exposed to an oscillating temperature treatment were better able to respond to heat stress caused by warming oceans.

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River Runoff Creates a Buffer Zone for Ocean Acidification in the Gulf of Mexico

A new study by scientists at NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory (AOML) and Northern Gulf Institute (NGI) has revealed the alkalinity of river runoff to be a crucial factor for slowing the pace of ocean acidification along the Gulf of Mexico’s northern coast. This valuable, first-time finding may be indicative of ocean carbon chemistry patterns for other U.S. coastal areas significantly connected to rivers.

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Environmental DNA Sampling Gets an Upgrade and Transitions to New Open-Source Technology

Scientists at NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory (AOML),the Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Studies (CIMAS) at the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, and the Northern Gulf Institute at Mississippi State University have engineered a new instrument that will provide valuable information about the biodiversity of aquatic ecosystems. A recently published paper in Hardware X describes the design and creation of a low-cost, open-source sub-surface automated environmental DNA (eDNA) sampler (SASe), for sampling eDNA in the water column. The SASe represents a milestone for AOML as one of the first pieces of technology to go through a rigorous transition process from the desks of scientists in the laboratory, through organizational approval channels, to the wider scientific community with full accessibility to the public.

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Habitat Altering Processes Are Uncovered for Reefs in the Eastern Pacific

Trying to predict how coral reefs will respond to warming oceans and a changing climate may be considered a daunting task for scientists. In the face of this challenge, scientists at AOML recently published a study that characterizes the organisms and processes that lead to coral reef accretion (build up) and bioerosion (break down) in the dynamic environments of the Gulf of Panama and Gulf of Chiriqui in the eastern Pacific.

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GOMECC-4 Cruise Assesses Ocean Acidification Impacts in the Gulf of Mexico

AOML scientists and partners from an assortment of universities and Cooperative Institutes successfully completed the most comprehensive ocean acidification sampling of the Gulf of Mexico to date with the conclusion of the fourth Gulf of Mexico Ecosystems and Carbon Cruise, also known as the GOMECC-4 cruise. The research effort aboard the NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown began out of Key West, Florida on September 13, 2021 with 25 scientists and graduate students aboard. It ended 39 days later on October 21 with a port stop in St. Petersburg, Florida.

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