Major ocean current could warm greatly, new study reveals

A new study led by researchers at Binghamton University, State University of New York found that the Kuroshio Current Extension is sensitive to global climate change and has the potential to warm greatly with increased carbon dioxide levels.

Powering Navigational Buoys With Help of Ocean Waves

Traditionally used energy harvesting technologies, like photovoltaic panels or wind turbines, suffer from several limitations. In the absence of daylight and wind, neither of the two can supply any power. In the case of ocean buoys, a potential solution is omnipresent: wave energy. Abundant, predictable, and consistent, the ocean’s waves can be used to power navigation buoys. Researchers have developed sphere-based triboelectric nanogenerators that can be incorporated directly into navigational buoys to provide electricity from ocean waves.

CSU Researchers Award $1.1 Million in Sea-Level Rise Research Funding to Assist California

Three research projects studying sea-level rise received a total of $1.1 million in funding from California State University Council on Ocean Affairs, Science and Technology (COAST) and California Sea Grant. The grant supports 11 researchers and 20 students from six CSU campuses.

Catastrophic Sea-Level Rise from Antarctic Melting is Possible with Severe Global Warming

The Antarctic ice sheet is much less likely to become unstable and cause dramatic sea-level rise in upcoming centuries if the world follows policies that keep global warming below a key 2015 Paris climate agreement target, according to a Rutgers coauthored study. But if global warming exceeds the target – 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) – the risk of ice shelves around the ice sheet’s perimeter melting would increase significantly, and their collapse would trigger rapid Antarctic melting. That would result in at least 0.07 inches of global average sea-level rise a year in 2060 and beyond, according to the study in the journal Nature.

Corals Carefully Organize Proteins to Form Rock-Hard Skeletons

Charles Darwin, the British naturalist who championed the theory of evolution, noted that corals form far-reaching structures, largely made of limestone, that surround tropical islands. He didn’t know how they performed this feat. Now, Rutgers scientists have shown that coral structures consist of a biomineral containing a highly organized organic mix of proteins that resembles what is in our bones. Their study, published in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface, shows for the first time that several proteins are organized spatially – a process that’s critical to forming a rock-hard coral skeleton.

Rutgers Expert Available to Discuss Viral ‘Pandemics’ in Oceans

New Brunswick, N.J. (April 6, 2021) – Rutgers University–New Brunswick microbial oceanographer Kay D. Bidle is available for interviews on the persistent and profound impact of viral infections on algae in the oceans. These infections influence the Earth’s carbon cycle, which helps…

Overfishing of Atlantic Cod Likely Did Not Cause Genetic Changes

Overfishing likely did not cause the Atlantic cod, an iconic species, to evolve genetically and mature earlier, according to a study led by Rutgers University and the University of Oslo – the first of its kind – with major implications for ocean conservation.

How Does Plastic Debris Make Its Way Into Ocean Garbage Patches?

Researchers in the U.S. and Germany decided to explore which pathways transport debris to the middle of the oceans, causing garbage patches, as well as the relative strengths of different subtropical gyres and how they influence long-term accumulation of debris. In Chaos, they report creating a model of the oceans’ surface dynamics from historical trajectories of surface buoys. Their model describes the probability of plastic debris being transported from one region to another.

Microplastic Sizes in Hudson-Raritan Estuary and Coastal Ocean Revealed

Rutgers scientists for the first time have pinpointed the sizes of microplastics from a highly urbanized estuarine and coastal system with numerous sources of fresh water, including the Hudson River and Raritan River. Their study of tiny pieces of plastic in the Hudson-Raritan Estuary in New Jersey and New York indicates that stormwater could be an important source of the plastic pollution that plagues oceans, bays, rivers and other waters and threatens aquatic and other life.

Fishes Contribute Roughly 1.65 Billion Tons of Carbon in Feces and Other Matter Annually

Scientists have little understanding of the role fishes play in the global carbon cycle linked to climate change, but a Rutgers-led study found that carbon in feces, respiration and other excretions from fishes – roughly 1.65 billion tons annually – make up about 16 percent of the total carbon that sinks below the ocean’s upper layers.

Bacteria and Algae Get Rides in Clouds

Human health and ecosystems could be affected by microbes including cyanobacteria and algae that hitch rides in clouds and enter soil, lakes, oceans and other environments when it rains, according to a Rutgers co-authored study.

Important Climate Change Mystery Solved by Scientists

Scientists have resolved a key climate change mystery, showing that the annual global temperature today is the warmest of the past 10,000 years – contrary to recent research, according to a Rutgers-led study in the journal Nature. The long-standing mystery is called the “Holocene temperature conundrum,” with some skeptics contending that climate model predictions of future warming must be wrong. The scientists say their findings will challenge long-held views on the temperature history in the Holocene era, which began about 12,000 years ago.

Nuclear War Could Trigger Big El Niño and Decrease Seafood

A nuclear war could trigger an unprecedented El Niño-like warming episode in the equatorial Pacific Ocean, slashing algal populations by 40 percent and likely lowering the fish catch, according to a Rutgers-led study. The research, published in the journal Communications Earth & Environment, shows that turning to the oceans for food if land-based farming fails after a nuclear war is unlikely to be a successful strategy – at least in the equatorial Pacific.

Rutgers Legal Expert Available to Discuss Environmental, Climate Change Priorities

New Brunswick, N.J. (Jan. 21, 2021) – Rutgers University Professor Cymie R. Payne, an expert on United States and international environmental laws, is available for interviews on how the administration of President Biden can strengthen laws and regulations and efforts to…

Big Differences in How Coral Reef Fish Larvae are Dispersed

How the larvae of colorful clownfish that live among coral reefs in the Philippines are dispersed varies widely, depending on the year and seasons – a Rutgers-led finding that could help scientists improve conservation of species. Right after most coral reef fish hatch, they join a swirling sea of plankton as tiny, transparent larvae. Then currents, winds and waves disperse them, frequently to different reefs.

How to Identify Heat-Stressed Corals

Researchers have found a novel way to identify heat-stressed corals, which could help scientists pinpoint the coral species that need protection from warming ocean waters linked to climate change, according to a Rutgers-led study.

COVID-19 Pandemic had Big Impact on Commercial Fishing in Northeast

With restaurants and supply chains disrupted due to the global coronavirus pandemic, two-fifths of commercial fishermen surveyed from Maine through North Carolina did not go fishing earlier this year, according to a Rutgers study that also documented their resilience and adaptation. Of those who kept fishing, nearly all reported a decline in income compared with previous years, according to the survey of 258 fishers in the Northeast published in the journal PLOS ONE.

Planning Ahead Protects Fish and Fisheries

Conservation of fish and other marine life migrating from warming ocean waters will be more effective and also protect commercial fisheries if plans are made now to cope with climate change, according to a Rutgers-led study in the journal Science Advances.

Atmospheric Rivers Help Create Massive Holes in Antarctic Sea Ice

Warm, moist rivers of air in Antarctica play a key role in creating massive holes in sea ice in the Weddell Sea and may influence ocean conditions around the vast continent as well as climate change, according to Rutgers co-authored research. Scientists studied the role of long, intense plumes of warm, moist air – known as atmospheric rivers – in creating enormous openings in sea ice. They focused on the Weddell Sea region of the Southern Ocean near Antarctica, where these sea ice holes (called polynyas) infrequently develop during the winter.

Rutgers Expert Can Discuss 10 Ways to Adapt to Coastal Flooding

New Brunswick, N.J. (Oct. 14, 2020) – Rutgers coastal expert Vanessa Dornisch is available for interviews on 10 steps residents can take to prepare for sea-level rise and adapt to increased coastal flooding. Dornisch, coastal training program coordinator at the…

Marine animals live where ocean is most ‘breathable,’ but ranges could shrink with climate change

Research shows that many marine animals already inhabit the maximum range of breathable ocean that their physiology allows. The findings are a warning about climate change: Since warmer waters harbor less oxygen, stretches of ocean that are breathable today for a species may not be in the future.

Ocean Algae Get “Coup de Grace” from Viruses

Scientists have long believed that ocean viruses always quickly kill algae, but Rutgers-led research shows they live in harmony with algae and viruses provide a “coup de grace” only when blooms of algae are already stressed and dying. The study, published in the journal Nature Communications, will likely change how scientists view viral infections of algae, also known as phytoplankton – especially the impact of viruses on ecosystem processes like algal bloom formation (and decline) and the cycling of carbon and other chemicals on Earth.

New paper addresses mix of contaminants in Fukushima wastewater, highlights risks of dumping in ocean

Ten years after the Tohoku-oki earthquake and tsunami devastated Japan’s Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant, radiation levels have fallen in all but the waters closest to the plant. But a new hazard exists and is growing every day in the number of storage tanks on land surrounding the power plant that hold contaminated wastewater.

Rutgers Expert Can Discuss Soil Compaction, Healthy Yards

New Brunswick, N.J. (June 23, 2020) – Rutgers University–New Brunswick Professor Steven Yergeau is available to discuss the causes of soil compaction and how to correct it to foster healthy yards. Soil compaction can impact lawns and gardens and cause…

Mangrove Trees Won’t Survive Sea-Level Rise by 2050 if Emissions Aren’t Cut

Mangrove trees – valuable coastal ecosystems found in Florida and other warm climates – won’t survive sea-level rise by 2050 if greenhouse gas emissions aren’t reduced, according to a Rutgers co-authored study in the journal Science. Mangrove forests store large amounts of carbon, help protect coastlines and provide habitat for fish and other species. Using sediment data from the last 10,000 years, an international team led by Macquarie University in Australia estimated the chances of mangrove survival based on rates of sea-level rise.

Rutgers Expert Available to Discuss Risks of Ocean Activities During COVID-19 Pandemic

New Brunswick, N.J. (May 21, 2020) – Rutgers University–New Brunswick Professor Kay Bidle is available for interviews on the possible risks from the novel coronavirus or other pathogens while swimming or surfing in oceans, bays, lakes and rivers. “We currently know very…

Rutgers Experts Can Discuss 2020 Hurricane Season Outlook in N.J.

New Brunswick, N.J. (May 19, 2020) – Rutgers University–New Brunswick experts are available for interviews on the 2020 hurricane season outlook in New Jersey, the Garden State’s vulnerability to hurricanes and tropical storms, and the state’s tropical cyclone history. Hurricane…

Ocean acidification prediction now possible years in advance

CU Boulder researchers have developed a method that could enable scientists to accurately forecast ocean acidity up to five years in advance. This would enable fisheries and communities that depend on seafood negatively affected by ocean acidification to adapt to changing conditions in real time, improving economic and food security in the next few decades.

Algae in the Oceans Often Steal Genes from Bacteria

Algae in the oceans often steal genes from bacteria to gain beneficial attributes, such as the ability to tolerate stressful environments or break down carbohydrates for food, according to a Rutgers co-authored study.
The study of 23 species of brown and golden-brown algae, published in the journal Science Advances, shows for the first time that gene acquisition had a significant impact on the evolution of a massive and ancient group of algae and protists (mostly one-celled organisms including protozoa) that help form the base of oceanic food webs.

Rutgers Experts Available to Discuss Environmental Protection During COVID-19 Crisis

New Brunswick, N.J. (April 15, 2020) – Rutgers University–New Brunswick professors Nicole Fahrenfeld and John Reinfelder are available for interviews on environmental protection issues during the COVID-19 pandemic. Fahrenfeld can discuss issues including microbial water quality, sewer issues (including what…

A Rapidly Changing Arctic

A new study by researchers at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and their international colleagues found that freshwater runoff from rivers and continental shelf sediments are bringing significant quantities of carbon and trace elements into parts of the Arctic Ocean via the Transpolar Drift—a major surface current that moves water from Siberia across the North Pole to the North Atlantic Ocean.

Ocean’s ‘biological pump’ captures more carbon than expected

Scientists have long known that the ocean plays an essential role in capturing carbon from the atmosphere, but a new study from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) shows that the efficiency of the ocean’s “biological carbon pump” has been drastically underestimated, with implications for future climate assessments.

How Old are Whale Sharks? Nuclear Bomb Legacy Reveals Their Age

Nuclear bomb tests during the Cold War in the 1950s and 1960s have helped scientists accurately estimate the age of whale sharks, the biggest fish in the seas, according to a Rutgers-led study. It’s the first time the age of this majestic species has been verified. One whale shark was an estimated 50 years old when it died, making it the oldest known of its kind. Another shark was an estimated 35 years old.

Oysters and Clams Can be Farmed Together

Eastern oysters and three species of clams can be farmed together and flourish, potentially boosting profits of shellfish growers, according to a Rutgers University–New Brunswick study. Though diverse groups of species often outperform single-species groups, most bivalve farms in the United States and around the world grow their crops as monocultures, notes the study in the journal Marine Ecology Progress Series.

$8.3M award to WHOI extends observational record of critical climate research

The National Science Foundation (NSF) recently awarded $8.2 million to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) to extend the life of the Overturning in the Sub-polar North Atlantic Program (OSNAP) in a key part of Earth’s ocean-climate system. The award is part of a $15.5 million grant to four U.S. institutions that will help add four years to the record being assembled by the observatory.

Climate Change Could Threaten Sea Snails in Mid-Atlantic Waters

Climate change could threaten the survival and development of common whelk – a type of sea snail – in the mid-Atlantic region, according to a study led by scientists at Rutgers University–New Brunswick. The common, or waved, whelk (Buccinum undatum) is an important commercial species that has been harvested for decades in Europe and Canada for bait and human consumption. Its habitat within the mid-Atlantic region is one of the Earth’s fastest warming marine areas and annual fluctuations in the bottom temperature are among the most extreme on the planet due to unique oceanographic conditions.

Simulations Show Effects of Buoyancy on Drift in Florida Current

Acquiring a better understanding for how objects drift in the ocean has importance for many uses, but most models lack a systematic approach. One new effort looks to provide a clearer alternative. Researchers have released the results from an experiment aimed at tracking different objects as they drift in the Florida Current. Using satellite data, the group developed a new model for how objects drift. They discuss their work in this week’s Physics of Fluids.