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    The seas in which corals and other calcifying species dwell are turning acidic, their pH slowly dropping as Earth's oceans acidify in response to increased carbon dioxide... More »

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Ocean acidification troubles Last Updated on 2012-08-09 00:00:00 The seas in which corals and other calcifying species dwell are turning acidic, their pH slowly dropping as Earth's oceans acidify in response to increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Trouble in Paradise: Ocean Acidification This Way Comes Sustainability of tropical corals in question, but some species developing survival mechanisms The following Discovery article is part two in a series on the National Science Foundation's Science, Engineering and Education for Sustainability (SEES) investment. Visit parts one, three, four, five, six and seven in this series. The following is part five in a series on the National Science Foundation's Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) Network. Visit parts one, two, three, four, six, seven, eight and nine in this series. Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn, and caldron bubble. —Shakespeare,... More »
Global Partnership for Healthy Oceans Last Updated on 2012-02-24 00:00:00 Governments, international organizations, civil society groups and private interests are collaborating in Global Partnership for Oceans. Their focus is to confront widely documented problems of over-fishing, marine degradation, and habitat loss. New Global Partnership to Bring Powerful Forces Together for Healthy Oceans A powerful coalition of governments, international organizations, civil society groups and private interests are joining together under the banner of a Global Partnership for Oceans to confront widely documented problems of over-fishing, marine degradation, and habitat loss. See World Bank Video: Global Partnership for Oceans In a keynote speech to be delivered today at The Economist’s World Oceans Summit here, World Bank Group President Robert B. Zoellick said the Partnership would bring science, advocacy, the... More »
Oil Weathering Process Last Updated on 2011-11-18 00:00:00   Introduction Years after the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill of 1989, Prince William Sound, Alaska continues to be adversely affected. The severity of the damage from a spill and how long the damage lasts is influenced primarily by the chemical changes the oil undergoes during and after the spill. The process by which  the spilled oil changes both physically and chemically is referred to as oil weathering and involves a series of sub-processes including spreading and drift, evaporation, natural dispersion, emulsification and biodegradation.  These processes are influenced in turn, by factors including composition of the spilled oil, the duration time of weathering, the type of oil being weathered, temperature, and wave action. For example, lighter oils  will generally weather differently than heavier oils. However, some light oils contain waxes that make it... More »
Whales: Will Changing Oceans Change the Food Supply for Whales? Last Updated on 2010-12-19 00:00:00 Baleen whales are a prominent group of sea mammals composed of 14 species, ranging from the blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus, 117 metric tons), to the pygmy right whale (Caperea marginata, 3-3.5 metric tons), Because they lack teeth, these whales filter-feed through fine, comb-like structures called baleen. During filter-feeding, a whale engulfs large volumes of sea water, closes its mouth, creates internal pressure by raising its tongue toward the top of the palate, pushes the water out through the slots in the baleen, traps small aquatic animals (especially krill) against the baleen, and swallows the animals. Krill are shrimp-like marine invertebrates, animals lacking a backbone. Like the baleen whales that eat them, krill are filter feeders that comb through seawater for plankton, microscopic algae (phytoplankton) or animals (zooplankton) suspended in the water... More »
Coral reefs: threatened by warming oceans Last Updated on 2010-11-12 00:00:00 There are a variety of human induced ocean changes that have degraded coral reef systems; these changes have greatly intensified in the last two centuries driven by the human population explosion. Proximate drivers of these changes include ocean warming, marine pollution, overfishing and mechanical abrasion of reefs. Although ocean warming may contribute only a fraction of the total stress to coral reef systems, the combined impact of the totality of all these environmental stressors is significant. Background Colonies of corals, marine invertebrate animals a few millimeters in diameter, develop a symbiotic relationship with coralline algae in the shallow, nutrient-poor waters of the tropics. Algae supply the coral invertebrates with carbohydrates, and their photosynthetic pigments impart color to the corals. In return, coral invertebrates provide the algae with a stable... More »