Tag: Oceans and Seas

Go Ahead, Take a Spin on Titan

How weird can nature get? Try Titan, Saturn’s largest moon, almost 900 million cold miles from the sun and even further, perhaps, from the feeble limits of human imagination. This is a world where it rains gasoline. Soot drifts down like snow and is mounded into dunes by nitrogen winds. Rivers have carved canyons through […]

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A Deep-Sea Magma Monster Gets a Body Scan

This summer, the 235-foot research vessel Marcus G. Langseth set out into the ocean off the Pacific Northwest. Trailing the ship were four electronic serpents, each five miles in length. These cables were adorned with scientific instruments able to peer into the beating heart of a monster a mile below the waves: Axial Seamount, a […]

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Bubble Subs Arise, Opening Eyes to the Deep Sea

Bruce H. Robison, a marine biologist at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in California, began prowling the deep Pacific in a revolutionary craft in 1985. It was essentially a giant bubble of clear plastic that gave its occupant stunning panoramic views, instead of requiring them to peer through a tiny porthole. “It was absolutely […]

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How Did a Virus From the Atlantic Infect Mammals in the Pacific?

Sea otters and seals in the Pacific Ocean, off the coast of Alaska, are infected with a virus that once was seen only in animals in the Atlantic. A new study suggests that melting ice in the Arctic may be to blame — and that climate change may help spread the disease to new areas […]

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Who Has Sovereignty Over the Sky?

On the Big Island of Hawaii, Mauna Kea, a dormant volcano, rises nearly 14,000 feet above sea level. There are currently 13 telescopes on its slopes, on land managed by the University of Hawaii. Mauna Kea is ideal for astronomy: It is dry, has little turbulent air and a large fraction of clear viewing nights. […]

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The Dinosaur-Killing Asteroid Acidified the Ocean in a Flash

What happened to the dinosaurs when an asteroid about six miles wide struck Earth some 66 million years ago in what is today Mexico is well known: It wiped them out. But the exact fate of our planet’s diverse ocean dwellers at the time — shelly ammonites, giant mosasaurs and other sea creatures — has […]

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Can Mayors Save the World From Climate Change?

BUCASIA BEACH, Australia — Mayor Greg Williamson crunched through the dead branches and kicked the sand. His government had planted trees near the shore to protect this northern Australian beach community from the effects of climate change, but someone had cut them down, apparently for a better view. “It looks to me like they started […]

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In the Sea, Not All Plastic Lasts Forever

A major component of ocean pollution is less devastating and more manageable than usually portrayed, according to a scientific team at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution on Cape Cod, Mass., and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Previous studies, including one last year by the United Nations Environment Program, have estimated that polystyrene, a ubiquitous plastic […]

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Where the Sea Ice Recedes, So Does an Alaska Way of Life

The Yupik whale hunters from Savoonga on St. Lawrence Island off western Alaska want to know when they will see bowhead whales again. They listened patiently to eight hours of discussions among scientists recently at a workshop in Nome, Alaska, about how the rapid loss of sea ice is changing everything that lives in the […]

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Major Climate Report Warns of Severe Damage to the World’s Oceans

Want climate news in your inbox? Sign up here for Climate Fwd:, our email newsletter. WASHINGTON — Earth’s oceans are under severe strain from climate change, a major new United Nations report warns, threatening everything from the ability to harvest seafood to the well-being of hundreds of millions of people living along the coasts. Rising temperatures […]

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At 35,853 Feet Down, an Argument About ‘Deepest’

How deep is the deep end of the ocean? The answer turns on an array of factors nearly as wide as the sea itself: the barometric pressure over the site in question, the seawater’s density and temperature, the vagaries of measurement and, perhaps, on whether a world record is at stake. The whereabouts of the […]

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This Volcanic Eruption Set Off a Phytoplankton Bloom

The eruption last year of the Kilauea volcano in Hawaii produced the equivalent of 320,000 Olympic-size swimming pools of lava. Much of it ended up flowing into the Pacific Ocean, creating plumes of acidic, glassy steam in the process. The eruption also unexpectedly coincided with an explosion in the population of phytoplankton, a diverse array […]

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What Will Turn Hurricane Dorian? How Wide Is the Eye? Your Questions Answered.

As Hurricane Dorian, one of the strongest storms ever recorded in the Atlantic, continues to batter the Bahamas and approach the United States mainland, millions of people who may be in its path are watching — and worrying. We asked readers what they want to know about Dorian. Answering those questions is Prof. Adam Sobel, […]

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The Climate Activist and the Sea

Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swedish climate activist, represents many things to many factions in the fight to slow human-driven global warming. Some see her as a manipulated totem. Others, as a hero. I’m among those who see great value in Thunberg’s sharp prod to the status quo, though I see the greatest value in climate […]

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A Raft of Floating Rock Stuns Sailors. But Can It Save the Reef?

MELBOURNE, Australia — The first thing the sailors noticed was the smell of sulfur. Then, Larissa Brill and Michael Hoult, a couple sailing in the southwestern Pacific Ocean, saw it: a floating mass of volcanic rocks, with some boulders as large as basketballs, blanketing the ocean as far as their boat’s spotlight could illuminate. The […]

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Where the Titanic Rests, Decay Races On

In the 34 years since the R.M.S. Titanic was discovered on the seafloor south of Newfoundland, it has become the world’s most famous shipwreck — a rusting hulk assailed by hundreds of explorers and moviemakers, salvors and tourists, scientists and federal watchdogs. All agree that the once-grand ship is rapidly falling apart. Resting on the […]

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Pirates, Slavers and Poachers: Violence on the High Seas

THE OUTLAW OCEANJourneys Across the Last Untamed FrontierBy Ian Urbina If you’re like I am, you don’t think much about the oceans — what Ernest Shackleton called “the void spaces of the world.” When I’ve thought about them, it’s mostly in the context of how they affect the land: what rising sea levels mean for […]

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Chasing Waves on Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way

In the 1970s and 80s, the California surfer and writer Kevin Naughton and the photographer Craig Peterson traveled the globe “Endless Summer”-style searching for perfect waves. When they arrived in Ireland, with its friendly locals and powerful, mostly empty waves, amid a landscape of stone walls and ruins, Mr. Naughton recalled, “there was a sense […]

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How Sharks Glow to Each Other Deep in the Ocean

Let us dive into the sea, beyond the colorful world of the sun. About 1,000 to 2,000 feet down, we’ll arrive at a place where only blue beams in sunlight can penetrate. This is the home of the swell shark and chain catshark. Look at them with your human, land-ready eyes, and all you’ll see […]

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