Archive for March, 2016

What is GPS?



For thousands of years, humans found their way by looking to the sky. Sailors used the constellations, sun, and moon to navigate to distant shores. Today, all that's needed is a device called a GPS receiver. GPS stands for Global Positioning System, and it lets us know where we are and where we are going anywhere on Earth.

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What is the Great Loop?

This item was filled under Economy, Facts, Maritime Transportation, Places


The Great Loop is a continuous waterway that recreational mariners can travel that includes part of the Atlantic, Gulf Intracoastal Waterways, the Great Lakes, Canadian Heritage Canals, and the inland rivers of America's heartland. Anyone who completes the journey is then named an official 'Looper.'

For a safe and enjoyable trip, there are a few things to consider when traveling the Great Loop—a great amount of time, a boat with less than a five foot draft to travel inland waterways, NOAA nautical charts, and a NOAA radio. Along the way, it is possible to visit a number of national marine sanctuaries and estuarine research reserves.

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An ocean observatory for the Red Sea

This item was filled under Climate
New studies provide new insights into the physical and biological aspects of the Red Sea....

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Faults control the amount of water flowing into the Earth during continental breakup

This item was filled under Climate
New light has been shed on the processes by which ocean water enters the solid Earth during continental breakup. New research shows a direct link on geological timescales between fault activity and the amount of water entering the Earth's mantle along faults....

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Marine protected areas intensify both cooperation and competition

This item was filled under Climate
Marine protected areas generate both extreme cooperation and extreme competition among commercial fishers. When these behaviors remain in balance, they can lead to better conservation of marine resources, a new study finds. However, if competition among fishers increases while cooperation declines, it could threaten the long-term survival of marine protected areas, their biodiversity and the communities that depend on them....

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Greenland’s ice is getting darker, increasing risk of melting

This item was filled under Climate
Greenland's snowy surface has been getting darker over the past two decades, absorbing more heat from the sun and increasing snow melt, a new study of satellite data shows. That trend is likely to continue, with the surface's reflectivity, or albedo, decreasing by as much as 10 percent by the end of the century, the study says....

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New maps reduce threats to whales, dolphins

This item was filled under Climate
Biologists have created highly detailed maps charting the seasonal movements and population densities of 35 species of whales, dolphins and porpoises -- many of them threatened or endangered -- in US Atlantic and Gulf waters. The maps give government agencies and marine managers better tools to protect these highly mobile animals and guide ocean planning, including decisions about the siting of wind energy and oil and gas exploration along US coasts....

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Food limitation linked to record California sea lion pup strandings

This item was filled under Climate
Large numbers of California sea lion pups have flooded animal rescue centers in Southern California in the past few years. Now, as part of an ongoing investigation into the Unusual Mortality Event of California sea lions, researchers may have an explanation....

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What color is an iceberg?

This item was filled under Basics, Ecosystems, Facts, Ocean Science


Most people would say that icebergs are white—and most of them are. But did you know that icebergs can also appear in spectacular shades of blue and green? An iceberg looks white because compressed snow on its surface contains large numbers of tiny air bubbles and crystal edges that equally reflect all wavelengths of visible light.

As more and more heavy snow accumulates atop an iceberg, the air bubbles get compressed, forcing the smaller ice crystals to grow together and merge into larger grains. When the iceberg is underwater, the air bubbles are squeezed out and washed away. Then, when light encounters the dense, compressed ice, much of the light penetrates it. The ice absorbs longer wavelengths of colors, such as red and yellow. Colors of shorter wavelengths, like green and blue, reflect the light. This "leftover" blue-green light is what gives some icebergs their remarkable colors.

Additionally, algae often grow on the underwater sides of icebergs, producing beautiful green stripes in the ice. These are readily seen when an iceberg rolls over and sections that were previously underwater are exposed.

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Novel ocean-current turbine design: Taming oceans for 24/7 power

This item was filled under Climate
Researchers have proposed a novel ocean-current turbine design. Fossil fuels propelled the Industrial Revolution and subsequent technological advances. However, our future cannot be based on them, if only because they are a finite resource; and we are very close to exhausting them. Ocean currents are another source of power, comparable to fossil fuels in terms of consistency and reliability, and at the same time, clean and renewable....

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