Archive for the ‘Basics’ Category

What does the ocean have to do with human health?

This item was filled under Basics, Ecosystems, Facts, Health, Ocean Life


Our ocean and coasts affect us all—even those of us who don't live near the shoreline. Consider the economy. Through the fishing and boating industry, tourism and recreation, and ocean transport, one in six U.S. jobs is marine-related. Coastal and marine waters support over 28 million jobs. U.S. consumers spend over $55 billion annually for fishery products. Then there's travel and tourism. Our beaches are a top destination, attracting about 90 million people a year. Our coastal areas generate 85 percent of all U.S. tourism revenues. And let's not forget about the Great Lakes—these vast bodies of water supply more than 40 million people with drinking water. Our ocean, coasts, and Great Lakes serve other critical needs, too—needs that are harder to measure, but no less important—such as climate regulation, nutrient recycling, and maritime heritage. Last but not least, a healthy ocean and coasts provide us with resources we rely on every day, ranging from food, to medicines, to compounds that make our peanut butter easier to spread! So what does all of this have to do with human health?

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What is a Rossby wave?

This item was filled under Basics, Facts, Ocean Observations, Tides and Currents


Oceanic and atmospheric Rossby waves — also known as planetary waves — naturally occur largely due to the Earth's rotation. These waves affect the planet's weather and climate. Waves in the ocean come in many different shapes and sizes. Slow-moving oceanic Rossby waves are are fundamentally different from ocean surface waves. Unlike waves that break along the shore, Rossby waves are huge, undulating movements of the ocean that stretch horizontally across the planet for hundreds of kilometers in a westward direction. They are so large and massive that they can change Earth's climate conditions. Along with rising sea levels, King Tides, and the effects of El Ni?o, oceanic Rossby waves contribute to high tides and coastal flooding in some regions of the world.

About this image: Rossby waves naturally occur in rotating fluids. Within the Earth's ocean and atmosphere, these planetary waves play a significant role in shaping weather. This animation from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center shows both long and short atmospheric waves as indicated by the jet stream. The colors represent the speed of the wind ranging from slowest (light blue colors) to fastest (dark red).

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Why should we care about the ocean?

This item was filled under Basics, Facts


The world ocean provides so many benefits. Here are ten things the ocean does for humans and the planet:

- The air we breathe: The ocean produces over half of the world's oxygen and absorbs 50 times more carbon dioxide than our atmosphere.
- Climate regulation: Covering 70 percent of the Earth's surface, the ocean transports heat from the equator to the poles, regulating our climate and weather patterns.
- Transportation: Seventy-six percent of all U.S. trade involves some form of marine transportation.
- Recreation: From fishing to boating to kayaking and whale watching, the ocean provides us with many unique activities.
- Economic benefits: The U.S. ocean economy produces $282 billion in goods and services and ocean-dependant businesses employ almost three million people.
- Food: The ocean provides more than just seafood; ingredients from the sea are found in suprising foods such as peanut butter and soymilk.
- Medicine: Many medicinal products come from the ocean, including ingredients that help fight cancer, athritis, Alzheimer's disease, and heart disease.

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What is a tide gauge?

This item was filled under Basics, Facts, Ocean Observations, Tides and Currents


A tide gauge, which is one component of a modern water level monitoring station, is fitted with sensors that continuously record the height of the surrounding water level. This data is critical for many coastal activities, including safe navigation, sound engineering, and habitat restoration and preservation.

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What is a King Tide?

This item was filled under Basics, Facts, Ocean Observations, Tides and Currents


A King Tide is a non-scientific term people often use to describe exceptionally high tides. Tides are long-period waves that roll around the planet as the ocean is "pulled" back and forth by the gravitational pull of the moon and the sun as these bodies interact with the Earth in their monthly and yearly orbits. Higher than normal tides typically occur during a new or full moon and when the Earth is at its perigee, or during specific seasons around the country

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What is the difference between local sea level and global sea level?

This item was filled under Basics, Facts, Ocean Observations, Tides and Currents


Global sea level trends and relative sea level trends are different measurements. Just as the surface of the Earth is not flat, the surface of the ocean is also not flat — in other words, the sea surface is not changing at the same rate at all points around the globe. Sea level rise at specific locations may be more or less than the global average due to many local factors: subsidence, ocean currents, variations in land height, and whether the land is still rebounding from the compressive weight of Ice Age glaciers.

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What are the oldest living animals in the world?

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


Scientists now believe that some corals can live for up to 5,000 years, making them the longest living animals on Earth.

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What are the Roaring Forties?



During the Age of Sail (circa 15th to 19th centuries), these strong prevailing winds propelled ships across the Pacific, often at breakneck speed. Nevertheless, sailing west into heavy seas and strong headwinds could take weeks, especially around Cape Horn at the southern tip of South America, making it one of the most treacherous sailing passages in the world. The Roaring Forties take shape as warm air near the equator rises and moves toward the poles. Warm air moving poleward (on both sides of the equator) is the result of nature trying to reduce the temperature difference between the equator and at the poles created by uneven heating from the sun.

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Are all fish cold-blooded?

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


Not all fish are cold-blooded. In 2015, researchers with the NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center revealed the opah, or moonfish, as the first fully warm-blooded fish. Although not as warm as mammals and birds, the opah circulates heated blood throughout its body, giving it a competitive advantage in the cold ocean depths from 150 to 1,300 feet below the surface.

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Where do fish go when it freezes outside?

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


Have you ever wondered how fish survive in cold winter weather, or where they go when lakes and ponds freeze over? Like many people, fish tend to be less active in the cold. As cold-blooded creatures, their metabolism dips when temperatures take a dive.

The layer of ice that forms on top of a lake, pond, river, or stream provides some insulation that helps the waterbody retain its heat. Because warm water sinks, freshwater fish often gather in groups near the bottom. Some species, like koi and gobies, may burrow into soft sediments and go dormant like frogs and other amphibians, but most fish simply school in the deepest pools and take a "winter rest."

In this resting state, fishes' hearts slow down, their needs for food and oxygen decrease, and they move about very little. If you've ever gone ice fishing, you know that a long line, a slow, colorful lure, and a hearty portion of patience are often required to land this quiet quarry! Popular ice-fishing species include walleye, northern pike, yellow perch, and rainbow trout.

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