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Tue, Feb

In this perspective view of the shallow megathrust fault, looking seaward towards the trench, the frontal prism has been cut away. The color scales indicate depth below seafloor, and grey denotes the seafloor. Image credit: Edwards et al., Nature Geoscience, Feb-2018.

Geophysicists have obtained detailed three-dimensional images of a dangerous megathrust fault west of Costa Rica where two plates of the Earth's crust collide. The images reveal features of the fault surface, including long grooves or corrugations, that may determine how the fault will slip in an earthquake.

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Last July, a sailboat with two people onboard caught on fire several hundred miles off the coast of Jacksonville, Florida. Luckily for the crew, a NOAA satellite picked up the distress signal from their emergency beacon, enabling the U.S. Air Force and Coast Guard to rescue them.

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Cali Turner Tomaszewicz inspects a green sea turtle bone. Photo courtesy of UC San Diego.

Populations of green sea turtles living in the eastern region of the Pacific Ocean have rebounded in recent years, but their numbers remain dangerously depleted. Research by led by biologists at the University of California San Diego and NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service is offering previously unknown information about where these turtles live and how they use their habitats, key data that will aid future conservation efforts.

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One of the advanced polar research vessels scientists can gain access to via ARICE is the RRS Sir David Attenborough. The new polar ship is commissioned by NERC, built by Cammell Laird to a Rolls-Royce design and operated by British Antarctic Survey. From 2019 onwards scientists researching oceans, ice and atmosphere will have access to state-of-the-art facilities on this floating multidisciplinary research platform. Photo credit: Rolls-Royce.

Fourteen partners from thirteen countries including the United States and Canada, have joined forces to improve capacities for marine-based research in the ice-covered Arctic Ocean. The Arctic Research Icebreaker Consortium (ARICE) aims to give the Arctic science community fully funded access to six research icebreakers capable of venturing into the Arctic sea ice, better coordinating the existing polar research fleet, and collaborating with the maritime industry.

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A pod of narwhals in Melville Bay, Greenland. Photo credit: Kristin Laidre/University of Washington.

Narwhals are some of the most elusive creatures in the ocean, spending most of their lives in deep water far from shore. But new research shows narwhals may prefer to congregate near unique glacier fjords with thick ice fronts and low to moderate calving activity, where icebergs break off infrequently. It appears narwhals prefer the freshwater coming off still, serene glaciers over the silt-filled runoff discharged from very active glaciers.

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This artist’s impression compares the seven planets orbiting the ultra-cool red dwarf star TRAPPIST-1 to the Earth at the same scale. New observations, when combined with very sophisticated analysis, have now yielded good estimates of the densities of all seven of the Earth-sized planets and suggest that they are rich in volatile materials, probably water. They are shown to the same scale but not in the correct relative positions. Photo credit: ESO/M. Kornmesser.

A new study has found that the seven planets orbiting the nearby ultra-cool dwarf star TRAPPIST-1 are all made mostly of rock, and some could potentially hold more water than Earth. The planets' densities, now known much more precisely than before, suggest that some of them could have up to 5 percent of their mass in the form of water — about 250 times more than Earth's oceans.

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Light pollution from research and other vessels in arctic waters during the polar night can have a pronounced effect on zooplankton behavior. Photo credit: Benjamin Hell.

We know that tiny marine creatures in the Arctic respond to weak light from the Moon or the northern lights during the polar night. Now researchers have learned that artificial light from research vessels can also have a negative effect.

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Group of pink sea urchins, Strongylocentrotus fragilis, Photo credit: Kirk Sato.

Sea urchin is a delicacy in Asia, South America, Europe, and increasingly in California, where the uniquely flavored roe, or uni, is used in sushi, gourmet cuisine, and products such as sauces and flavorings. But the large red sea urchin (Mesocentrotus franciscanus) caught off the coast of Southern California—the primary urchin fishery in the U.S.—is vulnerable to increased water temperatures and ocean acidification.

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Researchers use a CTD rosette to collect water samples for geochemical analyses of Gulf of Mexico waters during and after the Deepwater Horizon incident. Photo credit: Samantha Joye.

Scientists analyzed in situ deep-depth water column measurements before and after the Deepwater Horizon well was capped and calculated degradation rate estimates for 49 hydrocarbons (23% of released spill material) and inferred the rates of an additional 5 hydrocarbons. The half-lives of the hydrocarbons ranged from 0.4 to 36.5 days, and the results suggest that microbial biodegradation was the primary degradation process in the deep ocean.

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Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution scientists Anne Cohen (left) and Nathan Mollica extract core samples from a giant Porites coral in Risong Bay, Palau. They are co-authors of a new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences showing how increasing ocean acidification will affect coral skeleton growth. Photo credit: Richard Brooks, Lightning Strike Media Productions, Palau.

The rising acidity of the oceans threatens coral reefs by making it harder for corals to build their skeletons. A new study identifies the details of how ocean acidification affects coral skeletons, allowing scientists to predict more precisely where corals will be more vulnerable.

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