Pacific Ocean Archives - State of the Planet

Part of the Pacific Ocean Is Not Warming as Expected. Why?

Climate models predict that as a result of human-induced climate change, the surface of the Pacific Ocean should be warming. But one key part is not.

by |June 24, 2019
water sampling device is lowered off the ship into the ocean

Every (Fifth) Breath We Take: Friends of Phytoplankton and Why They Matter

Tiny microbes called phytoplankton live beneath the ocean’s surface, producing oxygen that is essential to human survival. A new study sheds light on how these all-important diatoms survive and thrive under difficult conditions.

by |August 16, 2018
Gwenn Hennon demonstrates experiment aboard the RV Kilo Moana

Eavesdropping on the Ocean’s Mighty Microorganisms

Now, nearing the end of our three-week cruise of the North Pacific off Hawaii, we are working to understand how these tiny bacteria connect and communicate with one another.

by |July 13, 2017

Deep thoughts from the Deep Blue Sea

The sea is a deep blue, so clear that you might think it was devoid of life. We have seen only a few seabirds circling the ship and playing in the air currents we generate. We haven’t seen any whales or sharks, only an occasional flying fish taking to the air in front of our bow wake. In this apparent desert, microbial life is king.

by |July 6, 2017
Gwen Hennon

Racing time to Explore Ocean Ecosystems: A Mother’s Work

Scientists like myself are in a race against time to understand the fundamental drivers of ocean ecosystems before climate change pushes them towards a new unknown state.

by |June 22, 2017

A Front Row Seat on the Ocean Floor

Ocean scientists are, in their hearts, explorers. Our group aboard the R/V Atlantis may be more infected with the exploration bug than most. The first goal of our expedition makes that clear: We aim to map regions of the seafloor never before seen by human eyes.

by |November 15, 2016
With the right mix of nutrients, carbon-capturing phytoplankton grow quickly, creating blooms visible from space. (Robert Simmon and Jesse Allen/NASA)

Iron Fertilization Won’t Work in Equatorial Pacific, Study Suggests

Over the past half-million years, the equatorial Pacific Ocean has seen five spikes in the amount of iron-laden dust blown in from the continents. In theory, those bursts should have turbo-charged the growth of carbon-capturing algae, but a new study shows that the excess iron had little to no effect.

by |May 16, 2016

From Top to Bottom: Scientists Map a New Island Volcano

One of the earth’s newest islands exploded into view from the bottom of the southwest Pacific Ocean in January 2015, and scientists sailing around the volcano this spring have created a detailed map of its topography.

by |May 4, 2016

On the Surface, Feeling Further Away from the Ocean than Ever

My German colleague and I could conceptualize five kilometers horizontally—the same as her bike ride to work, the same as the first ever race I ran. Neither of us could quite grasp what flipping 5 kilometers 90 degrees might mean, as our pump continued on its 3-hour vertical journey to that depth.

by |February 8, 2016

In Isolation, Community

Being aboard a ship is isolating—but for a scientist, it’s not lonely.

by |January 19, 2016