WHOI Special Reports

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  • Other
    The ocean twilight zone’s role in climate change
    (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, 2022-02) Buesseler, Ken O. ; Jin, Di ; Kourantidou, Melina ; Levin, David S. ; Ramakrishna, Kilaparti ; Renaud, Philip
    The ocean twilight zone (more formally known as the mesopelagic zone) plays a fundamental role in global climate. It is the mid-ocean region roughly 100 to 1000 meters below the surface, encompassing a half-mile deep belt of water that spans more than two-thirds of our planet. The top of the ocean twilight zone only receives 1% of incident sunlight and the bottom level is void of sunlight. Life in the ocean twilight zone helps to transport billions of metric tons (gigatonnes) of carbon annually from the upper ocean into the deep sea, due in part to processes known as the biological carbon pump. Once carbon moves below roughly 1000 meters depth in the ocean, it can remain out of the atmosphere for centuries to millennia. Without the benefits of the biological carbon pump, the atmospheric CO 2 concentration would increase by approximately 200 ppm 1 which would significantly amplify the negative effects of climate change that the world is currently trying to curtail and reverse. Unfortunately, existing scientific knowledge about this vast zone of the ocean, such as how chemical elements flow through its living systems and the physical environment, is extremely limited, jeopardizing the efforts to improve climate predictions and to inform fisheries management and ocean policy development.
  • Other
    Value beyond view: illuminating the human benefits of the ocean twilight zone
    (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, 2019-12-12) Hoagland, Porter ; Jin, Di ; Holland, Michael ; Kostel, Ken ; Taylor, Eric ; Renier, Natalie ; Holmes, Mark
    The twilight zone is a fundamental part of the ocean ecosystem, playing an important role in carbon sequestration and marine food webs and supporting the natural function of many planetary processes. Ecosystem services provided by the twilight zone are highly beneficial to humans, but they occur largely out of sight and they are undervalued by society as a result. To better evaluate the benefits that the twilight zone provides, an ecosystem service framework provides a way to organize our thinking about them and even to quantify their economic value. With this information at hand, leaders and policymakers can think more carefully about what we stand to gain or lose from actions that affect the twilight zone and the broader ocean environment to which it is tightly linked, particularly as we strive for the sustainable use of marine resources. The title was changed from "Ecosystem Services of the Mesopelagic" to "Value beyond view: illuminating the human benefits of the ocean twilight zone."
  • Other
    Saving the North Atlantic Right Whale
    (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, 2019) Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, /
    The North Atlantic right whale is one of the most endangered whales in the world. Only about 411 remain. This report from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) examines the top three threats facing the North Atlantic right whale and explores actions being taken by the scientific community and concerned organizations to ensure the long-term survival of this critically endangered species.
  • Other
    Understanding Sea Level Rise: An in-depth look at three factors contributing to sea level rise along the U.S. East Coast and how scientists are studying the phenomenon
    (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, 2019) Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, /
    Sea levels in many areas across the global ocean are rising. Based on early measurements, we know that modern rates of global sea level rise began sometime between the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Since the turn of the 20th century, the seas have risen between six and eight inches globally. New technologies, along with a better understanding of how the oceans, ice sheets, and other components of the climate system interact, have helped scientists identify the factors that contribute to sea level rise.