Fear the dead: Animal carcasses attract life and death for the wider food web

On the 26th August 2016, as storm clouds gather above the alpine plateau of Hardangervidda in southcentral Norway, a herd of wild tundra reindeer grouped together for protection. A split second later, in a moment of miserable luck, the herd fell to the ground dead, having been struck by a bolt of lightning. Norwegian ecologists took this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to study how the mass die-off of 323 reindeer has since impacted the local ecology and food web.

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The Soil, Sand, and Sea: The Journey of Microplastics

As we approach the start of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development in 2021, it is time we face our unseen but ubiquitous problem: microplastics. What do we know about them, where can we find them, and what does the science say on its impacts on our hydrosphere and biosphere?

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Holding Your Breath: Surviving the Heart of Marine Darkness

As you swim through a coral reef, you see parrot fish, clams and other colorful aquatic creatures swimming elegantly and going about their lives. While you, with your snorkel, are confined to the surface of the water and the occasional dive for as long and as deep as you can hold your breath, the fish “breathe” easily with their gills (or lungs in the cases of some evolutionarily interesting fish). But do they breathe that easily? Living in and getting oxygen from a high-pressure aquatic environment is difficult and metabolically demanding, and some fish have found special ways to make it easier.

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Unleashing Pollutants: Environmental Fate of Antarctica In a Warmer World

Antarctica has been a depository for pollutants for decades. The brutal cold has kept them dormant and unable to inflict harmful effects on nature. As temperatures rise and ice melts, what is the fate of these pollutants in this unique landscape?

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The Sound of Silence: Consequences of Man-made Noise on Humpback Whale Songs

Male humpback whales sing loudly and for long durations during breeding season. A hundred years ago their voices did not have to compete with much man-made noise. These days they contend with underwater drilling, sonar, and the noise of thousands of cargo and passenger ships. This affects how and when they sing. The consequences of these changes are still largely unknown.

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Voyage to Iceberg Alley

A couple of days ago, right around sunrise, we sailed out of the Straits of Magellan and into the southern Atlantic Ocean, bound for the Southern Ocean and the Antarctic waters known as Iceberg Alley. Giant petrels soared against a clear blue sky, and gentle waves rocked the ship—although we didn’t expect that to last! I am aboard the JOIDES Resolution, a research vessel and drilling ship, and we are intentionally sailing into some of the planet’s wildest seas and the area of greatest iceberg concentration in the Antarctic.

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