Category » Earth

Hail Oceanus!
May 29, 2012

Hail Oceanus!

Marine research vessel switches coasts

It was a beautiful day for a shakedown cruise off the Oregon coast. For a crew based at Oregon State University’s Hatfield Marine Science Center, March 7, 2012, was also a good day to get to know their new ship, the research vessel (R/V) Oceanus. Scientists and crew took Oceanus, the sister ship to OSU’s […]


The Oh! Zone
May 29, 2012

The Oh! Zone

Far-out findings from science

Ancient Blood Brothers Like the “sloth moth,” which lives only in the fur of the ambling two-toed and three-toed mammals, the “bat fly” exists only in the fur of the winged, cave-dwelling mammals. Now scientists know that the flea-like, blood-sucking fly has been hanging around with bats for at least 20 million years. That’s because […]


Tracking the Titans
May 29, 2012

Tracking the Titans

A whale named Varvara is following in the fluke-path of a whale named Flex, who surprised scientists last year by taking an unexpected migratory route from Russia to Oregon. Scientists led by Bruce Mate at the Marine Mammal Institute are following Varvara’s incredible journey via satellite signals from an electronic “tag” she received in September. […]


Fishing for Facts in Guyana
March 2, 2012

Fishing for Facts in Guyana

For two weeks in 2011, dawn signaled the beginning of another day of fish sampling for Oregon State University professor Brian Sidlauskas and his small team of colleagues and graduate students. Their camp was wedged within a mountainous area of northern South America called the Guyana Shield.


State of Change: A Shuffling of Species
February 20, 2012

State of Change: A Shuffling of Species

“Resilient ecosystems on land and in the sea provide ‘stepping stones’ where species can find refuge as they shift their geographic distributions due to climate change. … Management and natural-resource policies that protect intact ecosystems are a tool for adaptation.”
– Oregon Climate Assessment Report


Communicating about climate change
February 17, 2012

Communicating about climate change

Knowledge of concerns and values leads to a respectful conversation on difficult topics

I remember when I felt that the climate change workshop would go well. After a period of planning and preparation, our Oregon Sea Grant team arrived in Port Orford not knowing how the diverse community group would respond to the issue of a changing local climate when we were all actually face to face. So, […]


Dirt, dung and discovery
February 14, 2012

Dirt, dung and discovery

As humans encroach on wildlife habitat, scientists scramble to identify critical travel corridors.

It was the dry season of 2006 in Tanzania, Africa. Across a landscape that varies from vast savannah to steep hillside to dense, wet forest, Clinton Epps and his science team trekked more than 400 miles on foot. He, Lauren Gwin and students from Tanzania’s Sokoine University battled intense heat and thieves who attempted to […]


Connected by climate
January 4, 2012

Connected by climate

Fish bones and tree rings reveal ecological see-saw

Fish bones aren’t exactly the most prized portion of the catch of the day. Encountering a nearly translucent sliver in a grilled fillet is at best an annoyance and at worst a choking hazard. But for one Oregon State University researcher, certain fish bones are immensely valuable. Bryan Black, an associate professor at OSU’s Hatfield […]


Strange bedfellows: magnetism and climate
December 13, 2011

Strange bedfellows: magnetism and climate

What's magnetism got to do with it? An OSU postdoctoral scientist joins an expedition to the Atlantic to look for climate clues.

Chuang Xuan is at sea on the research vessel JOIDES Resolution studying magnetic and climate evidence in deep-sea sediment cores.


Mapmaker for the climate
December 6, 2011

Mapmaker for the climate

OSU grad student will help Web users visualize climate data

If you love 3-D graphics, the daily TV weather maps just keep getting better. With the sweep of an arm, an announcer can set winds and weather systems in motion like the master of ceremonies in a three-ring circus. We can sit back and watch clouds, rain and snow swirl over landscapes from local to […]


October 31, 2011

Bridging the Nuclear Divide

Historian connects scientists and Navajo people

Nothing could have prepared Linda Richards for her visit to the Navajo Nation in 1986. The landscape was littered with piles of uranium debris. Signs warning of radioactive contamination were hung on playgrounds and living areas. The water wasn’t safe to drink. Families were living in homes made of radioactive materials. “Many of the people […]


Polar Plunge
October 26, 2011

Polar Plunge

Fur coats may not be enough for Weddell seals

With ice coverage shrinking in the Arctic and parts of the Antarctic, scientists are scrambling to predict future consequences. But one Oregon State University scientist isn’t as concerned with the ice itself as with the animals that use it to rest. Markus Horning, pinniped ecologist for the Marine Mammal Institute, will venture to the Antarctic […]


Bug Zoo
October 12, 2011

Bug Zoo

OSU’s arthropod museum provides a window on the past and clues to our future

The other day, I found myself sharing a room with 3 million dead bugs.


Carbon Sink
September 23, 2011

Carbon Sink

Forests can absorb more U.S. carbon than previously thought

Oregon State University forestry scientists have a habit of redefining the conversation about carbon and forests. Professors Beverly Law, Mark Harmon and their colleagues have demonstrated that old-growth stands on the west side of the Cascades store as much carbon or more than that held in tropical rain forests. In 2009, Law reported that forests […]


On Call in Earthquake Country
September 23, 2011

On Call in Earthquake Country

Learning from devastation takes rapid response

When a severe earthquake strikes a distant community, Scott Ashford gets on a plane. He travels light but packs enough to be self-sufficient. He is, after all, going into a disaster zone where emergency personnel don’t need another mouth to feed. The head of the Oregon State University School of Civil and Construction Engineering is […]


September 19, 2011

Water Before Anything

Crisis and Transformation — Umatilla Groundwater

Water means life in arid communities. Nowhere has that truth been more carefully cultivated than in the Umatilla River watershed of northeast Oregon. In the accompanying video, OSU graduate student Sarah Sheldrick presents the region’s water crisis and a hard-won community-based solution. See the trailer on this page and the full-length video on the Water […]


Hydro-deja vu: 50 Years of Water Resources Research at OSU
September 15, 2011

Hydro-deja vu: 50 Years of Water Resources Research at OSU

A statewide water research program has addressed critical issues for Oregon

“The Congress has found that we have entered a period in which acute water shortages are hampering our industries, our agriculture, our recreation, and our individual health and happiness.”


Online Resources for Tsunamis
July 5, 2011

Online Resources for Tsunamis

We’ve seen what tsunamis can do. Now check out these websites to learn more about how they occur and what we can do to save lives.


One Less Child
May 31, 2011

One Less Child

Reproductive choices affect long-term carbon emissions

If you’re concerned about sustainable living, you probably pay close attention to your “carbon footprint.” We all have one: the amount of climate changing carbon we emit to the atmosphere through our energy intensive lifestyles. Some of us even calculate our household’s footprint with one of the many carbon calculators available online. It helps to […]


Place names link birds and King Island culture
May 9, 2011

Place names link birds and King Island culture

Seabirds figure prominently in the island's history and culture.

In her effort to document the place names of her native King Island, Alaska, Deanna Paniataaq Kingston encountered cultural links to birds. Many of the names and stories referenced them. Kauna vaktuat is “the place where you can reach and get birds from rocks,” Tayaguq is “crested auklet place” and Iizrayaq is “sea gull cliff.” […]


Optimizing Energy
April 26, 2011

Optimizing Energy

Simulations and modeling help to boost a fuel cell's energy output

Imagine a black box with knobs on the outside that you can turn. If you add fuel, the box produces electricity. By adjusting the knobs, you can change the power output, but there’s a catch — you’re not sure how far to turn the knobs to produce the most power. For researchers at Oregon State […]


A Slippery Slope
April 22, 2011

A Slippery Slope

Warm rains and glacial melting trigger dangerous debris flows

Grinding over ancient layers of lava and ash, the glaciers of the Cascade Range act like supersized sheets of shrinkwrap. Stretched taut across tons of pulverized rock, these blankets of frozen snow hold sand, gravel and boulders in place — that is, until they start to melt. Then the sediments, unlocked from the glaciers’ icy […]


Listening Post
February 23, 2011

Listening Post

Corvallis seismic monitoring station feeds data to an international network

In an underground bunker west of Corvallis, scientists monitor tremors around the world


Hard-rock story
February 17, 2011

Hard-rock story

Clues to the planet lie in rocks from underwater volcanoes

Talk about taking things in stride. Three scientists stand at a ship’s railing, arms on each others’ shoulders, sun on their faces and a calm blue sea behind them. They look like tourists on a cruise. Nothing in their calm expressions suggests that they have just pulled half a mile of rock out of the […]


Lines in the Water
February 1, 2011

Lines in the Water

Communities and scientists explore proposed marine reserves

As fishermen, scientists and coastal communities spar over Oregon’s system of marine reserves, OSU researchers and their partners are developing the science. One of their first testing grounds is Port Orford’s Redfish Rocks.


Shellfish on Acid
February 1, 2011

Shellfish on Acid

How will acidic water affect Oregon's shellfish industry?

“O Oysters,” said the Carpenter, “You’ve had a pleasant run! Shall we be trotting home again?” But answer came there none — And this was scarcely odd, because They’d eaten every one. — Lewis Carroll The Walrus and the Carpenter Whether or not you’re a fan of gulping down raw oysters doused with Tabasco, recent […]


Winter Storms Lead to Spring Bloom
February 1, 2011

Winter Storms Lead to Spring Bloom

New hypothesis supported by satellites and waterborne sensors

If you separate predators from their prey, you get more prey. Now that simple relationship has been used to explain one of the most important annual events in the ocean: the North Atlantic spring phytoplankton bloom. Since the 19th century, oceanographers have sought to explain its origins and have settled on the wintertime mixing of […]


Surprise in the Sargasso
February 1, 2011

Surprise in the Sargasso

Microbes are masters of adaptation. In some of Earth’s most extreme environments — Antarc- tica’s frigid ice fields, Yellowstone’s sulfuric hot springs, Crater Lake’s lightless depths, the oceans’ deep-sea basalts — Stephen Giovannoni has discovered thriving communities of bacteria. As the holder of the Emile F. Pernot Distinguished Professorship in Microbiology, he has discovered some […]


Run Silent, Run Deep
February 1, 2011

Run Silent, Run Deep

OSU's growing fleet of underwater gliders monitors the Pacific Ocean

For more than half a century, oceanographers have ventured out of Newport to measure, probe and monitor the Pacific Ocean off the central Oregon Coast. And since the 1950s, these seafaring researchers have recorded about 4,000 “profiles” of the near-shore waters — surface to bottom measurements of temperature, salinity and oxygen levels that begin to […]


February 1, 2011

Dolphins Hunt Together

Watch spinner dolphins corral their quarry and work together to feed in these animations. Kelly Benoit-Bird used acoustic data of dolphins feeding at night near Hawaii. She reported her findings in the following journal article: Benoit-Bird, K.J. & Au, W.W.L. 2009 “Cooperative prey herding by a pelagic dolphin, Stenella longirostris.” Journal of the Acoustical Society […]