On 29th September 2022, we celebrate World Maritime Day. Water gives life to our planet and precious marine habitats support human and animal lifestyles alike. But the planet is changing, and researchers are working to overcome some of the greatest challenges to the marine world – climate change and pollution.
How are ice sheets responding to warming oceans? Can we engineer new technology to breakdown plastic floating around the world? How might oil spills be cleaned up in the future?
Explore the latest research by joining the Nature Portfolio and Springer Nature Research Communities.
Antarctica’s Thwaites Glacier is in prime position to retreat rapidly as its base rests in relatively warm waters. Ali Graham, Lauren Simkins and Anna Wåhlin share their ice-breaker voyage to the glacier in the Nature Portfolio Earth and Environment Community. Rán, an orange submarine named after the Norse goddess of the sea, allowed researchers to unlock the geological history of the sea floor in front of Thwaites glacier using geophysical instruments. Understanding how the glacier is responding to climate change is essential – Thwaites holds enough continental ice to raise sea level by more than a metre.
Plastic is remarkably durable, drifting through the world’s oceans, washing up on coastlines and harming marine organisms as it slowly breaks down over hundreds, if not thousands, of years. Elizabeth Bell shares an innovative method in the Nature Portfolio Chemistry Community which details the use of biocatalysts (enzymes) to depolymerise plastic polymers, essentially breaking them down into their monomer components. This new technique provides a piece of the puzzle when tackling Earth’s plastic pollution problem.
Tropical cyclones are becoming more frequent and intense as the planet warms. Could artificially cooling the ocean lessen the impact cyclones have on people and the environment when it makes landfall? James Hlywiak explains the link between air-sea interactions and storm growth in the Nature Portfolio Earth and Environment Community. Simulations suggest that artificial cooling of the ocean would be most effective for fast-moving storms occurring over deep and warm ocean mixed layers. However, what consequences could such a large-scale environmental change have on delicate marine ecosystems?
Oil spills contaminate aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, but microbes could be the answer to clearing up organic pollutants. Michael Eze shares his hunt for microbes through the forests of Germany in the Nature Portfolio Earth and Environment Community. In Germany’s Wietze tar pit, bacteria in plant roots help to biodegrade petroleum spills that would otherwise kill the plants. In the future, could there be a way of using similar technology to clean up marine oil spills?
Charlotte is a Freelance Research Content Manager at Springer Nature and is based in Birmingham. Her main focus is spotlighting the research published by Springer Nature through Behind the Paper blogs in the Nature Portfolio and Springer Nature Communities, and engaging audiences through social media content creation.