What are nature-based solutions?

Mordecai Island, New Jersey, protects the Back Bay areas of Long Beach Island. In 2015, part of the salt marsh island was restored with dredged material and planted with native vegetation. (Photo credit: R. Giannelli, NOAA NCCOS)

Infrastructure projects that intentionally use natural and nature-based habitats and processes to reduce risks and deliver multiple benefits are referred to as nature-based solutions.

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Infrastructure projects that intentionally use natural and nature-based habitats and processes to reduce risks and deliver multiple benefits are referred to as nature-based solutions.

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What is the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC)?

The global conveyor belt, shown here, circulates cool subsurface water and warm surface water throughout the world. The Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation is part of this complex system of global ocean currents.)

The ocean’s water is constantly circulated by currents. Tidal currents occur close to shore and are influenced by the sun and moon. Surface currents are influenced by the wind. However, other, much slower currents that occur from the surface to the seafloor are driven by changes in the saltiness and ocean temperature, a process called thermohaline circulation. These currents are carried in a large “global conveyor belt,” which includes the AMOC.

AMOC stands for Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation. The AMOC circulates water from north to south and back in a long cycle within the Atlantic Ocean. This circulation brings warmth to various parts of the globe and also carries nutrients necessary to sustain ocean life.

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What is latitude?

Latitude lines start at the equator (0 degrees latitude) and run east and west, parallel to the equator. Lines of latitude are measured in degrees north or south of the equator to 90 degrees at the North or South poles.

Lines of latitude, also called parallels, are imaginary lines that divide the Earth. They run east to west, but measure your distance north or south. The equator is the most well known parallel. At 0 degrees latitude, it equally divides the Earth into the Northern and Southern hemispheres. From the equator, latitude increases as you travel north or south, reaching 90 degrees at each pole.

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What is longitude?

Lines of longitude, also called meridians, are imaginary lines that divide the Earth. They run north to south from pole to pole, but they measure the distance east or west. Longitude is measured in degrees, minutes, and seconds. Although latitude lines are alway equally spaced, longitude lines are furthest from each other at the equator and meet at the poles. A transcript is available that describes this infographic content in plain text. (Image credit: iStock)

Lines of longitude, also called meridians, are imaginary lines that divide the Earth. They run north to south from pole to pole, but they measure the distance east or west.

The prime meridian, which runs through Greenwich, England, has a longitude of 0 degrees. It divides the Earth into the eastern and western hemispheres. The antimeridian is on the opposite side of the Earth, at 180 degrees longitude. Though the antimeridian is the basis for the international date line, actual date and time zone boundaries are dependent on local laws. The international date line zigzags around borders near the antimeridian.

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What is a barrier island?

Satellite image of Cape Hatteras National Seashore on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Credit: NASA’s Earth Observatory.

Barrier islands form as waves repeatedly deposit sediment parallel to the shoreline. As wind and waves shift according to weather patterns and local geographic features, these islands constantly move, erode, and grow. They can even disappear entirely.

They are generally separated from the mainland by tidal creeks, bays, and lagoons. Beaches and sand dune systems form on the side of the island facing the ocean; the side facing the shore often contains marshes, tidal flats, and maritime forests. These areas are important habitat for seabirds, fish and shellfish, and and nesting sea turtles.

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How long do Greenland sharks live?

Close-up image of a greenland shark taken at the floe edge of the Admiralty Inlet, Nunavut. (Credit: Hemming1952, Wikimedia)

Scientists have suspected for a while that Greenland sharks lived extremely long lives, but they didn’t have a way to determine how long. The age of other shark species can be estimated by counting growth bands on fin spines or on the shark’s vertebrae, much like rings on a tree. Greenland sharks, however, have no fin spines and no hard tissues in their bodies. Their vertebrae are too soft to form the growth bands seen in other sharks. Scientists could only guess that the sharks lived a long time based on what they knew — the sharks grow at a very slow rate (less than 1 cm per year) and they can reach over 6 meters in size.

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