Climate Change

Humans are releasing huge amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere through the burning of coal, oil and gas. These gases trap heat in, warming the planet and causing a litany of changes.

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On average, Arctic sea ice has decreased by four percent per decade since the late 1970s.

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Sea Level Rise

The ocean never stops moving. When you visit the beach, waves roll in and recede and the tides rise and fall. These are...

2011 Student Summit on the Ocean & Coasts Webcast, Part 4

Recorded Feb. 15, 2011, this video from the Third Student Summit on the Ocean and Coasts includes presentations that were given by delegations from the Mystic Aquarium (01:00), Gulf Coast Research Laboratory & Marine...

Climate Change Education in Coastal Carolina

What is climate change, and how is it affecting coastal Carolina? That is the question that a group teens from Isaac Bear Early College High School set out to answer for their Third National...
Arctic cod have a special protein that warms their blood.

Arctic Lesson Plans from NOAA

Explore the Arctic in the "Under Arctic Ice" photo essay, co-developed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Office of Ocean Exploration and Research and the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History. This...
A photo of an oyster cage, out of the water, covered in sea squirts.

Alaska Vulnerable to Invasive Species from Warmer Waters

Invasive species can have a range of environmental and economic impacts. In this photo, sea squirts foul an oyster cage. Scientists at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center's Marine Invasions Lab study the movement and...
Sea bass flock to a tropical coral reef in the Red Sea.

5 Simple Things You Can Do for the Ocean

Sea bass flock to a tropical coral reef in the Red Sea. Credit: Michael Lang/Smithsonian Institution More than ever, the fate of the ocean is in our hands. To be good stewards and leave...
A graph of arctic ice coverage from 2011, showing data through September 7, 2011.

Arctic Sea Ice: A New Low?

This graph of the Arctic sea ice coverage shows how close the year 2011 is to reaching a record-low. The graph contains data through September 7, 2011. The National Snow and Ice Data Center...
Polar bears are threatened by a lack of sea ice.

Climate Change at the Poles

Polar bears are threatened by the loss of sea ice in the Arctic. Credit: K. Elliott, NOAA, Hidden Ocean 2005 At the ends of the Earth, life thrives despite extreme conditions. In the Arctic...

Webcast: 'We Sea Change,' a Climate Change Education Video

What is climate change, and how is it affecting coastal Carolina? That is the question that a group of teens from Isaac Bear Early College High School set out to answer for their Third...

World Oceans Day 2012 - Live Webcast

On World Oceans Day - June 8th, 2012 - the Living Oceans Foundation hosted a live web-based conversation between Sylvia Earle at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History and a team of scientists...
Swimmers brave the waters in the shadow of a coal-fired power plant.  Coal plants like this one emit CO2 into our atmosphere which is warming the planet and altering the chemistry of the ocean.

Climate Change

Today, carbon dioxide (CO2) levels in our atmosphere are the highest they've been in 15 million years. It's the cumulative impact of an ever-expanding population―7 billion people and rising―and an ever-increasing thirst for energy,...
Intense volcanic CO2 vents in Ili Ili Bua Bua, Normanby Island, Papua New Guinea.

Will Coral Reefs Survive Acidification?

Nestled among the beautiful coral reefs of Papua New Guinea (PNG) is a place that could provide the key to our understanding of one of the biggest threats to coral reef survival: Ocean Acidification...
Where the pH is the lowest, corals can no longer grow - sand, rubble and seagrasses replace the reef.

Sneak Peek: Future of Coral Reefs in an Acidifying Ocean

Scientists don’t often get the opportunity to travel through time. But nestled among the beautiful coral reefs of Papua New Guinea (PNG) is a place that provides a glimpse today of what could be...
Chrysaora melanaster is a jellyfish found in the Arctic.

Jellyfish and Comb Jellies

Jellyfish and comb jellies are gelatinous animals that drift through the ocean's water column around the world. They are both beautiful—the jellyfish with their pulsating bells and long, trailing tentacles, and the comb jellies...

Ocean Acidification Excites Boring Sponges

This orange boring sponge ( Cliona varians ) overgrows several coral species at Panama's Smithsonian Tropical Studies Institute. Credit: Amber Stubler Boring sponges get a bad rap. Their own name betrays them, announcing to...

Ice-Loving Seals and the Loss of Sea Ice

In 2011, storms and lack of ice-cover due to a warmer winter climate resulted in hundreds of seal pups being washed up on the shore of Prince Edward Island. Like many, this young seal...
A puffin with a mouthful of fish.

Watching for Fish in the Puffin's Beak

Atlantic puffins have spiny tongues that, pressed against the roof of their mouths, help to hold ten or more small forage fish at once without losing any along the way. Credit: Steve Garvie, Flickr...
A decomposing sea star loses its grip on a rock.

Sickly Starfish: A Q&A with Dr. Chris Mah

A morning sun star ( Solaster dawsoni ) loses its grip on a rock surface as its body slowly decomposes from starfish wasting syndrome off the coast of Vancouver in September 2013. Credit: Jonathan...
A shell placed in seawater with increased acidity slowly dissolves over 45 days.

Ocean Acidification

Ocean acidification is sometimes called “climate change’s equally evil twin,” and for good reason: it's a significant and harmful consequence of excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that we don't see or feel because...

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