Oceanography The Official Magazine of
The Oceanography Society
Volume 20 Issue 03

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Volume 20, No. 3
Pages 9 - 13


To Learn about Land-Use Change, Look to the Sea | Herons, Egrets Brave Treacherous Currents | First Image of Sargassum Weed—From Space | Less Salty Oceans: Climate Change Dead Ahead?

Cheryl Lyn Dybas | Oceanography Contributing Writer

First Paragraph

To Learn about Land-Use Change, Look to the Sea

Could the second longest river in Kenya record the history of the country's soil erosion? According to scientist Robert Dunbar of Stanford University and his colleagues, the Sabaki River, which drains some 11 percent of Kenya's landmass, covers a 300-year-record of soil erosion—in coral reefs near the mouth of the river at the Indian Ocean. The reefs hold the longest land-use archive ever obtained from corals.

Herons, Egrets Brave Treacherous Currents

In summertime and indeed for much of the year, the livin' is easy, at least for the thousands of herons and egrets who have found their way to New York City's harbor islands. During the city's hottest months, when human New Yorkers escape baking streets for Long Island and points beyond, black-crowned night-herons, snowy egrets, great egrets, and glossy ibis do the opposite: they take up residence on islands dotted throughout New York Harbor. There the birds spend their days in relative peace, nesting in trees and rearing their chicks in a place once thought of as the epitome of degraded waters.

First Image of Sargassum Weed—From Space

"The Sargasso [Sea] is a definite body of water, measurable and separated from the surrounding water, but no better mapped than the far side of the moon," wrote John and Mildred Teal in 1975 in The Sargasso Sea. Almost 40 years later, it's time to rethink this middle-of-the-ocean sea.

Less Salty Oceans: Climate Change Dead Ahead?

A French fairy tale tells of a long-ago princess who professes to her father, "I love you like salt." He, angered by the perceived slight, banishes her from his kingdom, relates Mark Kurlansky in Salt: A World History. Only later when the father is denied salt, does he realize its true value and therefore the depth of his daughter's love. For us today, salt still plays a valuable role—its importance an indicator of climate change. Salinity increases or decreases in certain ocean areas could foretell large-scale climate alterations, according to Rainer Zahn of the Autonomous University of Barcelona in Spain.


Dybas, C.L. 2007. Ripple marks—The story behind the story. Oceanography 20(3):9–13, https://doi.org/10.5670/oceanog.2007.37.

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