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Century-old Deep-sea Expeditions Provide New Climate Change Insights



UMD Scientists’ Analysis Shows Rapid Rate of Recent Warming in Indian Ocean The German Navy’s SMS Planet was one of three ships used by German scientists in the late 19th and early 20th centuries on global voyages to study deep-sea life. They also gathered data that present day researchers at UMD are using to develop a deeper understanding of warming caused by human activities in the Indian Ocean.

In the late 19 th and early 20 th centuries, German scientists and surveyors crossed choppy waters and braved dangerous conditions on arduous expeditions, one of which circumnavigated the globe. They yielded several discoveries of interest to scientists of the day—and left in their wake important clues for later generations.

Though these early researchers were mostly interested in marine biology at a time when little was known about life in the deep sea (documenting among other things the first vampire squid sighting), some of their “cruise reports” also contained measurements of subsurface temperatures in the Indian Ocean.

A team led by atmospheric and oceanic scientists at the University of Maryland studied the long-overlooked water temperature data from these three expeditions from 1874 to 1907, digitizing the information and putting it in a modern […]

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