ABE - Autonomous Benthic Explorer - An Autonomous Underwater Vehicle designed at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in the 1990s. It is a true robot and can move on its own without being tethered to a ship or submersible. It can monitor underwater areas for long periods of time.
albedo - The fraction of the total light striking a surface that gets reflected from that surface. An object that has a high albedo (near 1) is very bright; an object that has a low albedo (near 0) is dark. The Earth's albedo is about 0.37. The Moon's is about 0.12.
algae - Simple one-celled or many celled plant-like organisms, usually living in the water, that can make their own food through photosynthesis. They do not have true roots, stems, or leaves like plants and belong to the kingdom Protista. They can be microscopic, one-celled organisms or many-celled organisms up to 100 feet long.
amplitude - Height of a wave crest or depth of a wave trough. The amplitude of an ocean wave is the maximum height of the wave crest above the level of calm water, or the maximum depth of the wave trough below the level of calm water.
AUV - Autonomous Underwater Vehicle - Autonomous Underwater Vehicles. Scientists can tell these machines where to go underwater. They will go to the sea floor, get information, and bring it back to the scientists.
balance - 1. A state of equilibrium; equal distribution of weight, amount, etc. 2. An instrument for determining weight, typically made up of a bar with a fulcrum at the center and with scales or pans at each end of the bar, one holding a known weight and the other holding the object to be weighed.
crustacean - An aquatic invertebrate animal such as a lobster, crab, shrimp, or barnacle, characteristically having a segmented body, a hard shell, and paired, jointed limbs. A member of the class Crustacea and phylum Arthropoda.
decomposition - The process of rotting or decay. The process of breaking down organic material, such as dead plant or animal tissue, into smaller molecules that are available for use by the organisms of an ecosystem. Decomposition is carried on by bacteria, fungi, protists, worms, and certain other organisms.
equilibrium - A state of balance; a glacier is in equilbrium when it is neither advancing nor retreating because the accumulation of new ice balances the ice lost to melting, calving, and evaporation.
Global Positioning System (GPS) - A system of satellites, computers, and receivers that is able to determine the latitude and longitude of a receiver on Earth by calculating the time difference for signals from different satellites to reach the receiver.
gyre - A spiral oceanic surface current driven primarily by the global wind system and constrained by the continents surrounding the three ocean basins (Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian). Each ocean basin has a large gyre in the subtropical region, centered around 30° north and south latitude. Smaller gyres occur at 50° north latitude in the North Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. The direction of a gyre's rotation is determined by the prevailing winds in the region, with the large subtropical gyres rotating clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere and counterclockwise in the Southern Hemisphere.
HMI lights - Hydrargyrum medium-arc iodide. These lights are two to four times brighter than ordinary lights, are less sensitive to shock and vibration, and produce a steady, natural light. They are used commonly with ROVs.
keystone - A species that is expecially important in an ecosystem because it has an unusually strong effect on other organisms within the system. It might be an important predator or an organism like a coral or a beaver that alters the habitat around it.
leather chiton - A small chiton, with a tough, black, leathery covering on its back. Its scientific name is Katherina tunicata, with the first name, or genus, in honor of a woman scientist, Lady Katherine Douglas.
marine - Usually applies to floating waste such as bottles, cans, styrofoam, cruise ship waste, offshore oil and gas exploration and production facilities pollution, and fishing gear from professional and recreational boaters. Marine debris is also called litter.
mercator projection - a map projection of the earth onto a cylinder, on which the meridians and parallels of latitude appear as lines crossing at right angles, and areas appear greater the farther they are from the equator.
mid-ocean ridge - A long mountain range on the ocean floor, extending almost continuously through the North and South Atlantic Oceans, the Indian Ocean, and the South Pacific Ocean. A deep rift valley is located at its center, from which magma flows and forms new oceanic crust. As the magma cools and hardens it becomes part of the mountain range.
mollusk - Marine invertebrate having a soft unsegmented body. They usually have a shell of one, two, or more pieces that protect the body. Snails, bivalves, chitons, squid and octopuses are mollusks. .
oceanic basin - A large depression covered by sea water. Geologists do not consider continental shelves, deep ocean trenches, underwater mountain ranges and other features to be part of the oceanic basin, but hydrologists consider ocean basins to include the shelves and shallow seas.
serial - Occurs when a predator or predators reduce their prey populations in sequence,first greatly reducing numbers of one prey species, then switching to an alternative prey speciesuntilseveral prey species become scarce.
sonar - SOund NAvigation and Ranging) is a technique that uses sound propagation (usually underwater) to navigate, communicate or to detect other vessels. The study of underwater sound is known as underwater acoustics or sometimes hydroacoustics.
stewardship - The responsibility to take care of our natural resources to ensure that they are sustainably managed for current and future generations. Stewardship of the environment can include recycling, conservation, and restoration.
systematic sampling - A statistical or field sampling method involving the selection of samples at set intervals. For example, every fifth number might be selected, or a sample might be taken every 3 meters.
thermohaline - Derives from thermo- referring to temperature and -haline referring to salt content, factors which together determine the density of sea water and thus create currents and circulation within the ocean.
transpiration - As plants absorb water from the soil, the water moves from the roots through the stems to the leaves. Once the water reaches the leaves, some of it evaporates from the leaves, adding to the amount of water vapor in the air. This process of evaporation through plant leaves is called transpiration.
watershed - An area of land from which rainwater and snowmelt drain into a particular river, stream, or lake, which is the lowest point in the surrounding landscape. All watersheds are connected, directly or indirectly, to the ocean.