I’d like to advise you to go immediately and read every article in the new volume of the Annual Review of Marine Science, but realistically I know nobody is going to have that kind of time. So the challenge is how to give you a feel for the volume without mentioning every article? I’m going to have to go with what interests me and there are a couple of articles I can point to that pinged higher on my radar.
Starting with the big story – Buesseler et al.’s “Fukushima Daiichi–Derived Radionuclides in the Ocean: Transport, Fate, and Impacts.” I followed the Fukushima disaster pretty closely at the time, and have even read some follow-up articles afterward, but somehow I managed to avoid thinking about the effects of all that radiation on the water. This article does a great job of laying out the timeline of the disaster and following the ways the radiation made it into the surrounding water.
There are four major sources of FDNPP – derived radionuclides to the environment (Figure 1). The largest and earliest source was the initial venting and explosive releases of gases and volatile radionuclides to the atmosphere, which led to fallout on both land and the ocean. Atmospheric fallout peaked around March 15; transport models suggested that more than 80% of the fallout was on the ocean surface, with the highest deposition in coastal waters near the FDNPPs, although there are no atmospheric fallout data over the ocean to measure this directly. Subsequent to the atmospheric fallout was the somewhat smaller direct discharge of contaminated material to the ocean during emergency cooling efforts at the FDNPPs that resulted in runoff over land, enhanced flow of contaminated groundwater, and stagnant water leakage from the basement of the reactor buildings into the ocean. This secondary release process peaked around April 6, 2011….
Next, I recommend a somewhat lighter subject, Malanotte-Rizzoli’s “Venice and I: How a City Can Determine the Fate of a Career.” When I consider our autobiographies, I often think about how one decision can influence an entire career. Here we have a scientist whose sees her career as being shaped by one city:
Apart from sections obviously focused on the scientific milestones of my career, what else should I write about myself? Should I focus on being a female scientist in the late 1960s in a fully male‐dominated world? Should I focus on comparing the academic and research environments in the United States and Italy and what they would offer to a woman at the beginning of her career?….Then a simple fact struck me: The reason I moved from theoretical physics to physical oceanography at the beginning of my career was simply the city in which I grew up—Venice. Venice was the cornerstone of my career at the beginning and has again become a major cornerstone in recent years.
Finally, I can’t leave out Law’s article “Plastics in the Marine Environment” because it’s too important. This article does an excellent job of laying out the questions about plastics in the ocean and providing some groundwork for the answers:
Ultimately, stakeholders and policymakers want to know how big the problem is, how widespread the harm is, and what the best prevention or mitigation strategies are. Scientific inquiry into these questions is not new, but systematic study of the sources, pathways, transformations, impacts, and sinks of plastics in the marine environment has rapidly accelerated only in the last decade.
Suzanne K. Moses is Annual Reviews’ Senior Electronic Content Coordinator. For 15+ years, she has played a central role in the publication of Annual Reviews’ online articles. Not a single page is posted online without first being proofed and quality checked by Suzanne.