Ocean ecosystems play a critical role in the Earth's carbon cycle and the quantification of their impacts for both present conditions and for predictions into the future remains one of the greatest challenges in oceanography. The goal of the EXport Processes in the Ocean from Remote Sensing (EXPORTS) Science Plan is to develop a predictive understanding of the export and fate of global ocean net primary production (NPP) and its implications for present and future climates.

The discovery that marine algal blooms deposit organic carbon to the deep ocean answers some — but not all — of the questions about whether fertilizing such blooms is a viable strategy for mitigating climate change.

The Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami of March 11, 2011, resulted in unprecedented radioactivity releases from the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plants to the Northwest Pacific Ocean. Results are presented here from an international study of radionuclide contaminants in surface and subsurface waters, as well as in zooplankton and fish, off Japan in June 2011. A major finding is detection of Fukushima-derived 134Cs and 137Cs throughout waters 30–600 km offshore, with the highest activities associated with near-shore eddies and the Kuroshio Current acting as a southern boundary for transport.

The consequences of global climate change are profound, and the scientific community has an obligation to assess the ramifications of policy options for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and enhancing CO2 sinks in reservoirs other than the atmosphere. Ocean iron fertilization (OIF), one of several ocean methods proposed for mitigating rising atmospheric CO2, involves stimulating net phytoplankton growth by releasing iron to certain parts of the surface ocean.