Oceans

Recording old oceans centre tag.

Latest news

New findings from the record-breaking Tongan volcanic eruption are “surprising and unexpected”, say scientists from New Zealand’s National Institute for Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA).
NIWA is contributing to an international effort to help developing countries reduce the impact of biofouling on aquatic-based industries and environments.
NIWA and The Nippon Foundation are undertaking a mission to discover the undersea impacts of the recent Tongan volcanic eruption.
New research from the Deep South Challenge: Changing with our Climate and NIWA shows that New Zealand could experience very long and “very severe” marine heatwaves by the end of the century.

Our work

Clouds over the ocean, and how they trap or emit radiation from the sun, are partly influenced by the biology, biogeochemistry and physics of the surface ocean below.

We need information on the food web structures of our marine ecosystems in order to manage the effects on the ecosystem of fishing, aquaculture and mining, as well as understanding the potential impacts of climate variability and change on our oceans. 

Ocean acidification conditions around the New Zealand coast are being measured to establish baseline conditions and to quantify future change.
NIWA is conducting a five–year study to map changes in the distribution of plankton species in surface waters between New Zealand and the Ross Sea.

Latest videos

Dive into the alien world of plankton in the Ross Sea

Plankton are the base of the oceans food web and are vital to our survival. But as our world changes will they be able to continue to play this essential role? Join us as we follow a group of NIWA scientists investigating various aspects of this question in the ocean around Antarctica.

Antarctic science onboard NIWA’s RV Tangaroa
Researchers are working their way through a wealth of new Antarctic marine data after RV Tangaroa successfully completed its five week scientific voyage to the Ross Sea.
NIWA's Sarah Searson and Jennie Mowatt
If you want to get accurate scientific readings from the icy depths of the Ross Sea, who do you turn to?
Ocean Acidification
This video has been produced to highlight ocean acidification as a potential issue affecting the NZ shellfish aquaculture industry

NIWA's new Undersea New Zealand map provides a unique insight into the shape of the seafloor in one of the world's most extensive marine jurisdictions.

An international team of scientists has been studying bacteria that live in Arctic and Antarctica waters.

NIWA answers a wide range of scientific questions using ocean modelling. These models can be linked to well established weather forecasting models to predict ocean temperature, sea level and the dispersal of pollution.

Understanding how material released into the ocean spreads is very important in the case of oil spills, sediment transport and the release of invasive species. 

Echo, Echo: Scanning the Seafloor on R.V. Tangaroa

NIWA ocean geologist Dr Joshu Mountjoy explains how the R.V. Tangaroa's multibeam system is used for bathymetric (seabed) mapping, and some of the benefits which come out of this mapping.

Seabed Frontier: A Brief History of Bathymetry

NIWA marine geologist John Mitchell gives a brief history of bathymetric (seabed) charting, and how it's been carried out over the last few hundred years. (01:18) 

Scientists have been working on ways to find out about earthquakes that occurred before oral and written records
began in New Zealand.

How does NIWA map the seafloor?

Multibeam echo sounders emit a fan of sound beams to the seafloor to scan a wide swath of the seabed in great detail. Compared with conventional echo sounders – which direct a single beam of sound to the seabed directly below a ship – multibeams show more detail and greatly reduce ship survey time and cost.

How it works

The hull-mounted multibeam transceiver sends out a beam of sound waves (see diagram below) which are reflected off the seafloor, back to a receiver on the ship.

New Zealand's largest research vessel Tangaroa sets off today to map, in high resolution detail, the southern Hikurangi Margin - a vital area of seabed off the east coast of New Zealand.

The voyage is part of the Ocean Survey 20/20 project, a 15-year Government project, established in 2004, to survey and explore New Zealand's oceans, to better manage and sustainably develop their resources.

Ocean water properties such as temperature are measured directly, while conductivity is used to tell us the salinity. It also captures water samples at different depths for a variety of chemical and biological measurements made either on the vessel or back in the laboratory.
Big Fish, Calm Sea - White Shark Tagging off Stewart Island

Tagging White Sharks off Stewart Island, NZ Scientists from DOC, NIWA, and the University of Auckland are building a unique picture of New Zealand's great white shark population.

NIWA's research vessel Tangaroa will set sail this week to explore the biodiversity of deep-sea habitats in the outer Bay of Plenty and southern Kermadec Ridge, starting 80 kilometres off Tauranga.

Scientists have just completed a successful trip to Stewart Island, tagging 23 great white sharks. The sharks were tagged with acoustic and popup tags, and filmed underwater for photo-identification purposes. The tags and photos will allow scientists to investigate the sharks' habitat and behaviour, and to determine the periods during which they inhabit locations such as Stewart Island.

Sea Ice and Climate Change

Dr Mike Williams, physical oceanographer at NIWA, explains the importance of Antarctic sea ice in the Earth's ocean and climate systems and how they may be affected by climate change.

Climate Change and Deepsea Life

Dr Dave Bowden outlines concerns over the impacts of climate change on deepsea life in Antarctic waters.

Exploring Antarctic Deepsea Life

Most of the Southern Ocean outside of the narrow Antarctic continental shelf is more than 3000 m deep. This poses a real challenge for scientists studying the assemblages of animals living on the seabed.

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All staff working on this subject

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Principal Scientist - Marine Geology
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Marine Biogeochemistry Technician
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Principal Scientist - Marine Ecology
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Regional Ocean Modelling System (ROMS) Numerical Modeller
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Marine Sedimentologist
Principal Scientist - Carbon Chemistry and Modelling
General Manager - Operations
Principal Scientist - Marine Geology
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Marine Invertebrate Systematist
Coastal and Estuarine Physical Processes Scientist
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Marine Physics Modeller
Principal Scientist - Marine Ecology
Principal Scientist - Marine Physics
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Physical Oceanographer
Freshwater Fish Ecologist
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