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
Ocean Acidification

The oceans are an important sink for atmospheric CO2, but as they take up increasing amounts of CO2 they are becoming more acidic.

The Decline of Subantarctic Wildlife

Populations of rockhopper penguins, elephant seals, and grey-headed albatrosses in the subantarctic have declined quite markedly in recent decades.

Next Stop Antarctica

Our Far South is an expedition that aims to raise New Zealanders' awareness of the area south of Stewart Island. Gareth Morgan, Te Radar, scientists and 50 everyday Kiwis are onboard to learn and then share their experience. This is the first video produced by them, showing some of the highlights of the trip so far.

Current and Future Management of the Toothfish Fishery

NIWA fisheries scientist Dr Stuart Hanchet explains what makes the Antarctic toothfish fishery one of the best managed fisheries in the world.

Ecosystem Effects and Mitigation of the Toothfish Fishery

NIWA fisheries scientist Dr Stuart Hanchet describes the guiding principles that CCAMLR (the Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Life) applies to the Antarctic toothfish fishery.

The Antarctic Toothfish Fishery

Antarctic toothfish are fished using longlines in southern Antarctic waters. NIWA fisheries scientist Alistair Dunn describes the history of the fishery and how it has been monitored.

Iron Fertilisation

Iron dissolved in the ocean is an important trace nutrient for phytoplankton – the microscopic plants that support marine food webs.

Southern Ocean Productivity

Phytoplankton – microscopic plants that drift in the sunlit waters of the world's oceans – are the engine that drives all of Antarctica's marine food webs.

Phytoplankton and Climate Change

NIWA biological oceanographer Dr Philip Boyd explains how the Southern Ocean plays a key role in controlling the world's climate, by drawing large amounts of CO2 from Earth's atmosphere into the ocean depths.

Antarctic Coastal Marine Life

Dr Vonda Cummings, benthic ecologist at NIWA, explains the special characteristics of seafloor communities living in Antarctica's coastal waters and the importance of understanding what makes them tick.

Antarctic Seabed Biodiversity

It's a common myth that the oceans surrounding Antarctica hold the most diverse array of animals on earth, but they are home to a collection of species found nowhere else.

Subantarctic Oceanography

NIWA physical oceanographer Dr Mike Williams talks about the world's largest current – the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) – and its influence on the 'oceanography' (ocean characteristics) south of New Zealand.

Seabird Diversity in the Southern Ocean

The New Zealand archipelago, particularly its subantarctic islands, is a global seabird hotspot. It's home to 25 per cent of the world's breeding seabird populations and a very diverse array of penguin, albatross, petrel and shearwater species.

Rob Murdoch is gving a few talks during the Our Far South voyage, and his talks will include a number of videos which help to contextualise his presentations.

Antarctic Sea Ice

The sea ice that forms around Antarctica in winter effectively doubles the size of the continent, and its extent has increased over recent years.

The Iron Hypothesis

NIWA biological oceanographer Dr Philip Boyd explains the iron hypothesis: what it is, its history, and some recent experiments in the Southern Ocean.

Southern Ocean Gas Exchange

The Earth's oceans – particularly the Southern Ocean – play an important role in absorbing carbon dioxide (CO2) and other trace gases from the atmosphere.

In order to understand the roles of different processes affecting ocean atmosphere exchange of CO2 and DMS it is essential to develop quantitative models for these.

The transfer rate of most gases between the atmosphere and ocean is controlled by processes just beneath the water surface.

This programme aims to provide better predictions of changes in the ocean and climate system, particularly the way in which the ocean around New Zealand regulates greenhouse gases and clouds. 

Rob Murdoch, our General Manager of Research, is one of the experts on board, and will be sending us daily blog posts/updates on the voyage and its progress.

He is also giving a number of talks around the issues above - the videos accompanying his talks will also be posted online. Please check back often - we will be updating this section of the website regularly during the voyage. 

Fifty intrepid travellers set off from Bluff tomorrow, onboard the Spirit of Enderby, a Russian ice-strengthened ship, destined for Antarctica and the sub-Antarctica. Organised by Dr Gareth Morgan, the Our Far South voyage aims to raise New Zealanders' awareness of this unique area.

Next week, NIWA's research vessel Tangaroa will set sail for the Chatham Rise, for an international study of how microscopic organisms in the surface waters may affect the creation of clouds.

A recent expedition to one of the deepest places on Earth has discovered one of the most enigmatic creatures in the deep sea: the 'supergiant' amphipod.

Is ocean iron addition part of the solution to climate change? Cliff Law, NIWA explains: 

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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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