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Waiting for the weather to clear

There are about 30 USGS-monitored rivers stretching from Northern California to Washington. During the winter, when there are heavy rains, these rivers can send huge amounts of water – up to three to four times more than the Columbia River — into the coastal ocean. Winds push this freshwater up against the shore, potentially affecting the coastal ocean for weeks.

Packing up and heading out

Nanci Bompey is public information manager for the American Geophysical Union. She is spending a week aboard the R/V Oceanus with scientists from Oregon State University who are studying the role that small rivers play in the productivity of the coastal ocean during the winter.

Embarking on a research cruise

Nanci Bompey is the public information manager for the American Geophysical Union. She is spending a week aboard the R/V Oceanus with scientists from Oregon State University who are studying the role that small rivers play in the productivity of the coastal ocean during the winter.

Oceanic Oscillation

Jessica Luo and Kelly Robinson are jelly lovers — not the jellies you smear on your toast but the ones that float in the ocean, their bell-shaped bodies pulsing like slow-motion heartbeats in the currents of the sea.

Adrift in a Sea of Data

They float in the ocean by the billions, these wandering animals whose Greek name means “drifter.” Most are smaller than a pinpoint, their adaptive peculiarities (whip-like propellers, bug-like antennae, hair-like fringes for foraging on algae) visible only under a microscope.

High Beams

For a place that takes pictures with what amounts to controlled bursts of lightning, the lab is quiet, almost hushed. Standing in the entrance to Oregon State University’s (EMF), you might hear researchers’ soft voices as they discuss the best way to see pollen on a bee’s tongue or to look at a layer of molecules on a silicon wafer. You might be struck by the images on the walls and display screens — disc-shaped blood cells, elegant ocean plankton, flower-shaped nanocrystals.