The Plumb Line

(n.) A line used to determine depth; a sounding line. These special projects are at the heart of what we do. In each special Plumb Line series, you’ll find short explainers, in-depth profiles, podcasts, infographics, videos, photo essays, and anything else to help us in telling the story of science over time.

George Divoky didn’t set out to study climate change, but climate change found him and his Arctic seabirds. This series follows his 44th field season studying Black Guillemots on Cooper Island, 20 miles east of Utqiaġvik, Alaska — exploring life on the front lines of change.

National Marine Sanctuaries include over 600,000 square miles of underwater parks in U.S. coastal waters and Great Lakes; these sanctuaries have been set aside to monitor ocean health and preserve precious biological and cultural resources. In July, Jenny Woodman will sail with a team of scientists on the NOAA Ship Bell M. Shimada in three sanctuaries off the coast of California, sharing live field reports, photo essays, and articles along the way.

The Exploration Vessel Nautilus kicks off another ambitious season exploring the biology, geology, and chemistry of the Eastern Pacific Ocean. In September, Woodman will serve as lead science communication fellow on a joint mission with NASA to explore the Lōihi Seamount, an underwater volcano that may shed light on where we will find life on other planets. Stay tuned for expedition updates from now through November.