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Constructive interference: Light, optics and the ocean

Today, Optica joins the UN to celebrate the 31st World Oceans Day. We reflect on the role of light in the ocean and the atmosphere and the potential for optics to preserve our water for future generations. 

The oceans play an important role in the cycles of absorption and emission of CO2 in the atmosphere. Light looms large. Photosynthesis drives the ocean food chain, growing microbes and photosynthetic plankton near the surface that are responsible for generating half of the oxygen in the atmosphere. RADAR and lidar (light-based RADAR) are used to monitor surface and coastal dynamics. Optics puts the remote in remote sensing.  Visible light and infrared radiometers aboard the Suomi NPP satellite monitor microbes and plankton from space. Other IR instruments provide temperature, atmospheric moisture concentrations, and ozone coverage. And don’t forget that for more than two millennia, if you wanted to keep your crew and cargo off the rocks, light was the key to staying the course.  P. Scott Carney, Optica's Chief Scientist


Monitoring oceans around the world.
Monitoring oceans around the world.

Hear from GEMM partners on the importance of water, the role of GEMM, and fun facts about the oceans.

Optica Foundation Challenge
Use photonics. Find a solution. Change the world.

Accepting applications 16 May - 21 July for US$100,000 prizes solving real-world challenges in our oceans and environment as well as health and information.

Westlake University
Westlake University Joins GEMM

Westlake brings leading water quality and ocean monitoring to the GEMM Initiative.

UN World Oceans Day
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Explore the official World Oceans Day site and learn how others are celebrating and protecting the ocean. 

Nobel perspectives
Learn more about Westlake 

Optica Fellow Min Qiu shares his perspective on the growth of Westlake, and the role of optics in shaping the future.

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Get involved with GEMM

Be part of a powerful network, working to gather the data we need to preserve our oceans and planet. 

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