Scientists Studying Southern Ocean Find Deep Sea Gets Colder

April 21, 2008 at 11:10 pm Leave a comment

Scientists who went on a two month expedition to the Southern Ocean say that the Antarctic deep sea gets colder, which might stimulate the circulation of the oceanic water masses. It was the first finding of the expedition and in the next few years they will study information from autonomous buoys to find out if there’s a trend. The scientists studied ocean currents as well as the distribution of temperature, salt content and trace substances in Antarctic sea water whilst aboard an Ocean vessel called the Polarsten and ended their trip in Punta Arenas/Chile. Their findings coincide with satellite image information indicating that last summer the Antarctic sea-ice extent has been the largest on record.

The expedition which counted 58 scientists and two teachers from ten countries aimed to investigate the role of the Southern Ocean for past, present and future climate. Oceanographer Eberhard Fahrbach who led the group said that the sinking water masses in the Southern Ocean play a major role in global climate. „While the last Arctic summer was the warmest on record, we had a cold summer with a sea-ice maximum in the Antarctic. The expedition shall form the basis for understanding the opposing developments in the Arctic and in the Antarctic,“ Fahrbach said. His team also reported they found the smallest iron concentrations ever measured in the ocean.

As iron is an essential trace element for algal growth, and algae assimilate CO2 from the air, the concentration of iron is an important parameter against the background of the discussion to what extent the oceans may act as a carbon sink.

Entry filed under: Green News, Green Scientific Discoveries.

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