French and Australian scientists resume measurements of Antarctic waters south of Australia this week to assess their capacity as a massive oceanic sponge to absorb greenhouse gases and store them away for hundreds or perhaps thousands of years.
France and Australia have a joint research program taking measurements from the Antarctic supply ship LAstrolabe during its voyages between Hobart and the French base at Dumont DUrville. LAstrolabe, equipped with a full sampling laboratory, sails from Hobart on Tuesday 19 October in the first voyage of the season. Professor Alain Poisson from the University of Paris and Dr Bronte Tilbrook from CSIRO oversee the research.
Later in the year the ice breaker Aurora Australis will head south from Fremantle to make a similar set of measurements and to extend the work to the west of the Astrolabe track. "The Southern Ocean is so important for controlling the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere," Dr Tilbrook says. "The Astrolabe work is helping us obtain a much clearer picture of the interaction between ecosystems and mixing that drives the carbon dioxide exchange between the ocean and atmosphere."
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