Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Southern Ocean seals dive deep for climate data

14.08.2008
Elephant seals are helping scientists overcome a critical blind-spot in their ability to detect change in Southern Ocean circulation and sea ice production and its influence on global climate.

According to a paper published today by a team of French, Australian, US and British scientists in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, elephant seals fitted with special oceanographic sensors are providing a 30-fold increase in data recorded in parts of the Southern Ocean rarely observed using traditional ocean monitoring techniques.

“They have made it possible for us to observe large areas of the ocean under the sea ice in winter for the first time,” says co-author Dr Steve Rintoul from the Antarctic Climate & Ecosystem Cooperative Research Centre (ACE CRC) and CSIRO’s Wealth from Oceans National Research Flagship.

"Conventional oceanographic platforms cannot provide observations under the sea ice, particularly on the Antarctic continental shelf where the most important water mass transformations take place. Until now, our ability to represent the high-latitude oceans and sea ice in oceanographic and climate models has suffered as a result.”

“They have made it possible for us to observe large areas of the ocean under the sea ice in winter for the first time,” says co-author Dr Steve Rintoul from the Antarctic Climate & Ecosystem Cooperative Research Centre (ACE CRC) and CSIRO’s Wealth from Oceans National Research Flagship.Co-author, University of Tasmania Professor Mark Hindell says the seal data complements traditional oceanographic sampling from ships, satellites and drifting buoys.

“By providing ocean measurements under the sea ice, the seals are helping us to establish the global ocean observing system we need to detect and understand changes in the ocean,” he says.

The polar regions play an important role in the earth’s climate system and are changing more rapidly than any other part of the world. In the southern hemisphere, the limited observations available suggest that the circumpolar Southern Ocean has warmed more rapidly than the global ocean average and that the dense water formed near Antarctica and exported to lower latitudes has freshened in some locations and warmed in others. Polar changes are important because a number of feedbacks involving ocean currents, sea ice and the carbon cycle have the potential to accelerate the rate of change.

The seals typically covered a distance of 35-65 kilometres a day with a total of 16,500 profiles obtained in 2004-5. Of these, 8,200 were obtained south of 60S, nine times more than have been obtained from floats and research and supply ships. The 4,520 profiles obtained within the sea ice is a 30-fold increase over conventional data. The seals dived repeatedly to a depth of more than 500 metres on average and to a maximum depth of nearly 2000m. The Australian team included scientists from CSIRO, the ACE CRC, the University of Tasmania's School of Zoology and Centre for Marine Science and Charles Darwin University.

National Research Flagships

CSIRO initiated the National Research Flagships to provide science-based solutions in response to Australia’s major research challenges and opportunities. The nine Flagships form multidisciplinary teams with industry and the research community to deliver impact and benefits for Australia.

Craig Macaulay | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.csiro.au

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Upcycling 'fast fashion' to reduce waste and pollution
03.04.2017 | American Chemical Society

nachricht Litter is present throughout the world’s oceans: 1,220 species affected
27.03.2017 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

Im Focus: Quantum-physical Model System

Computer-assisted methods aid Heidelberg physicists in reproducing experiment with ultracold atoms

Two researchers at Heidelberg University have developed a model system that enables a better understanding of the processes in a quantum-physical experiment...

Im Focus: Glacier bacteria’s contribution to carbon cycling

Glaciers might seem rather inhospitable environments. However, they are home to a diverse and vibrant microbial community. It’s becoming increasingly clear that they play a bigger role in the carbon cycle than previously thought.

A new study, now published in the journal Nature Geoscience, shows how microbial communities in melting glaciers contribute to the Earth’s carbon cycle, a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New quantum liquid crystals may play role in future of computers

21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A promising target for kidney fibrosis

21.04.2017 | Health and Medicine

Light rays from a supernova bent by the curvature of space-time around a galaxy

21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>