From: British Antarctic Survey
Published June 2, 2014 06:27 AM

Antarctica, the Southern Ocean, and Climate Change

A special issue of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A has been published today (Monday 2 June) which brings together a collection of papers on many of the unresolved issues relating to the Southern Ocean. Professor Michael Meredith from the British Antarctic Survey was a guest editor on the issue; 'The Southern Ocean: new insights into circulation, carbon and climate'.

The research includes: Why greenhouse gases and the ozone holes are melting the Arctic sea ice but are having a cooling effect in some parts of Antarctica, and how dust, which provides iron and essential nutrients to the ocean, might have been the cause of increased biological productivity in the southern Atlantic Ocean during the last ice age.

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The Southern Ocean has earned a reputation as the roughest and most challenging on Earth and retains an aura of mystery from the time of early European explorers. Although no longer a life-threatening adventure, to modern oceanographers the region is still full of mystery and unanswered questions. It is central to the climate of the planet, but experts still struggle to understand its dynamics.

The special issue arose from a two-day Theo Murphy scientific meeting at the Royal Society's Kavli Centre in July 2013. Co-organised by Professor Meredith, the meeting brought together the world's experts on Southern Ocean circulation and climate to review recent progress and stimulate critical thought about future priorities.
The following papers were led by authors at the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) — for further information relating to these papers please contact the lead authors or the BAS Press Office.

Dense waters of the Weddell and Scotia Seas: recent changes in properties and circulation

The dense waters that form around Antarctica spread northward along the ocean abyss, and exert a significant control on sea level rise and planetary climate. These waters, and their supply to the global ocean, are changing, but the causes and impacts of these changes are not well established. This work synthesizes recent progress that has produced new insight into the mechanisms responsible for such changes, and their impacts. Important directions for future research effort are highlighted.

Lead author: Prof Mike Meredith, British Antarctic Survey, mmm@bas.ac.uk

Image of sea surface during 11-beaufort winds in southern ocean via Shutterstock.

Read more at BAS.

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