Southern Ocean News

ATCM Paves Way for Marine Protection in Southern Ocean

Antarctic, after key countries committed to work together in the lead up to this October's Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) meeting in Hobart. The Antarctic Ocean Alliance attended as part of the delegation of its partnering organization, the Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition (ASOC), who has recognized NGO status at the ATCM and CCAMLR. Parties to the Antarctic Treaty this week encouraged CCAMLR to continue their fruitful discussions on marine protected areas (MPAs) in the months leading up to their annual meeting, during which two MPA proposals in the

Commission on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) today agreed to set aside more than 1 million square kilometres of the Ross Sea Image ASOC

Antarctica’s Ross Sea Gets Protection

on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) today agreed to set aside more than 1 million square kilometres of the Ross Sea in recognition of its incredible scientific and biodiversity values.   CCAMLR committed to creating a system of marine protected areas in the Southern Ocean in 2009 and has been discussing the creation of MPAs in the Ross Sea and East Antarctica for several years. Claire Christian, director of the Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition, said  “ASOC is thrilled to see that CCAMLR has protected 1.55 million square km of the Ross Sea, 1.12

Next generation Wave Glider heading out to sea (Photo: Liquid Robotics, A Boeing Company)

Liquid Robotics Debuts Next Generation Wave Glider

ever before to tackle the dull and dangerous missions.”   Wave Gliders are used for unmanned exploration and surveillance missions as well as for collecting an communicating data through a wide range of conditions and oceans around the world, including the Arctic (latitude of 78.76N) and Southern Ocean (latitude of 64.8S). The newest version builds on the current platform capabilities with the following innovations:  Performance in high sea states (sea state 6 and greater) Advanced navigation in high latitudes (ex: Arctic and Antarctica) Supports 30 percent heavier payloads

Ice profiling Antarctica: Image NIWA CCL

How Southern Ocean Waves Affect Antarctic Ice: New Research

Zealand's National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) have made a breakthrough in understanding one of the key processes driving changes in sea ice. Drs Alison Kohout, Mike Williams and Sam Dean along with Australian based scientist Dr Mike Meylan, have been researching how the Southern Ocean’s biggest waves are affecting Antarctic sea ice, explains NIWA. Their new data show that large waves in the Southern Ocean - those bigger than 3 m - are able to break sea ice over greater distances than previously believed, and that this process may be the missing science that explains

The atlas: Image courtesy of the publishers

Southern Ocean Biogeographic Atlas to be Published

The book is to be launched shortly by the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR) at its Open Science Conference in Auckland, New Zealand. Background The publisher's web portal explains that the Southern Ocean waters to the west of the Antarctic Peninsula are warming faster than almost any other place on Earth. This area of most rapid environmental change was among others targeted by the Census of Antarctic Marine Life in its collection of biogeographic information. Such biogeographic information is of fundamental importance for monitoring biodiversity, discovering biodiversity hotspots

(Photo: Sea Shepherd)

Japan Won't Lower Guard of Whaling as Sea Shepherd Changes Tactics

official said on Tuesday.   Paul Watson, founder of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, said in a statement on Monday the group’s limited resources made it difficult to compete with the military technology Japan employs to guard its whaling fleet and it would not send ships to the Southern Ocean this year.   But an official at Japan’s Fisheries Agency was skeptical.   “It’s not clear what the real intention of their statement is and we don’t know whether the organization will stop its anti-whaling actions this year,” the official, who declined

Courtesy  Antarctic Ocean Alliance

AOA Calls for Southern Ocean Conservation Commitments

The Antarctic Ocean Alliance (AOA) called on the 25 member countries gathering today for the annual meeting of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) to finally agree on lasting and significant Southern Ocean protection.   CCAMLR previously pledged to establish two marine protected areas by 2012, but, because of a lack of consensus, member states have failed to reach agreement on two major proposals on four separate occasions. The Southern Ocean is home to more than 10,000 unique species, including most of the world’s penguins, whales, seabirds

Pine Island Iceberg: Image credit NASA

Enormous Antarctic Iceberg a Possible Threat to Shipping

An Iceberg, the size of Manhattan in area, was derived from the Pine Island Glacier, and is currently moving through the Southern Ocean. To keep track of its movements and melting  Professor Grant Bigg of UK's University of Sheffield has been awarded a £50,000 grant from the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) for the 6 month project. The research collected by tracking its movement, and modelling its trajectory and melting, through the ocean will be used by the shipping industry and associated agencies currently using the Southern Ocean in providing more accurate ice warnings.

Pine Island Glacier rift seen from the Digital Mapping System camera aboard NASA's DC-8 on Oct. 26, 2011 (Image Credit: NASA / DMS)

Huge Iceberg Broken off Antarctica Heads for Open Ocean

concerned about shipping lanes. We know where all the big ones are," she said. Scientists are especially interested in this iceberg not only because of its size but because it originated in an unexpected location, said Brunt. "It's like a large sheet cake floating through the Southern Ocean," she added. The glacial crack that created the iceberg was first detected in 2011, according to Brunt, a scientist with NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and Morgan State University in Maryland. Pine Island Glacier has been closely studied over the past two decades because it has been

Aboard RSV Aurora Australis at the front of the Totten Glacier in 2015 – the first time a ship had been able to access the front of the Totten Glacier which is normally surrounded by thick sea ice. (Photo: Paul Brown)

Expedition to Study Ocean’s Role in Glacial Melting

Australian scientists are stepping up efforts to understand how the Southern Ocean is changing and how these changes are likely to affect the East Antarctic ice sheet.   A team of around 30 scientists, technicians and PhD students from CSIRO, the Antarctic Climate & Ecosystems CRC (ACE CRC), the University of Tasmania’s Institute for Marine & Antarctic Studies, and the Australian Antarctic Division will leave from Hobart on Australia’s icebreaker Aurora Australis today (Thursday).   Chief Investigator and CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere scientist, Dr. Steve Rintoul

Aurora Australis (Photo: Australian Department of the Environment)

Australian Icebreaker Assists Antarctic Research

liters of Special Antarctic Blend fuel, food, machinery and equipment. The icebreaker is the backbone of the Australian Antarctic program, resupplying all four Australian research stations and transferring personnel. It is also the platform from which the program conducts long-term research in the Southern Ocean. Aurora Australis will undertake two more voyages to Australia’s Antarctic and subantarctic research stations, making a total of four voyages for the 2013/14 season.  

Dr. Miguel Morales Maqueda (center) with Alicia Mountford and Liam Rogerson, the group from Newcastle University carrying out research in Antarctica as part of the ORCHESTRA project. (Photo: Newcastle University)

Researchers Set out to Study the Southern Ocean

A team from Newcastle University has arrived in Antarctica this week as part of a major new research project to measure the rate of uptake of heat and CO2 in the Southern Ocean.   Dr. Miguel Morales Maqueda, Alicia Mountford and Liam Rogerson from Newcastle University have joined the ORCHESTRA research project (Ocean Regulation of Climate by Heat and Carbon Sequestration and Transports) to carry out sea surface measurements using a Wave Glider.   Fitted with a GBS antennae – a highly accurate GPS system – the glider will survey the ocean surface, measuring properties such as

Photo: Damen

First Steel Cut for Australia's New Polar Research Ship

for the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD). “The new vessel is a multi-mission ship designed to sustain our geographically dispersed stations, support helicopter operations, sustain shore parties on remote islands, map the seafloor and undertake a variety of scientific activities across the Southern Ocean,” said AAD Modernization Program Manager Rob Bryson.   To fulfil these diverse roles, the ASRV boasts considerable cargo capacity: up to 96 TEU below decks and 14 TEU and six 10-foot containers on the aft deck, as well as more above the helicopter hanger and in front of the helideck

Antarctic Icebergs Have Surprise Role in Slowing Warming

The biggest icebergs breaking off Antarctica unexpectedly help to slow global warming as they melt away into the chill Southern Ocean, scientists said on Monday.   The rare Manhattan-sized icebergs, which may become more frequent in coming decades because of climate change, release a vast trail of iron and other nutrients that act as fertilisers for algae and other tiny plant-like organisms in the ocean.   These extract carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as they grow, a natural ally for human efforts to limit the pace of climate change blamed on man-made greenhouse gas emissions.  

BioWAVE Unit being deployed in Water Photo BPS

BioWAVE Unit Deployed near Port Fairy

Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and $5 million funding from the Victorian Government.   BPS CEO Dr Timothy Finnigan said the usually powerful swell at this site abated enough for the installation to be completed smoothly and successfully.   “Installation of the bioWAVE in the Southern Ocean marks the culmination of an intensive development phase, and the beginning of a testing and demonstration phase for bioWAVE. We will now turn our attention to commissioning the plant for operation, and we aim to be delivering electricity into the grid very soon,” Dr Finnigan said.  

Photo: NOC

How Does Ocean Circulation Impact Marine Protected Areas?

strongly in time, due to the seasonal monsoon in the Indian Ocean.   Combining the footprints from each MPA with maps of human population, the researchers were also able to show that not all connectivity with land was the same. While South Georgia was connected to land, its closeness to the Southern Ocean meant that most of this land was unpopulated Antarctica. In contrast, Ascension and BIOT were both strongly connected to major human population centers and, potentially, sources of pollution, including plastic pollution.   Robinson, added “Our results show the connections MPAs have

Atlantic Slows Warming, Temperature Rises Seen Resuming from 2030

in salinity may have caused more heat to be transferred to the depths of the Atlantic. Warm, salty water from the tropics flows north on the Gulf Stream in the Atlantic and sinks when it meets cooler water. The "great ocean conveyor belt" then makes cold water flow in the depths to the Southern Ocean. Even though global warming has slowed, 13 of the 14 warmest years on record have been this century, according to U.N. estimates. A U.N. panel says it is at least 95 percent certain that human emissions, rather than natural variations in the climate, are the main cause of rising temperatures

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